1969 was the year I learned to fly. The world spun faster on its axis. Everything changed. We had the best music and the most fun we’d ever have again. It was before AIDS, too. Sex was fun — and the worst disease you could get was something a doctor could fix with a shot of antibiotics.

Neil Armstrong walked on the moon in July 1969. I watched it unfold. I was a new mother with a 2-month old baby boy. I wasn’t working yet and was finished with college. I was at home with the baby, not working, no studying. I had time to see the world unroll.

We were going to make the world a better place, end war. End bigotry, race prejudice, inequality. Turns out, it didn’t quite work out the way we planned, but our hearts were pure, even if we were also stoned.

Marilyn and the kid

It was a great time to get work, too because the world was opening up. You could still get an interview with a live person who might actually hire you. We had hope and we believed.

I saw Neil Armstrong walk on the moon. We saw it on CBS. It was obvious Walter Cronkite wanted to be up there too. Up there, with Neil and the rest of Apollo 11. He could barely control his excitement, almost in tears, his voice breaking with emotion.

The great Arthur C. Clarke was his guest for that historic broadcast. Neil Armstrong died last year. He had a good life. Unlike so many others who fell from grace, he remained an honorable man: a real American hero.

Apollo 11 – 1969

How I envied him his trip to the moon. Maybe the Mother Ship will come for us. If they could fix the old folks on Cocoon, maybe there’s room for Garry and me. Off to the stars? Sounds like a good deal. Earth, these days, is a total bummer.

On the moon, 1969

Woodstock was that summer. There were rumors flying about this amazing rock concert that was going to happen upstate. I had friends who had tickets and were going. I was busy with the baby and wished them well.

There were hippies giving out flowers in Haight-Ashbury, but I didn’t envy them. Because I was happy that year, probably happier than I’d ever been and in some ways, happier than at anytime since.

I was young, still healthy. I believed we would change the world, end war, make the world a better place. I still thought the world could be changed. All we had to do was love one another and join together to make it happen. Vietnam was in high gear, but we were sure it would end any day … and though we found out how terribly wrong we were, for a while we saw the future bright and full of hope.

I had a baby boy and I sang “Everything’s Fine Right Now” which I first heard sung by the Holy Modal Rounders at a local folk music club. They were the most stoned group of musicians I’d ever met, but the song was also a great lullaby. It made my baby boy laugh. 

It was the year of the Miracle Mets. I watched as they took New York all the way to the top. A World Series win. 1969. What a year. I rocked my son to sleep and discovered Oktoberfest beer. New York went crazy for the Mets. It should have been the Dodgers, but they’d abandoned us for the west coast.

I wore patchwork bell-bottom jeans and rose-tinted spectacles. I had long fringes on my sleeves and a baby on my hip.

Music was wonderful. How young we were! We could do anything, or so we thought.

We were going to end THE war and right every wrong. As we found the peak, we would almost immediately drop back into a dark valley. For a year, though, one great year, the stars aligned and everything was as it should be.

Decades passed. Being young was a long time ago. We use lots of drugs, but they control our blood pressure, not our state of consciousness. They are no fun at all.

I worry about Social Security and Medicare and I know I’m not going to fix what’s wrong with the world. I’ve lived a lifetime. My granddaughter is the age I was then.

I’ve remarried, lived in another country, owned houses, moved from the city to the country, and partied with a President … but 1969 remains my year.

Author: Marilyn Armstrong

Writer, photography, blogger. Previously, technical writer. I am retired and delighted to be so. May I live long and write frequently.

26 thoughts on “MY BEST YEAR – 1969”

  1. 1969. I spent the first six months of that year going through basic training and advanced individual training (AIT) in the US Army. I was in the army reserves and spent the next 5 1/2 years as a weekend warrior. I also got my first post-undergraduate job that year…starting salary $7,901/year. Woo hoo. I, too, wanted to change the world, protested against the war, grew my hair long (and tucked it in under a short wig for my one-weekend a month army training) and discovered that women actually wanted to have sex with me. It was a very good year for me, too!


    1. I know I’ll never be that young again but I’d love to FEEL that way again. To feel that there’s hope, that we’ll make the world better. To believe that we CAN do it. I was earning maybe $8000. That was decent money then! When I got my first “real” job at Doubleday and shot up to (are you ready?) $13,000/year … holy moly!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. It was a good year. I got married and when the first man on the moon took a walk I had a baby bump and it was the early hours of the morning. I was in bed, but Mr. Swiss and his son were watching on the TV, a chance not to be missed.


    1. What worries me is that maybe the world WASN’T different, but we thought it was. What we see now was growing back then, but somehow, we thought we could make it better. And we tried. Hard. I suspect we didn’t really understand what was going on under the surface Garry and I talk about this a lot and we wonder what else we could have done.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. You did the very best you could with the tools you had at the time. You cared, you were involved, you tried! That’s more than most can say, especially now. 1969 sounds like a spectacular year and yes I watched Walter on that newscast and it was exactly as you described!


  4. Interestingly, it is also my favorite year. I made many new friends at a new high school. I found the Drama Department at school and had a small part in the school play, South Pacific. The music that year was magic. I will give you my top twenty 1969 songs tomorrow with a link to the entire playlist.


    1. It was a very upbeat time. There was a lot more work than there had ever been before and electronics hadn’t gotten in the way of human relationships. It was discovery time for ALL of us I think. It’s so sad that it didn’t turn out the way we hoped and dreamed, but maybe we’ll yet see some progress. Things need to go down before they go up.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. In 1969 I was a junior in high school and had a really nice boyfriend. My dad was still at home and semi-OK. My brother hadn’t gone off the rails yet. It was a happy year for me, too, maybe not the best, but in there, probably the last good year for a while. 🙂


    1. It was a very good year for many people in our generation. Things didn’t start to go south until the 1970s when the Vietnam war kicked into high gear and a lot of fun had turned into criminality. It was also a good year for making babies. Many of the people I meet online of our age had kids that year.

      Considering how awful our country feels today, I sometimes yearn for the good old days Dickie Nixon.

      Liked by 1 person

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