Every generation faces its own challenges. And the challenges we faced in our youth color how we view present-day challenges.
My granddaughter will be 14 in a few days. I sent her a card (and cash!) today, saying that she timed her entry into high school next fall quite well, since the Covid crisis should be mostly over by then.
I feel for high school students who have had their lives disrupted by the pandemic for over a year. This will be an enduring memory for them, no doubt.
Being a senior citizen, I'm well aware that tales of the Old Days don't mean a whole lot to young people today. Assuming, of course, that they even read blog posts like this one -- a highly dubious assumption.
Nonetheless, I feel like taking a trip down memory lane into my own high school years.
After all, who knows how long my memories will be intact? At some point I might need this blog post to remind myself.
So here goes my attempt at You think you have it tough, young 'uns, let me tell how it was way back when in 1962-66.
I lived in Three Rivers, California, on the other side of the Sierra Nevada mountains from, no big surprise, Nevada.
The last above-ground nuclear test in Nevada was July 17, 1962, soon after I graduated from eighth grade. Sometimes we didn't get milk at elementary school lunch time because radioactivity had seeped into the grass California cows ate.
Few people worried about what the above-ground tests were doing to people. After all, we had the damn Soviet Union Communists to worry about.
I and an eighth grade friend published our elementary school newspaper, mimeographed, of course. We polled our classmates about whether a nuclear war was imminent. Most students thought a war was going to happen soon.
Fallout shelters were common. Nowadays in Oregon we worry about ducking and covering from an earthquake. Back then, we practiced doing this for a hydrogen bomb attack.
Then came the Cuban Missile Crisis at the beginning of my freshman year in high school. The Soviet Union placed nuclear missiles in Cuba. Newly elected President John F. Kennedy managed to barely avoid war with the Soviet Union.
But Kennedy was unable to avoid being assassinated on November 22, 1963, my sophomore year in high school. Without warning, the 500 or so students in Woodlake Union High School were summoned to an assembly.
We were told President Kennedy had been shot. It was a somber bus ride home. A few days later, Lee Harvey Oswald, the man who killed Kennedy, was himself murdered by Jack Ruby, a Dallas nightclub owner.
On the plus side, the Beatles came to the United States on February 7, 1964. On the negative side, boys in my high school were forbidden to have Beatles haircuts with longish hair. (Some tried, though.)
Girls couldn't wear pants. They took Home Economics. Boys took Shop. No mingling of the sexes in these classes. Homosexuality was never mentioned in class, since it was viewed as an illegal perversion back then.
Yesterday I saw a mention of the 1965 Voting Rights Act on MSNBC. I don't recall any classroom discussion of it, nor of the blatant discrimination against Blacks in southern states that was still common in the '60s.
By the time I graduated from high school in 1966, the Vietnam War was going strong. I'd always planned to go to college, but getting a student deferment from being drafted was an additional inducement to head off to San Jose State College.
When the draft lottery came along in 1969, I was fortunate to have my birthdate come up far enough along in the lottery to avoid being drafted.
So, yeah, my high school years were interesting, for sure. Also, stressful. I'm not saying my high school experience was more interesting or stressful than what young people are going through today.
Just different. Remember what's happening to you, high schoolers of 2021, so you can write about what things were like back then some fifty-odd years later, as I just did.