I’ve had a few really great years — and few really awful ones — but 1969 stands out as my favorite. The world seemed to spin faster and everything was changing. We had amazing music and the most fun we’d ever have. It was before AIDS. 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 a child, not working and finished with studying. I had time to watch life and the world unfold.
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 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.
How I envied that trip to the moon.
Woodstock happened that summer. There were rumors flying about this amazing rock concert that was would be happening in upstate New York. 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. I was fine and happy.
I was also young and healthy. I believed we were changing the world, ending war, and making the world a better place. Those were the days when 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. Although we found out how wrong we were, for a while we saw the future brightly and filled with 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 were sure we could do anything. We were going to end the war and right wrongs. As we found the peak, we would immediately drop back into a dark tunnel. But just for that single year, the stars aligned and everything was as it should be.
Decades passed. Being young was a long time ago. We still use lots of drugs and imagine — pot is legal! Who’d have thunk it? There are no fewer than three cannabis dispensaries less than a mile from our front door.
I worry about Social Security and Medicare. I hate the politics and the general rottenness of this not-so-brave world. I also know I can’t fix it.
I’ve lived longer than I imagined possible. My granddaughter is four years older than I was in 1969. I can’t imagine what the world must look like to her. None of us imagined this world of 2023. We never in our worst nightmares imagined could turn out like this.
I’ve remarried. Garry and I will be married for 33 years this fall. I’ve lived overseas, moved to the country, and partied with a President, but 1969 will always be my favorite year.