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Thoughts of the ‘60s (07/13/2008)
By Janet Lewis Burns
Back in high school in the early sixties we didn't think much about "things"; we thought about people, and maybe the cold sore we hoped would be gone before prom, the low grade in English that could get us grounded, or if we had enough allowance money saved up to buy Mom a nice birthday present.

Teens stewed about getting to use the family sedan to take their friends to the Redmens in Winona to roller skate after Saturday chores. There were few choices, for girls starting to date, as to which new outfit to wear with which shoes, if our purses matched our fingernail polish (or stylishly clashed), and whether a beehive hairdo was still "in."

Insignificantly speaking, we grew more knowledgeable. I always thought Ricky Nelson's "Garden Party" was a backyard birthday party turned bad. ("You can't please everyone - you've got to please yourself," he whined.) It was years later that I read that he did the song in devastating memory of a come-back concert he performed at Madison Square Garden that was rudely received with boos and disdain. ("Poor little fool, oh yeah, I was a fool.") Sadder still was his premature death.

The high school gym was the setting for many nostalgic memories. During basketball games, bouncing cheerleaders and the Lewiston High School pep band enhanced the excitement. Steep, wooden bleachers were jam-packed and echoed stamping feet of fans as the Lewiston Cardinals, with coach Pete Polus, did the town proud. There were the sock hops on that shiny wood floor, and that homecoming dance when a girl swooned over her first cheek-to-cheek on her first big date. (""¦ and they called it puppy love!")

Teenage crushes and slow dancing will never go out of style. The major change in societal trends is smoking cigarettes. Everybody used to do it! There was puffing going on in cars before and after school. There was occasional "smokin' in the boy's room." Teachers smelled of cigarette smoke and strong coffee.

Our family lived two doors from 12-grade LHS. I remember, while in grade school, coming home for noon lunch and walking among the older kids sitting on our steps and our front yard smoking weeds. More than anything I longed to be one of those neat teenage girls, and to be wearing some guy's ring around my neck.

Some things never change. The search for Jesus has been an ongoing quest. The early sixties ushered in the flower children and the hippies' movement. By 1969, what began as a supposed "summer of love," as young folks descended on Haight Ashbury, had turned tragic when impressionable runaways were entranced by a wild-eyed maniac named Charles Manson.

What became "The Manson Family" brutally murdered nine people, including Sharon Tate's unborn baby, in August of 1969. Apart from portending the death of the hippie peace and love ethos, the Manson murders fueled widespread paranoia in Hollywood and left a country totally disillusioned by the false ideal of clean-cut rock and rollers and mellow folk music. Sadly people are still "lookin' for love in all the wrong places."

"Just a dream, just a dream, all our plans and all our schemes." There are no return tickets to the wild and crazy sixties. The world of blue velvet, mini skirts, Heartbreak Hotel, Rockin' Robin, penny loafers, leader of the pack, teen angel and the peppermint twist is a foreign country today.

Senior citizens have always sought new companions when left without a partner. Years back things were a lot more discreet. It was like, "I hear you knockin' but you can't come in." "Your church bazaar or mine?"

Anyway, it was a far cry from today's "your RV or mine?" Former flower children and war protestors of the Woodstock generation and Beatle mania now pull up to casinos every day by the busloads. They aren't about to leave their nest eggs to couples of a yuppie generation, who have more stuff than they had ever dreamed of.

We had a ticket to ride"¦yesterday. Money can't buy what we had in the sixties.

Janet Burns is a lifelong resident of Lewiston. She can be reached at




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