Fifty years ago, there was a hint of California Dreamin’ as the “Leading-Edge Baby Boomers” (what the first wave of boomers were known as) were coming of age. Despite the English Invasion of British Pop, the singing and surfing set were gaining in popularity. The Beach Boys had just finished two weeks at the top of the charts with “I Get Around” (which gave way to the Four Seasons‘, “Rag Doll”). By July 20, 1964, the first record about surfing, Jan & Dean‘s “Surf City”, became No.1.
There was no surf to speak of where we went to the beach near Boston but, occasionally, one would see an out-of-place looking surfer with a board (usually not on the board!). But, all around the US, California seeds were being planted in the psyches of adolescents which would bloom during the hippie “flower power” wave of the late ‘60s when the universal thought was that the West was the best (a la Jim Morrison).
As I mentioned before and will explore soon, my first taste of the West Coast was about to be taken, though a bit reluctantly. Though latest stats regarding California and its population suggest a reverse Exodus, as compared to the 1960s due to a lack of employment, population density and the state’s fiscal instability, I still have a warm spot in my heart for California which dates back to the summer of ‘64.
That summer, we were reading Hemingway’s “A Moveable Feast” and in love with the spy novel, Ian Fleming’s “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” and John le Carre’s “The Spy Who Came in From the Cold”. Fleming’s character, James Bond, was also in theatres that summer, in“Goldfinger” and “From Russia With Love” with my favorite Bond, Sean Connery.
Along with the Bond flicks and “A Hard Day’s Night”, we were watching “Mary Poppins” and Elvis’ “Viva Las Vegas”.
Fifty years ago this week, July 16th, Barry Goldwater (“Mr. Conservative”) was selected
as the Republican presidential candidate at their Convention in San Francisco.
Race riots broke out in Harlem, NYC, fifty years ago this week and over six consecutive nights, spread to Bedford-Stuyvesant in Brooklyn.. Later that summer, rioting would take place in Rochester, NY, several cities in New Jersey, Chicago and Philadelphia.
The Ford Mustang had been introduced earlier in the Spring of ‘64, making way for the 1965 model which was to become one of the most popular models of American cars.
My family made the cross-country trip that summer not in a ’64 Mustang but a 1955 Pontiac (grey) which was as heavy as a boat but provided much needed back-seat space, especially for that soon-to-be teen listening to her transitor radio.
Next post, we’ll go on the road.