Friday, September 24, 2010

Peace, Love And Understanding In The 1960s

It began peacefully, but life in the 1960s took an about-face from the relative calm of the '50s. The children of the Baby Boom came of age. When the civil rights movement and the war in Vietnam hurled the nation into turmoil, a noisy minority of the boomers protested through demonstrations or non-conformist lifestyles and changed the direction of society. For those who did not live through the 1960s, or were too young to remember them, this brief timeline provides insight into what Walter Cronkite called “the most turbulent decade of the century.”

The early 1960s were an extension of the conservative '50s. Skirts were knee-length, rock ‘n roll was still young and somewhat innocent, and the nation had high hopes for its new president. Democrat John F. Kennedy defeated Richard Nixon in the presidential election, and historians now point to the first televised debate as Kennedy’s trump card. Some referred to Kennedy’s “reign” as the age of Camelot. Women styled their hair like Jackie in the faddish bouffant, a fussy classic 1960s style that only lasted as long as her husband was in office. Few people could fathom what the 1960s would bring, but certain events foreshadowed the turmoil. Americans were still afraid of a communist takeover, and it seemed that communism was creeping in everywhere. Communist Cuba was much too close for comfort.

But on the whole, Americans enjoyed a safe environment. Folks left their doors unlocked, and kids could roam their neighborhood without fear. Teens were into music, cars and dancing. The 1960s introduced the muscle car (thanks to the ’64 GTO), and drag racing continued to be a popular pastime, carrying over from the '50s.

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