Remembering a 60's and 70's childhood
Being born near the beginning of the 1960’s, one was launched into the era of the Beetles, free love, hippies, brightly coloured clothes, long flowing hair and free range kids. Well, not everyone lived life this way. But I knew many people who did.
Young people and adults were protesting about wars, we watched man land on the moon (as we ate Teddy Bear biscuits and drank a glass of milk in the lounge room of a friend’s house, with my fellow school classmates) and green living on communes was one of the coolest things I had heard some peace-loving dudes were doing.
I lived in suburbia with my family in a nice house and collected stray cats, abandoned baby field mice, baby birds that had fallen or been chucked out of their nests, sat in the highest bows of a huge tree in my front yard for hours on end, played cowboys and Indians with my brother and our friends, built incredibly precarious cubby and tree houses, rode my cool dragster bike with my equally cool friends and began collecting my still much-loved swap cards.
We also used to invite the neighbours kids and friends around for an outdoor movie night. We’d set up rows of chairs, which each excited movie buff brought from their backyard sheds, and the man operating the movie projector, my father, organised the rattly film equipment he needed to project all of the home made moving pictures anyone wished to contribute onto the big white wall at the back of my house. Home-made lemonade quenched the thirst of the attendees and many bowls of crisps stopped their stomachs from rumbling.
By the end of the 60’s, the twenty or so kids who lived in my street formed a ‘gang’ of seriously radical skateboarders. When we weren’t performing all of our hang-fives, handstands or groovy moves on the boards, we were touring around like a swarm of bees on our two-wheeled, pedal powered ‘hot-rod’ bikes. My beloved dragster bike had the most awesome metallic blue padded seat and rubber handle grips. My skateboard had a swirly, hippy coloured pattern on top.
By the way, my teenage kids think it is hilarious and unbelievable that their ‘respectable’ mother was part of a cool skateboard ‘gang’. A ‘gang’ that was happy, well behaved and thrived on the companionship of the group. This ‘gang’ was really just a bunch of kids who grew up together and enjoyed each others company. To give you an idea of the type of cool skateboarder group we were, have you seen the video clip to the song “Forever Young”? That clip transports me back in time.
We had no home computers, internet, mobile phones, social networking (Facebook, MySpace or even HubPages to share our interests). If we wanted to see a friend, we rode our bikes, horses, skateboards or roller-skates to our buddy’s house and asked if they were free. Or we’d pick up the plastic telephone, spin the dial with our index finger and ring them up. Or, whilst our mums or dads picked us up from school, we’d ask our friend’s parent, with the best manners we had, if their son or daughter could come over to play. Mum or Dad had the final word and if they said ‘no’, then we accepted that without much disappointment. After all, we would see our best friend at school the next day.
The news of the day was limited as we watched it on our black-and-white TV. We, as kids, were blissfully unaware of what may have been happening in most parts of the rest of the world. Not like today, when disasters, wars and many other events are presented to us on the internet or TV as they happen. Were we happier in some obscure way, as kids in the 60’s, by maybe not knowing about a disaster on the other side of the world, or not availed of the many TV shows about serial killers and crime investigation for example, like we are today? Was life naively simpler back then? What you didn’t know didn’t ‘hurt’ you?
My school years, in the 60’s (flowing into the 70’s), were the best ones of my life. There was virtually no bullying and we really liked our teachers – even the quiet one who wore the same pullover each day – even on warm days. What he taught was interesting; he was different; he was fun and the facts about the stuff he would come up with had us riveted to our seats with intense concentration. He was never teased for being different and he had all of our respect.
At recess, each school day, we pealed back the metal lid on our small glass milk bottles and drank the warm milk with gusto. This milk was supplied to us by the school and it usually had a curious floating creamy, frothy layer bobbling about near the spout of the bottle. But we didn’t care or fuss over that. Some would shake the bottle to mix the cream back into the milk or the ‘brave’ ones scooped it out with a finger and ate it first. We all had our own styles of shifting that layer of cream.
Oh the memories of the bell-bottomed jeans, some with groovy embroidering on the outer edge, near the boots; the psychedelic patterns and colours of the tops, floral prints, tie-dyed t-shirts, heaps of colourful plastic bangles and ponchos and platform shoes; just to name a few.
So many younger people these days seem to like the fashion of the late 60’s, into the 70’s. I feel privileged to have grown up in that era and have many, many fond memories attached to that time. Still to this day, I occasionally take out my beautiful collection of 60’s/70’s swap cards; lovingly looking through them and admiring how each picture card captured the unique era I grew up in with.