What a pivotal year 1969 would turn out to be. Hard to think that was 50 years ago now – seems so long ago and yet, for those of us who experienced it, still so vivid. The hippie movement spread from a freakish fringe happening and out across the nation. So much of its impact we now take for granted, and so much remains to be accomplished.
Fifty years! That’s the jubilee, if only we’d have the corresponding release promised in Scripture.
Here are ten big things that happened that year.
Richard M. Nixon becomes president of the United States. And we had thought Lyndon Johnson was bad? We were in mourning. January 20.
The Beatles final performance. Where would rock go? January 30.
Chappaquidick Affair. U.S. Senator Ted Kennedy loses control of his car and plunges into a pond. A woman’s body is found later in the vehicle. The Kennedy magic ends. July 25.
First moon landing. “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind,” as astronaut Neil Armstrong says as he first walks on the surface. Anything is now thought to be possible. July 29.
Charles Manson cult murders five people, including the Hollywood actress Sharon Tate. Are these villains hippies? August 5.
Not the only big music festival that year, but the most famous. Suddenly, hippies have come out of the woodwork and are visible everywhere. August 15 to 18.
First message sent across Arpanet, precursor to the Internet. Little does anyone know of the life-changes ahead. For me, it’s emblematic of the far-out thinking that accompanied the hippie revolution. October 29.
March on Washington to protest the war attracts 250,000 participants. The largest demonstration to date. November 15.
Draft lottery instituted. Young men now have a clearer idea of their chances of being conscripted for military service. Will this defuse the antiwar fever? Many did utter a big sigh of relief. December 1.
Altamont Speedway Free Festival. Event marred by Hells Angels, violence, and deaths. December 6.
Other significant events include the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on Stanley v. Georgia declaring “the State may not prohibit mere possession of obscene materials for personal use” (April 7), the black students’ takeover of Willard Straight Hall at Cornell University (April 19), widespread police crackdowns on student protests elsewhere, and the Stonewall Inn gay club riot in New York City (June 28).
In my novel Daffodil Uprising, similar pressures are building in the hills of southern Indiana. Look how chaotic these events remain when viewed together.
Travel’s been largely on hold for me – just too much to do at home, for instance, especially when it comes to writing. But what if that were to change?
San Francisco, Seattle, and Yakima. I haven’t been back to my beloved Pacific Northwest since leaving in 1990. This would provide a basis for an memorable sweep.
The East African Quakers have much to teach the rest of us, and I can’t think of a better introduction to this mysterious continent.
Cumbria, England, and Lurgan, Northern Ireland. These two places, a short hop apart on the Irish Sea, are central to my Hodson ancestry. I’d love to see where we’re from.
Apart from the museums, classical music, and theater attractions, I’d want access to some early Quaker minute books – especially those pages marked “too faint to microfilm” in Lurgan’s surviving records.
Alsace, France/Germany, and Switzerland upstream. On my Grandma Hodson’s side, these are my places of origin.
Kyoto, especially. Did I mention my long fascination with Zen Buddhism or Japanese cuisine?
The Himalayas. Or my interest in Tibetan Buddhism along with the world’s tallest mountains? (Yes, I know it will make it more difficult to appreciate the summits back home, but that’s got to be well worth the encounter.)
Canadian Maritime Provinces. These are just up the coast from us but have remained a world away. Think I can fix that in the upcoming future?
Anasazi ruins and Albuquerque. The American Southwest is a huge blank in my explorations. This sweep would end with a visit to some very special friends in their new locale.
Australia and New Zealand. From here, they seem incredibly unimaginable. Only one way to fix that.
In all frankness, it’s the dreariest month. In a flash, the trees are bare. The switch from Daylight Saving Time has many folks going to work before daybreak and coming home after sunset. Still, we can try …
Harvesting root crops.
Chill mornings with fog wisps rising from ponds and rivers.
Election Day. We can always hope for a miracle. A return to sanity, for starters.
Ministry and Counsel retreat – even years in Deerfield, Massachusetts; odd years in Winthrop, Maine.
Days can be warm enough to work outdoors … or go for a hike.
No bugs. Beware of ticks, though.
Neighborhood souper. Everybody brings a pot of their own creation, then eats what everyone else has concocted. It’s outdoors, though, rain or clear.
Tagging a Yule tree.
Thanksgiving dinner. Why mess with tradition?
Community Thanksgiving service. It’s turned into a showcase for local church choirs.