Long Time Passing

toddler-doug-in-doorwayHere is what you remember from the 60’s:

1. Some of the high schoolers, who were huge and terrifying to the elementary- school you, wore black armbands.
2. At the yearly high school talent show, something you lived for because you idolized those huge and terrifying high schoolers, a girl with long dark hair and a muslin granny dress sat in the center of the stage with a spotlight shining down on her head and played a guitar and sang “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?”
3. At night the news had a running count of how many soldiers had died in the Vietnam War. Note: you think you remember this, but it’s possible that you don’t – it’s possible that you read about that somewhere and turned it into a semi-memory, which seems to be the case with much of what you think you remember.
4. Drawing peace signs and writing LOVE and LUV in big squishy letters in your notebooks. Note: This might actually have happened in the 70’s. You just can’t be sure.
5. An organic farm commune a few miles away from your home, named “Earthdance.” You and your family had your own giant, mostly-organic vegetable garden, but you sometimes went to Earthdance to buy homemade bread. This was in the days before Sister #2 set out on her quest to become the New York State Bread Baking Champion and began filling the house with homemade bread.

Here is what you do not remember about the 60’s:
1. The day that JFK was shot.
2. Peace marches.
3. A sense of anger on the part of youth against their elders.
It all went right over your head, pretty much, the entire decade of the 60’s. And then one day the 60’s were over, and it was the 70’s, and you were in middle school. You were growing wildly, so fast that your bones literally hurt. You lay curled in bed at night, holding your thighs and knees, which sparked with pain. You lost weight because you were growing so fast.

Here is what you remember from the 70’s:

The 60’s were just past. It was the bare beginning of the 70’s. But you knew that you had missed out, and you wanted what you had missed. It was your goal to be a hippie. You decoupaged Desiderata and hung it in your room. You tie-dyed some clothes, including a yellow hat which your sisters scoffed at mercilessly. You tried to teach yourself how to play the recorder, the better to sit in a field of daisies playing  “Blowin’ In the Wind” and “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?”
Hippies sat in fields of daisies, living in the moment and playing the recorder, didn’t they? They did. Surely they did. And they wore tie-dye yellow hats.

Sister #1: Where are you going in that yellow tie-dye hat?
You: For a walk.
Sister #1: In that yellow tie-dye hat?
You: Yes.
Sister #1: What’s that under your arm?
You: Nothing.
Sister #1: Oh my God. Is that your recorder?
You: (no response)
Sister #1: Oh my God. Are you going out in back of the barn to sit in the field and play that thing?
You: (no response)
Sister #1: Oh my God. Sister #2! She’s heading out into the field again to play that recorder!
Sister #2 (from kitchen, where she is kneading bread): Is she wearing the yellow tie-dye hat?
Sister #1: Mais oui!
Sister #2: Oh my God.

So it went, that summer. Something about a recorder, something about a field of daisies, something about a yellow tie-dye hat. Sister #2 went on to become the New York State Bread Baking Champion that year. To the best of your memory she never baked another loaf, once the trophy was hers. Sister #1 made a granny dress out of checked orange and white cotton. And in the face of steadfast opposition, you kept wearing your yellow tie-dye hat.


  1. hhb · December 5, 2010

    This resonates!

    Once again beautiful writing. I think you and I must be about the same age 😉


  2. oreo · December 6, 2010

    here’s what i remember from the sixties: nothingness

    here’s what i remember from the seventies: nothingness and nothingness and nothingness, and then, six weeks before the end, sounds and faces and autumn sunshine.

    what i remember from the 80’s, you don’t even want to know.

    i always felt about the 70’s like you felt about the 60’s. that decade would have suited me much better than the 80’s.


  3. Diana Raabe · December 10, 2010

    Oh my gosh – how did you know about The Desiderata?!


  4. alison · December 10, 2010

    Everyone of that era knows the Desiderata, Diana! I can still remember a bunch of it – “With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.” I had it hanging on my wall.


  5. alison · December 10, 2010

    hhb, from my reconnoitering on your blog, I do believe that we are one year apart in age.

    Oreo, I have to say I agree with you. You would have liked the 70s much better than those bighair bigshoulder 80s.


  6. Lucy · December 11, 2010

    Desiderata still works. Yes really.


  7. oreo · December 28, 2010

    well, that’s pretty funny because i STILL have the desiderata, as you people call it, on my wall. had no idea it has a name! that other people know what it is! my uncle hung it in his bedroom, i suppose back in the 70’s, and when he reached adulthood and moved out of his childhood home and into full-time craziness, his mom packed it away with other mementos of her lost son. when she died, i found it among report cards (straight-A valedictorian, for all the good it did), science projects, much-thumbed books, and more.


  8. alison · December 28, 2010

    That just breaks my heart, Oreo. That box of what the lost son used to be. “Straight-A valedictorian, for all the good it did.”

    As for the Desiderata, I loved it then and I do believe I still love it.


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