The Sixties’ Story is in the Music

It was so many years ago now, that the “1960s seem to be worlds away from today. Having been a teen-ager during those years, for a long time now, I’ve experienced a desire to share my insights about that volatile time in history. It was a time of upheaval, of previously unimagined paths forged . . . paths that would benefit mankind, others that would take a heavy, heavy toll. All in all, it seemed an exciting time in history to have been “coming into my young adulthood.” For Sadie Hawkins Dance 1965

Many of my best friends back from 1961 through 1966 were guys. I’d always found guys easier to trust than most women and far less competitive. I’ve never forgotten the day that Jim, Dave and Don told me they’d just enlisted in the Armed Forces. Yes, I was happy and excited for them, but I was also scared for them. What if there were to be a war? Would they survive? What if they didn’t survive and I lost three of my dearest friends? We wrote letters while they were away and thankfully, yes, they did all return unharmed. But! This was just before the Viet Nam war began. How well I recall listening to and identifying with Barry McGuire’s song, “Eve of Destruction.” This song told the story so eloquently of the beginning of the end of so many young people’s lives in Viet Nam. Little did I know, we truly were living our eve of destruction.Heartbreak ahead

Suddenly, there was this unfamiliar and monstrous thing called, “The draft lottery.” Kids I’d just graduated with from high school were being drafted one right after another. (The story of that upheaval that all young people experienced is told so well in Bob Dylan’s song, “The Times, They Are a Chang’in.”)

One day, my brother came to me and in a panic-stricken voice stated, “Jeanie, I’ve just gotten my draft papers and I’m 4th on the lottery list! What am I going to do?” My immediate response was, “Jeff, you’ve got to enlist right away – BEFORE they can draft you!!” (After all, the guys I’d known who’d enlisted had fared quite well in the service all in all; and I’d just learned that the French had fought Viet Nam for eighty years and finally gave up and pulled-out of that god-forsaken place that I’d never heard of before.) Jeff went down that same day and enlisted in the Navy. I’m so grateful to this day that he did so. He spent his four year naval career in Texas working on jet aircraft engines! (Thank you, God!)

Viet Nam War2 Others weren’t as fortunate as my little brother and didn’t make the right decisions at the time; some were conscientious-objectors and fled to Canada. Most young men of the time were drafted and sent to Viet Nam to fight a war of which they knew very little. Many fought and died over there.

Viet Nam War1It was the (at the time) seemingly universal reaction to the Viet Nam war that took another tremendous toll on American lives. That reaction, in my experience, was the rage experienced by youth throughout the previously peaceful country of the United States. In our eyes, our world had been turned-upside-down; nothing we had believed in made sense anymore.

Combined with the rage being experienced by the youth in America was the fact that the drug scene had just begun to move into the midwest. (I lived in a small town in the state of Minnesota.) Marijuana, or “Pot” and “Grass” as we called it, caught-on like some kind of wildfire. Thus was born, the Peace Movement. Marijuana was known for “mellowing people out.” A common slogan of the time became, “Make Love, Not War.” Then, too, was Woodstock, New York. VW Vans1 Flower Children & Hippies2It was the location where thousands of young people, doing drugs, who called it a time of peace, love and music; these young people wondered aloud, “Why can’t the rest of the world live like this?”
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The following is taken from a LIFE Magazine Reporter:

The original plan was for an outdoor rock festival, “three days of peace and music” in the Catskill village of Woodstock. What the young promoters got was the third largest city in New York state, population 400,000 (give or take 100,000), location Max Yasgur’s dairy farm near the town of White Lake.

So began LIFE magazine’s description, in its August 29, 1969 issue, of what has come to be seen as one of the defining events of the 1960s. Forty-four years later, LIFE.com presents a gallery of pictures — many of which never ran in the magazine — from those heady, rain-soaked days and nights.

Lured by music [the story in LIFE continued] and some strange kind of magic (“Woodstock? Doesn’t Bob Dylan live in Woodstock?”), young people from all over the U.S. descended on the rented 600-acre farm.

It was a real city, with life and death and babies — two were born during the gathering — and all the urban problems of water supply, food, sanitation and health. Drugs, too, certainly, because so many of its inhabitants belong to the drug culture. Counting on only 50,000 customers a day, the organizer had set up a fragile, unauthoritarian system to deal with them. Overrun, strained to its limits, the system somehow, amazingly, didn’t break. For three days nearly half a million people lived elbow to elbow in the most exposed, crowded, rain-drenched, uncomfortable kind of community and there wasn’t so much as a fist fight.

For those who passed through it, Woodstock was less a music festival than a total experience, a phenomenon, a happening, high adventure, a near disaster and, in s a small way, a struggle for survival. Casting an apprehensive eye over the huge throng on opening day, Friday afternoon, a festival official announced, “There are a hell of a lot of us here. If we are going to make it, you had better remember that the guy next to you is your brother.” Everybody remembered. Woodstock made it.

For his part, one of the LIFE photographers on scene during the festival, John Dominis, summed up his own recollections of Woodstock this way:

“I really had a great time.,” Dominis told LIFE.com, decades after the fact. “I was much older than those kids, but I felt like I was their age. They smiled at me, offered me pot. . . . You didn’t expect to see a bunch of kids so nice; you’d think they’d be uninviting to an older person. But no — they were just great!

“I worked at LIFE for 25 years,” Dominis said, “and worked everywhere and saw everything, and I’ve told people every year since Woodstock happened that it was one of the greatest events I ever covered.”

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It was our rebellion against the establishment that in our eyes, had tricked us into believing that we lived in a country that would keep us safe.

As I recall it, the actual Peace Movement itself, began out on the West Coast in sunny California. As I was graduating from high school, many of my classmates could hardly wait to leave Minnesota to live out by the ocean. Many traveled there in old, painted and beaten-up vans.vw hippie van (Mostly in wild-colored hand-painted Volkswagon vans, as I recall.) Young women had begun wearing flowers in their hair, long dresses and walked in bare feet. Many of them looked clearly, “stoned.” (Eyes appeared glazed and sometimes their speech was slowed-down and sounded very flat.) Then Woodstock took with it, it’s share of young lives in the form of overdose deaths.

Added to this picture was good old Timothy Leary who was busily conjuring-up, in his college lab, what came to be known as “The Mind Expanding Drug, LSD.” More commonly referred to as “Acid.”
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Below, taken from Wikipedia:

Timothy Leary1 Timothy Francis Leary was an American psychologist and writer, known for his advocacy of psychedelic drugs. During a time when drugs such as LSD and psilocybin were legal, Leary conducted experiments at Harvard University under the Harvard Psilocybin Project, resulting in the Concord Prison Experiment and the Marsh Chapel Experiment. The studies produced some useful data, but Leary and his associate Richard Alpert were fired from the university due to the controversy surrounding their research.
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Many of the people with whom I’d graduated from high school, graduated to the latest rage of the time, “Acid.” For those who preferred spending their days and nights watching the elephants on their wallpaper romping around or taking drug induced, imaginary journeys down the yellow brick road, this drug caught on quickly. There, of course, were those individuals who imagined they were Superman and who fell to their deaths “flying” off of tall buildings. The other drugs like speed and heroin had also moved into the mid-western states. These drugs took their toll in the form of thousands of overdose deaths, drug-related suicides, auto accidents and so on. (Much of the emotion from this time in history is conveyed in Jefferson Airplane’s song, “White Rabbit.”)

Kent State Shootings3Not long after, as I recall, were the Kent State University shootings by police during a demonstration. (Expressed so well in Neil Young’s song recording, “Ohio.”  Demonstrations were new to the country at the time, thus seemed very threatening in nature.)Kent State Shootings2 Around the same time was the establishment of the Symbionese Liberation Army who kidnapped Patty Hearst and who DID use violence as a means of communicating their dislike of the United States Government, robbing banks and shooting people.

In the beginning of all of this turbulence, I’d so wanted to be a flower child in California Flower Childwith some of my high school friends who’d pursued this dream. So many moved into communes out there – some became hippies right here in Minnesota living in houses that were little more than shacks; usually out in the country. Not too many years later, I would learn that some of them who’d gone to sunny California, would never return. Buffalo Springfield’s song, “For What It’s Worth” conveys the tragedy of the turmoil of those times.

Having gotten married and given birth to my baby son, these were not options for me. LeeMy son’s life was far too important to risk exposing him to this unchartered and risky territory and I’d really wanted to make my young marriage work. CuttingtheCake!2-5-66Thus, I was never to fulfill my dream of being a flower child. Of course, the Manson murders occurred toward the end of the 60’s and I realized that my dream hadn’t been such a good idea after all. (Clearly, flower children were not all that they’d been cracked-up to be!) Flower Children & HippiesFlower Children & Hippies1I chose my own poison right here in good old Minnesota and it was the legal drug of alcohol, primarily. In retrospect, I thank God that my precious son kept me from going to sunny California to wear flowers in my hair. It seems crystal clear to me that I would’ve been one of the drug fatalities without a doubt as alcohol and other drugs were to become my vice despite remaining in Minnesota. Yet, upon my recent visit to San Francisco, as I toured the foggy city, the song “If You’re Going to San Francisco” by Scott McKenzie from the 1960’s, played over and over again inside my head. For as I toured the big city I was aware that I was viewing many of the streets on which long ago friends of mine had spent their last days – particularly as I passed through Haight Ashbury.San Francisco 041

Some of the Viet Nam vets returned to Minnesota. Many of them missing limbs, most of them very bitter and angry individuals. Many with drug and alcohol problems. Nothing at all like the same boys who’d left us a couple of years earlier.

It’s funny, I’ve always told my children how glad I am that I grew-up in the 1960s . . . because it was a truly exciting time in history. In my experience, the most turbulent time in history to be experienced in our beautiful country of America and I am able to say that, “I was there.” But I truly wonder if those of us who were there don’t all experience a deep and aching pang of sadness looking back at the times when we lost so many.

I came away from the experience of the 1960s with a firm conviction that violence never solves anything and I’m proud to say that I raised my children with that philosophy. I am patriotic and love my country. I never waver where my values are concerned. I consider myself very fortunate to be able to say that I survived the sixties, was able to learn so much and have been blest to have lost so little to those few, never to be forgotten, years in time.”

Copyright by JC Fredlund aka Eberhart 2007 – 2014: 

© JC Eberhart and JC Eberhart’s Blog, 1974 – 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to JC Eberhart and JC Eberhart’s Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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THE MAKING OF ME!

Some of my favorite memories are of my earliest years in this world. Many loving people were involved in the formative years and in the slow, but sure development of my personality. One of the first, of course, my mother, Barbara Cooke. How I loved to sit at her feet in front of our sofa and adoringly admire her beautiful, colorful cowboy boots, guitar and her singing voice………and why not? After all, before I came along, she played guitar and sang on a radio show in Minneapolis along with two of her girlfriends! (Back in the 1940s in Minneapolis, MN.) It was through her love for music that she’d met my father, Gordon Guy, who taught music at the Gould School of Music she’d attended. Both were gifted musicians. Soon they married and a year later, I was born. I was to be a winter baby. I’ve since wondered whether or not that could have anything to do with my deep love for the changing seasons here…………..especially, the snow. Needless to say, though I’ve visited many other climates, I always come home to treasure our changing seasons here in Minnesota.

Without going into unpleasant happenings, suffice to say that my mother and father were divorced when I was five years old. Mom, my sister Patty and I went to live with our grandparents in Kasota, Minnesota. It was there that I attended kindergarten. I then transferred to John Ireland Catholic (private) school in St. Peter, Minnesota. Patty and I were bussed to school from first grade forward. I’m still able to recall nearly every detail of the tiny Kasota Post Office where Dear Mr. and Mrs. Barklow permitted Patty and I to wait inside for our school bus each morning. They were very kind postmasters, indeed – for there were some bitterly cold winter school days!

Prior to my parents divorce, I’d loved so much to travel to my grandparent’s home in Kasota. My gra’ma (Theresa Spokes-Carpenter) always permitted me to rush (immediately upon our arrival there) into her bedroom where I’d spend entire afternoons viewing her beautiful colored broaches and other colorful, sparkly jewelry. (To this day my mother expresses amazement at her mother’s always allowing me this apparently rare privilege!) I often recall to mind,with deep fondness, those special visits.

As daddy would turn the corner by Jim Klein’s garage, the railroad tracks a few blocks up ahead would come into view in the distance and I’d screech with delight that we were finally, almost there. Approximately one block from the railroad track crossing that sat on a tiny black-oil covered hill, our old car would leave the pavement onto the dusty, dirt road. My head would fill with fragrances of the many different colored wild flowers lining the small country road as daddy would cross over those tracks being careful to make a very sharp left-hand turn at the top of the tiny hill. He’d had to do so in order to make it down onto grandpa’s long driveway. I haven’t any idea how in the world my mother and father withstood Patty and my screeching with excitement and delight as he’d round the curve and pull up to Granpa’s old, unpainted grey garage. Out the car doors Patty and I would fly and into Gra’ma’s waiting arms. Thinking back, it seems to me that their house had always felt far more like home to me than anyplace else on earth. How I treasured those visits.

Then, it came time for mom, Patty and I to move into Gra’ma and Grandpa’s house. I was just about to begin kindergarten. Yes, I still recall my kindergarten teacher’s name, Mrs. Kruse. I remember the kindergarten sandbox and the small rug upon which I napped each afternoon there. The Kasota School was very old and very large. I still recall feeling extremely intimidated as I’d enter that old building and the smell of an aging structure mingled with a strong air deodorizing fragrance the janitor always used.

It was difficult for Gra’ma and Grandpa to adjust to having children around all the time and so mama managed to purchase a tiny, old, trailer house in which we resided for a time right next to Gra’ma and Granpa’s house. That didn’t last long due to the floor eventually starting to tear away from the rest of the tiny structure where the three of us shared one tiny bedroom. Soon, Patty and I were to sleep each night at Gra’ma’s house in her one of two bedrooms upstairs. That was okay with Patty and I! We loved that big old house. I recall that my grandparents had no indoor plumbing when we initially moved there. Patty and I would have to walk out to an old outhouse at the edge of yard. Funny…………….I don’t recall ever feeling afraid. Gra’ma had a hand water pump that was attached to her single, large kitchen sink where we would draw water to heat for baths in the old, square metal tub that otherwise hung out on the outside wall of the garage. In retrospect, it’s a good thing that Patty and I were small because that old metal tub certainly wasn’t very big! I also recall our excitement the day that Gra’ma and Grandpa had indoor plumbing installed for the first time…….what an exciting event! Of course, one part of that project meant having to add a bathroom onto the house!

At the edge of Gra’ma and Grandpa’s front yard was an enormous horse pasture owned by the Vogts, as well as a bull pasture which abutted the horse pasture. Patty and I grew up playing in those two wonderful old partially wooded areas. Our childhood there was the kind of childhood all children should be gifted to enjoy. Our grandfather (LaVerne Carpenter) kept chickens and goats in a small building that was attached to his garage. We’d brought our Collie, Rex there with us and played with Rex, Gra’ma’s Collie, Margo and Heidi the goat as well as many litters of kittens who kept surprising us in litters. It was truly every child’s paradise. Mere words cannot do justice describing the feelings of exhiliration we experienced there; where each new sunrise offered another adventure.

There were many afternoons when I went to visit a little elderly couple across the railroad tracks from Gra’ma’s house. Mrs. Rollings wasn’t very well and so she seldom came out of the bedroom, but Mr. Rollings always seemed excited to see me and to have someone with whom to visit. Even at that young age, I sensed their loneliness. So, every afternoon, Mr. Rollings would cook me a well rounded lunch ever so enthusiastically. It wasn’t until many years later that my sister, Patty, reminded me of the card Mr. Rollings gave me when they’d had to leave their tiny home. The words he’d written inside the card, still bring a tear to my eye: “To the little girl who never forgot.” I will always remember them with deep love and affection.

Then there was my aunt Evelyn Stolt who lived a couple of blocks from Gra’ma’s house, my uncle Ray and my then four cousins, David, Irene, Sylvia and Judy. Mama didn’t have very much money and so many times when Evelyn bought new clothing or shoes for my cousins, she’d also buy some for Patty and I. They eventually moved out onto a farm in the country where I would later spend many of my summer months embarking upon countless adventures in the woods outside their house.

Not so wonderful for our mother however, who, until she could pay for an automobile had to walk the railroad tracks three miles to work each day come rain or shine. Mama had a hard life. She was finally able to obtain a nurse’s aide job at the St. Peter State Hospital and soon she was able to buy a tiny, humble house about two blocks away from our grandparent’s house. I was eight years old when we moved to into our own house. It’s funny………….I wanted that house so badly that I still remember the name of the couple from whom we purchased it: Bill and Audrey Palmer. Mama used to have to make her monthly payments to a man named Bert French who always came to pick up her payments wearing a very large stoned ring. I’d always thought that his ring was beautiful.

Mama had to work most of the time and so Patty and I had the run of the house from a very young age. We managed not to get into any real trouble but I do remember skipping school a few times to play outdoors all day long in the snow! Our neighbor, Anna Nordeen, finally told on us after one afternoon that Patty and I had spent leaping from the roof of her garage over onto the roof of OUR garage! Dear me………

I can recall making many, many exciting discoveries in the woods outside our yard growing up and even IN our yard. But the discovery that made a more lasting impression in my mind, was one night while playing outdoors after dark in some fairly deep, new fallen snow. I was standing underneath a street light gazing down at the perfect, soft snow surrounding me, when I realized that it was as if there were trillions of tiny diamond chips sprinkled throughout that snow. It’s beauty was the first to ever steal my breath away. I have loved watching the first snow fall of each Minnesota winter ever since.

Because mama had to be at work so much of the time to support our little family of three, I soon made friends with some incredibly wonderful young wives who provided me with a sort of second home. Not so coincidentally, those young women were Marlene and Pat, daughters of Mr. and Mrs. Barklow, the kind postmasters who’d always allowed Patty and I to wait inside their post office for our school bus. Pat, in particular (who still resides on the same property with her husband, Daryll as they did way back then) always made me feel welcome for a bite to eat, a t.v. to watch and a surrogate sort of mother to talk to. By the time I was nine years old, I was babysitting for the Gerbers. Bless their hearts. Yes, they are still in my life today and to this day I still thank God for their loving friendship.

So, you see, the making of me required a lengthy recipe of lots of loving people combined with lots of great places to spend time together.

Copyright by JC Fredlund (was JC Eberhart) 2006:

© JC Eberhart and JC Eberhart’s Blog, 1974 – 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to JC Eberhart and JC Eberhart’s Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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