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Cruisin': The 1960's
In Oct. 30 Issue
Russell County News
By Ron Cowell, Columnist

The sixties were the age of youth, 70 million children from the post-war baby boom became teenagers and young adults. The movement away from the conservative fifties continued and eventually resulted in revolutionary ways of thinking and real change in the cultural fabric of American life. No longer content to be images of the generation ahead of them, young people wanted change. The changes affected education, values, lifestyles, laws, and entertainment. Many of the revolutionary ideas which began in the sixties are continuing to evolve today.

During the sixties, college campuses became centers of debate and scenes of protest more than ever before. Great numbers of young adults, baby boomers, reaching the age where they could be drafted, and not yet voting age. The minimum voting age did not change to 18 until 1971, this caused a struggle which played out on many campuses as the country became more involved in the Viet Nam War.

Problems in secondary schools, discovered in the fifties, were being addressed in books such as The American High School Today. A return to the teaching of basic thinking skills was seen to be part of the solution. In grade schools across the nation, phonics made a come back as reading specialists try to fix what was wrong in American education in the fifties.

The youth of the 60's started new fashions, fads and politics of the 10 year period. Out in California surfers were causing a stir across the country with Skate Boards. Barbie Dolls introduced by Mattel in 1959 was also sweeping across the Country.

This was the reason Hasbro came up with the idea for the boys and came out with the GI Joe doll, another big hit of the 60's. It was a foot tall and was the first doll actually produced for Boys. Another big toy for the kids was the slot cars. I remember racing them for hours.

Styles of the 60's started out with Crew Cut haircuts for the boys and Bouffant hair do's for the girls.

Men's button collar shirts and knee length skirts for the girls made the beginning of the 60's. Then by the mid 60's things had changed, we went from the Crew Cut hair for the guys to long hair, beards, mustaches and Mod Clothes. The knee length skirt went to Mini Skirts with Go Go Boots and clothes that revealed the curves of the ladies.

I played a lot of music back then and I remember getting on stage with wide bell bottom pants and a Nehru Jacket.. I look at the pictures of that now and find it hard to believe we thought that was cool.. By the end of the 60's guys were wearing ties that some were up to five inches wide and patterned with stripes. Le ladies had switched to peasant skirts, Granny dresses and clunky big shoes, love beads, tie die T shirts and more.

The Supreme Court decided that prayer in the public schools was unconstitutional. As the 1960's progressed, many young people turned from mainstream Protestant religions to mystic eastern religions such as Trancendentail Meditation, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and Zen Buddhism. Respect for authority declined among the kids of the 60's, and crime rates soared to nine times the rate of the 1950's. Marijuana use soared as well as LSD. The hippie movement endorsed drugs, rock music, mystic religions and sexual freedom. They opposed violence.

The Woodstock Festival with 400,000 young people gathered in a spirit of love and sharing, represents the pinnacle of the hippie movement. Many hippies moved to Haight Ashbury in San Francisco, East Village in New York City, or lived in communes.

John F. Kennedy was young and charismatic, and his brief reign as president was often called Camelot. He was assassinated by Lee Harvy Oswald in 1963. Lyndon B. Johnson became president, and was reelected the following year. To prevent communist North Vietmam from overtaking South Vietnam, the United States sent military advisors and then soldiers. It was largely a secret war until 1965, when massive troop buildups were ordered to put an end to the conflict.

The draft was accelerated and anti-war sentiment grew in the US. College students organized anti war protests and draft dodgers fled to Canada, and there were reports of soldiers reflected the growing disrespect for authority, shooting their officers rather than follow orders. Johnson, blamed by many for the war and the racial unrest in the country, did not run for reelection in 1968. John Kennedy's brother, Robert campaigned for the nomination for President and he, too was killed.

Malcolm X was assassinated in 1965 and Martin Luther King in 1968.

In 1960, Elvis returned to the music scene from the US Army, joining the other white male vocalists at the top of the charts, Bobby Darin, Neil Sadaka, Jerry Lee Lewis, and many more. America, however, was ready for a change. Motown Record Company came on the scene, specializing in black rhythm and blues, aided in the emergence of female groups. as well as some black male groups.

Bob Dylan helped bring about a folk music revival, along with Joan Biaz  and Peter Paul and Mary. The Beatles, from England, burst onto the scene with innovative rock music that appealed to all ages.

We have just scratched the surface for the 1960's but I thought it might be fun to go back and relive and remember those days. We got away from the cars for this week so I hope you enjoyed reliving those days.

If you were not around then you missed an important era that changed the way kids thought and believed back then.

If you know someone you would like to see featured in my article or your club has an upcoming event you like to let everyone know about send the information to --- --- and we'll get it in here for you.

If your group or club is having an event and you would like to have some of the Classic Cars there for display any of the local clubs would be glad to bring their cars out to show, (weather permitting).

All information needs to be in at least two weeks before the event. Until next time, Keep Cruisin'!

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