Related topics

Cheers, Capitalistic Fervor Greet Soviet Chief at Stanford With AM-Gorbachev, Bjt

June 5, 1990

STANFORD, Calif. (AP) _ Despite pockets of protest, Soviet President Mikhail S. Gorbachev charmed a university crowd of thousands with handshakes, smiles and waves Monday to cheers of ″Gorby 3/8 Gorby 3/8″

Gorbachev’s 50-car motorcade reached Stanford University shortly before noon, about an hour behind schedule. The Soviet leader, who delivered a speech on global affairs at the campus, was greeted by former Secretary of State George P. Shultz, university President Donald Kennedy, and California’s two U.S. senators, Alan Cranston and Pete Wilson.

As he walked across campus, two students in the cheering audience held up a sign reading, ″Gorby 4 President.″

He waded into the audiences at various times, shaking hands, clapping and clasping his own hands, smiling, and through an interpreter telling a woman in a wheelchair with a video camera, ″You are so well-equipped.″

″I shook his hand. ... It was amazing. He was definitely just a real person, but he was Gorbachev. He was leading the pack, hoping his bodyguards could keep up,″ said Alex Levy, a 21-year-old political science major.

″He was great. He came up and grabbed my hand,″ added Erik Jorgensen.

″I think sometime in the future we’ll all be united together in one big team,″ said Louie Arciga.

But hundreds of demonstrators remained immune from the ″Gorbymania″ gripping others.

Protesters, supporting independence for Lithuania and other Baltic states and angered over alleged human rights violations in the republics, said they were trying to show the American public that Gorbachev isn’t a hero.

″People have been so much taken by their Gorbymania that I don’t think many are hearing us. The people have been taken by the charm of Gorby,″ said Lithuanian-born Algis Zemaitaitis, who drove six hours from Santa Monica to join the protest at Stanford.

As the Gorbachev motorcade rolled down Stanford University’s Palm Drive, the demonstrators intensified their chants of ″Out of the Baltic states 3/8″

Onlookers, disgruntled that the protesters were blocking the view of the Soviet leader, chanted in response, ″Out of the way 3/8″

In the face of the Soviet leader’s visit, capitalism flourished as some students who won a lottery for tickets to see Gorbachev traded their prizes for fistfuls of hard cash from the wealthy.

Other students scrambled to pick up some of the remaining tickets that went unclaimed after the official university lottery last week for the 1,700 seats at Gorbachev’s talk and 6,000 others to the rest of the events on his university visit.

″Gorbachev probably would have felt right at home this morning,″ said Jorgensen, a 21-year-old student who waited for tickets beginning at 2 a.m. ″The lines we stood in were very much like the food lines in the Soviet Union.″

Though Jorgensen hung onto his ticket, other students said they had friends who scalped theirs for up to $1,400 each. There were rumors passes had gone for up to $1,800 apiece.

Two sophomores, Jeff Vierling, a 19-year-old electrical engineering major, and Marlowe Johnson, a 21-year-old international relations major, sat on a curb at the university Monday asking for serious offers only of $1,000 or more cash for each of their two tickets.

The tickets are ″worth a great deal to me, but the only value here is sentimental. I can probably see him better on TV,″ said Johnson, who wants to finance a trip to Europe.

Added Vierling: ″It’s airplane tickets. It’s a lot of things. It’s a CD player.″

Update hourly