Born in the Sixties
Some call the ’60s a decade of rebellion, as a controversial war raged on in Southeast Asia and young people throughout America began to rise up against “The Establishment” demanding peace and the return of our servicemen from a world away.
But I was just a child. Born in August of 1965, I didn’t know the world was in such a state of unrest. From a child’s point of view — surrounded by a loving, protective family — the world seemed perfect, peaceful and safe, and I often think back to those days with a great fondness and longing. Sometimes, I wish I could travel back in time and revisit the late sixties and early seventies — my most formative years growing up in Warner Robins, Georgia.
It was a time when children played outside almost all the time — when we rode bikes, climbed trees, blew bubbles through a plastic wand, struggled to keep hula hoops circling our hips, and played in mud. Saturday mornings were filled with noncontroversial cartoons that made me believe that a dog named Scooby-Doo could help solve mysteries and that a coyote (Wile E. Coyote, to be specific) could fall off a high cliff into the abyss, and live to see another day. My next door neighbor, Lee, was my best friend, and we played together for hours in his above-ground pool, on his backyard jungle gym, or on the floor of his bedroom looking at his tiny ant farm.
We walked to school by ourselves without a care in the world. We loved scouting and wore our Boy Scout and Girl Scout uniforms to school on the days we met after school. We played kickball and dodgeball at recess and PE, and we all looked forward to participating.
It was a time when the neighbor across the street (I think her name was Geraldine) had a Volkswagen Beetle shaped like a bug, and my siblings and I thought it was the coolest car we had ever seen. My sister and I drank Tang like the astronauts, played with Barbies and wore miniskirts. We thought our Etch A Sketch was one of the greatest inventions ever, and took it with us on long car rides to my grandparents’ house in South Georgia. Silly Putty and Slinkies could occupy us for hours.
And when we went with Mom to the Piggly Wiggly for our weekly grocery shopping, we would beg her for coins to stick in the gum ball machines at the front of the store. We turned the hand crank and heard the sound of a prize falling and hitting the metal door. Lifting the panel revealed a jaw breaker or a Super Ball, a small ball that bounced as high as a skyscraper. We thought it was the best of times.
We spent hours reading Little Golden Books and Dr. Seuss picture books over and over again — so much that we could recite every word on every page.
In a time before streaming music, we listened to AM/FM radios in the car and in our kitchens and sang along to The Archies (“Sugar, Sugar”) and The Fifth Dimension (“Aquarius: Let the Sunshine In”).
To beat the summer heat, we ate a chilled watermelon in the backyard and had seed spitting contests to see who could spit their seeds the farthest. I always lost. And nothing got our attention more than the alluring music of an ice cream truck far in the distance as it drove up and down each street in our neighborhood, luring children like me and my playmates to the curb to buy ice cream and popsicles from a complete stranger. Good times!
In the summer of 1969, Neil Armstrong walked on the moon — one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind. That moment in history made us love Star Trek even more, and we dreamed of a time when we’d board starships and explore the universe at light speed.
I remember seeing Archie Bunker’s face on our television before bedtime — as we kissed both of our parents good night and marched into our bedrooms to sleep. My brother, my sister and I shared a room, and Amber
we were okay with that arrangement.
It was the time of hiphugging bell bottom jeans, pigtails and braids, and gogo boots. If we wanted curly hair, we slept in curlers the night before or visited a beauty shop to get “a perm.” Most of the men I knew had sideburns like Elvis.
We drank out of water hoses. We played in the yard and were showered with God knows what when the mosquito trucks drove through neighborhoods spraying their fog each evening.
Most adults I knew smoked cigarettes. Back then, we didn’t give it a second thought. There were no computers, smart phones or Internet. Instead, we had libraries, encyclopedias and phones that were mounted on walls with receivers connected via cords. When the phone rang, we picked up the receiver and spoke the word, “Hello,” to see who was calling, because caller ID didn’t exist. To summarize, my childhood was a happy one. I knew nothing about the Bay of Pigs, the Cuban Missile Crisis, or the starvation and torture that existed in the world. The term, “civil rights” wasn’t in my childhood vocabulary. I couldn’t find Vietnam on a map. I thought the Summer of Love was a paperback novel chronicling a love story of some sort, and well, Woodstock was a little yellow bird in the Charlie Brown comic strips.
Not everyone remembers the sixties and seventies the way I do. For me, it was a time of innocence and splendor. My parents and other adults in my life shielded me from the bad stuff and uncertainty and allowed me to just be a child. My point is this: There’s always good mixed in with the bad. There’s a lot of bad things happening in the world right now, but there are also a lot of wonderful things — glorious things. Find those things and be thankful.
ARTISTS AND BEYOND — Recently two high school students placed in the local Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Auxiliary’s Young American Creative Patriotic Art Contest. Luke Mitchell was awarded the first-place honor, and his artwork has been forwarded to the state competition. Levi Worth was awarded the second-place honor. Pictured: Left photo, Luke Mitchell and Mrs. Shirley Curl, District 6 President of the VFW Auxiliary; and Right photo, Levi Worth. Both are students of the Art by Gwen Studio. Congratulations to these students for their participation and honors.