Joyce Maynard - Doubleday - 1973
When a fellow blogger told me about this memoir by a favorite author, I couldn't wait to read it, as I also grew up "old" in the sixties.
I expected the memoir to be somewhat shallow or maybe a bit frivolous given the fact that the author was a nineteen-year-old college student when she wrote this book. I was pleasantly surprised that this wasn't the case at all. Her writing reflects personal experiences and observations that were written with depth and vision. Maynard had me reflecting on my own life back then, a tumultuous time -- the Cuban missile crisis, President Kennedy's assassination, women's lib, the sexual revolution, birth control pills became available, marijuana and other drugs were being tried by some. It was also the end of the senseless Vietnam War and the age of Woodstock.
Maynard also talks about the younger days growing up, when going back to school meant shopping for new lunch boxes, new barrettes, admiring pretty shoes but, having our mothers purchase the practical ones instead, after getting our feet measured in the metal foot measuring gadget at the store. When 4th grade meant boys still had "cooties" and dolls were still tempting to girls. We recall that someone in our class was designated the "genius" or another classmate the "class jester", and by 5th grade all that changed, when the school nurse showed the girls the "Now You're a Woman film", and we became obsessed with sex talk at recess and first bras.
The sixties were a generation where many of us didn't make plans, but rather, "let life happen", believing that everything would work out in the end. It was a generation where many children of non college-educated parents were raised to believe that going to college wasn't for them. Many got married, took blue-collar or secretarial jobs or became housewives.
We grew up with the "first" televisions, watching and dancing to American Bandstand on television on Saturdays, Leave it to Beaver, I Love Lucy, The Flying Nun, Father Know's Best and Ozzie & Harriet. The Beatles exploded our music scene, cars were for parking as much as they were for driving, we went to drive-in movies, and pantyhose was a new invention. And, gasp --- we weren't a generation of readers either-- we had the first televisions remember and that was new and exciting. We bought books, but many stayed on the shelves unread (much like they do today).
The author does a beautiful job capturing the hopes and fears of my generation. I highly recommend this delightful book.