“50 Years Later-Awful Memories”….
1968 was a long time ago. 1-long hot summer.
I was in the beginning stages of my radio career, working at a 1,000-watt AM station in Appalachia.
I remember standing on the street corner one hot afternoon, talking to the President of Logan Federal Savings & Loan, in that tiny Southeast Ohio community, and distinctly saying, ‘what is happening to our country?’
…It was 1968, and Denny McLain was on his way to a 30-win season on the mound, pitching his Detroit Tigers to the World Series victory over the Cardinals.
It was the summer of the death of Martin Luther King in Memphis, that led to rioting everywhere.
…The Green Bay Packers would win the Super Bowl against the Raiders .
They would burn Oakland, Watts, East Cleveland, Harlem, Detroit and so many other cities.
…UCLA won another NCAA basketball title for John Wooden in the aftermath of the Lew Alcindor-Bill Walton-Swen Nater eras.
Bobby Kennedy was murdered in Los Angeles after winning the California primary.
…The Kansas City A’s franchise, bought by Charley Finley, moved to Oakland.
The Democratic convention became a blood bath with anti-war protesters, the SDS, the police, federal troops.
…Minnesota North Star forward Bill Masterson died from a fractured skull suffered on a fall on the ice during a game.
America, fascinated by the race to space, watched as Jim Lovell and his crew board Apollo 8-and orbit the earth.
…Lee Trevino and Gary Player won the US and British Open golf tourneys.
The Vietnam war raged, body counts, then and ours, were always the lead story, and people raged at the White House as America brought home its dead for burial.
…Rod Laver and Billy Jean King won at Wimbledon.
The names Bobby Seale, H-Rap Brown and Eldridge Cleaver were in the news everywhere.
…The Mexico City Olympics became the sight of the Black Power salute by sprinters John Carlos and Tommy Smith, with the Black Fist punching a hole in the aura of the Olympic rings.
The student riots that began at Columbia University in New York, spread everywhere. LBJ walked away from the White House-refusing nomination. It was the year of the Tet offensive, the My Lai Massacre and the Pueblo incident.
It was a never ending cycle of bad news events, here at home, and abroad.
The catch phrases of that summer, ‘Hell No-We Won’t Go’…..’Make love-not war’..
It was a year of the firestorm in society.
I was about to graduate, trying to get into Graduate School, about to be reclassified 1-A for the draft, working in radio, losing my girlfriend, and watching my country riot.
December 7th-Pearl Harbor changed our country. 9/11 was a catastrophic even that galvanized our country. This era of Trump politics may be a distraction now in our country..
But 1968 was a war within our lands that left an indelible mark on society. So many good people lost their lives. So many bad things happened in our nation.
50-years ago this week, I wondered what was happening. It was America as we knew it, good-bad-ugly.
1968…indeed…a long hot summer of awful memories.