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The 1960s Call

March 25, 2022

The 1960s often call me back to simpler times when I was free to wander my small world, unfettered and alive. (Sorry Joni Mitchell, I had to borrow the line.)

Indisputably these were gentler times when the worst of our society would approximate the best in these times. My mind drifts away and I smile at the memories, clouded by time.

  1. I had just finished elementary school. My last teacher, Mr. Samuels, taught me how to speed read. When I left his class and was bound for junior high school, I read 3,800 words a minute. I now read slightly faster.
  1. I entered junior high school, determined to finally grow up. I did. Although I was a bit awkward, I learned the art of the gab. I was never popular but I was always out there in the main stream. I remember many afternoons at the theater where 25 cents would buy the admission and another 25 cents would keep you in popcorn, Coke and candy. Life was simple and good.
  1. I was placed in a “handicapped school” because of a severely broken leg. Although I was not permanently handicapped, I learned a lot from the experience. Primarily, I learned to respect all other people, no matter their circumstances or physical and mental limitations. I also remember a girl named Marcia. I gave her my junior high pin. I don’t know whatever happened to Marcia but she stays with me in my mind.
  1. I decided definitely that I would become a bassman after graduating high school. After all, what could be a better life than crooning away to those oldies. The trouble was that when I graduated high school in 1966, the role of the bassman had largely disappeared. In the idiom of the day: Bummer!
  1. I had already become a competitive surfer, choosing the sport as a therapy for that badly broken leg. I was feeling free and easy. The world revolved around the beach and our many trips there in raunchy old woodies and station wagons. I can still smell that salt breeze when I go to bed at night and envision those golden sunsets from decades ago.
  1. “Sport Nights” ruled our high school world. We would show up in our Rising Sons Surf Club shirts and try to impress the girls. It often worked. However, the sheer amount of beer and booze that we smuggled in would make us look like terrorists by today’s standards. Many a night we were “carded” by our local police department’s finest, only to be let go to continue our juvenile merriment.
  1. I was at the top of my game in the surfing world. I felt fulfilled. I graduated with honors after being busted for selling watered down booze on campus. I had a bevy of girlfriends and was generally conceited but always happy: A contented ass.
  1. I had already been in college for a year and I was determined to graduate in three years instead of four. I left my toys behind and became a little too serious in my endeavors. I remember my German teacher grabbing my cheek and saying, “You should have more fun, maybe get married!” I tried and later wrote a song about it.
  1. I fell in love but was told that my beauty had overdosed and died. It wasn’t until 2009 that I found out that a “friend” had made up the story in spite and the hope that he might “steal my gal.” (He didn’t!) The experience left me a bit scarred. I now always fact check anything that friends have to say.
  1. I was destined to graduate college the following February. I had already enrolled in grad school and thought I would soon write the great American novel. I didn’t but the following year I did write a commercially viable “off Broadway” play, Story Book Children. The 1960’s were starting to pay off and the road ahead as a songwriter beckoned. 

The 1960s call, every day and every night. These were the years of my formation and reformation. What I have done with them since has made for a remarkable journey. However, of all the decades that have passed before my eyes since, the 1960s still seem to influence me the most. They are the years that haunt my soul and forever call upon me to be the best that I can be.

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  1. Sounds good, Allen. The 60s was pretty crazy for me. Friends in high school who stole cars on a regular basis, one who drove a different stolen car to school every day for a week. Other friends sold marijuana at school. I went into the Army in 1968, not long after I graduated from high school.

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  2. Linda McCann permalink

    I was about 10 years behind you and remember the 60’s differently! So many sought drugs to escape their lives, fear of war, escapism! Many older brothers and sisters of friends who never recovered, scars from choices made. The 60’s, for me, prepared me to be hyper aware when I had teenagers! I’d tell them, “Nothing can shock me, I lived thru the 60’s!” Really, I guess I was an observer, and because of them I chose a different path.

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