John F. Kennedy
My parents were of the 50’s era. My mother bobby-soxed her way through high school and college, and returned to Michigan sporting cat-eyed glasses and a textile design degree from a prestigious art college. She worked for Sak’s Fifth Avenue as a genuine switchboard operator! “Connecting…one moment please!”
My father stayed close to home and became a nerdy pharmacist with beautiful, longish curls and a full beard, revealing his loyalties to the hippie subculture. They met at a party and I think they were engaged in six weeks, married inside of six months.
When I look at the photos from the years in which my siblings were born, Mother is still wearing gloves and a hat at a baby shower for my cousin. Her hair was still smooth and styled like Jackie O’s. It seems that in spite of the wild 60’s there was still a.way.to.do.things, and that involved white gloves for a baby shower. It may or may not have involved vintage MG Magnets, Jaguars, Martinis and Marlboros. We simply declined to confirm what was actually in the martini glass. We are rather confident, however, It ain’t apple juice for the baby, Sweetheart.
John F. Kennedy’s assassination occurred before I was born yet it heavily characterized my childhood, even a bellwether for other world-changing events that would occur in the next two decades: the ongoing, never-ending Vietnam War in which we had invested 8.7m troops; the Watergate scandal and burgeoning anti-war sentiments. There were breakthroughs, of course. I remember being a little tot standing in front of the snowy, black-and-white television and touching the screen while Neil Armstrong took a “giant leap for mankind”. My Dad, with a pipe always between his teeth said, “Sammy, you need to remember this. It’s world history.” Those were the kinds of things my Dad would say to a toddler. Smile.
There were so many socio-political issues during that era, stated as if to say that there weren’t issues before or after. And there were, but it was the sharp decline of social mores, the requisite white gloves and a hat, if you will, that had smartly guided women and family life right up until Kennedy’s assassination; that disappeared in the late 60’s. Up until that time, women wore the same style of clothing. Everyone wore their hair the same way. As women entered professions, and began to earn salaries that would one day approach the equivalent of men’s salaries, a certain level of predictability disappeared. I remember when I pieced together the realization that my own mother worked full-time, and other kids’ mothers stayed home and made chocolate chip cookies. That’s what this is all about, really. It’s about chocolate chip cookies.
It’s about our need to create stability for our children, a climate and culture they can lean on while they look out at the wavy world around them. In spite of the tumultuous 70’s and 80’s, my parents managed to provide pillars of identity and a foundation of memories and repeated activities. From this we kids formed our ideas and opinions of who we were and what we were to become. There are lots of things to be ‘against’ these days, even more than in the 70’s but I don’t want to be known for the things I’m against. I want to be known for the things that I’m for. The legacy I leave behind will be one of providing stability and consistency for my children and the people around me, a safe and positive culture in which to become someone great.
And He shall be the stability of your times, a wealth of salvation wisdom and knowledge; the fear of the Lord is his treasure. Isa. 33:6