I watched Tom Brokaw’s paean to 1968 last night. The History Channel is running it.¹.
For me, 1968 was the seminal year. I graduated high school, left the comfort of my family to travel out west with a pen pal I’d never met, and started college.
In July 1968, I was working at Sears on Northern Blvd. Flushing. It was a store so obscure, until I worked there, I didn’t know it existed (I’d lived in Flushing nearly 15 years at the time). I was saving my $1.50 an hour wage to buy record albums.
In 1968 I bought Janis Joplin, Blood Sweat and Tears (pre-David Clayton Thomas), The Doors and Cream albums. As I remember, the going price for an album was $2.79. I was also going with my Cousin Michael and our friend Larry to concerts at the Fillmore East in the pre-stylish, quite seedy, East Village.
1968 is when I registered for the draft.
The Vietnam War was raging in the late 60s. The real controversy started a few years earlier, but by ’68 it was a festering national sore. Even with film instead of videotape, and without the immediacy of satellites, we were seeing more of the battles and horrors of war than we do in Iraq. Anti-Vietnam War sentiment was rising – rising rapidly.
1968 was the year the police went wild at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago. I remember the horror in the face of Dave Kulka’s mom as she watched (while Dave and I didn’t) at their hillside home in Greenbrae, California.
Lyndon Johnson was abandoned. Bobby Kennedy as killed. Richard Nixon was elected. Men circled, but didn’t land on, the moon.
Of my 57 years, 1968 was undoubtedly the most historically significant. I wonder, in retrospect, if I was less cognizant of the nuts and bolts of the social and political tumult than I thought I was at the time? There was so much going on.
I liked how Browkaw treated this year. I remembered most, though not all of what went on. He connected some dots that I had not. I was disappointed in myself for not doing that sooner.
It was funny to see Tom Brokaw talk about his suited and skinny tied self, while portray his inner life as significantly hipper. Was he, or was he just a wannabe?
If you get a chance, this will be two hours well spent.
¹ – The good news about cable TV is, even if you’ve missed it, it will run again… and again.