Suddenly, 1948 (and '47, '49) Turned
into June 1966
In 1948, Harry Truman was elected president, Israel came into being, the
Berlin Blockade began, and Arthur Miller wrote Death of a Salesman. Most
of us '66ers were born that year, though a few classmates arrived on the
scene one year earlier or later.
After Willets Road or North Side, we attended Wheatley, from 1960-66. In
what historical context did we spend our junior high and high school
years? You might remember...
Soldier boy, oh my little soldier boy...
Pop culture: The WMCA Good
Guys DJ'd top hits on AM radio, as did Murray the K on WINS, and Cousin'
Brucie and Dan Ingram on WABC. On the 1960 Billboard Top Twenty song
list, "Theme from a Summer Place" finished first, Elvis held three spots
(Are You Lonesome Tonight?, It's Now or Never, and Stuck on You), and
Chubby Checker's Twist landed at No. 13. By 1966, musical tastes had
changed. SSG Barry Sadler's Ballad of the Green Berets
claimed Billboard's top spot, three Beatles songs made the top 100 (We
Can Work it Out/Day Tripper, Paperback Writer, Nowhere Man), the Young
Rascals' exuberant Good Lovin' finished at No. 17, and the Rolling
Stones' "Paint It Black" rolled to No. 21. Between our entering Wheatley
and our departure, John, Paul, George and Ringo spearheaded the British
Invasion, TV's Richard Chamberlain and Vince Edwards made some of us
think about becoming doctors, Todd and Buz drove America's highways in a
new-every-year Corvette, their itinerant adventures made more
gripping by a pulsating theme song compliments of Nelson Riddle. In the
year we graduated, the now-venerable Star Trek made its debut, movie
critics adored A Man for All Seasons, which would go on to be the
Academy's choice for best picture, and Bonanza sat ensconced as TV's
highest-rated show. At 7 p.m., we caught the evening news as it was
reported by Walter Cronkite, Chet Huntley and David Brinkley, and Howard
Sonny Liston is not getting up...
Sports: Maria Bueno, Margaret
Smith and Billie Jean King won Wimbledon, as did Rod Laver, Chuck
McKinley and Roy Emerson. The Yankees won two World Series (Cincinnati,
San Francisco), lost three (Pittsburgh, L.A., St. Louis), then faded
into a bleak era as also-rans -- but not before Mantle pushed Maris (61
in '61) into breaking the Babe's single season home run record. The Mets,
short for Metropolitans, came into existence on the backs of
long-in-the-tooth fading stars whose aged backs, and other parts, were
suspect -- on good days. The
American Football league limped along until energized by the arrival of
young stars like Broadway Joe and Lance Alworth. Cassius Clay beat Sonny
Liston for the heavyweight boxing title. The New York Football Giants of
Y.A. Tittle, Del Shofner and Frank Gifford, had some good years,
playing three in NFL championship games (1961-1963) but losing them all,
to Green Bay (twice) and Chicago.
Perhaps MOST noteworthy:
Wheatley students won
Day at Shea Stadium in 1966. The victorious banner read, "Extremism in
defense of the Mets is no vice!"
As the motorcade passed the Dallas
Global and national events:
Nations aligned and the world chilled in the midst of a Cold War.
Perhaps best described as the Television Generation, we witnessed the
Cuban Missile Crisis and the Bay of Pigs fiasco, but also the nation's
first successful manned space flights. (Where were you when Alan B.
Shepherd took his suborbital flight down range?) We laughed at Vaughn
Meader's Camelot send-up, The First Family, and at Allen Sherman's My
Son the Folksinger, both on vinyl, of course. Too soon after, we mourned
the death of the young president who'd made Mr. Meader's short-lived
comedy career possible, and our laughter turned to tears. JFK's
successor, LBJ, rolled out his "Great Society," and the U.S. stepped
ever deeper into an increasingly divisive war in Vietnam. We practiced
sitting in hallways with our heads tucked between our legs in
anticipation of possible nuclear attack. The Civil Rights Movement moved
forward with increasing power and speed -- after much individual and
collective effort and sacrifice.
Well, they've got a new dance and it
goes like this...
Socially speaking: We learned
to dance disconnected from our partners: The Frug, Hully Gully,
Locomotion, Watusi, Mashed Potatoes, Strand, Slop and Twist. We did 'em
all, or at least wanted to. Boys' hair was short and parted, girls',
long, beehive, flip, French twist, page boy or pony tail. Those
"from Venus" sported "Villager" outfits, penny loafers, Logan coats,
Papagallos, turtle necks, V-neck sweaters, kilts, plaid, knee socks, ID
bracelets and/or charm bracelets. "Martian" garb manifested
less variety: button-down shirts (long- and short-sleeve), slacks
(Chinos were boys' favorites), loafers, sneakers (Keds), etc. The girls
weren't allowed to wear pants! Though worn to school on cold days, under
skirts, they were removed and left in lockers until the end of the
school day. Girls' gym outfits were affectionately dubbed "monkey
suits." For lucky young ladies, birthdays garnered "Birthday Corsages"
made by friends. Each year's corsage was adorned with something
different. For example, a 16th-birthday corsage included 16 sugar cubes.
Boys seemed far less inclined to remember, let alone celebrate or
acknowledge, other boys' birthdays.
Misty water-colored memories of the
way we were...
And now, Wheatley '66, it's YOUR turn. Share a memory or two from our
high school years. We'll add below what you submit to the Wheatley '66
Class History posted here, on The Wheatley Alumni Association Web site,
along with other classes' histories. Attach your e-mail address if you'd
like that published along with your memories. On the other hand, so that
we can continue to protect classmates' privacy, please state clearly if
you do NOT want your e-mail address published along with your memory
piece. -- Alison, Leslie, Ken (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Your memory here.