Friday, August 28, 2009

Echoes Of 1969

Boy, the echoes of 1969 have been all around us lately, haven't they?

This week, Senator Edward Kennedy passed away due to complications from his brain tumor. Although he was driving the vehicle that went off the bridge in Chappaquiddick, Massachusetts, ultimately killing his female passenger, Mary Jo Kopechne, he was never charged with manslaughter ... in fact, he never faced ANY charges at all! Instead, while her life tragically ended that night, he got to enjoy a high-profile, 40 year career in politics. Apparently Kennedy's only "official" crime was leaving the scene of an accident. Of course he ALSO failed to even REPORT this accident for the next nine hours, allowing plenty of time for sobering up and getting his story straight. (After a career encompassing public drunkedness and lewd behavior, it really isn't much of a stretch of the imagination to "suppose" that Kennedy had been drinking that evening at his Martha's Vineyard party. He "lost control" of his vehicle while driving Kopechne home from this party and, despite decades of instance that "no inappropriate behavior" had occurred, it has since been published that Kopechne's body was found sans underwear. Sounds to me that if Mary Jo was going "commando" that evening, Teddy may have had a tough time keep both hands on the wheel, if you catch my drift!!!) Kennedy settled with Mary Jo's family (financially) and was pretty much let off the hook ever since ... although the scandal DID "dampen" any Presidential aspirations he might have had, following in his brothers' footsteps. Hard to imagine ANY other U.S. Citizen being let off for a crime of this magnitude with barely a slap on the wrist.

A week or so ago Lynette "Squeaky" Fromme, one of Charles Manson's followers, made headlines when she was released on parole after serving 34 years for pointing a gun at then-President Gerald Ford back in 1975. Manson's followers were deemed responsible for the Sharon Tate / Abigail Folger / Jay Sebring / Leno and Rosemary LaBianca murders back in 1969 and are still serving time (along with Charlie) for these crimes after he basically seduced and brain-washed them with his "Helter Skelter" mind-games version of Kool Aid. (Manson, now 74, has been denied parole himself a total of eleven times since he was first incarcerated. When California overturned the death penalty, Manson's sentence was reduced to life imprisonment. Certainly by now The State Of California would have expected Charlie to have died in prison ... but he's still kicking and still living up to his creepy reputation. One cannot help but wonder what it has COST The State Of California to keep ol' Charlie alive and well these past 40 years ... probably a little bit more than the tab for Michael Jackson's recent funeral!) And how exactly do you qualify for parole after pointing a gun at The President Of The United States??? Shoot a cop in Chicago and they'll string you up by the short-hairs for life ... but make a threat against The President Of The United States ... all the while pledging your allegience to Helter Skelter ... and you're still awarded a "Get Out Of Jail Free" card!!!

And this weekend, the film "Taking Woodstock" opens at theaters nationwide, reliving the incredible Woodstock experience from the OTHER point of view ... this time focusing on the guys who organized and promoted the ultimate music festival. We're going to see it on Saturday ... and I can't wait!!! (And in yet another twist of fate, The Chicago Cubs are playing The New York Mets this weekend, too!!! Although, as pointed out by one of our readers, without anywhere near the same amount of excitement and fanfare THIS season, however!!! lol)

Kent ...
You talked about The Cubs and The Mets in 1969. In the next couple of weeks, starting on Friday, The Cubs & The Mets play six games against each other. As I look at today's newspaper, I find The Cubs nine games out of first place. The Mets are 14 1/2 games out of first place. I say let's forget about today and keep talking about 1969!!!
Frank B.

I enjoyed Mike's reflections on our 69 Cubs. Things haven’t changed much – lol!!

Add all this up with our own Forgotten Hits coverage of the events of 40 years ago ... including the moon landing, the sports headlines created by The Cubs, The Mets and "Broadway" Joe Namath, the pop chart success spawned by the music from the hit / hip musical "Hair" and (still to come) other trends in popular music, television shows and movies of 1969 and we have TRULY been experiencing Deja Vu all over again this past month!!!

Clearly, it wasn't ALL happy memories ... there was, after all, still a war going on in Viet Nam ... in fact, some of our readers were there to experience it first hand ... although our brand new President, Richard Nixon, was doing his best to pull the troops out of combat and bring the boys home to their families, by now realizing that this war was NEVER going to be won by anybody.

Lt. William Calley was held accountable for the My Lai Massacre ... the trial of The Chicago Eight (soon Seven after defendant Bobby Seales was bound and gagged and then tried separately) begins in response to the revolution right here at home at 1968's Democratic National Convention ... and Hurricane Camille ripped through Mississippi with a fury not witnessed again until Katrina four years ago.

Today we share a few more of YOUR memories of 1969!!!

I can't say I have any memories of 1969 ... my parents hadn't even met yet (or if they had, they hadn't been dating very long) and I would be 16 years in the future still ... Tom Diehl

Wow - 1969 - what a year. I couldn't wait to turn 21 and when I did I was married, pregnant and too sick to celebrate! I still feel cheated!! LOL 1969 was the year Nixon became President and Ted Kennedy plead guilty to leaving the scene of fatal accident at Chappaquiddick, Massachusetts, in which Mary Jo Kopechne was drowned — got a two-month suspended sentence. Politics has been more exposed since that time. It was a different economy - Unemployment was 3.6%, Median Household Income was $8,389, Federal Spending was $365.8 Billion and the cost of a postage stamp was 6 cents! And, let's not forget 1969 was when the FCC banned all cigarette advertising on radio and television - as if we wouldn't know cigarettes were still there. But, the most important event in the life of children - Sesame Street was born! I know everybody talks bad about the 60s, but I'd go back in a heartbeat.
Lea Mea

Hey Kent,
Long time no type.
I spent the Summer of 1969 working for the U.S. Postal Service in a balmy almost tropical setting.
I was the company clerk for the 43rd Army Postal Unit, at Danang, South Viet Nam, APO 96349.
Yes, I was at China Beach before it was a TV show!

Radio was a great escape for us, and AFVN did the trick.
The Dawn Buster (program) got us up each day, and of course 9:05 Means Exercise, was usually was on the air when we got to work. By the way, I think the corporate P.D’s of today are missing a sure thing buy not having a morning exercise program on the radio!!!

During the day, the majority of the programming came from Saigon, but at night we listened to “Your Brother” who was local - he was at DaNang high on top of Monkey Mountain, where the AFRTS AM, FM & TV studio and transmitters were located. Here it is in the distance.

Our postal unit was located next door to the library / arts and crafts shop, (yes the troops did get some down time) And I worked the counter at the crafts shop at night. We sold model airplane kits, model cars, and taught film developing in the darkroom. You would be surprised how many of those in combat took a 35 mm camera with them into the field, and snapped pictures during the mission! When they got a little R & R, they would develop the film or slides. I saw some pretty gruesome stuff, as well as some beautiful shots of southeast Asia.

On the radio (Donna Summer, 1979) I remember Oh Happy Day by the Edwin Hawkins Singers, AFVN played that a lot, I remember thinking that the line from the Creedence Song said, ‘there’s a bathroom on the right”. I promise you - I really did.

The Fifth Dimension got a lot of play with Aquarius of course, and I remember one night “Your Brother” played Love is Strange by Buddy Holly, which I had never heard, and he said it was a new release of a lost tape.

I would mail requests to radio stations to send us air checks that I played each night on the house P A system, so the folks could get that back home feeling, (plus I got to keep the tapes, still have a couple of them). Cousin Brucie even personalized his WABC tape for us, we got material from WLS, WKYC, WSGN, WAYS, WQXI, KOMA and a bunch more that I cant remember. The stations were very generous to do that for us.

Even though there was a war going on, I have good memories of the Summer of 1969, mostly because I lived through it.

I salute the ones that did not.
Thanks for giving me a chance to reflect.


I remember helping my brother deliver flyers on the air base my Dad served on. It was the first job I had where I made money from someone besides my parents. It rained on us and got really nasty. It turned out it was the remnant of Hurricane Camille which had devastated the Mississippi coast earlier in the week and even killed people (we were in Arkansas).