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Madison's Jim Huberty shares his Vietnam-era collection
Huberty: 'Forty years later, this stuff could still provoke a bar fight.'
Credit:Jim Huberty

When Jim Huberty was a UW student in the late 1960s and early 1970s, he socked away a dozen crates' worth of materials related to the era's Vietnam protests: posters, handouts, underground newspapers.

He can't quite explain why he saved the stuff, much less why he kept it for 40 years. But he is revealing on the point when he notes: "I still haven't forgiven my mom for throwing out my baseball card collection."

Beginning tonight, materials from Huberty's collection will be displayed in Revolution's Wallpaper, an exhibit in the 1925 Gallery of UW's Memorial Union. The exhibit's roughly 40 items document an extraordinary chapter in the history of the city and university.

"There was a fair amount of unrest," Huberty says of the time, with understatement. "I was a participant-slash-observer in the protests and rallies," he recalls, but "because of the person I am, I was very interested in not getting arrested. I didn't want to put myself at risk in terms of violence, trashing, fire bombing." He was a UW undergraduate from 1967 to 1971, and a graduate student in political science from 1972 to 1974.

His arrival here in fall 1967 coincided with the Dow riots in October of that year, when students protested recruiters from the company that manufactured napalm. "I went to class and came back up Observatory Drive, and all hell was breaking loose," he says of the protests. "There was shouting, police taking students away, pepper gas. It was extremely chaotic."

Huberty, 58, lives on the west side and is finance manager of the Regent Market Cooperative. He hails from Kiel, Wis., 28 miles northeast of Fond du Lac. "I come from a small town with small-town values," he says. "My dad wanted me to be in West Point, and he was upset at my coming down here. He felt I was becoming a communist."

Included in Huberty's collection are flyers for political rallies, like a Bascom Hill protest of President Richard M. Nixon's Cambodian adventure. "Stop the mad bomber!" the poster says, and a grotesque cartoon shows Nixon sticking out a forked tongue.

Huberty has shared his collection at local high schools. "Kids really turn onto it," he says. "But," he adds, chuckling, "I'm careful not to try to convert them, turn them into communists and radicals."

The wounds of the 1960s have not fully healed, he notes. Says Huberty of his collection, "Forty years later, this stuff could still provoke a bar fight."

Revolution's Wallpaper runs at Memorial Union's Class of 1925 Gallery through March 11. Huberty will speak at the gallery at 8 p.m. on Friday, February 1.

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