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Turning point for American culture was the Sixties, man

By Staff | Apr 21, 2008

We have heard a dozen or more nice comments on our Senior Guide section in last week’s Register. Most had to do with the Ike Enderson story, which everyone seemed to enjoy.

When our reporter Rose Lacher was working on the article, she developed the idea of a time line to show what has happened during the 102 years of Ike Enderson’s life. That was a clever idea, we thought.

Of course, it was a little harder to do than was originally thought, mainly due to the fact that we needed to pare it down in order to keep it to the space we had allowed for it.

In other words, a lot of stuff went on during Ike’s life. Like most of modern U.S. history. Putting that in an eight inch time line wasn’t that easy.

When I looked over what Rose had created, one item jumped out for me. Actually, the lack of one item.

“Where is the JFK assassination,” I asked. Rose replied that it was one of many events that had to be dropped from the list.

I put it back in.

For members of my generation, it is the single biggest event that shaped our young (at the time) lives. Ask anyone my age where they were when they heard that President John F. Kennedy was shot in Dallas, and they can tell you exactly.

(For me, it was at lunch recess at school in LaMesa, California. I didn’t believe Jennifer Fischer when she told me.)

I was 13. It signalled the end of the age of innocence for me. I suddenly realized there were bad things in the world.

For my parents, the event was probably December 7, 1941, “the day that will live in infamy,” when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor.

For the generation after us, it was probably the space shuttle explosion. For this generation, it is the 9-11 Trade Center Towers attack.

Those all made a big impact on history, but for some of us, it was that November day in 1963 that remains burned into our brains.

It was the days before CNN and Fox news and 24 hour a day news coverage, but the major networks carried coverage of it day and night, with little or no commercial interruptions. For the first time Americans were glued to the television. And for the first time they saw a murder live on their televisions, when Jack Ruby shot Lee Harvey Oswald right in front of the cameras.

It is probably the moment that I became a news junkie.

There is another historical reference for persons my age.

For many years a couple of friends of mine and I have claimed that the year 1968 had huge historical significance. And it isn’t just because it happens to be the year that we graduated from high school. (Or for me, that it is also the year that I moved to Minnesota.)

No, we philosophized that it is the year that saw a major shift in America. It was the year that we felt America fell away from ‘Leave it to Beaver,’ and fell into ‘Married – with Children.’

Gone were the days of ‘Father Knows Best’ and ‘Happy Days,’ and suddenly it was ‘Laugh-In’ and ‘Saturday Night Live.’

It was the Viet Nam war, marijuana, hippies, war protesters, Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King assassinations, and much, much more.

The world changed that year. Or so we thought.

Turns out that we were not alone in that thinking. AARP magazine just came out with a story all about the year 1968, and how it was, indeed, a remarkable year. They listed dozens of important events and changes that happened to the world during that year.

Changes in politics, changes in attitude, changes in music. Change for the better?

Maybe, or maybe not.