The Clark High School Literary Club had no connection to Clark High School other than all of its members were students there. It was the brainchild of Jack Lipman, Harold Nalback and me. The three of us were the unelected leaders of a group of seven boys who met every morning to plot world domination from a table in a secluded corner of the cavernous lunch room of Clark High School.
The Literary Club was our cover story behind a plan to obtain a post office box and then order things that a high school boy might not want coming through the mail slot at home. For Harold it was pornography, which he consumed and then sold to freshmen at a profit. For Jack it was the writings of Lenin and Trotsky, items he did not want his conservative father to see. For me it was the magazine Evergreen Review.
It was Las Vegas in 1968. The tumultuous 1960s were happening somewhere, but not in southern Nevada.
The student body at Clark High School was fifty percent black and fifty percent white as the result of court ordered integration. Although Clark High was integrated, the lunchroom where the Clark High Literary Club met was not. There was a black section and a white section and neither I nor any other white kid ever went into the black section unless it was to make a connection to buy marijuana. Every year we had racial violence severe enough that squads of helmeted police were called in to restore order.
The members of the Literary Club were not fighters, we were intellectuals. We belonged to the Honor Society, and the geology club, and we didn’t have girlfriends. When school became violent, we made for the well-known safe areas where non-combatants of both races could gather undisturbed. Bob Dylan told us times were a-changin,’ but we didn’t see it.
Jack was the math guy. Harold the engineer. I was the reader.
My parents, the public library, and the school provided me with ample material to read, but my favorite source for reading material was a bookstore about a mile from my house, tucked between a supermarket and a fabric shop. My mother let me browse its wares while she shopped for household necessities. It had things the library didn’t have, and when you bought something from the bookstore, it was yours. You never had to bring it back.