I was a child of the Sixties – literally. I was born in June 1960, so by the time Woodstock rolled into the small town of Bethel, New York in August 1969, I was playing with my Barbie dolls and getting all starry-eyed over my posters of Donny Osmond, Bobby Sherman, and of course, David Cassidy. “Hang On Sloopy” was, if memory serves, the first rock-n-roll song I recollect hearing, and I remember seeing images of the Vietnam war on our TV in the family room, not even comprehending what was going on 10,000 miles away.
I grew up in Southern California, in the affluent area of Orange County, so I was surrounded by the hippie movement. Not necessarily at home, but it was prevalent everywhere our family would go. We took a camping trip up to Death Valley, not far from the time the Manson family was living in the area. But I think this was before the Tate/LaBianca murders, so we didn’t even give it a second thought. And the music that poured out from the radio at our house, at homes of my childhood friends, and at the beach were rockin’. I grew up with The Beach Boys, Jan and Dean, The Ventures, and many other rock-n-roll bands that made their way to Southern California and the air waves.
I was at the dawning of the age – not necessarily of Aquarius, but I was starting to pay attention to everything going on around me. The happy people – the colorful tie-died clothes they wore, the attitudes they shared, the music they played and listened to, with the iconic flowers in their hair… I wanted to be a part of that. But I was only 9 years old, so I could only dream about it. But oh how I wished I was at least 10 years older. I wanted to hang out with those happy people and go to San Francisco and Woodstock.
The Vietnam conflict didn’t really register with me at that tender age, even though I saw men wearing green jackets with patches of American flags sewn on them. The name Abbie Hoffman meant nothing to me, but I could tell he was someone very important to a lot of those men in the green jackets. Angry men and women who talked of going to Berkeley and Washington DC to protest against the Vietnam War.
But all that vanished for a moment on July 20, 1969 when my family and I gathered in our family room to watch Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walk on the moon! My dad worked at McDonnell Douglas at the time, so it was a very special day in our house. That moment left such an impression on me, that even now whenever I watch clips of the landing on the moon and the moon walk, hearing Neil Armstrong’s famous words “that’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind” coming from our TV, I remember that July 20th moment just like it was yesterday.
Yes, I was a child of the Sixties, an impressionable young girl who would later embrace the Sixties movement in her own way. Peace!