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From the land of the ’60s (12/10/2006)
By Janet Lewis Burns

"The Times They Are A-Changin'" was a 1964 album by Duluth native Bob Dylan, who became a celebrated folk singer/writer.

By 1970, as fellow 1963 Lewiston High School graduates proceeded with life after college, I was married and a mother of three. That's my story and I'm stickin' to it!

The decade of the ‘60s created many monumental challenges, "the edge of a new frontier," as President J.F. Kennedy proclaimed.

History has it that the 1960s sparked a generation of rebellion and reform, giant strides in outer space, unabashed promiscuity, and hippies challenging mainstream values and political beliefs.

Old and young alike went ballistic over a handsome, gyrating Elvis Presley. I was a teeny-bopper in high school, without a care, in our country town seclusion.

At the same time, our country was engaged in combat to overthrow communism and the Soviet-allied government of Fidel Castro.

An elegant 31 year-old trendsetter became first lady of our country. JFK was inaugurated as our 35th President on Jan. 20th, 1961. Sadly, within the same decade, JFK was assassinated on 11/22/63.

I was in my one-room Winona apartment eating macaroni when I heard the devastating news on my radio. It all made my circumstances seem even more glum, my brief employment at Stotts Glove Factory and no wheels or phone.

In 1964, the Civil Rights Act was crafted under President Lyndon Johnson. A land-mark action for racism reform, it called for desegregation of public facilities and schools.

While I was immersed in mundane domestic chores and rocking babies, my appetite for music and poetry thrived in my own private world. My self-proclaimed mentor, Bostonian Robert Frost, a 4-time Pulitzer Prize winning poet, died in January, 1963.

Two of the most brilliant, yet eerily dark poets intrigued this novice. Both Sylvia Plath and Anne Sexton ended tormented lives with suicide.

Marijuana became the drug of choice. A chasm known as "the generation gap" was a disparity between the rebellious and their baby boomer parents, whose ideals weren't grasped by the high flying youth.

In late June of 1965, American soldiers fought their first major battle in Vietnam. Nearly 17,000 protestors attended an anti-Vietnam War rally. Troop levels would reach 184,300 by December, 1965. United State's casualties reached 58,000.

Clothes of the era were styled for shapeless skinny-minnies. Remember Twiggy, mini-skirts and ribbed sweaters? A decade of pregnancies left me out. The #1 hit in February, '66 was Nancy Sinatra's "These Boots Are Made For Walking".

The timeless "Bonnie & Clyde" flick hit it big in 1967, just as "The Carol Burnett Show" enjoyed rip-roaring success on TV. As "Mr. Ed" was wallowing in greener pastures, Roy Rogers' pal Trigger bit the dirt at thirty-three.

Forever honored as a steadfast leader for human justice, Martin Luther King was senselessly gunned down by a sniper on 4/04/68, triggering rioting in more than 120 American cities.

By 1968, the growth of feminism was aggressively bolstered by such figures as freelance journalist Gloria Steinem. Tiny Tim married Miss Vicky on The Tonight Show in December, '69. (Steinem was seen in the wings drawing up Vicky's pre-nuptial.)

As "Woodstock Music & Art Fair" erupted in August, '69, in rural Bethel, NY, I was very pregnant. A crowd of 400,000 indulged in an outlandish pot smoking, free lovin' music jam in the mud. (I was home where I belonged).

While I was preparing for our third child, the whole world was reeling with news of Apollo II. On July 19, 1969 Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin and Neil Armstrong found themselves literally moon walking.

After high school, I didn't move on in the realm of academia. My experiences through the 1960s proved to be the most transforming and blessed evolution of my life.

The times keep right on a-changin'. Maturity and insight direct a person to make life work for the unique individual they've become. Each day is a new beginning. 


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