“Dorothy certainly did love going out on the town,” Betty said. “But she certainly did change her ways before she passed away.”
“That she did,” George said. “Lots of things changed those next several years. For better or for worse all things keep changing.” George looked around and spotted his already grown great grandchild. “Just look at you, Amy, two children now, the baby’s changing all the time.”
“Well, I don’t know,” Amy said. “I don’t think you’ve changed much since I’ve known you.”
“When you came along one thing did change, I went from being a grandfather to being a great grandfather. I finally got the recognition I was due,” George teased.
“So tell us what my mom was like then,” Amy prodded.
“Her mother, your grandma Betty, was my pretty girl with the flower in her hair, but it was your mom, Kimberly, that was the real flower child.”
George smiled and closed his eyes.
October 20, 1962
“Mom, what are you so worried about?” Kimberly asked.
“The communists are ganging up on us,” Betty answered. “The Russians have brought missiles to Cuba. Bombs, nuclear bombs.”
“Why are you explaining it to her?” teased her younger brother, Jeffry. “She can’t chew gum and walk at the same time.”
Kimberly made a face at her brother. “I know nuclear bombs are what America used in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. And I know the communists are the reason we’re all forced to study so much math and science in school this year. President Kennedy’s trying to make us smart enough to get a man to the moon before the Russians do, and they already sent the first man into space.”
“Okay, so you’re not just a pretty face,” Jeffry conceded.
“That’s enough Jeffry,” his mother scolded. “This isn’t a time for joking. This, what they call the Cold War, is worse than other wars in some ways. No one is being killed, but the fighting’s not going on in some far away place. You walk around feeling like it could hit home at any minute. I don’t know how this type of war can ever end.” Betty looked at her children. She took the flower from her hair and slipped it behind Kimberly’s ear. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t worry so much. Thank you, Lord, for keeping us through another day.”
March 25, 1965
Betty answered the phone.
“Betty, this is Aunt Dorothy.”
“What a pleasant surprise! How wonderful to get a phone call.”
“How are things in Montgomery today?” Dorothy asked.
“Actually, things are pretty intense here.”
“There hasn’t been another bombing, has there?”
“No, but about 25,000 people have marched into the city with Martin Luther King, Jr. They are demanding changes in the voting laws. They have come so far. The black children started attending school with Kimberly and Jeffry last year. It’s been rough, but it’s happening. Just a few weeks ago there was some more violence on a march but that inspired this bigger march. I am praying for everyone’s safety today.”
“Oh, goodness,” Dorothy exclaimed. “There has been a lot of excitement there and not always good. I’ve never understood the hatred there.”
“Did you know about the march?”Betty asked. “Is that why you called, to make sure we were safe today?”
“Well, no. I do care for you and all the important things happening, but I had my own important news to share.”
“What is it Aunt Dorothy?”
“Your father wanted me to call you and tell you myself. We visited the World’s Fair. It’s right here in New York City this year. You know that, of course. Well, Billy Graham was there. You know him right? Have you been to one of his meetings?”
“I have. Our family went when he was on one of his crusade tours.”
“Well, he was showing a movie he has made called, Man in the 5th Dimension. Well, he explains ever so many things about the world, about man, about God. And then he talked about repentance. And one thing he said was, ‘Repentance involves a willingness to change your whole pattern of living.’ If there was ever someone who could just tell it like it is, it’s him. I knew he was talking to me, or maybe I guess it was God talking to me. I realized all of a sudden how stubborn I have been my whole life, basically unwilling to change how I lived. It was like I was caught red handed and there was nothing I could do but surrender. I talked with a counselor and she prayed with me, and well, at sixty-eight years old I’ve been born again!”
October 24, 1967
Kimberly sat on her bed, sipping Tang and listening to music.
Come on generals, let’s move fast;
your big chance has come at last.
Gotta go out and get those reds-
the only good commie is the one that’s dead.
You know that peace can only be won
When we’ve blown them all to kingdom come.
Come on mothers throughout the land,
Pack your boys off to Vietnam.
Come on fathers, don’t hesitate,
Send your sons off before it’s too late.
You can be the first one on your block
To have your boy come home in a box.
“What are you listening to Kimberly?” Betty asked her daughter.
“It’s a song by a soldier in Vietnam. He doesn’t believe there’s any reason to be fighting, but he’s risking his life. There’s no reason for this war except that we don’t like them. I’m for love. I’m fighting with flower power. Hey maybe my picture’s going to be in the paper. The other day when I was in D.C. with my friends I took the flower from my hair in put it in the barrel of a soldier’s gun. Do you believe they had guns pointed at us when we were there to say no to all the violence?”
Kimberly collapsed on her bed. Betty shook her head in disbelief. “Please don’t go to any more of these anti-war rallies. I can’t believe you were standing in front of guns.”
“It’s the least I can do. Someone’s got to rock the boat. Our soldiers are over there standing in front guns, and for what?”
What I know…
- Expressions: can’t chew gum and walk at the same time, not just a pretty face, tell it like it is, flower power, rock the boat (I used it 1967. The website I used said this was an expression of the 70s. I figure if “don’t rock the boat” was from the 50s, then this certainly could be in the 60s.)
- President Kennedy issued his goal of putting a man on the moon by the end of the decade in 1961.
- The Russians put the first man into space in 1961.
- There was an initiative in the public school system to boost academics in mathematics and sciences.
- The Cuban Missile Crisis began on October 14th, 1962. It was resolved by diplomatic means and Russian removed the missiles. America conceded to disarm weapons it had in Europe.
- The World’s Fair was in New York City in 1964 and 1965. I fudged a little here though. It closed over the winter and didn’t reopen until April 21st, but I had the scene take place in March to coincide with the Montgomery incident.
- Billy Graham did have a booth at the fair. He did show a movie called, Man in the 5th Dimension, and it does say that line about repentance. You can read the whole transcript of the film online.
- A church in Alabama with an African-American congregation was bombed in 1963.
- On March 7 some 600 protestors headed out on a march toward Montgomery. They were attacked by police with tear gas and clubs. It’s known as “Bloody Sunday.” On March 21st some 3000 started on a march from Selma to Montgomery. They arrived on March 25th and by that time were 25,000 strong.
- There was an anti-war protest in Washington, D.C. on October 22, 1967. There is a famous photograph of a protester (a man) putting a flower into the barrel of a gun.
- The song quoted is called, Feel Like I’m Fixin’ to Die. Only part of the song is quoted.
- Tang was introduced in 1959 but was made popular when astronauts took it into outer space in 1965.
Other news in the world…
First televised presidential debate
Bay of Pigs invasion
Feminine Mystique published
Martin Luther King, Jr. gives his “I Have a Dream” speech
Civil rights Act passes in US
Nelson Mandela sentenced to life in prison
US sends troops to Vietnam
Martin Luther King, Jr. assassinated
Robert F. Kennedy assassinated
Neil Armstrong becomes the first man on the moon