Tell me about the 60s

I’m taking a class over the 1960s in America. It’s a wonderful class given by an absolutely awesome professor. She’s given us an assignment to interview a person who lived during that era and has something to say about it. I’ve already found the person (my boss) that I’m going to interview and should be doing that sometime over the next week. Normally I don’t get in to school assignments, but this one has peaked my interests.

So it got me to thinking, what do other people have to say about the era. My boss has a lot to say, but he can only say it through his view point as a white businessman in his late twenties and early thirties. There’s so much that I would be missing out on.

Are there any Dopers that are willing to share their stories? I would love to hear anything from what every day life was like to major events that happened.

If I could remember, I obviously wasn’t there.

Well, if you can stand a story from someone who was a little kid in the 60’s…

My parents were pro McCarthy in 1968. They volunteered with his campaign and I loved being taken to the campaign headquarters, where I got lots of attention. I vowed that when I grew up I would work for the “Carthy” campaign. I was saddened when suddenly the McCarthy headquarters were no more and I couldn’t understand why.

Later, in nursery school, we held a mock election. They set up an imitation voting booth and when my name was called I asked what I was supposed to do. They told me the names of the candidates, and for a moment I thought I’d choose Nixon because his name reminded me of kitty whiskers, but then I chose Wallace because his name was strong like a wall.

So when I got home I was on the porch playing with my toys and my mother, a diehard democrat, came out and told me stay put because she was going across the street to vote. I told her she didn’t need to because I had already voted. She asked me who I’d voted for and when I told her she got mad and used a lot of words I couldn’t understand. Then she went to vote and I returned to playing with my toys.

And of course Nixon won and I liked to make her draw me pictures of him.

Eric Clapton sorta paraphrased: “Our [Cream] manager thought it would be better if we debuted later [than The Monterey Pop Festival.] Make our own splash. But I would have loved to have seen it all. Jimi burning his guitar up. I mean, I’ve seen it all on film many times and all, but to have been there… and SEEN it… and with the whole audience on Owsley… Wow… I wish I could have been there.”

Doesn’t get much more '60’s than that…

Ah, the sixties - I only knew four of those years. We lost two Kennedys and one King that decade.
On the bright side, rock and roll became a household name.

(OK, Zenster is by far more educated on the era, I’ll just move on now). :smiley:

Longhair (on guys) was somewhat akin to burning the flag in some idiots’ eyes.

What we might think of as political polarization is really mild as compared to then. There were commies afoot in numbers then, actually thinking they’d seize the day.

AIDS was still over a decade out - we’d never even thought about it.

Yeah, email me as well, if you’d like.

Robin Williams said it best:

If you remember the 60s, you weren’t there!

Sex, drugs, rock and roll, who had time to make memories?

ShadiRoxan, I think you need to interview these guys, and anyone else you can find here, and compile your paper from that. A larger range of perspectives could give you a lot more to say something about. :slight_smile:

I’d tell you something, except I only experienced 3 years of the 60s, and the only memory I have of the decade is of going outside, being held in my dad’s arms while we watched the sky because Apollo 11 was returning and the people on the news said we might be able to see the re-entry. Kind of cool for a first memory.

And I would love to hear what you find out about! Come on, people, post more stories!

Well, this might take me a few posts to shake off the cobwebs for a few decent flashbacks.

I remember gathering around our black and white TV to watch the Beatles on Ed Sullivan. I also remember listening to the first Cassius Clay (Muhammad Ali) vs Sonny Listen fight, gathered around our radio in the kitchen. That radio put out enough heat, from the tubes inside, to toast a slice of bread. We always unplugged it when we didn’t have it on, just as a precaution.

JFK was assassinated in November of '63. I remember school getting out early and walking home thinking we were about to get bombed, like in the war movies I would see on TV about France and Germany during WWII. The entire country closed down for about a week. We watched the funeral procession on our black and white. Our TV would get 3 channels if the weather would cooperate, and their wasn’t a plane flying nearby. I remember the TV repair man coming by to swap out bad tubes and put new ones in their place.

I can’t remember much happening before JFK was assassinated, just doo-wop music. Songs like Blue Moon, Yakety Yak and Duke of Earl. We had a record player that played 45s, people didn’t buy albums too much back then, maybe an Elvis album. The first album we had was Elvis’ Golden Records. We still bought 45s when the Beatles came on the scene. But soon it was clear, you had to own Beatles albums.

So the Beatles showed up in early '64. It was kind of a breath of fresh air because the JFK tragedy was still lingering on. Soon everyone was wearing Beatle boots, and letting their bangs grow out down to their eyebrows. Young and old, male and female, everyone loved the Beatles, it was Beatlemania. When the movie HELP came out, me and my sister went to the matinee at the theater and watched it 4 times in a row.

My town was still pretty much a bunch of doo-wop greasers. As late as '68 if you had long hair in school the greasers would make your life miserable. Between '65 and '69 everybody was in a band. If you didn’t know an instrument you sang, if you couldn’t sing, you played the tambourine. Everybody wanted to be the Beatles. I was in a band in '68 and '69. By then we were getting into the more modern stuff, like the Doors and Creedence. We still did a few Beatles songs though, that was a requirement.

I lived in a college town, so we were witness to all of the social unrest of the late '60s. I saw some cars being tipped over and set on fire. The civil rights movement was the violent one, the Vietnam protests I went to were mostly big pot parties that broke up as soon as any sign of resistance showed up. I had my hair parted in the middle, it was shoulder length, and I usually wore a thin psychedelic headband. We were barely in high school when all of this was going on, but we would go out to the college and hang out with the hippies.

About the time Magical Mystery Tour came out, lots of people were into hard drugs, tons of hallucinogenics. There were tabs, and barrels, and micro-dot, and windowpane, and blotter, and … The Vietnam war was still raging on, but that kept the drugs coming in from overseas. Lots of great pot from Thailand and Africa, and hashish from the Mideast.

Then '69 and '70 rolled around. Hendrix died, Joplin died, seems like every day someone was dying in the late '60s. Woodstock happened, Charley Manson happened, the moon landing happened, the Beatles broke up, it just all came to a head. In the early '70s things kept rolling along a bit, there was still lots of hippie stuff going on then. I would say right around '74, or when we pulled out of Vietnam, things all seemed to change. People were out of college getting jobs and having families. There wasn’t much to look forward to, except disco.

Peace and Love.

My earliest memory of anything related to politics is the Kennedy assasination. We got out of elementary school early because of it. I think I was in first or second grade. I was upset because my cartoons weren’t on TV.

TV was black and white and there were only 3 channels to choose from. I think color broadcasts may have started in the late 60s but we only had a black and white set. We watched prime time shows like Ed Sullivan, Gilligan’s Island, I Dream of Genie, Lost in Space, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, Batman, Start Trek, etc. (here’s a siteabout 60’s TV shows.

Cripes, I just realized how much my life revolved around TV back then. :eek: And how bad most of the shows were. :eek: :eek:

There was no such thing as seatbelts. My mother held each of us in her lap in the front seat when we were babies. When we got older my 2 brothers and myself sat in the backseat. During the time my dad had the station wagon we would sometimes take turns laying down in the back and sleeping during long summer trips. All of this would probably get a parent arrested or at least fined today but nobody knew any better and, at least in my family, we got lucky and we never had any serious accidents so no one was hurt. Also, air-conditioning was a luxury in a house and almost unheard of in a car, so we took those long 300 mile summer trips in the car with no air-conditioning. :eek:

I saw the entire manned space program from Mercury to Gemini to Apollo including the moon landings. I was fascinated by space and moonshots and many of our toys and much of our play revolved around spaceships and astronauts. We sincerely believed that tourists would be traveling to the Moon and maybe even Mars before the end of the 20th century.

I lived through the assasinations of JFK, RFK, and MLK, the Vietnam war, and the civil rights movement.

I saw the Beatle’s craze and the rise of the 60’s youth culture.

I went to the New York World’s Fair. I think that site may really help you to understand the mind-set of the mid 60’s. The fair was about the future and how technology would solve many of our problems within the next few decades. We were entering “The Space Age”. We were going to have unlimited nuclear energy that would give us electricity too cheap to meter! We were going to have a machine in our kitchen that manufactured disposable tablewares! We were going to have pushbutton telephones! (Well they did get that last one right. But the ones they promised us were still attached to the wall by a wire.)

Okay, I think that’s enough of my disjointed ramblings for now. Obviously it’s way to late and I should be in bed.
Do some Google searches on terms like “the 60’s” or “nostalgia”. There are lots of websites by people reminiscing about different aspects of the 60’s.

I was attending a journalism workshop for high school students at USC in the summer of 1960. The Democratic National Convention was going on “right across the street” at the Coloseum. I went to the convention after class one afternoon and listened to JFK speak. I was 17, politically unaware, and thought I was a Republican because my Parents were. That great opportunity was pretty much wasted on me. I didn’t know John F. Kennedy from Edgar Kennedy. I was to learn.

When the Kennedy-Nixon debates were broadcast on television we still had glorious black and white. Even though my folks thought Nixon won (hey, they didn’t know any better) I thought Kennedy seemed pretty strong while Nixon looked shifty.

In 1960 the Brooklyn Dodgers became the Los Angeles Dodgers. I saw them play in the Coloseum, which was the only venue that could handle them at the time. Dodger Stadium was a few years and a lot of “eminent domain” struggles later.

I was working in a small grocery store when the Cuban Missile Crisis happened. There was a near panic, with people cleaning out the shelves, fearing that World War III was about to begin. I saw women actually fight with each other over the last can of something or the last of the bottled water. Where we normally had a delivery from the warehouse once a week, we had three deliveries in one day. When the Khurshchev blinked and the crisis was over, many of those panicky people wanted to bring the excess goods back. (The store took them back, too.)

When JFK was assassinated, everybody thought the world would collapse. I was going to a junior college at the time. Classes were suspended, and little knots of students gathered around anyone with a radio, many of them crying. I don’t think even 9/11 made Americans feel as insecure and frightened as they did that day. The anxiety was palpable.

The Beat generation gave way to the Hippie movement, and beards, berets and sandals were replaced by waist length hair (on guys), love beads and flowers (and pot, if I remember correctly).

The killings at Kent State shocked the younger generation, while some older right wing assholes said the students had it coming.

I got my first color TV in 1965, and my then wife and I watched shows like The Farmer’s Daughter with the late Inger Stevens, and color reruns of The Cisco Kid. Wasn’t Bonanza on then, too?

The moon landing of Apollo 11 was one of the great moments of the 60’s, too. Althought when I read the book Capricorn 12 I confess to some fleeting doubts about the space program.

That’s enough memory lane for me tonight. It’s approaching 3 a.m., and I need some sleep. Geezers gotta rest, too.

'Scuze me, that’s Capricorn 1.

I can tell you this much; death rays were old hat by that time.

Culture seldom conforms exactly to calendars. I have always felt that the period referred to as the '60’s started with JFK’s assassination in November '63 and lasted through about '74. Nixon’s resignation and the end of the U.S. involvement in Viet Nam ended it.

Before that things were different, after that, things were different. By 1975, I think the U.S. and the world had enjoyed all of the '60’s they could stand. I know I was ready to move on to other things.


I was born in '57 so I was fairly young through the 60s but I remember many of the things that have been mentioned here already and maybe a couple things that haven’t yet -

[li]being let out of school early because JFK had been shot (1st grade) and seeing the flag on the flagpole as I got into my mother’s Nash Rambler[/li][li]my bro in law at the time knew the man who shot RFK[/li][li]MLK’s death[/li][li]black & white tv shows - the westerns that I watched with my Daddy, those silly bubbles and polka music, etc [/li][li]viet nam[/li][li]drugs[/li][li]hippies[/li][li]the space program[/li][li]seatbelt = my mother’s arm streached across the seat[/li][li]cars with fins[/li][li]drive-ins… both the movies and food places[/li][li]peace signs, bell bottom pants, love beads, suade jackets with fridge[/li][li]I lived abt. 15 miles from Watts, but I remember being totally scared to death watching the Watts Riots on the TV [/li][/ul]

I probably remember more but it’s dang early. I’m suprized I remembered that much.

I’ll try to remember some 60’s TV shows.

Ed Sullivan
One Step Beyond
Twilight Zone
Outer Limits
Jackie Gleason Show
Lawrence Welk
Dick Van Dyke Show
Howdy Doody
Roy Rogers
Seventy-Seven Sunset Strip
Perry Mason
Andy Griffith
Perry Como
Art Linkletter
Candid Camera
What’s My Line
Garry Moore Show
Johnny Carson
Laugh In
Carol Burnett
Sonny and Cher
Alfred Hitchcock Hour
The Munsters
The Adams Family
My Favorite Martian
I Dream of Genie

ShadiRoxan, please feel free to contact me with questions via email; I was born in 52, so was 8 by 1960 and can probably share some interesting memories with you.

Probably the first really significant event of the 1960s that has forever stayed with me, though, was the assassination of President Kennedy. I was in 6th grade then, and I can remember when the teacher came to tell our class that at first we thought it was a joke and were laughing. When we saw our teacher and the other teachers crying, we knew it was for real. :frowning: There was a great deal of coverage on tv then–it was the first time that tv had covered something that affected the entire nation in that way. We saw LBJ as he took the oath of office, Jackie still wearing her pink suit and pill box hat. I was watching tv coverage on the Sunday following the assassination of the President and saw, live, Ruby shooting Lee Harvey Oswald. The President’s funeral was so very sad–the drums and the riderless horse following the cortege. And of course John Jr. and Caroline with Jackie, John John making the salute at the Cathedral. And the most awful thing was that it was only a prelude to 1968 and the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy.

Sorry for going on so long about something so sad. It’s been said that America forever lost her innocence when President Kennedy was shot, and I think there’s a lot of truth to that. I do have a lot of other memories to share, so please do feel free to email me, if you want. One other thing that might help you get an idea of early 60s culture is to watch the show “American Dreams” (Sunday night on NBC); it’s set in Philadelphia in 1964 and has been pretty accurate, historically. Plus Dick Clark (exec. producer) provided clips from the actual American Bandstands of that era. LOL Except by February 1964 the show had moved to LA–on “American Dreams” it’s still in Philly. :wink: To catch some of the real TV shows from that era, turn into TV Land. And no, I don’t work for either NBC or TV Land, btw. :wink:

One persons overview:
For better or worse JFK introduced a lot of young people to politics. These are the folks whose optimism would fuel the early 60’s; Peace Corp, Presidents physical fitness program, Civil Rights, Beautify America, (Lady Bird Johnson’s prog.), Fighting Poverty, etc.
That optimism led to the belief we could “fix” things socially; “We thought we could change the world.”(Jon Carroll).
By '67 political reality set in, the gov’t was part of the problem, and the optimists became cynics. The war in SE Asia, and the resistance to civil rights became the dividing lines. That led to other fractures: the Left got more and more violent; eg. SDS > Weathermen > Weather Underground. The Right got more reactionary; eg. The FBI enrolling “students” in Cal Berkeley. At the '68 Demo. convention in Chicago, the police themselves rioted against the war protesters. In '69 students were killed at Kent State and Jackson State by the National Guard, this was the nadir of the 60’s.
This “struggle” would go on until '74 and the ouster of Nixon.
With the end of the War in Vietnam and the economy in the tank, folks just sort of quit; Too much emnity on both sides, too much energy required to keep the “fight” going.
From a Personal view.
I went to SE Asia in '67 and again in '69. I was in Hue when we heard about the Kent State shootings. By this time most of us were into drugs and this just pushed us further. When I got back to the states I hung out with other Vets who were against the war, and we consumed large quantities of illegal substances. We grew long hair and wore funky old clothes, but no one I knew was a “Hippie.” The only term that came close to describing us was ‘Freaks’, and even that wasn’t very descriptive. (Imagine you are sitting on a Bus and the guy next to you is cruising along on about 200 ‘mikes’ of LSD. In his coat is a .44 revolver, loaded, the safety off, and he’s remembering Da Nang…What would you call him?).
Several of us became drug dealers, and the spiral down continued. At least half the guys I hung out with after the war died within 5 years of coming back, (drug overdoses, drug deals gone bad, suicides, [one “suicide by cop”], car accidents).
For all this, I still have some great memories of the time: We travelled a lot, all over the country. The music was as good as Rock&Roll would ever get, we lived for concerts. My two children were born, (they would save my life). Met a lot of really good people. Those of us who survived, with most of our minds intact, came out of this smarter and more caring.
As the Chinese say: “May you live in interesting times.”

A little TOO interesting, for my money. There were years, especially '68, that had so much going on that they seemed to last for THREE years.