In 1969, the world was a different place.
There was no Google yet. Or Yahoo. Or Us-mg5.mail.yahoo, for that matter.
In 1969, the year of your birth, the top selling movie was Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. People buying the popcorn in the cinema lobby had glazing eyes when looking at the poster.
Remember, that was before there were DVDs. Heck, even before there was VHS. People were indeed watching movies in the cinema, and not downloading them online. Imagine the packed seats, the laughter, the excitement, the novelty. And mostly all of that without 3D computer effects.
Do you know who won the Oscars that year? The academy award for the best movie went to Midnight Cowboy. The Oscar for best foreign movie that year went to Z. The top actor was John Wayne for his role as Marshal Reuben J. ‘Rooster’ Cogburn in True Grit. The top actress was Maggie Smith for her role as Jean Brodie in The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie. The best director? John Schlesinger for Midnight Cowboy.
In the year 1969, the time when you arrived on this planet, books were still popularly read on paper, not on digital devices. Trees were felled to get the word out. The number one US bestseller of the time wasPortnoy’s Complaint by Philip Roth. Oh, that’s many years ago. Have you read that book? Have you heard of it?
In 1969… Australian media baron Rupert Murdoch purchases the largest selling British Sunday newspaper, The News of the World. People’s Democracy begins a march from Belfast to Derry, Northern Ireland in support of civil rights. The Soviet Union launches Venera 6 toward Venus. After 147 years, the last issue of The Saturday Evening Post is published. Two cosmonauts transfer from Soyuz 5 to Soyuz 4 via a spacewalk while the two craft are docked together, the first time such a transfer takes place. The two spacecraft undock. Soyuz 4 will reenter Earth’s atmosphere and land January 17 while Soyuz 5 will have a hard landing January 18. The Manson Family kills Leno and Rosemary LaBianca, wealthy Los Angeles businesspeople. In Cairo, Yasser Arafat is elected Palestine Liberation Organization leader at the Palestinian National Congress. A huge oil slick off the coast of Santa Barbara, California closes the city’s harbor. Charles de Gaulle steps down as president of France after suffering defeat in a referendum the day before. Apollo 10’s lunar module flies to within 15,400 m of the Moon’s surface. Riots in Curaçao mark the start of an Afro-Caribbean civil rights movement on the island. The “miracle” New York Mets win the World Series, beating the heavily favored Baltimore Orioles 4 games to 1. The very first U.S. troop withdrawals are made in the Vietnam War.
That was the world you were born into. Since then, you and others have changed it.
The Nobel prize for Literature that year went to Samuel Beckett. The Nobel Peace prize went to International Labour Organization. The Nobel prize for physics went to Murray Gell-Mann from the United States for his contributions and discoveries concerning the classification of elementary particles and their interactions. The sensation this created was big. But it didn’t stop the planets from spinning, on and on, year by year. Years in which you would grow bigger, older, smarter, and, if you were lucky, sometimes wiser. Years in which you also lost some things. Possessions got misplaced. Memories faded. Friends parted ways. The best friends, you tried to hold on. This is what counts in life, isn’t it?
The 1960s were indeed a special decade. The Swinging Sixties saw the rise of counterculture. There was recreational drug use and casual sex. Many countries gained independence from their colonial rulers. Several governments turned to the left. In Britain, the Labour Party gains power. The Vietnam War continues. The Algerian War comes to a close. In the US, Hispanics fight to end racial discrimination and socioeconomic disparity. Feminism keeps rising. Art House films make it to theaters. The Beatles, Bob Dylan and the Rolling Stones play their music. The US and Soviet Union come close to a military confrontation during the Cuba missile crisis. Nixon becomes US president. Man lands on the moon during the Apollo 11 mission of the United States. The first heart transplantation occurs. The first computer game, Spacewar, is created.
Do you remember the movie that was all the rage when you were 15?The Karate Kid. Do you still remember the songs playing on the radio when you were 15? Maybe it was Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go by Wham. Were you in love? Who were you in love with, do you remember?
In 1969, 15 years earlier, a long time ago, the year when you were born, the song I Heard It Through the Grapevine by Marvin Gaye topped the US charts. Do you know the lyrics? Do you know the tune? Sing along.
Ooh, I bet you’re wondering how I knew
About you’re plans to make me blue
With some other guy that you knew before.
Between the two of us guys
You know I love you more.
It took me by surprise I must say,
When I found out yesterday.
Don’t you know that…
There’s a kid outside, shouting, playing. It doesn’t care about time. It doesn’t know about time. It shouts and it plays and thinks time is forever. You were once that kid.
When you were 9, the movie Superman was playing. When you were 8, there was Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo. When you were 7, there was a Disney movie out called The Rescuers. Does this ring a bell?
6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1… it’s 1969. There’s TV noise coming from the second floor. Someone turned up the volume way too high. The sun is burning from above. These were different times. The show playing on TV isScooby-Doo, Where Are You. The sun goes down. Someone switches channels. There’s This Is Tom Jones on now. That’s the world you were born in.
Progress, year after year. Do you wonder where the world is heading towards? The technology available today would have blown your mind in 1969. Do you know what was invented in the year you were born? ARPANET. The Digital Photography. The Video Cassette.
Well, it’s 1969, okay, all across the USA
It’s another year for me and you
Another year with nothin’ to do
Nothin’ here for me and you
Nothin’ here with nothin’ to do
That’s from the song 1969 by Joey Ramone.
In 1969, a new character entered the world of comic books: Vampirella. Bang! Boom! But that’s just fiction, right? In the real world, in 1969, Angie Everhart was born. And Jennifer Aniston. Ice Cube, too. And you, of course. Everyone an individual. Everyone special. Everyone taking a different path through life.
The world is a different place.
What path have you taken?