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Baby Boomer Chronicles (BBC) 1961-1962

Updated on August 17, 2012

Welcome to this installment of the Chronicles, and yes, I was around that long ago!

As it is, I cannot remember much before 1960, this was the dawn of my conscious memory of happenings during the period. I was in early grade school and like it is for most kids, everything was so vivid and alive.

If you asked me about major events that occurred in 1961, I would be hard pressed to provide an answer. It was simply too early for me to remember much during the time. We were a family of modest means. Mom was home and Dad worked at the US Post Office. He was the ambitious sort though and aspired to get into Real Estate, and later he did. These were challenging times, we had a young and vibrant new president, opportunity was everywhere and the sky was the limit. But all that grandiose stuff went over the head of a kid that was knee high to a tadpole. But from my perspective, which did not say much, in 1961, all was right with the world.

But there was always that catastrophic event for every mischievous little boy that sticks with you over time. I used to play ‘chicken’ with the wringer washer. Do any of you remember those? Here is a photo. While it was in operation, I use to just tap it and run. Well one day it caught my hand and arm doing quite a bit of damage. Fortunately, there were no permanent injuries. But Mom said that I did not deserve a bone to chomp on while the doctor applied that painful iodine stuff. All the same, I was in a cast for a while. We had the standard Hi-Fi, high fidelity, not stereo, and Dad had his 33 long playing records, most of it was contemporary Jazz, Dave Brubeck, and Wes Montgomery, to name just a couple artists.

Wringer Washer similar to what we owned

Mom liked all the popular music coming out, this was before Motown’s heyday. She was listening to the Contours, the Platters, etc. We all took quickly to the dance crazes at the time, The Twist and the Mashed Potato as representative. I was a scary kid, afraid of the dark for a long time. All the same, my mother and I had a fondness of horror movies. She would take me to movie palaces in Denver’s downtown and we would see films like “Pit and the Pendulum” starring Vincent Price. I liked to watch “Thriller” on TV moderated by Boris Karloff. Mom and I did a lot of walking together, very often to the public library.

The family got around in a 1956 Dodge. Our idea of entertainment was going to the airport and watching the planes take off and land. My father would take me to visit Grandmama who lived in an apartment duplex about a couple of miles away from our residence. She was relatively young for a grandmother and just as soon not be recognized as one. She had been divorced and kicked up her heels quite a bit; she was not a matronly sort by any stretch of the imagination. She had boy friends over, whiskey and other spirits were always on tap. The cigarette smoke was suffocating and I tagged on Dad’s shirt on frequent occasions asking when we could go home. She had this little record player that played 45rpm records, and she only had the latest stuff right from the pop charts.

I certainly remember one night Dad and I came over to decide a name for a baby brother that was due to arrive in a couple of weeks (December 1961). Grandmama did have us, my siblings and I, over for breakfast on occasion and she was a master of barbeque, which was more than useful on several occasions. She used to tell us how her sister had dated Nat King Cole during his “barnstorming days” in the Midwest during the 1940’s. Those thoughts rushed to my mind 38 years later as a grown man, while giving the eulogy at her funeral. With so many shared accounts, it was like I lived during the period she was telling us her stories about.

So, spend time with your older relations while you still have them and get them to share with you their life experiences, it will enrich your life, as it certainly did mine.

When so much of the extended family came over, you always had opinions about each of them. Take your pick; bad breath, overpowering perfume or lipstick all over your face and clothes. "Come here and give me some sugar!" Here I am a half century later, having become one of them. I did not plan on it. It just happened.

I never could remember programs that I watched on TV, I did recall the Flintstones and Jetsons introduced on ABC during primetime evenings. Because, they was animated that is why I remembered. Mom told me considerably later that kids do say the darndest things. I asked her why I could never see the woman’s chest on TV like that of the men. She told me that she would answer that later, much later… Here is one of the many TV ads during the period that I distinctly remember.

This particular advertisement touched upon many of the popular television programs of the time, see how many you recognize?

1962 Chevrolet Commercial

In 1962, I remembered a bit more. How many of you can recite the Pledge of Allegiance? Something that was a morning ritual at school had just disappeared. I guess it went the way of the Hi-Fi or TV channel tuner? When, I tried to remember it there definitely were gaps. We all faced the flag and put our hands over our hearts, seems all so quaint today. The School Principal had a paddle and when he had a “session” with an errant student, everybody could hear. It was so embarrassing. Dad said that if I got in trouble at school, I was in trouble at home as well. After getting into trouble at school on one occasion, I asked my Dad if he would listen to my side, he said, ‘the only side that he was interested in was my backside’. Well, that was not going to work Do they still make you stay after school and write 100 lines of “I will not talk in class”?

Lunch money was 15 cents. The food was not terribly appetizing and women cafeteria workers were never much to look at. I certainly remember the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, if not the details, the concerned demeanor on my father’s face during the days when everything was on the brink. This was in October, 1962. The school had us all trained in the ‘duck and cover’ maneuver, the staple of life during the Cold War.

For some reason, a hot summer night in August, 1962 came to mind as I distinctly remembered all the television coverage over the death of Marilyn Monroe. To think that for Christmas, 1962, I received a box of 64 crayolas with the built in sharpener. I thought that I had it all. When I walk down the market isles today and see them, they appear so cheap and insignificant that I could not imagine them being suitable as a Christmas present, but times, they are always changing

There are so few periods where one can feel relatively liberated. Childhood is one of those times, but there was always someone around to tell you that it was past your bedtime. University life was the next period, not really having to work on anything but academics, but that hung over your head as well. You went to the ‘keggers’ and parties with the knowledge that you were going to be held accountable for your grades and progress while there. That put a damper on some of the revelry. Retirement is now where it is at. You try now to re-experience the same sense of wonder that one had as a kid, now that your energies are not spent putting a roof over your head and food on the table. The problem is that now you know too much for your own good. The aches and pains that are part of a body that is certainly not in its prime is the ‘gotcha’ this time. I eat my Wheaties and vegetables, but the table is slanted, the game is rigged. That banana split just won’t taste as good as it used to…….

There are two representative samples of music for each year 1961 and 1962. They were great as I was dancing to them at the time and remember them at the time they hit the charts. Well if you don’t like these, check out the top pop 100 for 1961 and 1962 provided below.

Shop Around by The Miracles 1961

Twist and Shout by the Isley Brothers 1962

Again, thanks for dropping by the Chronicles. Here are the top of the pop for the years 1961 and 1962


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    • Credence2 profile imageAUTHOR


      2 years ago from Florida (Space Coast)

      Jean, I never remember a particular song that brought me to tears, But there were the songs that defined an era of activism and accompanying change, see BBC 1968. I am proud to say that I lived through such vibrant times and was aware and alive.

      I can't claim to have read much general fiction, over the years as I leaned toward non-fiction, historical fiction and science fiction.

      Stephen King is a prominent writer, but I connected with most of his work translated into a dramatic form, movies and television.

      But the book 'Hearts in Atlantis' is now by its very nature a historical account of a past event as seen through his eyes. I will get the synopsis and check it out, thanks.

    • Jean Bakula profile image

      Jean Bakula 

      2 years ago from New Jersey

      Do you ever hear songs from when you were in Junior High school and they make you cry? It was such a time to feel invincible, like any door led to possibilities.

      Do you read Stephen King? He wrote Hearts in Atlantis, four short stories about the times of the Vietnam war. The University of Orono in ME, his alma mater, got him to write a true story of his feelings about college and the war (he was opposed and had really long hair). Other classmates wrote essays about him. If you like him, the book is a treat.

    • Credence2 profile imageAUTHOR


      2 years ago from Florida (Space Coast)

      Jean, I see that we are contemporaries, you and I. We are fortunate enough to have seen the world through much of the same lens.

      I don't think that there was anybody over 5 years old at the time that did not remember exactly where they were on November 22, 1963, the moment they were told that the President had been shot.

      I was in a 4th grade cafeteria lunchroom. I was looking forward to my birthday celebration on Nov. 24th, the cake, candles, the works. Instead, I got Lee Harvey Oswald and back to back coverage on every television station without let up. The whole weekend was a mess, my birthday was the least of anyone's concern, what a bummer.

      Thanks for coming along on the journey, because we certainly know where we have been and know all about those quaint and archaic relics of the past. It is fun to remember, I know now that I am definitively geriatric. I invite you to return soon through another time portal.

    • Jean Bakula profile image

      Jean Bakula 

      2 years ago from New Jersey

      Hi, I was born in 1955. I had back surgery in 1961, and missed first grade, though I had a tutor. When I returned, I was way ahead of everyone. I'm afraid I've had poor attendance all my life!

      I remember teachers crying and being sent home from school when JFK was assassinated. It was scary, and maybe the first saturation TV? I can recall it was all I watched with my parents that whole weekend. Before that I never knew people just killed people like that.

      I love all those old Motown songs, they are treasures.

    • Credence2 profile imageAUTHOR


      4 years ago from Florida (Space Coast)

      Thank you sir, for taking the time to read this hub. Welcome to hubpages!

    • Akriti Mattu profile image

      Akriti Mattu 

      4 years ago from Shimla, India

      Just wow

      Looking forward to read more of your posts

    • Credence2 profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Florida (Space Coast)

      Paul, thanks for dropping by the chronicles, you know that this is where you belong. Many historians of the revisionist stripe, have referred to Camelot as came-a-lot, a description of the late President's tendency to womanize.

      I am most delighted that you stopped by, check out my other installations, my better ones are '1968' and '1971"

    • profile image

      Paul Froehlich 

      6 years ago

      JFK took office in 1961. Born in 1950, I recall my Catholic parents saying that JFK was "a good Catholic family man." Little did they know!

    • Credence2 profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Florida (Space Coast)

      Alastar, thanks for dropping by, that black Friday in November, 1963 seemed to be one that even toddlers at the time recall in some form. It was truly a devestating weekend. I had a birthday on Sunday, November 24th, the day Oswald was shot and killed in a Dallas Police Dept. parking garage. Needless to say, there were no cakes or parties for me.

      It is always a pleasure have you visit the Chronicles and share a tidbit or two.

      We will chat again.....

    • Alastar Packer profile image

      Alastar Packer 

      6 years ago from North Carolina

      '61-62 was too early for me to remember anything too, Cred. And from this vantage point in time that's a good thing lol. As a matter of fact one of the first memories came the next year on Nov. 22nd, 1963 in a big and somewhat mysterious way. Regardless, enjoyed this trip back to those days with you and the family. Btw, you had your learning experience with the ringer washer and i with an electrical outlet. We're never too young to learn the hard way eight are we my friend..

    • Credence2 profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Florida (Space Coast)

      Hi, Silvie, I hope the transition to your new home has been without incident! Thanks for dropping by the Chronicles and helping me walk down memory to What Was. You were obviously like me, as a kid, never having to be aware that you were hungry. Our needs and expectations were modest, my nephews now want new computers and software and they are not much older than I was back in the day. You think that they could ever settle for a small toy or box of crayolas, today?

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I loved this Hub and the whole series. They always open a floodgate of memories.

      I was ten at this time and we had just come to the US from Germany year before and my Dad was sent to Korea. My Dad (step dad) was in the Army and we lived in Fort Dix so we moved to this tiny town in New Jersey called Jobstown.

      There was one store and a post office. Military pay was not much and it was hard financially when your spouse was overseas. That Christmas my mother who was working at a hospital to make ends meet had her purse stolen on the payday before Christmas and I remember she cried because she was so far from home and her own mother and had no family to turn to.

      I remember getting paper dolls and my little sisters and brother each getting a small toy. But we were happy with what we got. I loved the paper dolls and even designed extra clothes for them.

      My mother managed to get us through that year and I managed to become very American warts and all.

    • Credence2 profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Florida (Space Coast)

      @ Borsia

      Hey Bud, thanks for dropping by the Chronicles. We are contemporaries, you and I. Herb Alpert was boss, after he did a song called a Touch of Honey in 1965, I was hooked. I chose the ad because it did a little more than just advertise a product. Marilyn’s passing had a profound effect for me to have remembered that moment so long ago. In this anorexic crazed society, where would Marilyn fit in today? If there was ever an “Eve” she must have looked something like Marilyn. There was never any question as to which gender she belonged to. She needed a shoulder to lean on; I wished that they were mine as small as they were back in those days.

      As for the teacher, who knows, from that standpoint, WWII had ended only 16-17 years ago, I bet that most of our teachers at the time were touched by it in one way or another. When you think about it, it was not really that long was it?

      When searching for adequate videos for this series, I stumbled upon a gem in mint condition. I found a young Dick Clark in 1959 introducing Connie Francis, inviting her to sing her hit “lipstick on your collar”. Check out the geeky teens, could anyone look so bad? This predates the scope of the ‘chronicles’ but it fun all the same.

    • Credence2 profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Florida (Space Coast)

      Hi, Marj, always nice to have a regular come back and visit. 1961 was a good a place as any for a launch point. As for the commercial, can you believe that we were ever that corny? Has it been that long?

    • Credence2 profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Florida (Space Coast)

      Hi, Kathleen, thanks for dropping by. As for the crayolas, I guess we all had to start somewhere!

    • Borsia profile image


      7 years ago from Currently, Philippines

      I was born in 54 so I was 7+8 and I remember a lot of those things. Funny that I don't remember that commercial since I remember all of the TV shows who’s theme songs were used as background music.

      I think the first stereo records were introduced in the late 50’s but didn’t really go mainstream until the early 60s. I know my Zombies album was mono. The first record I ever bought was Herb Alpret & the Tijuana Brass “The Lonely Bull” released in 1962. “El Paso” was another (Marty Robins 1959)

      I was so sad when Marylyn died too young to understand the concept of suicide or why so many didn’t believe it.

      During the Cuban crisis the air raid siren went off several times and we all dove under our desks and waited for the All Clear to sound.

      I remember the pledge quite well. Every day one student was chosen to lead. They brought the flag up from the back of the room and led the class. I had watched some programs that showed the Royal Guard marching. So when it was my turn I proudly held the flag much the way they held theirs and did the stiff legged march. My teacher thought I was trying to do the Nazi Goose Step and exploded in rage. Looking back she might have been Jewish but she sent me out to the Principal’s office and wouldn’t stop to hear my side. The Principal was very stern until I asked what was wrong with the British, then he broke out laughing.

    • marcoujor profile image

      Maria Jordan 

      7 years ago from Jeffersonville PA

      Yeah... I was born in November, it was nice to SHOP AROUND and find this amazing hub tonight!

      The Chevy commercial was a hoot... It's great to see another "Chronicles" installment. Have a nice weekend. Hugs, Maria

    • Kathleen Cochran profile image

      Kathleen Cochran 

      7 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      A brand new box of 64 crayons! Nothing better. This is going to be a fun series. Looking forward to the next installment. Sharing.


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