Thursday, March 28, 2013

Zero to Sixty, Chapter 4. I Remember That

If  you're old enough, you know him instantly.
There is an advantage to being around a while. I am old enough to remember when particular and significant things happened.

My wife and I were watching Meet the Press recently. At the beginning, they roll a collage of changing faces of historical persons in black and white. I recognized everyone. Someone who was 20 probably wouldn’t know anyone. On the show, Tom Brokaw spoke, as a guest. Boy, he looks old, but I remember his youthful face delivering the news. Heck, I remember Walter Cronkite in the 1960s with his pencil mustache, and trademark “And that’s the way it is…” Walter who?

There are painful memories, certainly, including assassinations —the Kennedys, Martin Luther King and others in the 1960s, Harvey Milk and George Moscone in 1978—right at the same time as Jonestown. John Lennon’s sudden murder in New York in 1980.

More pain—the Vietnam War, and its protest movement. The Draft. The 1968 Democratic Convention. Nixon’s  election as president and crushing McGovern in ’72. Watergate ending it. Chernobyl. Biafra. 9-11.

There have been many good and or interesting things too. People still talk about the Beatles. I saw them play on the Ed Sullivan Show and got my first Beatles album for my 11th birthday. I took a walk down Haight Street in 1967 with my dad and it changed my life (not his—he was an elderly 40 at the time). I have nearly 50 years of musical memories starting in 1964 with the aforementioned Fab Four and running through the 70s and 80s. The 90s — not so much. Today, I listen with experienced ears, and some of it I like, while some of it bounces off.

I remember when if you left the house, you were off the grid. No one had cell phones. There were phone booths everywhere, and for a dime, you could call someone else—at their house or job—but you were out of touch. Some may look back at that time nostalgically.

I remember when you waited until the news came on or even to the next day’s newspaper to find out what happened. The 2012 election was the first time that I didn’t even see a newspaper the next day. I had the facts online before Election Day had even ended in California.

Is it important for people to know about these events, to give them historical perspective? Or is it just one way that younger people are different—in not having that experience? Only time will tell what is truly relevant to today’s young people and what will fill their memories when their odometers hit 120,000.

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