I don’t know about you, but I remember 1969. Seems like only 50 years ago.
(Note: You’ve officially attained geezer status when you have clear memories – from half a century ago – of yourself as an adult. But I digress.)
I was 19 years old most of that year. And a momentous year it was. For both the world at large and the small world of Marty.
In the world at large, 1969’s highlights were roughly as follows, in chronological order:
Nixon is inaugurated. Vietnam peace talks begin in Paris. (But the bombing, dying and protesting will go on for years.) The Beatles give their last public performance on the rooftop of Apple Records in London. Judy Garland dies – in London. Six days later, the Stonewall rebellion in New York’s Greenwich Village kicks off the gay rights movement.
And a busy summer.
Teddy Kennedy drives off a bridge in Massachusetts, killing Mary Jo Kopechne and his presidential dreams. Neil Armstrong walks on the moon. The Manson family murders in Los Angeles rock the nation. The Woodstock Music Festival draws 400,000 freaking hippies to upstate New York.
In MartyWorld – in the autumn of the year – I was living at home with my parents in Queens. Starting my junior year at Queens College, majoring in mind expansion, with a minor in political protest. To the horror of my parents, I was squandering a tuition-free college education, abandoning the career track to professional success. In pursuit of … what?
My parents demanded an answer.
I didn’t have one.
What I did have was a longtime girlfriend. We were deeply in love, as only two socially awkward teenagers can be. After two years of fumbling and stumbling, we were finally ready to consummate our romance.
It was a night in mid-October … The night of the Moratorium, a nationwide antiwar protest … Americans were holding a mass candlelight vigil, marching silently in cities across the country …
In MartyWorld, the headline read: “Millions pay tribute as student plunges into adulthood!”
The very next day – I hereby swear or affirm – I turned 20 years old. Which was the very same day the “miracle” New York Mets won the World Series, the equivalent of my dimwit uncle Solly winning the Nobel Prize for physics.
But 1969 was like that.
As Frank Sinatra sang, “It was a very good year.”