Sunday, July 19, 2009

Back in the Day

A L O H A!
Welcome back to Waikiki
(Pull up a Swanson TV dinner)
"And that's the way it is. . . "

Pigeon Party
"Did you bring any crumbs?"

Torch Ginger blossoms have blossoms!

Watching Paul McCartney return to the Ed Sullivan theatre awakened many 60's memories, and begged perspective on the life that unfolded for the kid-me who watched the Beatles perform from that stage in 1963. . .

And this weekend marks the 4oth anniversary of the Apollo Moon Landing (yes, I capitalized it) - oh and of Woodstock (but we've already discussed that).

I remember the grainy pictures of men in diving suits planting a curiously limp flag amidst that "magnificent desolation" as Buzz called it. I remember stiff Nixon speaking to them on the phone as we all watched. I remember walking outside and looking up at the moon. "Humans are there," I thought; "We are there." And the whole world from Africa to Asia to Europe celebrated the achievement. We were'nt quite so hated then. The liberation from fascism in WWII still painted us as the "good guys." I remember that Wilson Pickett ROCKED big time that night on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, the prototypical host.

I remember tiny black and white TVs wheeled into an elementary school classroom, all of us (teachers included) mesmerized by the countdown. "3...2...1...Kickoff" as we watched John Glenn and the other Mercury astronauts leave the Earth and look back at it as only God had done before.

I remember seeing adults cry for the first time, they were my teachers, on that Thursday afternoon when they sent us home early. President Kennedy had been shot.
The world was still, oppressively still like a wake. For three days we were glued to the TV. "Mom! Someone shot Oswald!" I remember the reaction on the sheriff's face captured in newspaper stills.
I remember John John saluting the caisson and the handsome, lone, black horse behind it in the procession.

I remember the police riots and convention floor fascism of the Chicago Democratic Convention in '69. (I've always followed the conventions). "Mom! Do you see what's happening?!" "I'm only glad you're not there!" (You Crazy kid who turned out to be right about so many things.)
I remember watching the Watergate hearings all that weird Summer.

In a black and white world where we had three TV stations to choose from, where the narrative of public life was amazingly uniform (if stultifying), the authority who explained it all like the One True Patient Adult was Walter Cronkite.

News wasn't liberal or FOX; it was news delivered by newsmen (yes, overwhelmingly men) who were professional and didn't carp or advocate. They informed. We all have unconscious bias, but news was supposed to be about facts. They tried to be objective.

All the things above that I remember, I remember largely through the lens of my TV. I remember Walter telling us the story, sharing OUR modern story.
When he announced Kennedy's death and took off his glasses, that was a more powerful moment than all the posturing and shouting we see in a week of cable news today.

If you didn't live through all of that, it is impossible to explain just how much of a giant Walter was. From the WWII beaches of Normandy, to the assassination of Dr. King, to the relentless nightly spectacle of Viet Nam, Walter was the narrator of our times. When he expressed the opinion that 'Nam was a morass, LBJ turned from the TV and said: "If I've lost Walter, I've lost middle America.

There will never be another figure like him. Uncle Walter.
I remember looking up at that '60s sky as Canada Geese sailed before a harvest moon. I remember the smell of burning leaves, and the sound of a train from far away. "How old will I be in the year 2000?"

I can't imagine a person becoming a success who doesn't give this game of life everything he's got."
Walter Cronkite
Today I've used "Times" as the font of the day as tribute. Be sure to wash the black ink off of your hands before your touch anything.
A L O H A! Cloudia