Thursday, November 12, 2020

1960s

I grew up in the 1960s. Graduated from high school in the 1970s. It's worth a look back because it is a forgotten time. 

Most of the men in our lives were WWII veterans. The war had been the defining experience of their lives. It shaped them and their view of the world. They shaped us, mostly for the good.

The world we lived in had been essentially reshaped by the war. The United States and the Allies had won at great cost and then rebuild western Europe and Japan. The Soviet Union, once our ally, had become the enemy in the ideological battle for freedom. The development of the atom bomb and the subsequent arms race seemed to underlay everything.

Not only had we won, but the continental United States had been unscathed. Our factories, filled with trained workers, built cars and trucks, televisions, appliances, clothing, and exported it to the world. The economy hummed along, unquestioned. If it was good for GM, it was good for the country.

Schools taught history and social studies from what would now be seen as a very narrow lens. The United States was a great, free, country. We had an amazing history. Our Founders were heroes. Westward expansion, the growth of the country in the 19th Century, all our inventions and developments, all were good things, unmarred by human tears.

Television and the movies had discovered that WWII could be mined for stories. Great movies, good TV shows, and even a comedy call Hogan's Heroes. We were all immersed in the history and pseudo-history. We played cowboys and indians some. But we played war more. I never had an expensive toy like this, but here's a window into what I am trying to describe.

 

I carried a pocket knife everywhere. From the time my father got me a Scout knife for my birthday, I always had it with me. It was a tool. Never thought of using it as a weapon. I kept it oiled and sharp and put my housekey on the loop so I would always know where the key was.

Grew up hiking and camping, wore my Scout uniform to school on Scout Day, wanted to be a military pilot. I remember when it became clear that I needed glasses because my first thought was that I would never get to fly a jet and I felt the disappointment so strongly that I can still feel echoes of it as I write this.

I miss the country I grew up in.


 

25 comments:

roadgeek said...

Told my wife the other night that I would trade every technological advance the 21st century has given us just to go back to 1980. It was the year I became an adult. The world seemed so full of possibility, and, for the most part, it was. I miss it so.

Will said...

I graduated in '70. I started hitting various libraries pretty hard by 7th grade for history books and biographies and autobiographies, in addition to my regular areas of Sci-Fi and adventure/mysteries. By high school, it became obvious that the class textbooks for history, both US and World, no longer agreed with the tomes in their own library. That was a bit of a shock. Subjects ignored, or slanted in ways that puzzled me initially. It took me a while to realize the discrepancies were deliberate lies, instead of mistakes.

Not only were the Progressives dumbing down the schools, they were crafting a world view for students that dovetailed with their preferred socialist/communist mindset. And, here we are, almost where they want us to be!

Toirdhealbheach Beucail said...

Borepatch, I was about 10 years behind you - grew up in the 1970's graduated in the 1980's. I drive around the place where I grew up now and even though I can physically recognize the place, spiritually it is far beyond me now. I am a ghost walking through a sea of bodies that are separated not just by time but by an entire culture that is almost 100% different from my own. I literally feel like a stranger in the country of my birth.

MrGarabaldi said...

Hey ASM286

I graduated in 1984, it was "Reagans America" and we were full of Promise and the music didn't suck and the cars were getting better after the doldrums from the Peanut man Carter and the "Misery Index" God I miss those days where everything was clearly defined.

Feral Ferret said...

Graduated in 1972. Just barely missed the draft for Vietnam. Grew up where many of the vehicles in the high school parking lot were pickups with gun racks in the rear window with rifles and shotguns. Never had any school shootings. They still taught real journalism in that class back then. The vast majority of the so called journalists these days would be unable to pass my high school journalism class. And as MrGarabaldi stated, the music was much better then.

drjim said...

Graduated high school in 1969. Grew up close enough to Chicago that we could be in the city in an hour, but otherwise was surrounded by farms and removed from all the big city nonsense.

I think we hit "Peak USA" around 1970.

1LLoyd said...

Graduated in 77. My life was not that different than you. Wish I could bring it back for my grandchildren.

"Zack" said...

Graduated H.S. 1970

Born in Chicago
Grew up north of Chicago in the 'burbs. More farms and trees than houses and stores.
Milk was delivered to your front door step.

Dad's first car was a Nash Rambler.




Gorges Smythe said...

Amen, Borepatch. Sadly, times have changed.

Aesop said...

Ditto. Across the board.

Nobody told us the Commies had already landed here, and were playing the Long Game.

Just People said...

Me too. So many things are now.....not socially accepted.

STxAR said...

Dad would give me a couple quarters and I'd walk the long block, turn left, then a short block to the gas station. 2 packs of Marlboro from the pull machine, a quick drink of water from the coldest fountain in the world, a glance left at the naked lady on the calendar in the office, then walk back home. I started doing that trip at six years old.

Dipping snuff in 7th grade, talking to the vice-principle at lunch with it obviously in my lip.

Buy 22 shells at age 12 for the rabbit hunt.

Grabbing the 12 gauge and heading out into the field to be alone at 14...

Every man that meant something to me was either a WW2 vet or a Korea vet. The boys from Vietnam were my older cousins. And Uncle Steve...

You nailed it.

Kid said...

Ditto exactly.

Old Lady in Texas said...

Graduated in 1972, so this is my era too. But I'm a girl, so a slightly different perspective. I say slightly because growing up I was the only girl in the neighborhood for a long time. So I played with the boys: built forts, army men, etc. We were definitely free-range children going off in the mornings to explore newly built houses all over our neighborhood at the edge of the city. My mom never worried because I was with all those boys--who would protect me.

Many of the fathers of the kids in our neighborhood were Air Force officers who were often deployed to Vietnam, so the sacrifice of service always loomed in the background. We were kids, so our awareness was dim, but it was never forgotten.

All of this was in Austin, Texas. It makes it particularly painful to see what my hometown has become. (I no longer live there but in an adjacent county.)

Lucy and Tigers Mom said...

TR, you express it very well. I feel the same.

TechieDude said...

me too.

A me too that means something.

Ken said...

Graduated high school in '79. What a kidney stone of a decade the '70s was. I think peak America might have been '66 or '67, though upward momentum carried us to Armstrong's "one small step" in July of '69.

Tom Lindsay said...

Memories . . . I also wanted to be a pilot. Well, an astronaut. Then I got glassed at age 9. Oh well.

Then, on STS-1, John Young is on a video broadcast from the Space Shuttle, and what do I see? HE'S WEARING GLASSES!!!!

Turns out you can be 20/40 and still be an astronaut. I'm probably 20/500 so . . .

Tewshooz said...

Graduated from high school in 1956. 'Nuf said.

Unknown said...

Got out of college in 77. Yesterday I was the only one with pocket knife on them when boxes needed opening.

Who doesn't carry a pocket knife? I guess the 20 somethings don't.

Gerry

Old NFO said...

Graduated in 69, went in the Navy to beat my draft number, don't regret it a bit. Today, I wonder about America.

Roy in Nipomo said...

Graduated in 1965, enlisted in the Navy to avoid the Draft (was off the coast of 'Nam when the Eagle landed, so didn't see it on TV). I remember in the '50s when two (adult) men first met, one of the first questions was always, "What did you do?", "during WWII" was understood. Like everyone else I tend to think that "peak American" was about the time of my HS graduation (or a bit before).

LSP said...

Oh yes, we all played war and watched it on TV. I liked 12 'O Clock High, and there was footage from Vietnam too. And in the UK we all read these ridiculous miniature war comics, I forget their names, about Desert Rats etc killing Jerry. Good stuff.

So for sure, WW2 certainly shaped us, hugely. For good or for ill? I'd say for good, patriotism, courage, sacrifice and all of that. The kickback? Not so good, see Woodstock and the Marxist idiots attacking families in DC tonight.

Is the US, which was spared the spasm of death and destruction which swept Europe, about to close the chapter on this bloody history? I sure hope not. By the same token, I want to see the Bolsheviks put deep back into their box. So.

Forgive the essay.

The Freeholder said...

Lord, but don't we all sound like a bunch of old farts? :-)

You can ditto me for most of the experiences. Graduated HS in 78.

Blue said...

Well said. Your post and these comments provoke a lot of memories. Graduated in '72 and straight into the Army. 7 1/2 years active duty, 5 in the Reserve. Have carried a pocket knife for close to 60 years, I'd guess. :) Times are definitely different.