The Times Journal & Russell County News
Wednesday, Jul. 23, 2014 — RUSSELL SPRINGS & JAMESTOWN, KENTUCKY —
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Cruisin’: Lookin' back on the 60's
In May 26 Issue
By Ron Cowell, Columnist

Recently I lost a very good friend to cancer. He and I grew up in the late 50's and 60's. Thinking about my friend, John Bowman and remembering he and I playing in bands together, working on our old cars got me to thinking about the 60's

The 60's were a great time to grow up in. Like me, I'm sure you remember the allure of James Bond, The Beatles, Hot Chevys, and probably the best television shows ever. With that, I'd like to take you back in time where the summer days are long and hot, and last forever!

One thing that I would like to mention is that there were a lot of television shows, people, or even songs that were famous in the fifties, or maybe earlier. I remember them all to well also.  For example, the program "Peter Gun" was big in the fifties, but I caught them in syndication in the early sixties.

My favorite years seem to fall between 1962 and 1967. After that, things began to get more and more complicated. I was in High School when the world was panicked over what we now remember as "The Cuban Missile Crisis."

As a kid, I never really appreciated the importance of being nearly nuked off the planet. I didn't know what an Atom Bomb was, so therefore, I had no reason to fear it.  All I remember is the Duck and take cover drills at school. Next came the Kennedy assignation, I was listening to a transistor radio through an ear plug in class when they announced that Kennedy had been shot. I remember telling the kids around me and got in trouble for spreading such an awful thing until the teacher found out it was true. That cleared me but I still got in trouble for listening to the radio during class. I think everyone was shocked also with the death of America's film goddess Marilyn Monroe.

Still, a ways to go before calling myself an adult, there was some serious fun to be had. The guys and I would be out on our bikes riding around, and looking cool. Playing army was my favorite pastime. Kids could actually play in the streets. Neighbors left their doors unlocked at night, and sat on front porches on hot summer evenings. I remember playing hide-and-go-seek in the dark of after the sun went down,. Eating Popsicles under the glow of the street light, or playing nightly games of Army were indeed, commonplace. You could actually peer into open screen doors and watch television through the rusty mesh.

TV was great with shows like Sky King,The Lone Ranger, Highway Patrol, and Sunday afternoon the whole family would gather around the TV to watch Walt Disney. Drama, Comedy, and even music programs like "Shindig", "Hullabaloo", and "The Lloyd Thaxton Show" featured top performers and would-be up and comers. Of Course we can't forget Dick Clark and American Bandstand. Guys like Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson, Robert Duvall, James Coburn, Bruce Lee, and Martin Sheen all started off on the black and white tube.

We can't forget the pretty cool girls that came out of the 60's. My favorite was Shelly Fabris from the Donna Reed Show.  Seriously, there were shows we watched for fun, and then there were shows we watched for the girls. Diana Rigg of "The Avengers" and Patty Duke were among my other favorite secret crushes.

Even the music of the 60's was better. After the Beatles re-defined our world on the Ed Sullivan show in 1964, there wasn't one kid on the block who wasn't trying to learn how to play guitar, or speak in a British accents. A multitude of dynamic bands lit up radio dials and sent sizzling notes of sweetness to our radio speakers. Rock n' Roll was here to stay.

The British Invasion gave us groups like The Dave Clark Five, Peter and Gordon, The Kinks, Cream with Eric Clapton, The Rolling Stones and Petula Clark. Here, in the good old U.S. of A, we were busy raising our own crops. Hot bands were forming by the dozens. The Beach Boys, Paul Revere and the Raiders, Mama's & Papa's and the California surf scene and sound became American icons. I think everyone wanted to learn to surf and hang out on the beach.

 I hope you enjoy this little walk through a time nearly forgotten. Kool-Aid and Hostess Twinkies ruled the day. "Peter Gunn" and "The Saint" were the ultimate in TV spy shows. The Beach Boys made you want to wax your stick, toys were great, models were cheap, and the summer days lasted forever.

It's always fun to look back at what some of us call the Good Old Days but even though it's hard to believe one day the kids of this generation will be calling these days the good old days. Scary thought isn't it? So much more could be said about the 60's but room only allows so much. Till next time Keep Cruisin.

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