Friday, October 2, 2009
Memories of The Early Sixties - My First Three Years
Yeah, I'm a dog lover....why do you...? Oh you guys are so gross!
As I posted earlier, I celebrated my 47th birthday this week, or as I tell it, I celebrated the 25th anniversary of my 22nd birthday. (Please don't send presents, cash will be fine.) It's hard to believe I've been stomping around the Earth for so long and no one has discovered me and put me in a position of power, but oh well. My time will come and then heads will roll! Eww! I just had a mental picture of me as a Boy Scout Scoutmaster.
Reflecting on an almost half-century of life (I don't count the point of conception and the following 9 months in utero because I was still more tadpole-than-human for much of it and not yet a unique individual) I have to say that I have lived through some of the most exciting and eventful decades of this and the last century, but to my mind the sixties were the decade to top all decades.
Those who lived through it (and still remember it through the haze of psychodelics and other mind expanding agents of the time) will remember the space race, the war in Vietnam, the assassinations of JFK, Martin Luther King, Bobby Kennedy and others, hippies and the whole counterculture momement, the Beatles and the British Invasion and the other great music of the day, the crazy fashions, the cool cars, the wild dance crazes, innovative TV shows and cool toys like Twister and Rock'em Sock'em Robots, for example.
Although being born near the end of 1962, I was a very aware baby for my time. For instance, I totally dug rock music and was a great dancer. I had a move I called "Changing The Diaper" that was the envy of many local newborns. Also, back then I thought cartoons were bitchin', Godzilla was the king of the monsters and Elvis was the coolest cat with Willie Mays not far behind him (this was way before Fonzie, of course.)
I admit that I did bend to peer pressure and experimented with drugs (mom called it "formula," but even my keen senses knew it was too good to be legal) but those were the Sixties and we all did a lot of things we shouldn't have back then. My favorite song at that time was Patti Page's "(How Much Is) That Doggie in the Window?" But that was before my mom began singing it to me every night before I went to bed (lovely woman, miserable singing voice.) Every night she would gently rock me and croak out that song. God, I hated that song. No amount of crying or spitting up on her would make her stop either.
Of course everyone living at that time can remember with sadness where they were when JFK was assassinated. I was sitting in my high chair decorating the kitchen wall with a combination of strained spinach and beets. Squash would have been good too, but I had already had some for lunch and disliked what they did to my diaper when I ate too much. When the news broke that we had lost our president, I wept. In fact, I was inconsolable for the rest of the year and most of the next year (what can I say, we democrats took it hard.)
As a 2-year old in 1964, several events occurred which proved to be pivotal in my life. At the time I was very much into music and when the Beatles performed on the Ed Sullivan Show, I knew then that my life would never be the same. My favorite Beatle was George, known in the press as "the quiet one." I told myself that someday I too would play guitar and then the babes would really love me. Of course I never learned guitar, and consequently the babes are still as repulsed by me as ever.
But 1964 was about more than just the Beatles or the British Invasion. We had the war in Vietnam going on and the Civil Rights Act was signed into law, LBJ was re-elected, Martin Luther King received the Nobel Peace Prize, China had dropped their first atomic bomb and the first Ford Mustang rolled off the assembly line. These were all very big deals in 1964. But to me, probably the biggest thing that happened that year was that Hasbro launched the quintessential action figure for boys, a guy by the name of G.I. Joe.
This one toy revolutionized playtime for boys for generations to follow. Something about G.I. Joe expanded a boy's imagination and you just didn't have time to explore all the possible adventures that Joe could get himself involved with. It didn't matter if he talked or had a Kung-Fu Grip or wore scuba gear, Joe was a toy for all seasons that could eat up a whole afternoon (well, including naps) just kicking the crap out of bad guys (generally played by my green army men, and sometimes Tinker Toys and Lincoln Logs too.) Those of you that had a G.I. Joe when you were kids, you can all relate I'm sure. He was awesome.
The year 1965 was memorable for me because I had reached my third year of life and was much more adept at negotiating the little hurdles of childhood. The food was a lot better, the toys and games got more challenging and even my parents started to understand me more. And even as events of the day continued to unfold such as the escalation of the war in Vietnam, the many new achievements gained in space exploration, and the continuing strife concerning race relations with the riots and marches and Voting Rights Act, there was still something else that, for me, was very cool indeed. This was the year that Spaghetti-O's first hit the store shelves. They were yummy and just my size and I could wolf down a bunch of them in a sitting. I felt so grown up eating them. Plus, they were fun to throw, which is something they don't tell you in the advertisements.
Television also took on greater interest for me that year. So many great new shows started in 1965. Shows like "Lost In Space," "I Dream of Jeannie," and Hogan's Heroes were very popular. That was also the year of "Get Smart," and "The Wild, Wild West," two of my personal favorites. A cartoon show of "The Beatles" came out that year as was the first airing of "A Charlie Brown Christmas," which I still love to this day and credit for my interest in jazz music.
Yes, the early sixties were a time of great hope, great sadness and great imagination. And as a very small child living in quiet suburbia and soaking it all up, I think it really helped form the framework for who I later became in life.
So who do I complain to about that?