I just finished reading a book – The Edge of Eternity, by Ken Follett, which I will review tomorrow – that takes place during the time period of the Cold War, roughly the early 1960s to the late 1980s. Baby Boomers will understand when I simplify things by saying the Cold War began with the words of one president – Ich bin ein Berliner – and ended with the words of another president – Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.
While I was a small girl during the early days of the Cold War, I was much more interested in wiping the tears from my Tiny Tears doll than worrying about ships bearing missiles headed directly to Cuba and aimed directly at my 6-year-old head. I was thankfully clueless.
My sister Bec is just enough older than me that she remembers that scary time. I feel I must add that not only is she enough older, but she is considerably smarter than I, so she probably knew enough to pay attention. Her Tiny Tears doll’s tears went unwiped. We all have our roles…..
While I don’t necessarily remember the Cuban Missile Crisis, I do remember the assassination of President Kennedy and how the world seemed to stop that day. I was in second grade. Our principal came into our classroom at St. Bonaventure Elementary and told us to get down on our knees. The president had been shot and killed. We prayed, and then were sent home.
The next few days are seared into Baby Boomers’ memories.
What The Edge of Eternity really made me think about was just how much our world changed from when I was a small girl in Columbus, Nebraska, to when I had a child of my own in 1980. I have often thought about the changes my grandmother and grandfather saw over the course of their lifetime, but I saw plenty of changes as well.
It’s hard to imagine that – in my lifetime – black Americans didn’t have basic civil rights, often including the right to vote. Those rights didn’t come easy, and didn’t, in fact, come at all until President Lyndon Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act into law in 1965. I think that’s a reality that our grandkids simply can’t quite understand.
For the most part, married women didn’t work outside the home until the 1970s, and were considered, for the most part, to be secondary citizens to their husbands or fathers. Arguably at least, times have changed considerably. We are likely to see a woman president in my lifetime.
The 1960s and 1970s brought about a change in music. Remember this?……..
This appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show was all we could talk about the next day in February 1964. I was in fourth grade. I think it’s safe to say music was never the same.
And it’s also safe to say that easy access to safe contraception brought about the sexual revolution. The 1960s were a time of free love, easy access to drugs, and, in response to the Vietnam War, the peace movement.
Although, I feel compelled to mention that I think a lot of these “movements” took place largely on the east and west coasts. Those of us in Nebraska and other “flyover states” were perhaps still a bit isolated.
Anyway, the book just brought back a lot of memories – some good and some bad, and made me realize that the world is always changing. And that’s probably for the best.
But do baby dolls still cry real tears? At fifty dollars a pop, they should.
What memories do you have of the Cold War years?