Living Through the Sixties
I've been looking through my hubs and reviewing the titles and it looks to me like I've been stuck in the 1950s. I actually lived through the 60s as well - was married during the 60s. The 60s was an interesting decade. Some have called it 'the Sixties' and referred to it as a 'cultural decade'. It surely had a lot of upheaval as post war babies started to grow up and feel their oats!
The Sixties was a time when college students and young adults sought to make changes in the world, to 'clean it up' if you will. Changes in politics and changes in society were about to unfold along with the Sixties. This was a decade that saw college protests all over the country, the Civil Rights Movement started by Martin Luther King, Woodstock, Women's Lib, and so very much more!
What Happened in the Sixties?
I started high school in 1961 so I was and wasn't aware of a lot of what was going on in the world. Our Social Studies teacher required us to read one article from the newspaper every night and discuss it in school the next day. I hate to admit it, but that was probably the extent of my interest in world news. John F. Kennedy took his oath of office as President in January of 1961 and soon established the Peace Corps, Charles deGaulle was President of France, a 37 pound chimpanzee was sent into space, the Bay of Pigs Invasion began in Cuba, a Freedom Riders bus was bombed in Alabama, there were race riots in the south, Roger Maris hit his 61st home run, and East Germany erected the Berlin Wall.
I'm not saying that's all I knew but those are some of the highlights I remember. Some, but not all. Doing some research I found that the average price of a house was $12,500 and the price of gas was 27 cents a gallon!
John Fitzgerald Kennedy
I have to go back to JFK for a moment. Even as a high school student I was enamored of John F. Kennedy. He was young, he was good looking, he had a pretty, personable wife, all things that attracted high school students everywhere. We followed him more socially than politically. His assassination totally shocked the world, even the world of young high school students. It was one of those moments you remember for life. I was working backstage at school when our principal, a Father Campbell, came to tell us we had to stop the show as he had to announce the death of John Kennedy. Shocked silence fell over the auditorium filled with over 500 students. The silence lasted only a short time and was followed by students crying. We were dismissed from school and allowed to go home. Every bus we took was filled with people crying. People were walking on the street crying. It was a terribly sad day for everyone.
Whether people liked John Kennedy or not, the shock of such a horrible thing happening to our President united everyone for a short time. Everyone stayed glued to their TV and as a result wound up witnessing the shooting of Lee Harvey Oswald by Jack Ruby. Oswald, believed to be the shooter of John Kennedy, was being led through the basement of the Dallas Police Headquarters when Jack Ruby stepped up and shot him in the abdomen sending further shock waves through an already shocked and saddened country. So many ironies prevailed from November 22 at 12:30 p.m. (President Kennedy's assassination). Oswald was arrested in a Texas theater where he had gone to hide, when Oswald was shot he was taken to the Parkland Memorial Hospital - the same hospital where John Kennedy had died, Ruby said he killed Oswald to save Mrs. Kennedy from having to come back for a trial!
On a lighter note, some of you may remember Vaughn Meader. He was an impersonator who became famous by impersonating the First Family -- John Kennedy, Jackie Kennedy and even the children. Over one million copies of his humorous record album were sold but just as fast as his star rose, it crashed, with the death of John Kennedy.
Every decade has it's love songs and so did the Sixties;
Love is All Around
When Man Loves a Woman
Game of Love
So Much in Love
The Look of Love
The Glory of Love
You Really Got Me
Music in the Sixties
Of course there was more to the Sixties. Dance crazes 'hit the scene' including dances like The Swim, The Mashed Potatoes, and The Locomotion. These dances were part of the music scene. As in any decade there were tons of songs, lots of 1960s music hits. Need I even mention the Beatles? What about Bob Dylan, or my personal favorites Simon and Garfunkel?
Elvis, Neil Sedaka, Frankie Avalon, Del Shannon and other stars from the Fifties carried over into the Sixties but the Sixties was ready for a change. It was a psychedelic era with songs like "White Rabbit" from Jefferson Airplane. There was Jimi Hendrix and The Doors. Music was all over the place. Protest music, songs protesting the War in Viet Nam, songs like Reflections of...(the way life used to be), Blowin in the Wind, This Land is Your Land, Ballad of the Green Berets, Daddy's Home....Joan Baez, Peter Paul & Mary, the Beatles, the Righteous Brothers...WoW, what a mix. The 1960s music hits truly ran the gamut.
Styles, Fashion, Hairdos of the Sixties
What about styles and fashions in the Sixties? Women's fashions went from mini skirts with white patent leather boots to Madras plaid with loafers. Pants were long, short and in between - Bermuda shorts, peddle pushers, even culottes. Jackie Kennedy's hats, including the pillbox, were all the rage. Her style and grace influenced many women in the Sixties.
As Hippies appeared on the scene they brought their own fashions with them. College students were buying their clothes in Army/Navy stores and wanted natural fabrics. Headbands and lots of fringe, on shirts, vests, and coats. Hip hugger bell bottoms especially if they had fringe on the bottom! Granny glasses, tie dye tee shirts and Peace symbols everywhere.
Oh, and don't forget hairdos! Women's hairdos matched their clothing tastes. The bouffant - totally teased. There was the neatly coiffed flip or a nice french twist to go with the conservative clothing. Hippie? Long, flowing, unrestrained hair. The Afro came into it's own for both women and men. Let's not forget the Beatles mop top! In between was just a curly do...everyone owned rollers and lots and lots of hairspray.
Richard Chamberlain, Dr. Kildare and Raymond Massey, Dr. Gillespie
Television in the Sixties
TV was still only black and white and where I lived we had all of seven channels! The main ones of course were 2 - CBS, 4 - NBC, and 7 - ABC. A popular TV show you most likely have heard of was Batman. Though it was based on the DC Comics, the artsy angles used in filming and the ludicrous crime fighting of Batman and the Boy Wonder soon made it a cult favorite.
Of course there were doctor shows...Dr. Kildare (Richard Chamberlain) and Ben Casey (the brooding Vince Edwards). Westerns ruled the day or should I say night? Bonanza, Cheyenne, Death Valley Days, Gunsmoke, to name a few.
Comedy is always around and in the Sixties we had Hogan's Heroes, Gomer Pyle U.S.M.C., I Dream of Jeannie and no one can forget the infamous Laugh-In. Something entirely different than any comedy show that went before. Laugh-In was loosely based on vaudeville or burlesque with it's rapid fire humor and political and sexual innuendos. Sayings like "Here come the judge" and "Sock It To Me" have lived on long after Laugh-In. Some of it's stars also went on to become real Hollywood stars including a young Goldie Hawn, Ruth Buzzi, Arte Johnson, Lily Tomlin, Richard Dawson, and announcer Gary Owens. Guest starts were never a problem and ranged from Sammy Davis, Jr. to Lucille Ball.
Movies in the Sixties
I didn't mention movies..like Psycho, The Good, The Bad and the Ugly, Bonnie & Clyde, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Dr. Zhivago, Dr. Strangelove, Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, The Graduate, Mary Poppins, The Guns of Navarone, The Pink Panther, Planet of the Apes ...the sixties was a great time for movies!
To attract TV viewers back to the movies the Multiplex theaters were born. Expensive epic films were on the decline. Who could forget "Night of the Living Dead"? A cheaply made independent film that turned out to be a cult movie that was remade in 1990 but the 1990 version never had a chance.
No hub or article about the Sixties would be complete without at least a mention of Women's Lib and Bra Burning! The Women's Lib Movement of the Sixties was actually the second wave of the movement started by Betty Friedan's book "The Feminine Mystique". Cultural and political inequality were at the heart of the matter. There were constant mentions of male supremacy and more freedom for women.
“A liberated woman is one who has sex before marriage and a job after.” Gloria Steinem
"The test for whether or not you can hold a job should not be the arrangement of your chromosomes."
- Bella Abzug
I hope you enjoyed this trip through the Sixties in an nutshell. Yes, I know I left out this or that but I simply couldn't put everything in here. However, you can always add to this hub in the Comments section!
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