Dear Family and Friends:
Dear Family and Friends:
It’s been a while. Hope you are all well and anticipating a wonderful Thanksgiving. Retired life here in B-Town is good and often busier than expected. My big payoff is getting to work with great college kids at Hillel and, in general on campus.
A couple of weeks ago, Evie made an appointment to come over and talk one evening. Evie is a Chicago kid (there’s a lot of them around here, thank goodness. Most of them are Cubs fans, Jim). Evie is an editor for the IDS, Indiana Daily Student. She’s a junior at the Ernie Pyle School of Journalism. She reminds me of someone who used to be my assistant director, eh Katy? Evie told me she wanted to know about the 60’s and I said come on down…let’s talk.
We sat up in our library and Evie said she had only one question. It was, “What was it like living in the 60’s?” I could have talked about this for a week. We had a couple of hours. Well, where to begin? I told her that I graduated from high school in 1964 and that in order to understand the 60’s one had to understand the 50’s. I talked about Elvis Presley and how he was the first to crack the gap between the generations. Then came Bill Hayley and the Comets; later, Ed Sullivan’s show introducing the Beatles. And there it was, a generation of kids striving to be completely different and distinguishable from their parents. Rock and Roll, long hair, bell bottoms, Nehru jackets, paisley, Dylan, The Weavers, Bob Gibson (the singer, not the pitcher). That was just the beginning. All this before we even knew about the war in Vietnam, or Watergate, or realized that the “whole world was watching” the Democratic National Convention in Chicago.
It was quite a trip for me to be talking about my college years which were none too happy, by the way, while living once again in a campus town. Looking back, there was so much emotional depression at that time; it seemed to me that, by comparison, kids should be walking around campus these days with smiles on their faces. Heck, they only have to worry about careers, aids, nuclear holocaust and things like that. We had JFK, MLK, Bobby K. all assassinated, we had Nixon (“I’m no crook”) in the White House, Watergate, My Lai, Dow chemical’s Napalm, protests, civil rights, and the biggest threat of all, THE DRAFT. What’s the matter with kids today? Why can’t they be like we were, perfect in every way?
There’s a line in an old Woody Guthrie song that says, “The hobos know me up and down the line, but they don’t know the troubles on my mind…I guess they got troubles too.” I guess these kids got troubles too.
So I painted Evie a pretty bleak picture of disillusionment, alienation, and the loss of faith in America and especially government. Yes, we even talked about drugs, Haight-Ashbury, the summer of love, the music, the movies, and the action of the time. Not all negative after all.
I’ve thought a lot about the conversation since that evening in our library with Evie. I’m glad I lived through the turbulent 60’s. It was a time when my eyes were opened to the real world, although it certainly was surreal at the time. I went from being an idealistic high school kid to a disillusioned college kid. If all of the negatives weighed heavily on the left side of the balance, they were outweighed on the right side by camp. I learned all the positives there. My first year on staff was in 1963. I fell in love that summer, with camp; and I stuck around for the next forty-some years. Hard times but good memories. Hey, I got by with a little help from my friends… even though I sang out of tune. In 1969 I took off for Israel and that was the beginning of a whole other story. Idealism crept back into the picture.
Keep in touch,
PS. I wrote you a while back about a woman crying at the homeless shelter here. She now works the shift with me on Mondays. She takes care of the coffee and other drinks while I work the Hobart. We joke around a bit.