The Big 4-0; Summer of ’69


The Summer of 1969.

I was 14 years old, and didn’t care much for anything except football, baseball, and basketball. Naturally, their relative importance varied with the calendar.

You would think that the Summer automatically meant baseball was numero uno. Not necessarily.

League ball was over by July 4. And, especially in the South, that meant the football season was just around the corner.

I think back to the Summer of 1969 and several events come to mind:

First, the Preacher dismissing church service early on Sunday evening so we could all go home and watch Apollo 11 land on the moon.

Second, a few weeks later, when the Preacher dismissed evening church service early AGAIN, so everyone could go home and hunker down for the hurricane that was about to roll in. At the time, nobody guessed that we would remember that particular Sunday as being the day the Category 5 storm named Camille would obliterate the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

The last thing I distinctly remember about 1969 happened in the Fall. Ole Miss – Alabama, Archie Manning, and the total excitement of watching live college football on national TV. Sitting there in my aunt’s living room with my cousins, alternately cheering, then groaning as the two teams marched up and down Legion field in a game that exemplified Dixie’s passion for college football, the game is like a flashing star across the backdrop of my boyhood memory.

Oh, BTW, it’s only 50 days till my Mississippi State Bulldogs take the field in their season opener.

Still, when I think back to the Summer of ’69, one story that seems out of place is the death of Mary Jo Kopechne. Although the images of Teddy in a neck brace are strong in my recollection, for some reason or another, I’ve never associated that event with 1969. Maybe it’s because it got buried in the news cycle of Apollo 11. I dunno. Strange.

Friday linkage:

Walter Cronkite 1916 – 2009, Liberal – islamist alliance, 40 years later, Kennedy’s story still stinks, the fall of capitalism and the rise of islam, moon rocks are still relevant, Financial crisis morphing … again , and last but not least, Tieki says “Get busy, Y’all” (Tieki is from Wyoming, and she didn’t actually say, “Y’all,” but we can file that under a blogger’s creative license, mkay?).

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23 Responses

  1. The summer of ’69, I was spiking rail for the Missouri Pacific railroad in the Texas summer sun, dating a Kilgore Rangerette, drinking Old Milwaukee by the case, and gallons of Boon’s Farm Apple Wine.
    I wasn’t paying attention to much more than work, shit, sleep.
    Remember much of what you mention happening, but wasn’t really engaged, until the UT vs. Ark shootout that fall, when Nixon gave the horns the National Title. The QB for Texas was a kid I played against in high school, James Street, a pretty boy that surprised us all that competed against him, that he did so well. He lost his starting QB job as a senior in high school to a sophomore, for cripes sake.
    A couple of guys I played football with, were on the Arkansas team.

    BTW, my oldest brother was in Viet Nam that year, and I forgot the QB for Arkansas, Bill Montgomery, was the QB for the high school team that eliminated us from the state playoffs in ’66.

  2. I was 14 years old, and didn’t care much for anything except football, baseball, and basketball. Naturally, their relative importance varied with the calendar.

    And you call me an old fart? 😆

  3. Well, we can split the difference, and call the whole thing off.
    😕

  4. dayum, y’all are o-o-o-o-o-o-o-l-d

  5. In the summer of 69, I reckon I was swinging on grape vines being the only “Jane” in a cousinly band of “Tarzans” when I wasn’t being the “Injun” as in cowboys and….

  6. I could bellow one mean “Tarzan Yell”

  7. The Johnny Weismuller variety.

  8. Summer of ’69, we were drinking beer in quart bottles, while riding the blacktops, putting .22 holes in road signs.
    Ahh, the good ol’days.

  9. remember when coors was considered a delicacy?

    • Yep. I remember when Coors was was banned in Oregon. Used to make a tidy little profit crossing the border… 😉

    • Yeah, but we didn’t have to go to far to get it.
      They sold it as far east as Terrell, Tx, which is about 45 minutes east of Dallas.
      For our Senior Day festivities, when we got out of school for the day, a few days before school let out, a bunch of guys took orders and cash, and rented a small U-Haul trailer, and drove to Terrell, about an hour and a half, and loaded up.
      We spent the day at Lake O’The Pines, getting drunk and sunburned.

  10. In a way, I’m a bit jealous. When Armstrong took his “one small step,” I was 9 months old, and my mother was rocking me to sleep. I don’t have that experience.

    I guess I’ll have to be content with the fact that I got to grow up in an America that was still free.

    • If it’s any consolation, I envy those brave souls who settled on the land when it was still free of all government control.

    • While that was all cool and stuff, I remember John Glenn making one orbit of the earth eight years earlier. That was really big stuff back in my childhood.

  11. The Frost-Top Rootbeer Drive-in on Hwy 80 had this gigantic neon “Sputnic” on it’s roof. It must have weighed a ton, and it was visible for miles.

    Man, everything was geared to the space-age.

  12. Apollo 11, Moon landing?
    Category 5 storm named Camille?
    Coors Beer?
    Sputnic?
    Only thing I understood was Football season.

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