1960s

Even more of us boomers were born and raised in the 1960s. It’s the decade most remembered for all of the changes it brought---to our lives, to our country, to our world and the way we would see it. So many things to remember about this decade---its triumphs and tragedies---each of them hold a page in the scrapbook of our minds.

Memories of the 1960s are strongest for older boomers, those of us born before 1955 who became teenagers by the end of the sixties. But if you’re a younger boomer born after 1955, you may relate better to Generation Jones , particularly if your bedtime came before the ten o’clock news. But no matter your age, here are some snapshots of what the sixties were about.

How Do We Remember the 1960s?

JFK Assassination headlineTeen magazineWoodstock festival1968 Mustang

  • From blissful innocence---idyllic images of the Kennedy years (Camelot)---to a cynical awareness and youthful quest for truth (Woodstock)
  • New and unforgettable styles in music and fashion---the British re-invading its former colonies
  • Political activism for civil rights, gay rights and women’s liberation
  • Major advances in technology, such as television, computers, “the pill”, and man landing on the moon
  • Cries for peace and love amidst bloodshed and violence---the war in Viet Nam, assassinations and inner city riots

Memories From the 1960s

big hair from the 60sBeatles on the Ed Sullivan ShowBatman magazine cover

  • ”Long Beautiful Hair” (remember the Cowsills’ hit from 1969)---bangs for the guys and “poof” for the girls!
  • The British Invasion of music and fashion, launched on a Sunday night, February 22, 1964, when the Beatles first appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show
  • Batman---the campy, crime-fighting TV series that ran for 2 ½ seasons from 1966-68 on ABC
  • Were you part of the Pepsi Generation, or did “Things Go Better With Coke”?
  • Pepsi ad

  • Daytime television that you could watch if you were sick and stayed home from school (remember Art Linkletter’s show “Houseparty”?)
  • Kool Aid and popsicles---quick fixes for summertime heat (what sugar?)
  • The “pony cars”---first started by the Ford Mustang (debuted in April 1964) and followed shortly thereafter by Chevy Camaro, Plymouth Barracuda, and AMC’s Javelin.
  • high school danceFriday night dances in your high school gym- nasium, with more “standing” than “dancing”
  • Dime stores like Woolworth’s and Ben Franklin’s
  • Comic books
  • Cracker Jacks
  • Playing Etch-A-Sketch in the back seat of the family car on those long boring road trips
  • Wondering why your parents were so concerned about something referred to as “The Cuban Missile Crisis” in 1962
  • The military draft that went to a lottery system in 1968, when suddenly your date of birth became really important
  • Your school classroom and the sound of chalk on the blackboard
  • The best cartoons on TV ever, like Looney Toons, Huckleberry Hound and The Flintstones, some of which made prime time
  • Bugs Bunny cartoonschool classroom

  • Anchoring your Saturday afternoon play schedule around that Tarzan movie on TV with Johnnie Weissmuller and Maureen O’Hara
  • Flower power
  • Hostess Twinkees (or cupcakes) in your school lunch
  • Where you were when the world came to a halt at 1:00 PM Central Standard time on November 22, 1963, and followed by three days of national mourning for one of the most popular American presidents ever
  • Airplane models made from balsa wood and a glue that smelled really strong
  • Radio Flyer wagonTransistor radios
  • Your Radio Flyer wagon, and “borrowing” some parts from it to make your own wooden go cart
  • Friday nights at McDonald’s after a drive-in movie
  • Tonka toys
  • Following the top 40 on your favorite radio station (no such thing as oldies radio back then)
  • Gas for under 20 cents a gallon
  • The Summer of Love---1967
  • Wondering why 1968 was so violent---the war in Viet Nam, assassinations of Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr., and inner city riots
  • Your first car, and it had to look just right
  • Your first date, and your first kiss
  • "One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind" were bookends for the decade, taking place on July 20, 1969 and ultimately answering the challenge put forth by President Kennedy in 1961 for the US to land a man on the moon before the end of the 1960s.
1959 Buicksummer lovemoon

Conclusion

psychedelic patternWere the 1960s psychedelic? In part, yes, but they were so much more! Such a label would imply imaginary and drug crazed, a time mired in hallucinations. No, the 1960s were very real to all of us who lived them, and only history---together with our own recollections and experiences---will tell us if they were the best of times, the worst of times, or the most important times! Whatever it was, we and the world would never be the same!

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