From the Author's
Many times over the past three decades, I have started writing the story
of Douglas House ("D-House"). No matter how hard I tried, I was
not able to complete it. However, in the past ten years, a series of
small events have occurred that culminated in an emotional outpouring
that literally thrust the story into being. The Douglas House is my
"coming of age" story as a young man in London during the mid-1960s,
told through my fictional alter ego, Harry Butler.
The 1960s were a time of tremendous upheaval in America. There were
demonstrations on college campuses; assassinations of government and
civic leaders; troops with fixed unsheathed bayonets patrolled the
streets; and our cities were ablaze with the rage, anger, and
frustration of a generation coming of age. The defining moment for many
was the undeclared war that raged in Vietnam.
Between 1946 and 1960, the people of England had managed to vanquish
from the landscape most of the visible signs of the devastation that had
occurred during World War II. London, in particular, had removed all of
its surface scars. Now, in the 1960s, as the Vietnam War was beginning
to burst onto the front pages of American newspapers, a quieter, more
subtle social and sexual revolution was beginning in England.
This new revolution was fueled by several factors: a reaction to the
immense severity of the post-war years; an increase in spending power of
the average Brit; and an awakening of the British youth to the fact
that, like their American cousins, they too could lead lives different
from their parents. As a result, with the introduction of the
contraceptive pill, legalized abortions, and the general lifting of the
inhibitions and limitations of previous generations, "free love" became
a part of life for many. And, they openly pursued an agenda that allowed
them to, in the words of the time, "get their groove on."
Such was the backdrop for those of us who managed to escape the Vietnam
War and find ourselves in England. The period, the social events, and
the war in Vietnam all became inextricably intertwined in a way unlike
anything we could have imagined. While for us, the Vietnam War raged a
world away, the social and sexual revolution was taking place right in
front of our faces. We did not smell the gunpowder! We did not hear the
wailing of the war sirens. We had no fear of booby traps or napalm. At
night, we usually slept on clean sheets; not in foxholes. The most
disruptive thing we encountered had been the draft. And, in our minds,
we had prevailed. The war had little direct impact on our lives beyond
the headlines of the morning paper.
Despite this, the ripple effects of draft, the war and those times
changed us dramatically. You see, we were boys who became men as we
served our country honorably from 1966 - 1968 sitting on barstools in
and around London and partying in the bowels of the American
Servicemen's Club at #66 Lancaster Gate, London, W1, United Kingdom, aka
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