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Flashback to the 60s - Share Your Memories

Flashback of the 60s

Barb Schwerman Groth


SCGS is celebrating the 50th Anniversary of its founding which took place on January 10, 1964. To help commemorate our anniversary, we are asking you to share a memory of the 1960s.

We talk about the need to record the stories of our life that can be passed to our descendants. But how many of us really take the time to jot down those remembrances? The 2014 Southern California Genealogy Jamboree offers an opportunity to do just that.

The saying goes that if you remember the 1960s, you weren't really there. Pshaw, folderol and hooey. We all have - or we have family members who have - memories of the 60s. If you weren't around that long ago, maybe you discovered your parents' $4 Rolling Stones concert ticket stub or trick-or-treated in their faded tie-dye, dressed as a hippie.

If you wish, you can interview a family member and share their memory. It's your family's history that we want to record.

The 1960s provide a rich tapestry of topics. Whether your memory is of an intimate detail of special day, or a reaction to a world event, or a snapshot of school, work, family, music, holiday, or other slice of life, write it. Or turn it into a collage of memories, like Barb Schwerman Groth did (above).

Why should you participate in this activity? Imagine your great-granddaughter reading about your first date. Or your grandson's delight at reading about the time you dented dad's new car. See their face, hear their laughter. That's why.

Oh, and one submission will be selected at random to receive a free registration to the 2015 Southern California Genealogy Jamboree.

Here are the instructions:

Entries are limited to registered attendees of the 2014 Southern California Genealogy Jamboree attendees and/or members of the Southern California Genealogical Society.

Please keep your entries to 400 words or less. It can be as short as a couple of sentences.

Email entries to flashback1960@scgsgenealogy.com. Put the content directly into the email; no attachments please. Your subject line should read "Flashback 1960." Include your Name, Address, City, State, Zip, Phone number, and email address at the bottom of the email.

Any research used in the submission must be supported by end note citations. For guidelines on citation style, see Evidence, Citation & Analysis for the Family Historian, by Elizabeth Shown Mills (Genealogical Publishing Co.). End notes are not included in the word count.

Entries may be posted online and/or displayed at Jamboree. Entrants grant SCGS the one-time right to publish their memory in the SCGS journal, The Searcher; and/or the SCGS website; and/or the Jamboree app, and/or displayed in electronic or print form at Jamboree. You retain the copyright to your work.

The winner will be announced on Friday, June 6, at the banquet. Submissions will be accepted through Friday noon, June 6.

A selection of submissions follows below. Send yours and we'll add it.

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Sharon McCann

The 1960s was a decade of profound happiness and profound sadness for me. I was married in 1960, my son was born in 1962 and we had several historical events that changed the course of our country.

President Kennedy was assassinated on November 22, 1963, in Dallas, Texas. He was shot by a sniper while traveling with his wife, Jacqueline, Texas Governor John Connally, and his wife, Nellie, in a presidential motorcade. I still remember that day as if it were yesterday. I was at work when a clerk from next door came rushing in our door and said "President Kennedy has been shot in Dallas." I lived less than a mile from work so I drove home and got my radio and brought it back to the office so we could listen to the news. It was a day of disbelief that this could happen in the United States and such sorrow that he died. For me it was personal, I had actually met him and shook his hand. He was such a charismatic man and, I thought, our hope for the future.

The night of the first man landing on the moon, July 20, 1969, was almost a comical night for us. My husband, son and I had flown to Boston for a week's visit to New England. We arrived about a couple of hours prior to the landing. We had rented a car at the airport and were desperately trying to get to our hotel in downtown Boston. Those of you who are familiar with Boston, know that it's not the easiest place to drive and find your way around. First we went too far past Boston and then had to double back. Then we could see the hotel sign but couldn't figure out how to get there. (This was not the days of GPS). I was driving and getting desperate. I was about to approach a toll booth going over the river, which I did not want to do. So, holding my breath, I did a U-turn, which, of course, was not legal, and went back the other way. Finally, we did make it to the hotel, checked in, and got to our room in time to see the landing. We heard Neil Armstrong on the moon say "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind." Another event I will never forget.

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Drive-in Movies
Christine Elia

I remember that drive-in movies were popular in the 60's. The whole family would pile into the car, small kids in PJs ready for sleep, older kids bringing snacks, and parents navigating the logistics until everything died down and the movies started. Couples on "date nights" would usually park in the back rows. (It didn't seem to matter that they couldn't see the screen as well.)

At first it was odd sitting in your car in a parking lot as the sun went down. Kids were lucky if there was playground equipment to help them use up their excess energy, and there were long lines for buying soft drinks and popcorn or waiting for the restrooms in the snack bar. But as the lighting went down, everyone scurried back to their car and adjusted the speaker that hung over the open car window. Cartoons played first. Then the coming attractions were advertised. After the first full movie, there were often trips to the snack bar again, then the featured movie played.

When the movies were over, you were reminded to put your headlights on low (so a parade of cars wouldn't shine lights into neighboring houses). There was a rush for the exit, but we usually waited until the traffic thinned out. As we finally started to drive away, someone would yell for us to put the speaker back on its post!

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Kathy Javdani

Unbeknownst to me at the time, my experiences in the Sixties foreshadowed events in my future. In 1960 I was a sophomore at a small high school in eastern North Carolina. A decade later I was teaching middle school, working on my M.A. at Berkeley, and dating the man I would marry.

Looking back I realize that this was the decade in which for the first time the illnesses of others directly affected me. I experienced the first death in my immediate family; cancer claimed my paternal grandfather. My father almost died from a heart attack.

To help support my father, my mother returned to work as an R.N.. For the first time she worked full-time outside our home; but our family did not view her working as an act of women's lib. Because of my father could no longer work, I took part time jobs to help pay my way through college. This experience gave me a sense of self confidence. I could support myself and my family.

Attending college in the Bay Area at this time was filled with change. After watching President Kennedy's Cuban Missile Crisis Address, my friends and I were certain catastrophic war was eminent JFK's death left me numb. RFK's death left me shattered. Caesar Chavez was leading boycotts. Friends were going off to fight in Vietnam. Anti-war demonstrations were everywhere as was bra burning. Watts and Detroit were aflame. Should I join the boycotts in the South? The computer industry was incubating. When I began college at San Jose State drugs were becoming more evident. LSD was legal. Seeing the impact of drugs firsthand quickly convinced me they were not for me. But what was?

I realized that I needed to question the world around me but keep my head on straight to survive the labyrinth of choices. I affirmed my basic values. I also needed to savor the moments.

One such moment happened at the International House in Berkeley with a large group of students from all around the world. Together we watched TV man land on the moon for the first time. Everyone clapped in unison. We were one. A few minutes later, the telecast was interrupted by a commercial for dog food. A student noted that some dogs eat better than humans. What mixed messages.

As the decade drew to a close, I was establishing my career, realizing that cancer stalks our family, and learning what to do when tear gassed. These all would be of use to me in the decades to come. Finally, I learned to treasure the music and experiences of the Sixties.

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Jean Wilcox Hibben - PhD,MA,CGsm

I turned 13 in 1964. That means that I was in junior high school and experiencing a number of life changes. The major one was losing people who had seemed to be in my world forever: Grandma and Aunt Mamie (they were sisters and, after my grandfather's death shortly before I was born, became inseparable). They died within 2 weeks of each other. They had been mainstays in my growing up years and though both had been living in nursing homes over 100 miles apart, they were obviously connected in ways I can only imagine. We lived in suburban Chicago and my mother had to go to Milwaukee to arrange for the funeral and burial, settle her aunt's estate, contact distant relatives (Mom was closest to Aunt Mamie, who had never married and had no children), etc. No sooner had she completed the needed tasks than, after her return to her family, her mother died in Illinois. The process had to be repeated as Grandmother's burial plot and living friends and relatives were all in the Milwaukee area. Back north Mom went, sending the body on ahead, to take care of all of those sad details, yet again (grateful, I know, for many close friends, some school mates from her growing up years in Wisconsin, who invited her to stay with them, kept her fed, and let her talk). While she had handled everything solo with her aunt, my father was able to accompany her for her mother's funeral. I am sure that helped her a great deal.

Mom kept a diary almost every day of her life and the events of these two deaths are detailed in very matter-of-fact format (great for her genealogist daughter, researching the events in later years). Specifics about who attended each viewing, their relationships to the family, probate information, etc. are all spelled out. What is not explained are the feelings my mother had about the losses of these two loved ones - both serving the role of "strong example of females" in her life. Looking back, I wish I had been more in tune with her experiences and less "13" and in my own world. I remember feeling being ignored, especially with those two deaths occurring so close together. I need to add that, in spite of all that was happening in Mom's life, she really did well at keeping it all together (she even took time to use her tickets for a play she had planned to see - giving herself a little reward for all the hell she was going through). Guess Mom really learned a lot from Grandma and Aunt Mamie. I know I did (though it didn't really manifest itself until I started researching their lives). To all the strong women who have passed on that "gene": Keep on keeping on!

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Cindy Brennan
Top 10 List of why the 1960's are Forever Etched in my Memory

1. Measles, Mumps and Chicken Pox. We all had them as there were no vaccines. At least we didn't get polio since we were the first generation to take the vaccine on a sugar cube.

2. Sneaking out of my home while wearing these forbidden fashions: neon pink fishnet stockings, white Go-Go Boots and a miniskirt!

3. Meeting my lifelong best friend Leslie - while competing in the talent contest at the Butler County Fair. She won the grand prize, but I got a best friend for life.

4. Singing Beatles songs really loudly as I swung on my swing set. I was certain they could hear me in Liverpool!

5. Watching Neil Armstrong (who was from my Mom's hometown of Wapakoneta) walk on the Moon. It still gives me Goosebumps to this day!

6. The civil rights movement and the racial riots going on in the town next to me. We couldn't go to church a few times because of this. I didn't understand it then, but I sure do as an adult.

7. Christmas Eve, after church, at my Grandma and Grandpa B's - where we crammed 25 people into a 700 square foot space. Some of the best times of my life.

8. Living in Atlantic City, N.J. during the Cuban Missile Crisis. I remember my Mom and Dad staying up all night because they felt we were in jeopardy because of where we lived. Hiding under our desks in school to practice for Bomb Raids that fortunately never came.

9. Our silver aluminum Christmas tree with red ornaments. You don't find those in 2014!

10. Having both parents, all 4 Grandparents and 1 Great Grandparent alive during most of that decade. If only I had grasped the enormity of how precious that was at the time.

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Dorcas Aunger
Remembering 1965

It was early September 1965. Three weeks earlier, Los Angeles had been rocked, shocked and frightened by rioting in the predominately black neighborhood of Watts, which turned much of South-Central Los Angeles into a virtual war zone for a week. Nearly a thousand businesses were burned or looted. It was all that we saw on television. Most of this rioting was based on race. The rioting in Los Angles had died down, but had broken out in other areas. This whole situation was hard for me to comprehend, because, as a native Californian, I had always had friends of other races. There had even been three black girls in my college sorority.

When school started, there was still much unrest in South-Central Los Angeles. At that time I was a substitute teacher, and on the first day of school, I was assigned to David Starr Jordan High School, on 103rd Street, the main street of Watts. With my heart in my mouth, I drove to school. I had not taught in that school before. I checked in at the main office, went to the classroom and prepared for a day of I knew not what. The bell rang. The students arrived. Did they could sense my apprehension, for they went out of their way to be courteous and helpful? It was almost as if, without saying it in words, they were apologetic for the recent events which made me anxious. It turned out to be an unusually nice first-day of school.

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Pam Wiedenbeck
Dressing for Midnight Mass

There was a tradition that we all went to Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve once we were old enough to assist "Santa". My mother and grandmother always made new dresses for both my sister and me. 1962 was the year of the velvet dresses and matching hats. For me, it was also my first experience in high heels (in the house only -- snow and ice demanded boots outside). In December 1962, I was on the eve of my final months in Junior High School.

My dress was deep purple velvet. My grandmother made the hats since she had supplemented her income in the 1920s as a milliner. The shoes were simple black, 3 inch heels. The new shoes made for a tottering trip down the steps from the second floor. I held the rail all the way. My dad took a picture of me descending the steps holding tight to the oak rail and bannister.

I wore that dress until I outgrew it. I kept some of the worn material and still have a swatch in my sewing stuff. I also still have a swatch of my sister's peacock blue dress from that year. The dresses are gone -- victims of time and wear. The hats are long gone -- victims of newer traditions that no longer required hats in church. The memories persist of all those things that made coming of age in the 1960s such an adventure.

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Karen Jensen
The Early Sixties

I was still in high school in the early sixties. Everyone dressed nicely; the girls always worse dresses or skirts and blouses. The boys always had on shirts with collars, even if they wore jeans, and the jeans always looked nice, no holes, and not faded.

We girls wore our skirts to just below the knee, with petticoats underneath. I remember going into the stores in Santa Barbara with all the petticoats hanging from the ceiling, You walked into this store with the high ceiling, looked up, and the ceiling was all petticoats, in rainbows of color. A brand new petticoat of tule was wonderfully stiff, and so I only needed to wear one when it was new. But after weeks and weeks of daily use, It just had to be laundered. That wonderful stiffness was gone forever. No matter how hard I tried to starch and iron all those folds and folds, it would never regain that wonderful stiffness. And so I either had to travel back to Santa Barbara for another new petticoat, or wear two not so stiff petticoats. The laundering process repeated, and then I wore three petticoats. By the end of my senior year, I tired of this petticoat process. I have never been one to be in the forefront of the new fashion trends, except for this particular time. I got rid of my petticoats before my fellow class mates. Yes, I threw them out, never to wear them again. No more starching and ironing acres and acres of tule. And I did something completely daring, I hemmed up the bottom of my skirt to just above my knee.

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Karl Lehman

On January 10, 1964, I had just returned from a 3-month automobile tour of Europe with three college friends. We had taken time off from college to “see the world” before graduating and embarking on an adult life. Upon returning from Europe, I needed to earn money to continue my education and, thanks to a relative in the aerospace industry, I landed a job as an engineer for North American Aviation in Downey, California. Our group’s task was to calculate the exact weight and location of every part of the target vehicle. That vehicle was the second stage of the Saturn V rocket designed by Werner von Braun and used for the Apollo Moon missions.

I was excited about being part of the American space race and was amazed when I was sent to the manufacturing plant in El Segundo to actually weigh the huge panels which were the outer “skins” of the vehicle. It was hard to imagine something that heavy could fly. Nevertheless, when I compared the exact weight of the manufactured part to my calculated weight, I couldn’t help congratulating myself. I loved the work there and was disappointed, in multiple ways, when after six months I received a draft notice and had to leave the project. Years later, in 1969 when Apollo 11 landed on the moon, I glowed with pride knowing that I had contributed a little bit to the success of that mission.

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Fran Bumann

1960 was probably the BIGGEST decade of my life. Here's why:

* In 1960 I turned 21! Important milestone in a person's life
* In 1961 I graduated from college (Cal State Northridge)
* In 1962 I got my first full-time job (teaching high school)
* In 1963 I met my future husband, Virg
* In 1964 we were married (in Los Angeles)
* In 1965 we bought our first home (in Panorama City)
and,
* In 1969 we welcomed our first child, our beautiful daughter Tamara
(and I may mention too that in 1969 I joined SCGS)

Could ever a decade in a person's life have more meaning? Wow - it was the greatest!

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Karen Jensen

There was the 1960 car Nash Metropolitan, the mini two seater, and the pop music hit about a Nash Rambler passing the Cadillac using only second gear.

There were no automatic windows, and no air-conditioning in the cars. My mother brought water in a jar and washcloths. We wiped our faces with cold, damp washcloths.

You drove into the gas station over a rubber hose that told the attendant you were there and to come out and give you service. Gasoline station attendants not only filled your gas tank while you just sat in the car, they also cleaned the windshield and checked your oil and other engine fluids.

In the early 1960’s except for the original 110 Pasadena Freeway, there were no freeways, but we had the beginning of highways with Burma Shave Signs. If the Burma Shave signs were on the wrong side of the highway, everyone in the car had the duty of reading and remembering just one particular sign in the sequence, and after passing them all, we read them back in reverse order, which put the jingle in correct order. Those Burma Shave signs took the monotony out of long road trips.

We’ve made Grandpa
Look so youthful
His pension board
Thinks
He’s untruthful
Burma Shave

This will never
Come to pass
A back-sat
Driver
Out of gas.
Burma Shave

Ben
Met Anna
Made a hit
Neglected beard
Ben Anna split
Burma Shave

Thirty days
Hath September
April
June and the
Speed Offender
Burma Shave

Use our cream
And we betcha
Girls won’t wait
They’ll
Come and getcha.
Burma Shave.

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The Night I Saw Johnny Cash
Nancy Peralta

I painstakingly considered what I might wear, what I would say, and what my impressions would be. To say I was nervous—my hands were sweaty. I was a bundle of nerves. I laid everything out for the evening. I got dressed. Twirling in front of the mirror, I pulled my new pink cashmere sweater down, straightened my Pendleton pink and gray pleated skirt and adjusted my shoelaces.

I held my head up high. My date arrived. This was probably my fifth formal date with Terry. We met in September through my friend, Pat Mitchell. Terry came over on weekends when in town for Sunday dinners. My parents liked him. I was nervous and tended to be shy and when my near—debilitating shyness subsided I tended to be awkward. We were going to see Johnny Cash at the Harmony Park Ballroom in Anaheim. I was told it was like going to American Bandstand.

Who was Johnny Cash anyway? I thought he was just another "hillbilly"singer that my dad listened to on the radio. My dad was a big country Western fan and he played WLS radio every night, which came from the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville. I was familiar with Minnie Pearl and June Carter but I really did not like Country Western like my friend, Pat. My type of music was Rock and Roll with Elvis, Paul Anka and Teresa Brewer. But, I was anxious to see someone famous "in person."

Pat, Clay, Terry and I arrived at Harmony Park about 8 pm. Goose bumps were running up and down my arms and my stomach churned and gurbled. I wondered if anyone could hear it. I was talking fast, running my words together asking questions about Harmony Park. I couldn’t wait to see "American Bandstand.".

We walked in holding hands. I tugged on Terry’s arm while anxiously asking, "Do you really think Johnny Cash will be here tonight?" Just then, we entered the ballroom that smelled of whiskey and stale beer. The smoke was so thick you could hardly make the people out.. Guitar music and country western singing was playing loudly in the background. This was no American Bandstand.

Did anyone recognize me as I scanned the room from the doorway? Hands shaking, I pulled my sweater down, twisted my skirt around at the waist and slumped down behind Terry, while brushing my hair back as we entered the room. Next I heard loud clapping as Johnny Cash came out on the stage strumming his guitar and singing Blue Suede Shoes then going into I Walk the Line. The crowd roared. Everyone in the room started stomping their boots and yelling loudly. I think because he sang Blue Suede Shoes that made him ok in my mind because that was one of Elvis’ songs.

I don’t know how we made it past the entrance without being carded. Pat was seventeen and I was sixteen and a half, a senior in high school. Terry and Clay were nineteen going on twenty. Quivering and trembling, I tugged at Terry my date, pulling on his arm. "Please, we have to leave. We’re going to get arrested. What am I going to tell my parents when they find out I’ve been in a bar?" Sweating profusely, I started to cry, "Please, you gotta’ take me home."

Arriving at Harmony Park, we stayed about three hours listening to music. I felt guilty the entire evening.. I did not enjoy the night at all. None of us drank alcohol or smoked. Coca cola was it for us. I didn't have a good time. This was not fun. I was afraid of being "caught" and that I would be a disappointment to my parents for violating their trust in me. Luckily, we left without incident and arrived home safely. I was so thankful. I suspected Pat had been there before. She sold it to my parents as “American Bandstand.” Dad probably thought it was OK since it was Johnny Cash, a country western singer.

Terry walked me to the door. We said our good nights. I was so relieved to be home. As I walked in about midnight, Mom asked, "Did you have a good time, honey?"

"Sure Mom," I said. "I’ll tell you all about it in the morning" as I hurried off to bed.

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Betsy Scott

The 1960s—even mentioning that phrase elicits an avalanche of remembered feelings, sounds, smells, images. Where were you? Do you remember? What did you do?

In the fall of 1963, I was just beginning my senior year at Torrance High School. We were full of ourselves and our potential, starting to finalize plans for college, and getting ready for the semester exams coming next month. Thanksgiving was next week, which meant a four-day weekend. We were stoked.

That November morning, a clear sunny Friday, we were noisily taking our seats in the Auditorium for an assembly. The subject of the assembly has been wiped clean from my memory. My ponytail was coming loose from its band already, and the sweater guard I’d so coveted was securing my twin-set cardigan around my shoulders. The layers of crinolines under my full cotton skirt made a swishing sound and were pretty bulky to get squashed into the wooden seat.

The Dean of Girls came out on the stage. Her demeanor was uncharacteristically grave. She walked to the microphone, waited a moment for us to quiet, which we did mostly, and started to speak.

“The President has been shot,” she said with no preliminaries. A gasp went up all over the packed auditorium. I remember thinking, “The president? Willie Sullivan got shot? How could that be?” Willie Sullivan was a senior classmate, and President of the Associated Student Body.

Soon the woman at the microphone let us understand it was not Willie who had been shot, but rather John Kennedy, President of the United States. She went on to tell us that the Assembly had been cancelled and we were to go on to our next class and await instructions.

A buzz arose in the Auditorium, and everyone walked soberly to their classes. I saw all across the campus little knots of teachers talking intently. My English teacher, Mr. Rudolph, was visibly red-eyed when he met us that day. Among the students, no one knew quite what to think, or to say.

That afternoon we all went home, preoccupied, and our nation began its Days of Mourning. My family gathered around the television, a bulky black and white behemoth we’d been given by my grandparents, We watched the replays and the news broadcasts and then the funeral over the next several days. I clipped articles from the Los Angeles Times.

And we wept.

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Jane Millar

On January 10, 1964, I was in my second semester of graduate school in mathematics at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign. The tenth was a Friday, so I was not teaching the trigonometry class I had been assigned as a TA, but was probably overdressed anyway, wearing thin nylon stockings and a calf-length straight skirt with a walking pleat, as I hurried down Green Street from the coed graduate dorm to Altgeld Hall for lectures in complex analysis, advanced abstract algebra, logic, and linear algebra. Chances are, the temperature was zero Farenheit or below with wind from the west so strong I had to bend into it to avoid getting a frostbitten nose. The wind was so strong I often could not ride my Schwinn bike to campus. I had a car - my father gave me his 1954 two-toned Chevy sedan when he bought a new car in 1962- but the walk to Altgeld was only about four blocks.

There weren't very many girls in graduate math and fewer in engineering. The one and only graduate dorm was located at the end of engineering row so was peopled mostly by guys. Smart guys. We lucky girls were outnumbered by about ten to one so found ourselves besieged by the boys for dates. My then boyfriend, a graduate student in electrical engineering, would have met me for dinner that night at the Methodist Student Union which was conveniently located between the dorm and the math and engineering buildings. He had gotten me into the supper coop where about eighty grads of all and no faiths socialized and dined six evenings a week for fifty cents per meal. Each coop member had to help twice a week with either setting tables or cleaning up after dinner, but we had a hired cook. I always tried to arrive early when the sign-up list was first posted so I could grab the setting up spots and did not have to scrape plates and load the dishwasher. I have always had warm feelings for the very tolerant and ecumenical Methodists who opened their doors to all and did not browbeat us with their own beliefs.

Friday night I most likely went to a free music concert at the university with my boyfriend. Homework could wait until Saturday.

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Elaine Boulay

One of the most memorable movies of the early 1960s was the thriller, “The Birds” from director Alfred Hitchcock. As a young teenager in Rhode Island, I often watched three young children on Saturday nights while their divorced mother went out on dates. Usually, I wanted their mom to return late because I charged her double after midnight-- $1.00 per hour instead of $.50 per hour. Her house was just two blocks from mine, but it was adjacent to some dark woods. After getting the children into their beds, I watched “The Birds” alone and wished the children's mom would return early for once! Every creak of the nearby tree branches frightened me as the birds repeatedly attacked the old house in the movie. I never watched a scary movie again while babysitting.

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Shirley Ann Parker

I felt the Boeing 707 shudder slightly as it began its gradual descent somewhere over the Mojave Desert.

Through the window, I saw the view change from white clouds to a reddish-brown layer of murk. I couldn’t believe we would be dropping through this and must have said, “ee-yew” or something because another passenger said, “Good old Los Angeles smog!”

People actually breathe that here? And I soon found out that in 1963, they did. A friend of my former employer in Chicago picked me up at LAX and drove me to the Glendale YWCA where I’d be staying. This was about 26 miles north on the 405 freeway, much less crowded than it is in 2014, but still frenetic.

I swallowed my traffic fright to focus on the houses along the way. Outside of mansions on the hills that I quickly discounted (I’ll never step inside one of those), there were so many pretty pastel colors. Houses were painted pink, yellow, apple green, blue, even purple! Brick homes were a rarity here. I soon discovered why – earthquakes I arrived in conservative Glendale to the sound of folk music and protest songs being played somewhere! 

After settling in at the YWCA, I quickly learned about small restaurants where I could buy a cheap hamburger, and where department stores like J C Penney were situated. But my immediate priority was finding a job. The phone company was hiring for office jobs and I qualified for one that required very little typing. (That would come later.) But the job was in downtown Los Angeles at 318 W. 9th Street. I not only had to dress up (no slacks allowed in those days), I had to ride the bus. Not the best combination but it was a decent job – at $72/week!

My escape from the worries of work was listening to music on a real radio. The artists I loved the most during the 1960s were Buffy Ste. Marie, Glen Campbell, Gordon Lightfoot, The Beach Boys, Simon and Garfunkel, Judy Collins, and later, Joni Mitchell and Roger Miller. I related to so-called “protest” songs and, Heaven forbid, I was a closet flower child.

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Dorothylou Sands

I came to Los Angeles for the second time in August of 1960. I stayed at the Clark (YWCA) Residence for three years. It was $88 a month for a room, bath and two meals a day. They cleaned your room and changed your bedding once a week. My first job was with the telephone company. My honesty regarding a fall on my tailbone got me discharged after one week. I put up a sign to do alterations on the residence bulletin board when I moved in to the Y. I worked briefly as a substitute clerk for L.A.U.S.D. taking a better paying job at the Los Angeles Police Department. I did not like working at the Police Department so I returned to L.A.U.S.D. In 1962 I started working at Susan Miller Dorsey High School. It was an totally intergrated school. It was a third Japanese, a third African American and a third Caucasian. Dorsey had a jazz band taught by Dr. Simpson and a choral group taught by Dr. Albert McNeil. Students came from schools all over Los Angeles to attend their classes. No student ever cut Dr. McNeil's classes. I moved to my first apartment in 1963. It was an apartment over three garages for $70.00 a month. I bought a bicycle from Sears for $26.00 to avoid transferring two times on the bus. I remember when the female students had to kneel on a chair to make certain their skirts touched the chair. If they did not that meant their skirts were too short. I remember the first day the girls were aloud to wear slacks to school. Once I had been called in to the Vice Principals office for wearing culottes on the days I rode by bicycle. In 1965 I took driving lessons costing $8.00 and hour. I passed the driving test after three or four lessons ending my bicycle days.

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Lyn Ribisi

I was just 16, and had a glamorous boyfriend, John Ross. He was older, and attended boarding school, 2 long hours away. He was handsome, blond, and wordly. His parents were blue-blood New Englanders with PhDs who read the New York Times every day, and discussed the issues at the dinner table each night. On Sundays, the sections were shared, passed around and debated intensely. My family, on the other hand, was busy discussing the evening’s TV agenda, and the latest gossip.

John took me to my first anti-war demonstration, where we walked for hours over the 59th Street Bridge in NYC protesting the incarceration of some unfortunate prisoner. I had no clue about the issues, and vaguely knew what a political prisoner was, but I did know that I was in The Big City, that there were tons of way-cool people around me, and I was part of something exciting. Every so often I would do my best to insert extremely intelligent comments into a conversation.

Was I impressing my new boyfriend with my passion and my knowledge? Clearly the answer was a big yes!

John returned to his highbrow private school, and we had to communicate without email, texting, cell phones, or Facetime. It was a luxury to speak with him on the phone, however a call took an amount of planning equal to an international CIA operation. I had to use a pay phone because my parents watched the phone bill as if it world peace depended on it, and the call went to the pay phone in the school’s dining room. Thus, the time would have to be exactly scheduled and synchronized, and I’d have to have a roll of quarters. Money was hard to come by, and I needed an accounting degree with a slide rule to figure out how many minutes we could talk before we were rudely and suddenly cut off. So our main form of communication had to be letters. In case you don’t remember such a thing, the letters were handwritten, with an actual pen and paper, and each with a sending to arrival time of 3-4 days each way.

I had to keep impressing this guy with my bold and important political activism, so each letter was filled with political talk and all of the miraculous feats I was accomplishing for our cause. Yes, I was truly against war, any war, but my data base was purely generic. The details of Vietnam history boggled my mind and caused its gears to screech to a halt. Also in my mind were the amazing rallies, demonstrations, and protests I was holding.

So when John asked me how the fight with Che Guevara and Cesar Chavez was going, I proudly announced that I was against them and holding demonstrations at school.

Turned out that these were two guys we were supporting. Oops!

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Deborah Bruno

Sure, I can vividly remember the shocking news of President Kennedy's assasination in 1963 and Neil Armstrong's memorable first steps on the moon in 1969; but, I was a teenager in the 1960s, and I really remember the clothes.

I sported a bright orange hip-hugger short skirt with a matching three inch wide belt. And thank goodness we were finally able to ditch those garter belts for panty hose that allowed us the freedom to wear those short skirts! Our school ultimately changed the dress code that allowed girls to wear pants, so I could wear my black and neon floral print ones. We displayed ourselves in platform shoes and granny dresses. It was fun to tie-die our own tee-shirts and pierce one another's ears. I wore a royal blue velvet drop-waisted circle-skirted dress to the Winter Ball (They probably played Bobby Vinton's version of "She Wore Blue Velvet" that night). My hair was in an "up-do" when I went dressed in my yellow printed chiffon empire-waisted gown to the prom. Most of the time my hair was long and straight and parted down the middle, just like in my yearbook photo. Clothes were like costumes that we frequently changed.

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Pam Wiedenbeck
At the Baseball Game

I walked into Detroit's Tiger Stadium to attend my first baseball game. The scene was framed as if projected onto a giant movie screen. People who were already in their seats were just black silhouettes while the rectangle that was formed by the upper deck framed an emeralem green field with players in their immaculate white uniforms ran, thre, caught tiny white balls all about.

I almost couldn't breathe; it was so overwhelming. 1961 was my baseball year: ayear of listening to every game, memorizing every statistic and devouring every page of the sports section. Yet, until that August day, the experience had all been vicarious -- radio or TV.

The wide-screen picture of that day is burned into memory -- smells of popcorn or hot dogs bring it forth in living color. I remember no other ball game like that first one -- and there were many more, even going into adulthood.

I snapped that picture with a plastic Brownie camera, but I think my brain did a far better job.

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Karen Jensen
Disneyland and Knoxberry Farm

When we went to Disneyland, people dressed nicely. Some of the women, some of the very pregnant women were even wearing high heeled shoes. I still have the parking stub from when parking was only twenty-five cents. When we went in, we had A, B, C, and D tickets. The A rides or attractions were the 10 cent ones and there were more of them. The D tickets were the most expensive, or fifty cent rides, and there were few of them. I had to plan very carefully, exactly which fifty cent rides I wanted: the Matterhorn, the Jungle Ride . . . I still have my Richfield Autorama drivers license.

Remember when Knoxberry Farm was FREE? The entrance was free. You only had to pay for the rides, and there were only three: the stage coach, the train, and the mine rides. You also had to pay for entrance to the melodrama or the “shoot it out” show or to go into the house where it felt like you were walking tilted (it was an illusion). But Knoxberry Farm was free.

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Margaret Rutledge

Here's a silly one in hindsight, but it was a big deal to me at the time.

I graduated from eighth grade in 1966. I'm an army brat, and at the time we were living in Thailand and I was attending an international school (this was before the big buildup in the Nam War). My grandmother sent me a graduation dress and my aunt sent me a garter belt and nylon stockings.

I hated that dress. It was pastel pink, with a full chiffon skirt. All the other girls had sleek dresses made from the gorgeous Thai silks available everywhere around us. But I loved my grandma and wore the dress.

It was 100 degrees the day of our graduation. It was held outside, in the blistering sun, and Pomp and Circumstances played as we marched up to get our diplomas. I looked 10 years out of date, and felt like it. I was miserable in my adult hosiery and that awful dress.

To top it off we had a graduation party/dance at the Bangkok Polo Club and the main course was chicken a la king!

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Alice Fairhurst

My strongest memories of the 60's are not of protest marches or rock concerts or even of the Beatles on Ed Sullivan (which I did see), but of tragedy and triumph. My husband Dave came down with polio in 1959 after leaving the Navy (he had not received all 3 shots because of a ship transfer). He spent seven months in the hospital and I delivered a son two weeks after he came home. His medical insurance maxed out, but the March of Dimes paid his hospital bill and sent a physical therapist to the house. Our savings were small and we wondered how we would survive. No one would employ a woman with a crippled husband and small children.

Riding in a wheelchair he was able to go to a new job in the fall of 1961. In February 1962 John Glenn (1) became the first American to orbit the earth so things were looking up. By mid 1963 Dave was able to walk with crutches and spent little time in his wheelchair. In November 1963 JKF (2) was assassinated and we thought the world was going crazy. But the decade ended well with the Apollo Moon Landing by Neil Armstrong (3) in July 1969. Our three children were our pride and joy and we finally had some savings. For us, the 60's were marked by polio, young children, and events in space. No wonder Dave ended up working for Hughes Aircraft and McDonnell-Douglas and I ended up working for JPL.

(1) John Glenn, online <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Glenn>, downloaded 1 March 2014.

(2) John F. Kennedy, online < http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_F._Kennedy >, downloaded 1 March 2014.

(3) Neil Armstrong, online < http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neil_Armstrong>, downloaded 1 March 2014.

 

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