Life back in the 60’s, the days of "Free Love"

Copyright 2007 by Lisa Tyler

 

 

It was safe to do things back then, things you’d never dream of doing today…things that can kill you today!!  

--- Like eating snow, and walking to the playground by yourself!

 

I remember groups of us sleeping together.  It was perfectly natural to have more than 2 people in a bed.  

--- There was you and your little sisters and brothers, all huddled up under grandma’s quilts.

 

The politicians back then used to say “a chicken in every pot!”  Now we say, “a chicken in every office.”

 

Life in the 60’s -- they called it free love, and they were right.  We didn’t know anything BUT love.  I remember a priest in Syracuse, NY spray painted peace signs on the army tanks parked at the state fair one year.

 

It was an age where chocolate brownies cost 10 cents and they were delivered to your door on a bread truck!  Our milk was delivered by our bus driver.  First he came in the milk truck before dawn, then in the school bus after we’d enjoyed our breakfast.

 

In a school of 1200 kids, there was only ONE boy who had a reputation for making the teachers mad.  His crime – he wore shorts to school made from blue jeans with the legs cut off.

 

My white mother read a book called “Black Like Me” and joined the Community Action Program to make the world a better place.  

 

We cared about people and people cared back.

 

We may not have understood the problems of the blacks, but when we found some, we had no problem inviting them to dinner at our table.

 

We ate surplus foods from the government for the poor, (called commodities today) and we loved them, and were grateful!

 

Mom shopped for our clothes at church rummage sales and re-sewed them smaller to fit us.

 

For entertainment our parents got together to play Pinochle or Canasta, and our older sisters and brothers performed in the school band.  We always went to school concerts, plays and pep rallies, because supporting the children was the right thing to do.

 

We bought our cleaning supplies and vitamins from a man in a suit with a big case of samples.  Rawleigh and Fuller Brush were trusted and were staples of the house.

 

If you got sick, you called the doctor and he came over.  Later our doctor had so many patients we had to go to him. 

 

Sitting in his waiting room was a novel thing to do, and the wait was well worth it.  He not only diagnosed your problem, but as you sat and talked with him, he’d be counting out your medicine pills into a little envelope at his desk.  One envelope for each family member who needed them.

 

Weddings were short, and funerals were long.  Church was a major part of life.  Family vacations occurred every year, and family reunions were joyous times of rest and refreshing.

 

We never needed to call the police and they never needed to call us.

 

The worst thing you could catch from a friend was a bad case of athletes’ foot from playing "dress up", and “spending the night” was as innocent as it should be.

 

Shopping was quick and easy for our mothers; there were only a couple of brands of any product to choose from and TV was for the adults except on Saturdays.  Children saw very few commercials of things they wanted to buy, but what they saw was wonderful and unique!

 

The things we grew up wanting were things “To Do” in our futures, not “To Buy” or “To Steal”.  Everybody had just about the same things, so why bother to steal it?

 

Words like “blow” only referred to the wind or birthday candles and never made us blush.

 

We still believed in the Tooth Fairy, Santa Claus, fair government and that marriage would last forever. 

 

More people believed in Jesus than UFO’s.

 

These are things our children never had, and our grandchildren will never know.  If we wanted to turn back the clocks and return to the innocence of that time, we could – if we are willing to give up some things.

 

Like the right to get angry at anyone or anything, or to say “let somebody else do it.” 

 

We’d have to grow up again and be considerate of others waiting in line with us, and give each other the benefit of the doubt.

 

We’d have to give up our “right” to turn the TV to porn or violence and crime, so that the little ones coming up now in this generation would not be trained to copy those things.

 

Instead of snickering like school children over sex and pleasures, we’d have to speak with truth and give up our slang shock words for the simple things God created.

 

Our eyes and ears are itching for evil continuously, and we’d have to learn to tell ourselves no.  To censor our mouths so that what we speak is exactly what we mean and fit for all ears.  To be grateful for what we have and proud of who we are, without an expensive car or a high mortgage house.

 

It’s too late for our children, but if we worked really hard and fast, we could save their children.

 

Punishment for bad behavior was received from your community back then, but today there is almost no connection in our hearts between the law and our peers.  We watch the nightly news, but can’t distinguish the arrest reports from the shows and movies we choose to watch that depict the very same things.

 

We live in a society where people accept lying and cheating as a means to their “self-righteous” desires, and where we can slip unnoticed through the crowds of unfamiliar faces, never feeling any shame or consequences for our actions.

 

The courthouse was once the center of the community, and it needs some major re-thinking to bring it back into the realm of the neighborhood, where everyone you know can be present and facing each other.

 

The best deterrent is love and praise, building every person’s self esteem and calming their fears of not having enough.  The best punishment is shame and loss of comfortable standing in the community.  The best reform is love and praise by every person in the community, seeking to restore everyone “whole”.

 

I recently read an account of a drug addict in a 3rd world country who was taken back to her “tribe” to administer treatment for her crimes.  The girl sat in a clearing in the village and one by one the villagers came up to her and sat down eye to eye, and told this girl their memories of her as a happy, beautiful, worthy child.  They told her of their good feelings and love for her, and their acceptance of her, despite what she had done.

 

Instead of talking about her crimes, or beating her with verbal hammers that close the ears, they lifted her self-esteem with affirmation of their respect for her.

 

She recovered her past self-respect, their system worked.

 

Of course, in a society as crowded and corrupted as ours is today, it would take removing the person from the influences that cheer them on into evil and planting the person in a small community where people genuinely cared and were helpful.

 

Despite how difficult it sounds, we COULD do it.  It begins with one person, and continues in each person, one at a time, to make a commitment to cleaner, upright living.  To standards that we can be proud of.  To accountability and kinship with our neighbors, and to letting go of the need to possess more and more.

 

We are innocents who have been led into captivity and poverty by glitter and promises. The great master of lies told us that it didn’t matter what we did, but the reality is that every action, every thought and every emotion produces an effect – a consequence. 

 

If you think I have climbed up on a pedestal to point a finger at you, please understand that I am chief sinner among you.  I could not know about these contrasts in living unless I had fully lived each side and saw that the innocent way was much better.

 

I know that to propose to you that we could change our society, I have to be willing to step out as the first to make the changes.  There is no glory in writing this article, because I myself, along with all of us, have given away our precious things for the corrupt and fraudulent substitutes for our honor and standing.

 

For our dream of high pay scale and riches, we traded our contentment and the possessions that truly were ours and couldn’t be taken away from us by the bank.

 

For our entertainment, we traded the sensitivity that would have kept us from crossing into danger.

 

To reclaim sensitivity, or re-set our thermostats, we have to deny ourselves the stimulation that we’re addicted to.  Go back (figuratively) to “baby food” and “bland buffets”, so that the fresh and natural morsel we nibble on next will taste like a king’s delicacy.

 

It’s more than just turning off HBO and Showtime, because the very commercials themselves are more evil than the programs now.  They are full of negativity, sneering at righteousness, slandering each other, using slang and hidden references to things that should only be discussed privately among those concerned. 

 

When we speak with employers, in-laws, or people we feel a bit uncomfortable with, we revert to digging up negativity, gloom and doom, almost as though we’d be rewarded for such talk.

 

When we see a brother or sister fall, instead of rushing to lend a hand, we skewer them and roast them publicly so that we can maintain our “perfect” fantasy image.

 

It’s not that the people of the 60’s were without sin, but we still had the sense at that time to be ashamed for our sins, and we didn’t have so many people nearby ready to cover for us and cheer us on into more.

If the 60's were truly as great as we remember, then it was the people who made it so, by their faith, their character and their determination to succeed despite all odds.

 

Yes, we can live like this again.  It is truly within our power individually to do so.  With God's help and passing on the call to stand firm and tall.

 

God bless you all.

 

 

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