CAMPOut:Fay's Rehoboth Journal
|by Fay Jacobs|
|Dispatch from the Ho Chi Minh Trail and the Yellow Submarine
(Bonnie Quesenberry and Fay Jacobs sporting the tie-dye look.)
They say that if you remember the 1960s you weren't there. Well I was there, because my memory of it is appropriately fuzzy.
The memories that do still exist came trickling back last week as Bonnie and I prepared to attend a 60th birthday party with a psychedelic theme.
First let me say that both Sunshine Octopus in Village by the Sea and Superkind on Rehoboth Avenue must have had great weeks. Throngs of old people (how old am I? I want a caller ID on my side of the phone to remind me who I'm calling) kept showing up at the stores asking for tie-dyed clothes and other 60s accouterments. The clerks took to asking if we were going to "that party." Why else would I dress in tie-dyed peace signs?
Actually, now that I think about it, I could amortize the outfit by marching, once again, in front of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue protesting a prolonged, bloody, senseless war.
Oh, how I was there the first time.
1966 was my freshman year at a DC college. I arrived on campus with a suitcase full of pink Villager clothes (preppy to the max), Bass Weejuns penny loafers, a record player bellowing "I Want to Hold Your Ha-a-a-a-and" and a personal mandate to show up in class dressed to the nines, including pre-pantyhose hosiery, false eyelashes (I swear!!!) and more lipstick on my puckers than you'll find in a room full of lipstick lesbians.
Within weeks, thanks to the fabulous influence of my roommates, I wore a wardrobe of holey denim with shredded bell bottom hems, scraggy tie-dyed shirts covered with day-glo buttons, macrame headbands, a face scrubbed clean of Maybelline, and a passion for special Brownies.
On Thanksgiving my parents were wringing their hands over the stranger who came to dinner.
As the 60s turned increasingly psychedelic, our mop-topped Beatles morphed into Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band and we pulled all-nighters in the dorm, panicked cramming fueled by a combination of No-Doze and Mateus wine.
While I studied (and I use that term loosely), I got to experience the apex of the protest era.
During the huge 1967 march against the Vietnam War I rode up and down Constitution Avenue, photographing the protesters by standing in my boyfriend's VW bus, my head and Kodak camera (with Flash Cubes) sticking up through the sunroof. We walked up the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and gazed back at a sea of people, protest signs and civil disobedience. We were rebels with a cause.
The very first political campaign I joined, licking the proverbial envelopes, was Robert Kennedy's presidential bid. I was sure he could change the world, and I wept as Walter Cronkite announced that my hero had been assassinated in that California hotel kitchen. It was my very first, in a long line, of political disillusionments and disappointments.
I was at the District Building in DC, as the city went up in flames following the assassination of Martin Luther King. His disciples burned their own neighborhoods, and my friends and I manned the phones trying to find milk and diapers for families without resources.
As amazing as the politics, are my recollections of the fun: Peter, Paul & Mary concerts (for which we dressed in peasant skirts while the guys donned Nehru jackets), hootenannys in the dorm (how many deaths will it take till too many people have died? Sorry.), a winning season for the hapless NY Mets, and illegal substances everywhere you looked. It seemed like an earthquake of cultural upheaval.
Gloria Steinem renamed us Ms., we watched men take a step for mankind on the moon, wondered if Teddy knew Mary Jo was asleep in his car on the Chappaquiddick Bridge, said goodbye to Marilyn Monroe, watched Funny Girl and hummed Bob Dylan's Lay, Lady, Lay.
Abortion wasn't legal but you knew where to go. One of my friends almost died from a botched backroom job.
And we protested everything from the bombs in Cambodia (for which we got tear gassed by DC cops) to the school cafeteria menu (resulting in the first fast food place opening on campus).
We took our Flower Power seriously. "No more falsehoods or derisions Golden living dreams of visions Mystic crystal revelations And the mind's true liberation, Aquarius!" It was indeed the Age of Aquarius.
Now it's the aged dancing to the Age Of Aquarius in a Rehoboth Beach backyard, 40 years (40 years!) later.
Some things don't change. I never went back to eyeliner. Got rid of my guitar, though. And shame on me, I had to Google the words to Blowin' in the Wind. But most of us Boomers are still protesting in one way or another ("Hey, Hey, Ho-Ho Homophobia has to go!") and we're still having wonderful experiences and an abundance of fun.
In fact, feeling uncommonly frisky in our tie-dye, my spouse and I partied hearty, went directly from the birthday bash to dance at Cloud 9, then on to Louie's Pizza for some food to sober us up for the ride home.
We darn near "pulled an all-nighter" partying.
The only difference is that back in the old days I don't remember gobbling Aspirin and Prilosec as a nightcap.
Peace and love, brothers and sisters.
Fay Jacobs is the author of As I Lay Fryinga Rehoboth Beach Memoir and can be reached at www.fayjacobs.com.
LETTERS From CAMP Rehoboth, Vol. 15, No. 11 August 12, 2005