The Summer of 1969

Flashback!

Every once in a while I think of that summer when I graduated from high school. What a unique time it was!

I’ll tell you in a minute why it has come to mind today…

But for now, let me reminisce just a bit.

That summer was a landmark in American history. And I wouldn’t have known that then because I was a mere 17 years old. Just a baby.

Even so, I felt like I had been part of history already. Only 6 years before, JFK was assassinated. I had just turned 12 but it was one of those days you never forgot where you were. I was in 7th grade music class when someone came in and made the announcement. We were stunned and speechless for the rest of the day. I remember riding home on the bus in a daze.

In 1968, when I was 16, both Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. were killed. I couldn’t believe it was happening. The world seemed to be falling apart. What would happen to us all?

I was a bit too young to become a “hippie” but I sure wanted to. However, my dad was a strict disciplinarian and I never got out of his sight long enough to have any notions of “free love” or any of that “don’t trust anyone over 30” nonsense. Thank goodness!

But things were a’happenin’ in that summer of 1969! Yes indeed!

Just a few of them were:

June 1 – John Lennon (and Yoko Ono) recorded “Give Peace a Chance” during a “bed-in” for world peace. I wasn’t quite sure what to make of that as it was a bit too grown up for me at the time. But the recording – the first one by a solo Beatle, is still an anthem for peace.

July 8 – the first withdrawals of troops from the Vietnam war were made even though the war would go on for six more years. This was a HUGE concern for me as all the boys I went to school with were in danger of being drafted. Many of them went and many did not come back. Some who did come back were never the same.

July 16 – Ted Kennedy, brother of the most notable president in my lifetime, drove off a bridge in Chappaquiddick Massachusetts and the girl with him (not his wife) died. For me it was yet another major disappointment from someone who was supposed to be a moral role model (we were much more innocent in those days.)

July 20 – the lunar module Eagle landed on the moon. The world watched in awe as Neil Armstrong took his first steps on that surface. I was watching intently.

August 9 – the Manson murders. Sharon Tate and her friends were slaughtered by the Manson cult in Los Angeles California in a most brutal and spectacular way. The man who worked there as a gardener was shown on the front pages of the newspapers all over the country. He was from my hometown and I knew him.

August 15-18 – Woodstock. Probably the most famous rock concert ever held. And I could have gone. However, I was just 17 at the time. I did happen to be with a couple girlfriends walking down North High Street on the Ohio State campus on a hot summer night when a car full of cute guys pulled over and spoke to us. “Wanna go to Woodstock?” they asked. We giggled as we had not heard of it. “What is that?” we asked. “Concert!” they said. “Wanna go? We’re headed that way!” Not wanting to look like losers we demurely refused. “Can’t right now” we said – as if we’d catch up later! Ha! I often wonder not only who they were but if they made it there. And if they’re old guys now still telling how they took off for Woodstock back in the day. I’ll never know!

September 26 – The Beatles release their last studio album, Abbey Road. It was the end of an era.

I do feel a bit like Forrest Gump but I really was there. So that – plus lots more was the Summer of 1969. I got my first job as a teller at a local bank and enrolled in college. The future seemed like a bright shining light. Everything seemed possible. Despite the social uproar of my teenage years.

But of course life doesn’t remain so optimistic. There have been lots of good times and lots of bad. I guess it all evens out somehow. Now I just try to appreciate the blessings of each day. It is almost 46 years later and I’m no longer so young or adventurous. I love having those memories of that timeless summer of 1969, but now I want to anticipate each summer that comes along. Next will be 2015. And I’m still here. Glory be!

So while I’m dreaming of what lies ahead, I’ll tell you why this all came to mind. Today’s sketch is of an old friend from that era. We went to high school together and graduated that same spring. We both married fellas from our class of 69. While I’ve been divorced for a good 20 years, she is still hitched to her guy from back then. Kudos to them both!

Here’s my friend Donna.

Donna

This one took me several tries and it still isn’t 100% right on. But I think it’s close enough for now. And I defy you to tell me that this gorgeous woman graduated from high school in 1969! Can we just say that 60 something is the new 40? I think so!

It sure is nice to still have friends from long ago. We had so many good times. I can’t tell you how often we got together and played cards or went bowling or just out to a honky tonk where the guys would guzzle their beer. I don’t think Donna or I were drinkers at the time at all. And that’s a good thing… my ex-hubby couldn’t afford to buy my wine now in addition to his own refreshments!

I wonder if the current generation will have their own Summer of 69… it doesn’t seem like it could be replicated…

But that’s just me. Love child from way back… LOL!

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