Memories of 1969

I was a very young man in 1969 and most of my memories from 1969 come from the stories I have heard and the things I have read. If you remember the sixties you weren’t really there. A loaf of bread cost$.23; A gallon milk $1.10; A dozen eggs $.62; A pound of sugar $.12; Postage stamp$.06; A new car $2,000.00; A gallon of gasoline $.32; A new house $40,000.00; Minimum wage $1.60 per hour; Average annual income $6,500.00. Those were the days.

When you think of 1969 the first thing that comes to mind is Neil Armstrong walking on the moon. This is the lasting memory I have from 1969 as a little boy sitting in front of the television and listening to the adults talking about man walking on the moon. I went outside that night and stared up at the moon and I saw a faint outline of a man and I knew it was true. They were there; I saw them.

The zenith of the 1960’s was Woodstock on August 15, 16 & 17, 1969. 500,000 people showed up for three days of peace and music. The rest is the stuff of legends. The festival was held during a time of military conflict abroad and racial discord at home, and participants quickly became aware that the event had taken on a meaning beyond its original intent. The site of Woodstock became, for four days, a countercultural mini-nation. Minds were “open”, drugs were used, and “love” was “free”.

The end of the sixties and the peace movement would come to a halt on the west coast when “Woodstock West” was held at Altamont Raceway on December 6, 1969. Santana, Jefferson Airplane, The Flying Burrito Brothers, and Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, with the Stones. The Grateful Dead was there and refused to play in front of 300,000 rowdy fans as things turned very ugly. The truth about Altamont may never be known, but it changed us forever.

The sports world was full of buzz with the 1969 World Series saw the Miracle Mets beat the Baltimore Orioles in five games led by Fresno’s own Tom Seaver who won the National League Cy Young award. Super Bowl III saw Joe Namath lead the upstart NY Jets to victory over the heavily favored Baltimore Colts 16-7. O.J. Simpson is the first player chosen in the 1969 NFL draft. The NBA saw the dynasty Boston Celtics beat the Los Angeles Lakers. Lew Alcindor is the first player chosen in the 1969 NBA draft.

While I was reading “Bears on Wheels” by Stan and Jan Berenstain, my father was reading “The Godfather” by Mario Puzo. “The Armies Of The Night” by Norman Mailer and “The Great White Hope” by Howard Sackler were released to more critical acclaim. The 1969 Nobel Prize for literature went to Samuel Beckett author of “Waiting for Godot” and “Endgame”.

The cinema of 1969 included many all time classics: Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid with Paul Newman and Robert Redford won four academy awards; Midnight Cowboy with Dustin Hoffman and Jon Voight won three academy awards including Best Picture the first and only time an X-rated movie received the honor.; The Wild Bunch starring William Holden and Ernest Borgnine did not take home an academy award but it did stand the test of time; Hello, Dolly! starring Barbra Streisand and Walter Matthau won three academy awards; Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice starring Natalie Wood, Robert Culp, Elliott Gould and Dyan Cannon broke through many social barriers and was a true reflection of the times; They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? with Jane Fonda and Gig Young would deliver an academy award for Gig Young as best supporting actor; Cactus Flower with Walter Matthau and Goldie Hawn delivered Best Actress in a Supporting Role for Hawn; Easy Rider with Peter Fonda, Dennis Hopper and Jack Nicholson would remain an iconic movie for years to come; True Grit with Best Actor John Wayne is the classic western of the time; Paint Your Wagon with Clint Eastwood and Lee Marvin starred two legends of cinema.

The news of 1969 was dominated by the Vietnam War, a subject I am disinclined to write about. The year was full of firsts with the 747 and the Concorde both taking flight in 1969. The Queen Elizabeth II made its maiden voyage. Construction began on Walt Disney World. Neil Armstrong walked on the moon and Sesame Street hit the airwaves. The news was not all good as the Manson Murders shocked our sensibilities and the Chicago Eight were also indicted in the summer of 1969. The final edition of the Saturday Evening Post signaled the end of an era.

The television of 1969 was from a different era and included such notable classics as: Gunsmoke, The Big Valley, Death Valley Days, Hogan’s Heroes, Green Acres, The Beverly Hillbillies, Get Smart, Mission Impossible, Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In, The Ed Sullivan Show, The Smothers Brothers, I Dream of Jeannie, My Three Sons, Mannix, Hee Haw, Dragnet, American Bandstand, That Girl, Petticoat Junction, Bewitched, Gomer Pyle U.S.M.C., Star Trek, Bonanza, Hawaii Five-O, Adam-12, The Carol Burnett Show, Love, American Style, Brady Bunch and The Bill Cosby Show.

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One Response to “Memories of 1969”

  1. Jim Stellflug Says:

    YOU HIT IT RIGHT ON THE HEAD

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