Do you have fond memories of that time? Do you think a significant societal change was effected? Or was it just a good excuse to break free from the strictures of your parents? In short, how do you view the 1966-69 period now as the first decade of the 21st Century draws down?
I was born in August 1969 and…
I agree with most of the foregoing … including the guy from Texas.
Question Authority is one of the primary memes that persisted from that period, along with ending the military draft and the feminist movement and the opening to exploration of cultural potentials.
I graduated from high school in ’62 myself, hung out a bit at the Venice West Cafe, and wore Mexican peasant “huaraches” — hand-woven sandals with nailed-on tire-tread soles — when I went away to university, adjacent to the beach north of Santa Barbara (where I later dropped out). In my perspective, the era you’re talking about began in earnest when the Beatles showed up on Ed Sullivan’s TV show in ’64. It was that year when I heard a rumor that maybe 10% of the student population at UCSB had tried smoking marijuana — I was shocked and incredulous.
It would be another three years before I was introduced to “herb” myself, by a high school friend I hadn’t seen since graduation. He’d spent some years in Berkeley by then, and was surprised at my innocence. By then I was married with a child, living in an upstairs ticky-tacky apartment in North Hollywood, and celebrating my recent draft re-classification (due to fatherhood) as III-A — less likely to be drafted than college students (II-S).
I was working two jobs, supporting my little family meagerly, but “doing the right thing.” I wasn’t an activist, though I despised injustice as much as anybody. The following year, after moving to a rented house (still on a boulevard in North Hollywood), I recall catching a spaghetti dinner at home before going off to my evening job, watching TV and envying the flower children at their love-in at Griffith Park, just across the valley from me.
Yes, those were the seed-days of the later ’80s narcissism. The alienation of a generation had happened over the VietNam War, the sex-drugs-rock’n’roll, the back-to-the-land drop-outs, the feminist movement, the race riots and Black Power and Free Speech and Gay Pride and civil rights controversies. We were liberated as individuals to make our own choices rather than to follow the easy path of aligning with traditional values and cultural patterns of earlier generations. But we were also required to make our own choices. There was no longer the facile “do what’s right” mandate; no longer an “establishment” to rebel against. Liberty was a very real responsibility.
Sadly, many fell into defensiveness and self-serving. Alienaton from mass culture became a movement itself, and the sixties (which ran full-on through the mid-’70s) became the “Me” Decade of the ’80s.
My personal history included moving my family from southern California (by then a family of 5) to the Rogue Valley of southern Oregon in 1971 — a final break from the insane dog-eat-dog world I’d grown up in, to a place and a regional culture more in touch with the natural environment, with a less stressful pace of life, and with community values. I’m still there (here).
My son was born in June of 1969. Towards the end of the 60’s things started changing at a fast rate. It was a contagious time. There were a lot of causes and the younger generation felt they had a right to be heard. There was desegregation going on and females decided that if they did the same job as a man and worked right along side him that she should get the same pay. So we had the woman’s movement and that just grew and grew until it got so out of hand that most women and men today don’t know what to do any more. Then there was the people against the war who decided (we need to make love and not war) one of my favorites. Then there was a cause for the cause and so on. There were sit ins where people would camp out on the door step of the capitol building or chain the doors together so people could not enter and of course hauled off to jail but then did it all over again. It was a wonderful time and a scary time. You really did have to figure out who you were and you were forced to move out of your parents era. Which appeared to parents that we were disrespectful and defiant. Then that brought on a whole different cause. Guys grew long hair and parents had a fit. Girls decided not to wear a bra (can’t say I blame them) those things hurt to wear. I loved that cause and still do. Yes I would say that that time span changed the United States forever. Those people from the innocent 50’s were completely lost. I had several causes which I won’t elaborate on but let’s just say I never wore a bra and drove some young men to Canada and believed that all men were created equal. I still believe the same things so at least I remained loyal to the cause. I had a lot of arguments with my Dad who thought I had lost my mind but then in the 80’s was glad to see I got it back again and became his most favorite person. So, those were some of the things that went on during those years that has changed life in the United States forever. Good or bad, we changed it.
Leni has said it all. Beyond her answer, I’d say no, no fond memories of that time except having become a mother; yes, significant societal changes were effected, as she enumerated; no, it was not just an excuse, it was an unjust war in which we lost over 56,000 of our young men, and those returning in more cases than not, now homeless from its effects and its pesticides unless they’ve already committed suicide. The most significant societal change in my book is that Viet Nam is the reason we don’t have a draft now.
I was born in 1945, so did live through the sixties. I graduated from high school and joined the Navy in 1963—my first time away from family. The protests against the Vietnam war began in colleges across the country during the mid-sixties on through to Kent State in 1970 (where peaceful protestors were fired upon by the Ohio National Guard and four students, I believe, died), which changed national politic some say. Woodstock was held in 1969 and people who attended still reminisce. I married a Golden Gloves boxing champion in 1965 and moved with him to Newport, Rhode Island, where he was stationed (an electronics specialist in the Navy). While he was out to sea, I worked at the IHOP, and was a Head Hostess through for the Newport Jazz Festival that featured singers like Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, and so many others…and the “hippies” came from all over for the festival, sleeping on lawns, in cars, on park benches…they were everywhere, mixed in with all the wealthy and their gorgeous mansions. The IHOP where I worked in broke all records for number of people served, and lines went around the block of people (both hippies and well-dressed locals) waiting to be seated. One young man came in barefooted and I had to tell him he had to have something on his feet, so he went across to McDonalds and came back wearing their cardboard trays on his feet—I seated him…lol. If only one seat opened and a hippie couple was ahead in line with a well-dressed local next, I asked if they would like to share a table and just ask for separate checks (odd couples), so there was quite a culture disparity that was rather spectacular. Flower children—the ones who talked peace, gave the peace sign to anyone who seemed to argue or be offended with them, handed out flowers…these are the ones I identified with most strongly, but I was a latent flower child who only succumbed to the idea long after the hippie movement had disbanded and I’d divorced my very violent boxing champ husband. Sixties music is still a strong part of our world today, and the folk music that sprang up in colleges (Joan Baez; Peter, Paul, and Mary; the Kingston Trio; etc.) challenged the complacent ones…Yes, a difference was made that is ongoing in a lot of ways.
I was right in the thick of it.
I think there are specific things and general things that changed. The most obvious was the realization that the culture and the country was radically new, and not just in the political sense.
Suddenly people were talking about civil rights, women’s rights, ending war, questioning authority, sexual freedom. It changed everything, and it still resonates today.
People thought that we were weird and on the fringe because we talked about vegetarianism, recycling, sustainable energy, electric cars, living together without being married, legalizing marijuana…all things that are now mainstream ideas.
I was a child during the 60’s. I knew something major was changing b/c dad was so upset at the world. My oldest sister (in high school) began talking back to my parents. That was never done in our home. She was such a disruption to family life that my parents shipped her out of the country to live with family who weren’t experiencing the USA’s response to the 60’s.
I was a teen in the 70s I recall life being as former answer where kids were allowed to have sex, drugs & alcohol in parents home b/c of the excuse, “At least we know where they are while they are doing it.” I had a lot of friends with parents like that. Yes, I visited & participated in some, but there was a part of me that knew this was wrong. I even felt sorry that they had parents like that b/c it seemed to me like they did not care about of for their children. And I was right on this b/c my friends would get high & tell me, “My parents don’t care if I do this. My parents don’t care about anything about me.” And I could here their sadness.
I was one of those people that a Texan was ashamed of. Time has proven that statement to be correct. If I had been mature enough to know better, I’d have been ashamed of myself.
That makes you four months older than I am, and both of us about to hit the iconic number 40. And let me tell you, I feel every second of my 39 1/2 years!
Let’s put it this way: If not for the Sixties counterculture, it’s entirely possible that in 2008, Barack Obama would not have been able to VOTE for the office of President, much less be elected to it.
We tend not to think of people like Dr. King and the Mississippi Freedom Summer Project workers as part of “The Sixties Counterculture.” But they sure were to people like George Wallace and Bull Connor. That was a culture that needed countering.
“The Sixties Counterculture” wasn’t all about long hair, using mind-bending drugs, weird clothes and loud music. (Okay, the black gospel music Dr. King liked can be loud, which according to Psalm 100 is kind of the point.)
On a 1997 episode of “Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher,” Sixties music icon David Crosby told right-wing activist Floyd Brown that his side practically ordered people to do things at the penalty of being called immoral or unpatriotic. He said, “We didn’t tell people you HAD to smoke pot and wear silly clothes. We said that you COULD. It was about freedom!”
Two years earlier, as part of a miniseries titled “The History of Rock and Roll,” Crosby, whose use of booze and drugs took a heavy toll (yet somehow he’s still alive) said, “We were right about a lot of things. We were right that peace is better than war. We were right that love is better than hate. We were NOT right, as it turned out, about drugs.”
The right-wingers, who like to say, “Freedom won,” as in, “We won the Cold War, and you people sided with the Commies,” forget that freedom also won right here in America — and regardless of what side liberals were actually on in the Cold War (many of them were quite anti-Communist), the right-wingers were on the wrong side of history here.
I think its funny that many of the same people who embraced the counterculture movement of the 60s are mostly the same people who embraced the excessive greed of the 80s.
I’m with you, I was too young to really be a part of it (born in 1968).
I guess every generation has to rebel a little from the previous one. Theirs just had that little extra kick.
Sixties Radical here. For me it had nothing to do with breaking away from my parents. I was about having 12 of my friends come home from Viet Nam in body bags.
It was about a war half a world away and no one knew what the hell we were there for.
It was about the hypocrisy that we saw, and still see today.
It was about Civil Rights, the rights of women, and Freedom of Speech.
Not all of us were into the drug culture as deeply as some would lead you to believe.
The times you speak of carried well into the 70’s, and we still have much work to do.
We caused a sitting President to choose not to seek re election.
We forced another sitting President to resign.
We ended the draft, and what social and racial changes you see today had their beginnings in the 60’s.
Rock On. Peace Out.
Yes, it was quite the times, all sorts of barriers were being broken for race and women, authority was questioned, the Viet Nam war became a cancer, the country was betrayed by Nixon and Hoover…that and the whole music scene….good times were had by all….
wait, I wasn’t even close to being born.