1969 was the year I learned to fly. Mentally, but it felt to me as if I had wings.
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.
It was a great time to a job because the world was opening up, even for women. 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 that 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 a couple of years ago. He had a good life. Unlike so many others who fell from grace, he remained an honorable man: a real American hero.
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.
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. Hippies distributing flowers in Haight-Ashbury, but I didn’t envy them. I was happy that year, probably happier than I’d ever been and in some ways, happier than 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 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 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. We believed we could do anything. We were going to end war and right every wrong. Just as we found the peak, we would immediately dropped back into the 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 more drugs now than we did for fun, but these medications control our blood pressure and other ailments, not our states of consciousness. They are no fun. I worry about Social Security and Medicare, the state of the planet. and whether or not we will ever emerge from some variation on a theme of quarantine.
I know I’m not going to fix the world. Been there. Tried to do it. Failed.
I’ve lived a lifetime. My granddaughter is older than I was in 1969. I’ve remarried, lived in another country, owned houses, moved from the city to the country, and partied with a President. All that being said, 1969 was my year.
Categories: #American-history, Baseball, Entertainment, Music
High school for me, not a great time, not totally bad either. We had moved from Detroit to San Diego in ’68 so I was still in culture shock. Blond boy surfers have always been my downfall…
Garry got a great job offer in San Diego, but turned it down because it was anchoring and he never thought he was a good anchor. He probably had a better grip on his abilities than anyone else. He knew what he could do. He also knew what he couldn’t do. If he’d said yes, we’d have made it to the coast. Of course by then, it was the 1990s. In 1969, I was pregnant, a new mother, and looking forward to everything. It was a GREAT time to be young and living in New York. It was exciting.
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WOW, that would have been interesting because our paths really might have crossed as I did a lot of PR and marketing and was always at the TV stations. Firs with a boat company where I met the one who no longer exists, and then when we had a maritime nonprofit and then we had our own charter vessel. Roads not taken… I was 15 in 1969, too young to know anything.
I was 21, then turned 22 in March. New York was a very exciting place back then. I was old enough to THINK I knew something (I didn’t) and young enough to try anything — which I did. It really was fun, exciting and we were so sure we were going to change the world. What a pity we didn’t succeed.
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I see you as “That Girl” tossing her hat in NY
It was a very good year!
it was, wasn’t it? I could use another good one. I NEED another good one.
Another girlfriend was today saying she wants to go back to 1970, whereas I secretly try to sneak back to certain other years. These recent ones seem to have learned nothing good from the past!
These days, it doesn’t seem we’ve ever learned anything from the past. Most of the kids I know don’t know any history. They aren’t sure whether Vietnam or WWII came first. They don’t teach history in schools anymore. It’s “social studies” and history is sort of a sidebar. I feel like we’ve regressed to maybe 1935.
I’m not sure if it was my best year ever but it was certainly a time of promise. Oh, and I tried and failed too. Ah well.
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I think many, if not most of us tried. and failed We didn’t fail through lack of effort. We failed then as we are failing now — because those who govern — corporate and governmental — don’t care. Why don’t they care? Why can they come up with trillions for any war they feel like waging but no money to fix what’s broken? I don’t know. I never understood it. I thought they were supposed to be working FOR us.
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A total blast of a year, it was. Professionally, I was in the middle of almost all those iconic -YES- iconic, world changing stories. But I was just a newbie – riding the big journalistic waves of network news and personally unaware of how much things were changing. I DID think those changes would improve the world as we knew it. I thought our ability to improve the planet was limitless.
As we begin a new year, I wonder about my optimism of half a century ago. I don’t want to yield to cynicism – a caveat of my peers – but what I see and hear is very disheartening.
You really WERE in the thick of it. I was really impressed by the work you did. Not enough to want to do it, but really really impressed. I’m STILL impressed.