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Interview with Dirck Halstead

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Halstead, Dirck, 1936-2022 ; McKiernan, Stephen


Dirck Halstead (1936-2022) was a photojournalist, editor, and publisher of The Digital Journalist. Halstead started photojournalism in high school and at the age of 17, he worked with Life magazine to cover the Guatemalan Civil War. He worked at United Press International (UPI) for 15 years after attending Haverford College. He has dedicated his life to photography and has created some great pieces of work.




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McKiernan Interviews




McKiernan Interviews
Interview with: Dirck Halstead
Interviewed by: Stephen McKiernan
Transcriber: REV
Date of interview: 14 November 2010
(Start of Interview)

SM (00:00:02):
Testing one, two, three. First off, first question I have been asking most of the second half of the people that I have interviewed is, how did you become who you are as a photo journalist? Really, how did you start so young at the age of 17, I believe?

DH (00:00:23):
Well, I was given a camera by my parents for Christmas when I guess I was 15. It was a Kodak [inaudible]. And the thing that made the difference was they gave me a little dark room outfit with it, which allowed you to make contact prints. That was the thing that got me hooked, the ability to make prints, back before digital, of course. So I started taking the camera to school and making pictures of the kids and bringing the prints back and they loved them. Within a year, I was the official photographer for the school. So at that time I had talked my parents into giving me a two-and-a-quarter by three-and-a-quarter speed graphic. By the time I was in my senior year in high school, I was working on a part-time basis for a local newspaper. The local newspaper was owned by a guy named Carl Tucker in Bedford Village, New York. It had been a weekly newspaper. So I volunteered to take pictures for him and set up a dark room in the newspaper office, and he gave me $5 a picture for every picture that was run. Well, over the course of sixth months, he bought six other newspapers.

SM (00:02:21):

DH (00:02:24):
All of a sudden I was shooting for seven newspapers and I was the only photographer. So that $5 per picture started to multiply and I was making real money. I was 17 years old and I was pulling in a couple hundred dollars a week.

SM (00:02:53):

DH (00:02:53):
Taking these pictures. During the course of that spring, I went down to Washington to photograph the Army McCarthy Hearings, and would stay there on the day that Joseph Welch said, "Finally, sir, have you, no sense of shame."

SM (00:03:19):
Remember that very well.

DH (00:03:21):
Photographed that. And I have been through a series of circumstances, I wound up several weeks later going to Guatemala as part of a student expedition to build some schools, which resulted in my being the first, the youngest war correspondent Life Magazine ever had.

SM (00:03:51):
Wow. Quite an experience. Can you describe your parents? Who were your parents and what were the role models you had as a young person? What was it like going to your high school and actually, what were your college days like in Haverford, because that is not far from where I live? I have known several graduates of Haverford.

DH (00:04:13):
Yeah. Is that feedback I am getting?

SM (00:04:18):
Oh, no, I am fine.

DH (00:04:20):
No, I seem to hear feedback coming on the line.

SM (00:04:22):
I do not know.

DH (00:04:22):
Okay. Anyway. My parents were probably the perfect hybrid for being my parents. My mother was an advertising agency executive, and my father was a telecommunications engineer. So that is the mix I came out of.

SM (00:04:54):
What was it like going to college there at Haverford? What was college like then?

DH (00:05:00):
Well, I will tell you quite honestly, I did not pay much attention to it because I had just got my first story in Life Magazine, and I really was not the slightest bit interested in Haverford. And so the main thing I did was I started a photo service at Haverford. I set up a dark room in the biology building and pretty much did my own thing for a year. I would say I was not really participating much in the Haverford lifestyle.

SM (00:05:52):
Now, did you graduate from Haverford?

DH (00:05:55):
I did not. I did not graduate.

SM (00:05:57):
Okay. When you-

DH (00:06:01):
No, [inaudible] at the end of the first year.

SM (00:06:02):
Oh, okay. One of the other things I was reading about your background, you were the UPI's Bureau Chief in Vietnam. Some of the questions I have about there from when to when, did you do that and how did you secure this position, and what did the job entail?

DH (00:06:21):
Well, I did Haverford for a year, and then I was offered a job by UPI in Dallas, Texas at the Dallas Times Herald. So I worked at the Dallas Times Herald for two years as a general assignment photographer. When I got to be, I guess, 19, I was drafted like everybody else being drafted in those days. That resulted in actually the best job I ever had. When I got my draft notice, I ran into another photographer named Don Uhrbrock, who was a Life photographer, who had just gotten out of the Army. We met at a Cotton Bowl game in Dallas. He said, "Well, listen, you ought to go see General Clifton." General Clifton at that time was the chief of information for Department of the Army. So I just called General Clifton's office and I made an appointment. On my way back to New York to go to Fort Dix for basic training, I just popped into the Pentagon with a portfolio, and I showed him my portfolio. Obviously, I have been recommended by Don Uhrbrock and he said, "Well, how did you like a job?" I said, "Well, great. What do I do?" He said, "All you do is when you get in basic training, you send me a postcard and you tell me what your serial number is and when you are expected out of basic, and I will take care of the rest."

SM (00:08:35):

DH (00:08:35):
I will never forget, there was this major who was sitting outside the general's office, and he looked at me as I came out of the general's office and he said, "Kid, let me get this straight, you just got drafted and you just came in to show your portfolio?" I said, "Yeah, it seems to work." Sure enough, for the next two years, I had the best job ever. I was the chief photographer of the Department of the Army and wrote my own orders and traveled all over the world.

SM (00:09:15):

DH (00:09:15):
Did all these different stories. Lived in a great apartment in Arlington. Never wore a uniform.

SM (00:09:25):
Oh my goodness.

DH (00:09:25):
So I had a great time in the Army.

SM (00:09:30):
Now you went to Vietnam as the UPI Bureau chief?

DH (00:09:35):
Yeah. There is some feedback I keep getting. After two years working for the Army, I went back to UPI, I first went back to UPI in Washington, and I was there for about six months, then I went to New York and I staffed UPI for New York for about six or eight months. And then I became a picture Bureau chief in Philadelphia. I was there for two years. Then in 1965, I got ready to send the Marine to Vietnam, and I was assigned as the Picture Bureau chief Saigon.

SM (00:10:37):

DH (00:10:38):
[inaudible] Operation.

SM (00:10:39):

DH (00:10:40):
I was there for two years.

SM (00:10:45):
Did you oversee many other photographers, or were you the photographer?

DH (00:10:49):
Yep, I was the Picture Bureau chief. I went out and I shot, but I also ran the bureau.

SM (00:10:58):
What were your personal feelings about that war when you went over there? Some people, when they first went, depending on whether you served in the military or were in other capacities, the early years, which you would say (19)64, (19)65 years were a lot different than the (19)67, (19)71 years, early on what were your thoughts about the war when you first arrived, and then what were your thoughts when you left?

DH (00:11:27):
Well, I photographed the first US Marines arriving on China Beach in March of (19)65. And I also photographed the last US Marines leaving in 1975.

SM (00:11:44):

DH (00:11:45):
From the roof of the embassy.

SM (00:11:45):

DH (00:11:48):
So I saw the whole hill. Actually, it was very exciting. We had a lot of mobility in those days, and you could go anywhere and do anything. Helicopters, boats, jeeps, everything was available to you. You could get on transport at the drop of the hat, go anywhere you wanted to go and get back to Saigon at the end of the day for a nice drink on the shelf of the Continental Palace. It was a great story. The US experience of the troops and Vietnam was a gradual learning curve for the first few months. This was a great, wonderful experiment in the use of the military. Everybody was having a great time. They were getting to test all the new weapons, and the leaders were gung ho. It was not for almost a year before US troops really began to be sucked into situations where they could no longer prevail. Then it became a very serious business. I think that the people who had been photographing or writing about Vietnam prior to March of 1965, had a much better perspective on how difficult this was going to be because they understood the tactics of Vietnam. They understood the corruption that existed within the South Vietnamese. Most of what we call the old hand, were very pessimistic right from the beginning. But for most of the new arrivals, people like me, we were just having a great time and we just were happy as it could be.

SM (00:14:48):
Would you say that this learning curve that the people you talked about, but even your learning curve as a professional photographer over there from early on, is when you look at (19)65, then you look at Tet in (19)68, and then you look at 1975, the helicopters going off the roof, those are three monumental happenings in this whole phase. Would you agree with that? Were you there with Tet?

DH (00:15:18):
I was not there at Tet. I was on home leave during Tet, but I was certainly there for the beginning and the end. Yeah. I mean, everything totally changed. But to this day, I do not believe that that war had to end the way it ended. The reason why I say that is because we walked away from Vietnam. The Congress stopped appropriating and by March of 1975, the North Vietnamese were pretty well shocked. The bombing offensives had been very effective, especially the Christmas bombing offensive. They had been cut off by China, they had been cut off by Russia. They were not getting their supplies anymore, and they were not in a good position. The way it all fell is that the North Vietnamese decided that they would launch an experimental offensive in the Highlands at a place called Ban Me Thuot. So they assembled an overwhelming force for this little place, and took Ban Me Thuot and started to march down the Highway 19 toward Saigon and the general who was in charge of what we called Free Corps, which is where [inaudible 00:17:36] was, he panicked because actually he had taken prisoner by the North Vietnamese during the French War, and he did not want to become a prisoner again so he got on a helicopter and he just left his headquarters and left it undefended and just told his troops to make their way to Saigon. At the same time, the president of Vietnam panicked, Nguyen Van Thieu, and he pulled the Marines out away and left the South Vietnamese marines trapped on the beach [inaudible] and totally cut off. From that point on, it was all that the North Vietnamese could do to keep up with the retreating troops. It was total complete panic. To this day, I believe that if that general had not bolted from Pleiku actually and if Thieu had not pulled the Marines out of Vietnam, probably it would have wound up with some sort of conciliation government. In fact, the day before Saigon fell, a conciliation government was formed by a guy named Big Ben, and they put up the new colors of this conciliation government. But by that time, it was academic because the tanks were already in Saigon. But no, I have always believed it was a very bad mistake all around from the beginning to end.

SM (00:19:53):
If you were to be asked, which I am asking now, the main reason why we lost that war, what would your response be? Still there?

DH (00:20:19):
Yeah. I am thinking. I think it is very easy to blame the media, but after Tet, and specifically after Walter Cronkite turned against Vietnam, that signaled the end of any US public support in the war. There was none. There was no support in Congress. The American people did not believe in it. The news media did not believe in it, and it was a hopeless case.

SM (00:21:14):
When you looked at McNamara's book, he just passed away this past year, but Robert McNamara's book, "In Retrospect," he had mention in that book that he made mistakes, and then of course, even in McGeorge Bundy's book that came out about six months before he passed away, he was against that war from the get-go, and actually told President Johnson that we should not be there, and it was a mistake. Yet they continued to stay in Vietnam regardless of these attitudes of some of our leaders. Do you put any blame at all on President Johnson, and particularly with the people, Robert McNamara, McGeorge Bundy-

DH (00:22:00):
Of course, yeah, it was a very bad idea.

SM (00:22:10):
But that scene where you are taking pictures of the helicopter, I believe it was April 30th, 1975, if I remember correctly, were you inside the facility? Did you get on a helicopter yourself?

DH (00:22:28):
Yes. Yeah. Yeah.

SM (00:22:31):
There is all kinds of stories there that the Vietnamese people that were able to leave were friends of the Americans or linked to the Vietnamese military, that a lot of them were left. Of course, we know what happened in Vietnam after the helicopters left with the reeducation camps. There were stories of South Vietnamese troops throwing their uniforms away because they did not want to be identified as that whole thing. When you arrived at the aircraft carrier, what were the scenes like? What was going on there, just firsthand description?

DH (00:23:16):
Well, by the way, I have written at great length about that whole experience, and it is on the Digital Journalist, and it is called White Christmas. Just go onto Digital Journalist, and it is a very long piece, which goes into great detail.

SM (00:23:48):
All right. Any short little anecdote you want to say though for the interview?

DH (00:23:55):
Well, it was total chaos. The group that I left Saigon with came out of the defense attache's office, which was out at Tan Son Nhut. The Marines were busing Americans and Vietnamese from meeting points in downtown Saigon, and they were being bused out to Tan Son Nhut. When they got to Tan Son Nhut, they were taken inside the bowling alley, which was full of Vietnamese and Americans and civilians. Once the Marines established their landing zone, almost immediately these big Chinook helicopters started to come in and they would just hover. They were loading those helicopters as fast as they could. Then everybody was being flown out about 12 miles out to ships in the Gulf. I was landed on the Coral Sea, which was one of about a dozen carriers that were receiving people. What was interesting was that among the helicopters that were coming in were all these South Vietnamese helicopters. What they would do is they would touch down and the South Vietnamese would jump out, and then they would push those helicopters off the ship. In fact, in a couple of occasions, they did not even land. There was one pilot who just ditched his helicopter right next to the carrier, but there were a lot of helicopters thrown overboard that day.

SM (00:26:22):
Wow. Of course, that was the beginning of the Boat People that we all know what happened afterwards, trying to escape in the thousands and thousands who drowned at sea trying to escape Vietnam.

DH (00:26:36):

SM (00:26:38):
What pictures do you remember most from your time there in Vietnam? Were there any pictures that you took that stood out? Can you describe the exact environment when you took that picture or pictures?

DH (00:26:54):
You know what, I hate to tell you this, but I have to do it all the time, and every photographer who is interviewed says the same thing. We are very bad when it comes to saying, my favorite picture is... or, I like this picture. We cannot do that. It is something that we are just not wired to do. I cannot objectively discuss my pictures. The only picture I can objectively discuss is the Monica Lewinsky picture.

SM (00:27:32):
Oh, yes.

DH (00:27:32):
Other than that, I cannot.

SM (00:27:36):
But you would say though, you had full access in that war to take pictures, but obviously there was dangers too, that you could have lost your life. Did you know other photographers who lost their lives during the Vietnam War?

DH (00:27:52):
Yeah, many. Vietnam had the highest casualty rate among photographers of any war in history.

SM (00:28:03):
Did any of your UPI photographers die?

DH (00:28:03):
Oh, yeah. Well, in fact, are you by your email right now?

SM (00:28:07):
No, I am not.

DH (00:28:09):
Oh. Because I just answered a question to the John Winslow of News Photographer Magazine, who more or less asked me a similar question and I sent him a reply. I will read it to you. I am going to put you on speaker for a minute.

SM (00:29:59):
Okay. Were the troops well aware of what was going on in America at the time with respect to what many people call the war at home?

SM (00:30:03):
America at the time with respect to what many people call the war at home, the protests.

DH (00:30:04):
Oh, yeah-yeah.

SM (00:30:07):
I have read some novels, and I have also read some books depending on the year, obviously, the late (19)60s and early (19)70s were the greatest amount of protests in America, but what were the troops thinking when they... What part do you believe that played in the war itself? Not only in terms of the feelings that many of the troops had, but the enemy?

DH (00:30:33):
Well, I think it was encouraging for the enemy, and I think that it was very, very difficult on the troop. It was fighting in those jungles and the common instances of fragging where an enlisted man would throw grenade at an officer, and it was a very volatile situation. There were some units that were much higher performing units, like the Marines, for example, but army draftees. It was a very difficult war for them, and it is a war that they were not prepared to fight.

SM (00:31:49):
The troops came back to the United States, particularly in the early (19)70s and started the Vietnam veterans against the war, and there were a lot of veterans against the war, I guess, that were serving, especially in that 67 to 71 period when it seemed like chaos was not only in America, but also in Vietnam within the troops. Did you see that as well? Did you actually see troops who were against the war who were actually fighting it?

DH (00:32:17):
Yes, sure. Yeah, you run into that. As I say, episodes of bragging just were units just would not go out, right? I mean, there was a period during the Christmas bombing offensive over no, where all the B52s stopped flying. They just decided they were not going to get shot down anymore. The North Vietnamese had gotten that down to the science, and they could target those B52s as they would come over the mountains. They were taking them out left and right. At one point, all the B50s in Guam just had a stand down.

SM (00:33:15):
Did you see all... A lot of the things that were happening in America, not only the protests, but certainly the battles over racism and sexism and the drug culture, the rock music, the sense that government is lying, all these movements that came about in the early (19)70s, were a lot of these things happening within the troops too? The troops were a microcosm of what was going on in America.

DH (00:33:47):
Yeah, sure. Yeah, especially in 1968, yeah.

SM (00:33:52):
What was it about (19)68 that made a difference than any other year?

DH (00:33:55):
Yes, (19)68 was really the crucial year.

SM (00:34:01):
And could you explain a little further what made it a crucial year or-

DH (00:34:07):
Everything came together that year. So the war was heavy casualties. The lifestyles of the young people were changing. The Beatles were happening. The Rolling Stones were happening, long hair was happening, drugs were happening. It was the overthrow of what we would think was normal in the society and the general generational conflict.

SM (00:34:51):
Is there any movie that you feel portrays that era better than any other, because many Vietnam vets have been pretty critical of the movies that have been made on Vietnam.

DH (00:35:09):

SM (00:35:11):
Apocalypse Now?

DH (00:35:14):
But that I said, right. From the standpoint of... And if you get the idea, well, this was all just totally nuts.

SM (00:35:41):
Yeah, also the movie Platoon was one that most Vietnam vets did not like. Why do you think they did not like that film?

DH (00:35:51):
I think I cannot speak with Vietnam vets. I found Platoon really to be estrin. Platoon is really sort of what we call a TikTok. That is how it was, that is how it was. Emotionally, it has no heft. There are Apocalypse Now. Those crazy people were really there, when all those crazy things, and it was totally out of control.

SM (00:36:43):
How has the experience in Vietnam differed from any of the other photo experiences you had since that time? What made that unique in itself?

DH (00:36:56):
Well, first off, Vietnam was "my war". If you talk to most professional journalists who been around for a while, almost all of them have an event that they identify with, and that this was the core event of my life. And for me, Vietnam was that core event. It is what shaped me, it is what shaped all my colleagues. You have to remember, anybody who is anybody or has been anybody in journalism, went through that experience. And rather, Tom broke off. Peter Jennings, Tech Poppel, they all went through Vietnam. They all served their time there, but roughly the same time. And the thing that was unique about Vietnam was that you were very much in control of what you did. In previous wars as World War II, such as Korea, if you were a correspondent or a photographer, you really had no control over where you went. You joined up with some troops and wound up mowing with those troops wherever they went for as long as they were gone. And it was a shared experience with the troops. Vietnam was totally different, Vietnam was covering a fire. Every morning you would read the wires and find out what had happened overnight, and then you would take your car out to [inaudible] and hop on a helicopter and buy off a couple hundred miles and be set down in the middle of a raging battle And cover that battle, and then when you would have enough of that, you would get back on a helicopter and go back to Saigon and go have a beer. And so it was always a matter of personal choice that you did. And so that puts a whole different perspective on it because once you realize that you are making those choices, you are not being forced, you have a much different feeling about the whole process. And it becomes much more of a personal adventure. And I will tell you that I personally ever met a photographer who covered Vietnam, who did not love the experience. Love it, not like it, loved it, did not get enough of it, did not stay away. I was there for two years in (19)65 and (19)66, came back to New York for two years, and from the minute I was back in New York, I wait to get back to Saigon. And I was totally miserable in New York. There was nobody to talk to or everything seemed like total bullshit to me. I had no depth, they did not understand what was going on in the world. And after going back to Vietnam for Time Magazine in 1972, the first morning I woke up and was walking down Main Street in Saigon. It felt like I had gone to bed several years earlier and woke up that next morning in Saigon and nothing else had happened in those three years I was away. It was just a total complete, okay now I am back where I ought to be.

SM (00:42:00):

DH (00:42:02):
And so very important that you understand, but point of view now, a lot of that point of view was because we were in strand of what we did. We were all accredited by Max V. So you have identification cards allow you to get on any helicopter or plane with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. And I actually could come home at the end of the night. And the press facilities, by the way, were very good. Even in places like Danang with bars and all that stuff. Word since then, have not been that much fun. Places like Bosnia, Iraq, Afghanistan, there is no booze. Where is the fun. There is no fun. It is miserable places where people get dismembered by. IEEs. And there is not a lot of, after going on in those places. Vietnam, we laughed our asses off.

SM (00:43:43):
What is interesting when you talk about the freedoms that you had in Vietnam, it is almost like that is the culture of that (19)60s generation or that era, that one of the goals of the cultural revolution at that period was that people were in charge of their own lives. They did not have to worry about the corporate, having a corporate image that I am empowered to do, I am empowered to speak up. I am empowered to fight injustice. I am empowered to do these things. There was a feeling, a sense of my voice counts, and basically what you are saying is even in the world of porno journalism in Vietnam and your fellow photojournalist, there was that same cultural feeling of you are in charge.

DH (00:44:31):
Yeah, well-

SM (00:44:33):
That was the time.

DH (00:44:34):
Yeah and after I attribute a lot of this one man, and that is Barry Zorithian.

SM (00:44:45):

DH (00:44:46):
Barry Zorithian.

SM (00:44:47):
How do you spell that name?

DH (00:44:49):
Z-O-R-I-T H I A N. Barry Zorithian.

SM (00:44:54):

DH (00:44:55):
Barry Zorthian was acting Spokeman. He was not a spokeman, he was head of Max V military assistance command Vietnam of the press operation. And he said all the policies, and he was a former time incorporated guy, and his heart was a journalist heart. But he had a very high rank within Max V. He was number two people of organization. And so he is the one who made these decision. Chris could do all that, one of the lessons because the Vietnam people who were in charge in Vietnam after the Vietnam War blamed Zorithian and blamed themselves were losing the war. And their theory was that they lost the war...

SM (00:46:22):
They lost the war at what? Still there?

DH (00:46:30):
Yeah, I am here.

SM (00:46:30):
Oh, okay.

SM (00:46:30):

SM (00:46:38):
Are you waiting for another question or... One of the questions that I wanted to ask is, I was looking at one of your videos on the computer and you were talking about when you take pictures, you feel that it' is an educational process and you have a very strong philosophy of responsibility. Could you go into detail on that with, you had mentioned that in the video?

DH (00:47:18):
Very strong sense of responsibility, people to do all of the things that I have done over my life. My job is to...

SM (00:47:51):
I think we are getting cut off here.

DH (00:47:54):
Oh, is really-

SM (00:47:56):
Want me to call you again? I am getting cut off now.

DH (00:47:59):
Oh, you better call me back.

SM (00:48:00):
Okay, thanks, bye. Oh, you teach me any courses or?

DH (00:48:12):
I do not teach courses currently.

SM (00:48:17):
So the next few questions are going to be based on a lot on the generation, the boomer generation, and of course Vietnam bets were part of that. When you hear people, especially in recent years, blame all of the problems we have on to have today in our society on the era known as the (19)60s and the (19)70s. And of course they are talking about the drug culture, the welfare state, the divorce rate, some people call it the beginning of the handout society, the lack of respect for authority, the divisive nature in our dealings with people with that we disagree with. In other words, placing the blame on the boomer generation really. What are your feelings when you hear that from politicians or pundits?

DH (00:49:05):
Well, I laugh because it seems to me that things have reversed itself. The liberals are now the professors and the conservatives of the students, and you see this all over. Right now, a lot of anxiety on a part of the current generation is they are not going to get what they are entitled to.

SM (00:49:50):
That is interesting because one of the most important things when you learn about what an activist is, an activist never says these words, 'what is in it for me?' It is 'what is in it for we' was the mentality of the many of the college students of the (19)60s and (19)70s. And if you hear the reverse, what is in it for me? They are not an activist.

DH (00:50:16):
No, they are not, no-no. And I will say one of the big problems I have with students and having taught photojournalism, I find a total lack of curiosity there. When I look into their eyes, there is nothing there. There is lifeless. I do not know if it is too much time spent in front of video games, whether it is not learning to read, but there is nothing there. I did an exercise the first two times I taught my photojournalism class. I would walk around-

SM (00:51:17):
What year was this?

DH (00:51:20):
And there would be a dozen kids at the table, and I would walk around and I would get up real close and I would look them in the eye. And about one in four, I would say, okay, you are crazy. And I meant that in a good way because what I was seeing is there was something going on in those eyes. There was life, there was some flickering there, there was some wildness in there. There was something, there was a pulse in that person. The rest of them, if I did not say that, I knew they might as well drop out of that class right then because they were not going to do anything. I find that the greatest problem in teaching journalism today is teaching what a story is. Students have no idea whatsoever of what a story is, what makes up a story. How do you do it? How do you find it? I used to be good at that stuff. I mean very fast, but they are not anymore.

SM (00:53:03):
Would you say that the students of the (19)60s and the (19)70s had that, whereas the students of the (19)80s, (19)90s, and what we call the 2010s, which is the next two generations, generation X and certainly the millennial students of the day, are they in the latter group?

DH (00:53:24):
Yeah, I mean, I think the students in the (19)60s and (19)70s were on fire that they could not consume enough experiences or ideas. They were ravish. They wanted to ingest anything and everything, all. They were hungry for experience. They were hungry for drugs, they were hungry for sex, they were hungry. They were raiding maniacs. Look around you today, you do not see it.

SM (00:54:11):
Back in the (19)90s. I like your thoughts with the generation Xer group that followed the boomer generation. We had a panel of boomers and generation Xers, and they were having some problems with each other. And I found in my programs that I did the university that Generation Xers, and they are people born from (19)65 till about 1982. They either looked at the (19)60s as their sick and tired of the nostalgia that this generation of boomers is always talking about or they regretted that they did not live during that time because there were causes and there was nothing in between either like you or they did not. Did you find that too?

DH (00:54:57):

SM (00:54:58):
When you look at the boomer generation, which is those born between (19)46 and (19)64, and I want to preface this statement by saying that I now know that people that were born between (19)35 and (19)45 are as much of boomer as those born in that period because of the sense of spirit and they were kind of the mentors and role models for many boomers. When you look at the boomer generation, are there any basic characteristics or strengths or flaw that you can apply to them as a group? And of course we know there is 74 million people in this generation, but just from the ones you knew.

DH (00:55:36):
Well, I think that my experience is that people of my generation was stewarded earlier. They were out doing things, talk about me working for my newspaper at the age of 17. I was not drifting around aimlessly. I knew things I wanted to do. And that same thing went for all my friends. I had class reunion that long ago. We were talking about this very thing. People became young adults at the age of 18 and some cases 17. Now, God help us, you are lucky if you find a young adult at 30.

SM (00:56:42):
So the criticism that some people have of boomers is that they were a generation that never grew up. Some people think, well, again, I am just putting the shoe on the other foot there. Some people just do not like boomers and that they never did grow up. So I do not know if you have any concepts on that.

DH (00:57:12):
Not really, no.

SM (00:57:14):
And also the many of the boomers thought they were the most unique generation in American history, particularly when they were young. And again, many felt they were going to be the change agents for the betterment of society by ending racism, sexism, homophobia, ending war, bringing peace and making the world a better place to live. Is the world we live in an indictment of the generation or are we a better nation overall because of their activism?

DH (00:57:43):
That is the meaning of life question. I do not know. I do not know.

SM (00:57:55):
Can you give any other strengths or weaknesses of that generation? If you have any other thoughts?

DH (00:58:04):
Well, everybody has got their idea of the greatest generation. We know We are Tom [inaudible] fan. And I think for me, the most interesting generation was the boomers. Were the greatest or not, I do not know, but [inaudible] info. Well, I think we are in a society today that is just sort of drifting.

SM (00:58:47):
And again, I am just trying to understand the boomer generation from many different angles. Do you put any blame on that on the parents of today's young people, generation Xers were the children of Boomers. And now if you look on college campuses, only 15 percent of the millennial students of today are the kids of boomers. Most of them are the kids of generation Xers. So do you think this is also a criticism of the parents who maybe did not pass on some of the feelings that they had when they were young.

DH (00:59:23):
Yeah, I think so. And I think that that is probably a fallout from the boomer generation as far as caring for your young. But I think that as we all know, the basic family structure as we knew it has disappeared. Dinner around the table, the participation of adults and kids' activities, and certainly among minorities, it is-

DH (01:00:02):
And certainly among minorities, it is a disaster. No place at the table.

SM (01:00:13):
In your opinion, when did the (19)60s begin and when did it end?

DH (01:00:19):
(19)60s began with John Kennedy being inaugurated.

SM (01:00:27):
And when did it end?

DH (01:00:38):
When was that big concert, San Francisco? Was it the Rolling Stones?

SM (01:00:46):

DH (01:00:47):
Altamont, yeah.

SM (01:00:48):
That is when the violence, yes. Is there a watershed moment that you think that stands out for most boomers?

DH (01:01:03):
I do not know. I think that is an individual thing.

SM (01:01:04):
I think you were born in 1936, correct?

DH (01:01:05):

SM (01:01:08):
Then you have lived through these periods. And just give a couple [inaudible], because these are the periods that boomers have lived. The oldest boomer is now 64, and the youngest is 49. So I think most boomers now realize that they are mortal, like every other group. In your own words, can you describe the America of the following periods as you remember? Just from your growing up, and just what these periods may symbolize to you, because these are all periods in boomers' lives. That period from the end of World War II, 1946, to the inauguration of President Kennedy.

DH (01:01:53):
I think that was a period of excitement and possibility. We were getting into the space race. And because the space race, there were so many technological changes. Just everything that you had in your house was changing, and becoming high-tech, we are on our way to that. And so I thought that the (19)50s, we still had the [inaudible], but I thought that the (19)50s was an optimistic and innovative time.

SM (01:02:53):
How about the period 1961 to 1970?

DH (01:02:57):
Sixty-one to (19)70, of course that is when everything exploded. And the Kennedy, and Kennedy's assassination, and Bobby Kennedy, and rock and roll, and drugs, and Andy Warhol. And total changes in dress, and the way people related to each other. Very casual sex, all those things.

SM (01:03:38):
How about 1971 to 1980?

DH (01:03:43):
(19)71to (19)80, Jimmy Carter, Gerald Ford. First off, you really have to understand that the first two years, we were totally bogged down in Watergate, where I think we were collectively losing our senses. And Nixon was totally out of control. The war went on in Vietnam. And then we had a breather with Gerry Ford, who was a very nice man. And then Jimmy Carter, who has since proven to be one of our better ex-presidents, but who was a total disaster when it came to the concept of protecting presidential authority of power. And the period of malaise. So I do not know if you remember the kind of clothes that Gerry Ford and Jimmy Carter wore, but these real weird plaids.

SM (01:05:15):
Yeah, and then Jerry Ford is not a very good golfer, and he hit a lot of people.

DH (01:05:24):
Yeah. But a very nice man. I liked Gerry Ford the whole time. But it was not much doing. And we were limping along with malaise, and everybody just generally not feeling very good. And then we got to (19)80s, and there was Ronnie.

SM (01:05:47):
Yeah, (19)81 to (19)90 was the next period.

DH (01:05:52):
Yeah. And as I was concerned, that was a wonderful time, because I got to spend all my time in Santa Barbara. But everybody seemed to feel really good. They liked Ronnie. Nobody took him too seriously, except when he said, "Tear down this wall, Mr. Gorbachev." Promptly did exactly that. And so I think the (19)80s was a feel-good period.

SM (01:06:31):
Do you think it was a period where he was trying to bring back the (19)50s?

DH (01:06:32):
Not really, no.

SM (01:06:39):
And bring the military back to power, the way it should be, as opposed to the way it was in the (19)70s?

DH (01:06:45):
Well, see, I personally always looked at Reagan, I saw this happy-go-lucky warrior, who always seemed to have such a good time. And I personally prospered during the (19)80s. I thought I was just wonderful. And like I say, I spent, out of eight years, I spent a whole year in Santa Barbara. And so that was not hard to say.

SM (01:07:22):
How about the (19)90s? 1991 to 2000?

DH (01:07:29):
Now, I am beginning to run into short term memory loss. What happened in the (19)90s? I cannot remember.

SM (01:07:40):
Well, we had the president of Bush I and Bill Clinton.

DH (01:07:42):
Yeah. Well, that is the answer. Bill Clinton, I thought was a hoot. He seemed to have a wonderful sense of humor and good time. But I thought, personally, he was a total fraud. I kept watching, as a photographer, I am always watching the eyes of my subject. I am trying to read what is in there. And what I found out very early on in the Clinton administration was for the first front that I covered him, I thought I had never covered anybody as fascinating as Bill Clinton. He could get to the point he could make a smart, a steep statement, his eyes had empathy, sympathy. He knew how to reach out to just the right person. And then I realized, after lunch, I was watching an act.

SM (01:09:08):

DH (01:09:14):
But he would do the same thing, every single time. And I could tell in advance that he was going to tear up. I could tell what he was going to do. And so, for eight years... Actually seven years. For seven years, I studied Bill Clinton's face from up close, waiting to get him. And I finally did. If you go on my webpage, on the digital journalist and go to the covers, you will see a picture of Bill Clinton. And it was during the middle of the Monica business, and he was at a rally with the First Lady, and she was having absolutely nothing to do with him. And he would sort of reach out, tentatively toward her, and she would bat his hand away. And I soon suddenly started to notice that his right jaw kept clenching. And it went on and on. And his jaw was just clenching. And I have a whole roll of that, the [inaudible] Magazine. And I said, "I got you. I finally got you." After seven years, I finally saw the real Bill Clinton.

SM (01:10:56):
I know there is a picture on there too of them with masks.

DH (01:11:02):
Yeah. Yeah. And I consider that a metaphor, because I think they are both the same. I think they are two sides at the same point, that they deserve each other. And I have always thought that.

SM (01:11:23):
You have covered presidents from Kennedy to Clinton, I think maybe even a little bit above Bush too, but you say you finally got Clinton. What do you have to say about these other presidents in terms of maybe the photographs, and what their personalities were? And maybe even, I have got a question here, which President had the greatest impact on the boomer generation, in your opinion? Because you covered the White House for 29 years, and that is basically the time when the boomers were young, and then going into middle age. So you are dealing with Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, and Bush I, and Clinton.

DH (01:12:05):
All right. Let me give you my quick rundown. Kennedy, I covered from his inaugural until he was killed. A totally fascinating character, and very, very similar to Bill Clinton. In fact, they are almost alter-egos. Bill Clinton, the same characteristics I mentioned of Bill Clinton, I talk about John Kennedy. The photographers used to call Kennedy 'Jack the Back'. And the reason for that is Kennedy was very camera conscious. And so whenever he would come into view of the camera, he would immediately turn his back to the lens until he had composed himself. Until he had his face where he wanted it to be, hair was where he wanted it to be, and then he would turn his face to camera. But the first thing was always the turning of the back.

SM (01:13:25):

DH (01:13:26):
So he was 'Jack the back'. And a fantastic energy to cover, and just a total wild man. Everything you read about him is true, including the midnight trips to the swimming pool. One photographer I knew, he really sort of served as an on the road pimp for him. He would run alongside the car, and as they were going in these motorcades, and they were in the open car, we had all these teenage girls, and Kennedy used to call them leapers. And he would see one that would strike his eye, and he would just look at my friend, Stanley Tretick, who is a photographer, and just point to her. And it was Tretick's job to go over to her and say, "How would you like the come meet the Senator?"

SM (01:14:31):

DH (01:14:34):
And so, that was bad boy.

SM (01:14:41):
Always think of him with the older women, not younger women.

DH (01:14:43):
Oh, no-no. He loved the leapers. And they were just like hors d'oeuvres. I mean, Marilyn Monroe was the main course.

SM (01:14:47):

DH (01:14:55):
And then Lyndon Johnson, totally fascinating. And far bigger than life. Just huge. And he would dominate the room. He would intimidate, physically, anybody he was with. One of the best stories that I have ever heard, and it is apocryphal, is that at Camp David, Johnson was having a meeting with the president of Canada, Lester Pearson. And Lester Pearson, they were talking heatedly about Vietnam, and photographers were able to watch as Kennedy reached forward, grabbed Lester Pearson's [inaudible], and raised him off his feet, and said, loud enough for us to hear, "Boy, you have been fishing on my front lawn."

SM (01:16:12):

DH (01:16:15):
That was Lyndon Johnson.

SM (01:16:19):

DH (01:16:29):
And he was obsessively narcissistic. He insisted, for example, that his photographer, Okamoto, photographed him sitting on the bathroom. He wanted every piece of shit recorded. And he was something else. I could tell you stories about Lyndon Johnson [inaudible] and all that. And so then, of course, after Lyndon Johnson, we got Nixon, right? And of course Nixon was my favorite because Nixon was the best subject a photographer to ever have. He was totally crazy. And you could see every emotion. The world's worst poker player. And his face was... Anytime he made an address, his face was like a living contradiction. His eyes would be delivering one message, and his mouth would be delivering another. And there would be this moisture above his mouth, and his little eyes would be darting around the room. And he was nuts, in a word. And in fact, he did a whole bunch of nutty things. For example, during Watergate, he could not stand it. And so, one night, he bolted from the White House, in the middle of the night, called a car, drove to Dulles Airport, and got on a PWA DC-10, fly out the Santa Barbara. All alone. There was one Secret Service agent who was on the plane. And then, of course, then they had the problem, how would they get him back from Santa Barbara? Because he had not officially left. And so he was stuck in Santa Barbara, it was terrible weather. It was raining, and he was stuck there for a week. And fortunately, Henry Kissinger had taken a Jetstar down to see one of his [inaudible] in Mexico. And that plane had come back up to 29 Palm to resurface. So that is how they got him back. They had to put him in the closet of the plane to get him back Washington. Another time, he bolted from the White House and he went to Lincoln Memorial, and stood in the rain in front of Lincoln Memorial, soaking wet, for an hour, just staring at Lincoln. And of course, the more intense that Watergate story got, the better it, got. I mean, I could not wait to get to the White House in the morning. I mean, I would have paid thousands of dollars just for the privilege of going to those briefings. Because with Ron Ziegler up here, and Jerry what was his name dismantling Nixon, and all the craziness that was going on. And of course, during that period, I had, I think 20 of my 50 covers just on Nixon. And my trick was... And the other guys never caught onto it. My trick, from day one, was to use the longest possible lens that I could find. And so where my colleagues were all using 80 to 200-millimeter lenses, from his speeches, I was using eight hundreds. And I was getting in so tight on his face because I wanted to see those eyes. And there is a very famous picture in my covers of, it was taken during the American Legion Convention in New Orleans, and it was toward the end of Watergate. And he was walking into the convention hall, and he was not sleeping at all. There was just this wildness in his face. And as he was going into the hall, a reporter said, " Mr. President, what about the missing eight and a half [inaudible]?" And Nixon turned around and grabbed Ron Ziegler, and just hurled him backwards, yelling, keep those bastards away from me. And then he went on stage and there is this haunted face of Richard Nixon, where it is all there. The whole thing. The whole crazy is all there. So I mean, he was a wonderful story, you could not ask for anything better than that.

SM (01:22:37):
Was Agnew an important part of that story too?

DH (01:22:40):
In retrospect, no. Early on, yes. And then, of course, Gerry Ford, who is probably the sweetest guy ever be president. Really very nice man. Never had any desire at all to be president. Perfectly happy up on the house. And loved photographers. He used to come over to the house for drinks. Almost fell off our balcony one night. But just a really nice man. And that gave way to Carter, who was just, as I say, just a mess. I will never forget one time he was at Normandy, visiting the graveside soldiers to [inaudible]. And it was a gorgeous spring day, and he was with Valérie Giscard d'Estaing. And Valérie Giscard d'Estaing was... Hang on a minute.

SM (01:24:23):

DH (01:24:23):
Are you there?

SM (01:24:23):
Yep, I am here.

DH (01:24:23):
Good. I dropped my phone.

SM (01:24:23):

DH (01:24:23):
Anyway, Valérie Giscard d'Estaing was this very handsome, tall, distinguished looking guy. And he was wearing this bespoke [inaudible] suit. And next to him is this guy, in this Colombo [inaudible], looked like a flasher. And that was Jimmy Carter. And so that is when we started calling him the [inaudible] Flasher.

SM (01:24:58):
Oh my God.

DH (01:25:05):
And then after Carter...

SM (01:25:07):

DH (01:25:09):
Reagan, and I have already talked about Reagan. And then I have Clinton, and I have talked to you about Clinton.

SM (01:25:19):
George Bush I.

DH (01:25:21):
Oh, yeah. George Bush I. How could I forget George Bush I? Again, a very good friend of mine. And a very loosey goosey guy, except when he was deciding to go to war. Basically, a very decent man. And I will never forget, when after Saddam Hussein had invaded Kuwait, and Bush had been up at Kennebunkport, and he came back later that day. And he walked off of Air Force One, and I knew George Bush very well, the face that I saw, I had never seen before. It scared the living shit out of me. And somebody turned to him as he was going in the door of the White House and said, "So what are you going to do about Saddam Hussein?" And he pointed and said, "Wait. Just wait and watch." I said, "Whoa." And of course he did. Yeah. And wait [inaudible] war. But by and large, he was fun to be around. Hilarious. If you look at some of the pictures on my site, there are all these really funny pictures of him. He liked making fun of himself. He was deliberately goofy. And then there is George W. Bush, who I hate. Totally nasty man. Nasty in ways I cannot even calculate. But he is a bully. And he thinks he is too clever by half. And I have no regard for him whatsoever.

SM (01:28:05):
Yet he has got a really nice wife, Barbara.

DH (01:28:09):
No, that is George H.

SM (01:28:11):
Yeah, I mean Laura.

DH (01:28:12):
Laura. Yeah.

SM (01:28:15):
And then of course, you have got a really nice picture on your website of President Obama. He is only been in there two years, but I guess your thoughts on him so far.

DH (01:28:25):
Well, I think he is doing the best he can. I mean, God help you. I mean, who would want to be in that position? The mess he has inherited. And I do not think he has made any big mistakes. I think he has strapped himself with an overwhelming schedule. And I think doing as well as he can. Time will tell.

SM (01:29:04):
Yeah. It is amazing how people... He says that he tries to not be identified with a (19)60s generation, and he tries to disassociate, yet his critics say he is the epitome of it. That he is farther to the left than in any other president. Which, they may just be critics saying it, but he cannot seem to win no how, no matter what he does. What are your thoughts on the two pictures that were very big during the Vietnam War. And as an observer, as a photographer observing another person's photography, what did you think of the picture, the girl in the pitcher? With Kim Fuchs? And the second picture was the colonel killing the Viet Cong person in, I guess it was Saigon, or whatever it was.

DH (01:29:52):
Yeah, of course. Both of those were taken by very dear friends of mine. Colonel [inaudible] being killed, that was [inaudible] Eddie Adams.

SM (01:30:01):

DH (01:30:01):
And that-

DH (01:30:03):
... [inaudible] Eddie Adams.

SM (01:30:01):

DH (01:30:01):
And that is certainly one of the most influential pictures that is ever been taken. It definitely turned the direction against the war. There is no question about it. And it is a picture that haunted Eddie Adams until he died. He wished he had never taken it. And then the Kim Phúc picture, that is taken by another friend of mine. And I think that is a lesser picture than the Eddie Adams picture, which of course on a scale of one to 10 is 10. But again, that was an influential picture.

SM (01:31:03):
And of course the other pictures, the My Lai pictures, which seemed to say to Americans that our troops are committing atrocities. And what did you think of all the coverage of My Lai? Because it got a lot of press. It was on the front cover of magazines, and people refer to it all the time.

DH (01:31:25):
Yeah, exactly. Yeah.

SM (01:31:30):
Did you think that from... depending on who you talked to, this was happening all the time in Vietnam, or was this just one of those rare happenings?

DH (01:31:42):
Well, I think it happened a lot more, most people realize. In a war where there are no lines and you have these guys with guns walking through villages, and those guys had been shot at an hour before, that sort of stuff happened.

SM (01:32:12):
One of the questions that I have asked everybody from the time I started with Senator McCarthy back in (19)96 was the question of healing, this issue of healing. I took a group of students to Washington, D.C. in 1995 to meet former Senator Edmund Muskie, who was the vice presidential candidate in 1968 at the Democratic Convention in Chicago. And the students that went with me came up with this question. They were not born at the time, but they had seen all the videos of that year, 1968, and what happened in Chicago. And their question was this: "Due to all the divisions that were happening in America at the time, 1968, divisions between black and white, male and female, gay and straight, those who supported the war, those who did not, those who supported the troops and those who did not, do you think the (19)60s generation, the Vietnam generation, will go to its grave, like the Civil War generation, not truly healing, due to the tremendous divisive issues that tore us apart?" I will give you what Senator Muskie's response was after I hear yours.

DH (01:33:26):
You know what? I do not think so. I think time has passed. I mean, I certainly do not find myself dwelling on it.

SM (01:33:39):
Do you think we as a nation have a problem with healing? And what has the wall done in Washington, D.C. to help this process? Some people say it has really helped the vets and their families, but the question is, as Jan Scruggs, when he wrote in his book, To Heal a Nation, has it really gone beyond the vets?

DH (01:33:59):
Yeah. Well, no, I think for the vet, I mean, that is who it is for after all. And so, no, I love the wall. I think it is a beautiful tribute and I think that is great.

SM (01:34:15):
So you would not put the Vietnam generation in the same league with the divisions that took place during the Civil War? Because it is well documented they did not heal from that war.

DH (01:34:30):
Yeah. Well, except that was a big difference. It was fought here on our property, on our country. Everybody was involved.

SM (01:34:45):
Right. The other question is the issue of trust, obviously because of a lot of the leaders lied to members of the boomer generation throughout their youth. Obviously the biggest examples are Watergate with President Nixon, but we also know the Gulf of Tonkin with President Johnson. And more astute young students, and there were many of them, saw the lies that Eisenhower even gave in 1959 on the U-2 incident where he said it was not a spy plane. And then you had all the numbers that McNamara was giving on the troops, and we knew that those were not actual numbers. So there was a sense that no one trusted anybody in a sense of responsibility, whether it be a university president, a corporate leader, a congressman, a senator, a principal. No matter who they were, there was this lack of trust. Do you think that is been a negative quality within the generation? It has been characterized as part of them, or do you see anything positive in that?

DH (01:35:52):
What concerns me is the divisions that are deepening among citizens. It used to be you could go to a dinner party in Washington and the table would be full of Democrats and Republicans. That would not happen today; one or the other. You are either a Democrat or a Republican. And as somebody who has lived for a long time in Washington and taught people there every day, it is the thing that I think bothers everybody the most. Half of the population is not talking to the other half. And I cannot remember any time that that has happened. And I credit to a large extent the rise of cable pundits who are yelling at each other 24 hours a day, except on Saturdays. They take off on Saturday. But I think they are responsible to a large degree. I think that we are suffering from a breakdown in civility that I think is just going to get worse. And I only know, is now we have got these commissions at work. Everybody is [inaudible] is going to start getting [inaudible] simultaneously. That could be a lot of very pissed off people.

SM (01:37:53):
Do you see any links there between the divisiveness in the (19)60s? Because a lot of people were not talking to each other back then, they were shouting people down at times and were not listening to the other side. Do you see any kind of link between then and now?

DH (01:38:06):
Totally different. Totally different. I think that you had a lifestyle conflict which would manifest itself primarily in the long hairs versus the short hairs. And of course, you always had the police on the side of the short hairs. And so I think that that was a lifestyle division. This is a much more ... How do you explain this? This is a division over who gets what. And I think it is going to be very nasty.

SM (01:39:09):
I have only got three more questions and then I am... One of the things here, and I know you say this in your literature, and I know it was important, regardless of what we say about Richard Nixon, the pros and the cons, we got to give credit for him in terms of his trip to China, and you were-

DH (01:39:33):
Oh, absolutely.

SM (01:39:35):
Yeah. I would like to you to talk about in your own words, as a person who not only took pictures and have said that this is one of the most important experiences you have went through, how important that trip was to this country and to this world.

DH (01:39:50):
Well, as somebody who was chosen to photograph that trip to China, I have always regarded that at the high point of my life. And I certainly think it is at the pinnacle representing what a person of the United States is able to do. This was a... I guess you would call it a Hail Mary pass, that Kissinger and Nixon cooked up one summer. And we were in San Clemente, and Kissinger disappeared for a week and came back and we discovered he had been to China. And that was the beginning of the process of setting that trip up. But there has never been a more important presidential trip. And I do not see how there could ever be, unless maybe we are sitting on the confrontation of World War III. But it changed everything. Because of that trip, China and Russia stopped supporting North Vietnam. And so it was the precursor to ending the Vietnam War, really. Totally realigned world politics, shifted alliances. And it was responsible... Hello? Hello?

SM (01:41:54):
Yeah, I am here. Yeah.

DH (01:41:56):
Okay. It was responsible for liberating China from [inaudible] and start them on a path which God only knows how that is going to finally play out. But that one trip changed everything. And there is another trip I want to mention to you because it is along the same lines. And that was the trip to the Soviet Union for the SALT agreement. And I do not know if you remember when that happened, but that was two weeks before Nixon resigned. And he did two trips back-to-back in a 10-day period in that period immediately before he resigned. One was he went to India and Israel, and the other was he went to the Soviet Union. And Nixon and Kissinger were frantic to get the SALT treaty signed the, because they knew time was running out. And so Kissinger went to see... Was it Brezhnev then, I think? I think it was Brezhnev. But Kissinger went to see him and he said, "Listen, we need to have a talk. As you realize, the president is under extraordinary pressure in the United States." Can you hang on just a sec?

SM (01:43:59):

DH (01:43:59):
Okay. The president is under ordinary pressure in the United States. He has not been sleeping well. I personally am very worried about his mental health. So I would recommend that when you have your discussion, you treat him very carefully, very carefully. And that is how we got the SALT treaty passed.

SM (01:44:54):
Geez. He did an awful lot toward the end.

DH (01:44:57):
Yes, he did.

SM (01:45:00):
Were you in the room when he resigned?

DH (01:45:02):
Yes, I was.

SM (01:45:02):
Yeah. I remember watching that on television, and by golly, that was an emotional event with his family right there behind him and his thanking all of his staff. And yeah, I remember he talked about his mom. Would you say of all the presidents we have talked about that really were alive when the boomers in their lives, that he is the most Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde? He can have the greatest moments and then he can have the worst moments, extremes, almost like psychosis or something psychologically.

DH (01:45:40):
Yeah, absolutely.

SM (01:45:41):
That seemed to be a another really... even though it was a sad moment, he said the right words.

DH (01:45:48):
Yeah. Well, he was a great president, except he was crazy.

SM (01:45:54):
Yeah-yeah. Well, Bobby Muller, when he came back from Vietnam, the person who founded Vietnam Veterans of America, this is a famous quote from him. He said, "I knew that when I came back from Vietnam, that America was not always the good guy," because he had been a Marine and he went in there, and of course he was injured. But he saw things that we have discussed in the late (19)60s over in Vietnam, and knew some things. Is that what a lot of veterans were saying around that time, that for the first time... I know in World War II, we did not say that. I do not think in Korea we said that. But a lot of Vietnam vets were saying, "America is not always the good guy."

DH (01:46:40):
Yeah-yeah. Mm-hmm.

SM (01:46:41):
Did you sense that from a lot of vets?

DH (01:46:42):
Not a lot, but some, yeah.

SM (01:46:52):
And then there was, in The Wounded Generation, which was a book written in 1980, there was a panel with Phil Caputo, James Fallows, Bobby Muller, Jim Webb, who is now Senator Webb. And they talked about the issue of the generation gap between parents and young people. But then Jim Webb said something that changed the discussion. He said the real generation gap, it was not really between father and son or mother and daughter, or whatever; it was between those who went to war and those who did not, those who fought the war and those who did not. And he was very critical in the discussion that this is what we call a service generation, i.e. Kennedy, the Peace Corps and serving your country when your nation calls... that in reality, the boomer generation is not a service-oriented generation. Your thoughts on the generation gap between those who served and those who did not, and the concept of service, which is often linked to the (19)60s generation.

DH (01:48:00):

SM (01:48:03):
Any thoughts?

DH (01:48:05):
Well, I personally, I told you I had a great job when I was in the Army. I personally benefited enormously from the draft. And I think that when the draft was discontinued, we lost something, lost something as a basis of shared service that we regret today. And the military's got broken. We cannot keep sending the same people back over and over and over again. You cannot keep on doing this. And I think you see the estimate of we are going to be in Afghanistan until 2014. Where are these people going to come from? So I personally am for the draft. It sure did not hurt me any, and I thought it was a very valuable experience.

SM (01:49:37):
I heard the other night on TV, Eliot Spitzer was talking, the former governor of New York, and he says he is for the draft. And quite a few of the Democrats now are starting to think, in fairness... because we all know about the fairness issue during the Vietnam War; in fairness, all people should be called. And that actually should be even service for everyone. And they went to the point of even people that may not be qualified for military service be required to do other kinds of service for two years. It is across the board, so you are not... just because you physically cannot do it, you still can do two years of service. I will end with this. Two other presidents we did not talk about, and they were the beginning when boomers were very young, and that is President Truman and President Eisenhower. Your thoughts on them? Because Eisenhower was the president that all the boomers saw in the (19)50s, this grandfather figure from (19)52 to (19)60. And of course the boomer generation was just going into 7th grade around the time President Kennedy was coming into office. Your thoughts on Eisenhower and Truman?

DH (01:50:45):
Yeah, I do not have any.

SM (01:50:45):
Do not have any?

DH (01:50:46):
No [inaudible]-

SM (01:50:49):

DH (01:50:50):
That is before my time.

SM (01:50:52):
All right. And the last thing, my very last question is this. I proposed that the (19)60s generation or the Vietnam generation that grew up in the (19)50s, before all these changes happened in the (19)60s, had three qualities. They were fairly naive, they were quiet, and there was a lot of fear within them. Fear, because of course the worry about nuclear annihilation, we all went through the tests at school. Some may have seen the McCarthy hearings, fearing about speaking up, being labeled a communist. Naive, just not really knowing what was going on in the world, certainly in the area of civil rights. You did not see a whole lot on TV in the (19)50s about some of these things. And then a fairly quiet generation. Those are qualities when boomers were very young, and then of course then John Kennedy in the (19)60s, and a lot of things changed. Do you think those qualities of fear, being naive and being quiet is pretty on-target for boomers when they were very young?

DH (01:52:08):
It is an interesting question. I think there is a pervasive fear right now that things are out of control. I think that fundamentals that we took for granted, that I would be able to always find a job, provide for my family, have a place to live and shelter and food, these fundamentals are now in grave question. And they have never been a question before, that I know, except for the homeless. But now everybody is potentially looking down the same barrel. And so I think people are... I am terrified. I think people are terrified.

SM (01:53:37):
Are there any questions that I did not ask that you thought I was going to ask?

DH (01:53:39):

SM (01:53:43):
Do you have any final thoughts or comments on the boomer generation itself?

DH (01:53:51):
I think I pretty well talked it out.

SM (01:53:55):
When the best history books are written, it is often 50 years after an event. What do you think, let us say maybe 30, 40 years from now, historians and sociologists will be saying about the Vietnam generation once they have passed on?

DH (01:54:20):
I am not sure they are going to have much to say. It is already faded. I am glad we have that wall there. It is a reminder, but I do not think... You used to see, for example, lots of Vietnam vets. You do not see many anymore, because they are all dying away. And I think people are more preoccupied with the current crises that are coming down the road than they are thinking about Vietnam.

SM (01:55:06):
Or any of the stuff in the (19)60s-

DH (01:55:13):
Right, yeah.

SM (01:55:14):
...all the movements. Do you think that is why we do not hear as much about civil rights and women's rights? And we hear a little bit more about gay rights because of the marriage issue, and then in the environmental issues, and the Native American, all the ethnic groups... They were very prevalent in the (19)70s and the (19)80s, but they seem to have waned.

DH (01:55:41):

SM (01:55:41):
By the way, I want to say that Edmund Muskie's response to that question, I did not give you the answer, about the healing issue. He said we have not healed since the Civil War in the area of race. And that is what he went on to talk about, so anyway.

DH (01:55:57):
Anyway. Well, I think that is probably true. I think it is getting much worse. I think we are basically watching the devastation of Black families. Looking at all the figures, it is an unbelievable thing. I mean, the Black family structure has totally disappeared.

SM (01:56:30):
When you think about all the things that are happening to the unemployed today, it is up at close to 10 percent, but now they say different parts of the country, it is 18 percent. But we talk about people's pensions are being threatened; in Pennsylvania, they are being threatened right now. And so Social Security can be become... What are people going to live on? I am just amazed at where we are heading. It is really scary.

DH (01:56:58):
Well, I told you, I am terrified. And I will tell you, there was a statistic I heard just the other day, which shocked me, which was [inaudible] the town that if you were a young white man with a prison record, you stood a better chance of getting a job than being a young Black man with no prison record.

SM (01:57:34):
That is amazing. That does not shock me. Wow. Well, I thank you very much.

DH (01:57:44):
Okay. Let me know how it works out.

SM (01:57:46):
Yeah, you will see the transcript eventually. I am going to be hibernating six months doing my transcripts. I am going to need two pictures of you.

DH (01:57:55):
Okay. That we can do easy.

SM (01:57:57):
Yeah. And I love that picture of you with all those book covers in the background. That is a great shot.

DH (01:58:02):
Okay. I can get that to you.

SM (01:58:04):
Yeah. And keep doing what you are doing. You are one heck of a photographer. I kept a lot of magazines over the years. I think I have got about seven of your magazine covers, and the one of George Bush I have. I know I have a stack here. I do not ever take the covers off a magazine. I keep the magazine. So I got boxes of magazines that I have kept over the years from my archives. So I have got quite a few of your covers on the original magazine.

DH (01:58:31):
Well, that is good.

SM (01:58:35):
Yep. Well, you have a great day, and thank you very much. I really appreciate it. It has been an honor to talk to you.

DH (01:58:41):
Okay, take care.

SM (01:58:41):
Take care. Bye.

(End of Interview)

Date of Interview



Stephen McKiernan


Dirck Halstead, 1936-2022

Biographical Text

Dirck Halstead (1936-2022) was a photojournalist, editor, and publisher of The Digital Journalist. Halstead started photojournalism in high school and at the age of 17, he worked with Life Magazine to cover the Guatemalan Civil War. He worked at United Press International (UPI) for 15 years after attending Haverford College. He has dedicated his life to photography and has created some great pieces of work.





Digital Publisher

Binghamton University Libraries

Digital Format


Material Type


Interview Format


Subject LCSH

Photojournalists; Editors; Publishers; Halstead, Dirck, 1936--Interviews

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Photojournalism; Vietnam; United Press International (UPI); Military draft; Tet Offensive; End of the Vietnam War; Dangers of Photographing War; Racism; Sexism; Drug Culture; Beatles; Rolling Stones; Apocalypse Now (film); Platoon (film); Richard Nixon; China; United States Military; Draft; Harry Truman; Dwight D. Eisenhower.


Dirck Halstead (1).jpg

Item Information

About this Collection

Collection Description

Stephen McKiernan's collection of interviews includes more than two hundred interviews with prominent figures of the 1960s, which were collected between the mid-1990s and 2010s. The collection provides narratives of people who were actively involved in or witnessed events in the 1960s, an era which spurred profound cultural and… More

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“Interview with Dirck Halstead,” Digital Collections, accessed July 25, 2024,