50s: Table of Contents

50s: Authentic Post-war Boom Times
Boom times. We’d won the war and destroyed the industrial base of our main would-be competitors. There were jobs everywhere. Good jobs in manufacturing, on …
50s: Howdy Doody, B/W etc.
I was three years old. I sat in a basement family room straining to see a small black and white television set. The big kids, …
50s: Nomads
We moved around in the early fifties. I was born in Milford MA where my Dad’s family had lived for generations. He was a doctor …
50s: Suburbia
There were a lot of other kids in that neighborhood. On weekends and during the summer, we’d leave home after breakfast and play with five …
50s: TV takes over
Throughout the fifties, as I grew up, television was mostly a family activity. Sure, we had endless cartoons on Saturday mornings if we wanted them, …
50s on 50 cents per week
As a kid, I got 50 cents allowance every week. I had to choose between buying a Matchbox brand car or truck (about an inch …
50s: Oddly Rural
In 1956, when I was eight, we moved from the flats up into the hills. To Eastbrook Ave. We moved from classic fifties suburb to …
50s: Mom Held Court in the Kitchen
On most afternoons, middle to late fifties through middle sixties when I left home for college, Mom held court in her kitchen. She’d talk with …
50s: Dad Taught by Example; Mom by Talk
We were a typical family of the fifties. Dad was the breadwinner and Mom kept house. We had a family meal at six o’clock every …
50s: Gender in the Fifties
We were taught to respect women. Even back in those gender-restrained days, as we grew up, Dad was never disrespectful to women. Not when he …
50s: We Learned Duck and Cover
Monday, Oct. 7, 1957. Sputnik. The Russians put a man into space before we did.  Less than a year after Russian head of state Nikita Khrushchev’s …
50s: Ojai Grandparents
I took my first plane trip in 1958. It was a small propeller plane from San Francisco to Santa Barbara. A commercial airplane, but tiny. …
50s: Smoking was Common
Sometime in the 50s Mom gave up smoking. Chip and I hated her smoking and I think she gave it up while pregnant with our …
50s: Dodge Ridge, Badger Pass, Tahoe
Skiing was a four-to-five-hour drive from Los Altos. We’d leave before dawn, drive, ski, stay in a hotel, ski Sunday, and then drive back. We …
50s: Southern California Beaches
For several years in a row, Chip and I flew to Santa Barbara for a week in Ojai with Grandad and Granma. Then the rest …
50s: Living by the TV
The television grew steadily more important. By the late fifties we had a bigger black and white set in the family room. We gathered — …
50s: Stanford Games etc.
Dad took the two of us and later on the three of us to watch football live at Stanford Stadium, nine miles away from the …
50s: The “Broken Home”
I had a friend who came from “a broken home.” Billy’s parents had divorced, and he lived with his single mother, close to Loyola School, …
50s: K-12 Social
For my first and second grade I rode my bike about a mile through suburban streets to get to St. Nicholas Catholic School. My brother …

60s Table of Contents

1960: Kennedy-Nixon
Sept. 26, 1960. We watched the first televised presidential debate, Kennedy vs. Nixon, together. Mom and Dad and Chip and me. We wanted Kennedy …
60s: Peace and Freedom. Rebellion
What seems so important, and so different, about the sixties was the overwhelming sense that we were part of an unprecedented worldwide movement that …
1961: JFK Inauguration
January 20, 1961. Three days after I’d turned 13. We watched JFK’s inauguration speech on a black and white television that Miss Alexander brought …
1962: Bay of Pigs et al
Just a few months later, April of 1961, a US-sponsored invasion of Cuba failed. A force of Cuban exiles landed in Cuba at the …
60s: Cars and cool
Mom cried the day dad brought home a used 1960 dark red Oldsmobile Super 88 convertible. “Frank, you bought a red convertible,” she cried, …
1962: Big California Snowfall
Jan. 21, 1962. We spent two freezing hours trapped alongside an icy snow-covered highway down Merced River while Dad struggled, under the car, going …
60s: The Trees and the View
Mom also cried bitterly, off and on for days, when a new neighbor planted trees across the street. Mom knew they would eventually block …
1962: The Last Run. Snap crackle pop.
I mentioned wooden skis and cable bindings in this story from the fifties. In 1962 those wooden skis and cable bindings failed me as …
1964: Beatles, Sierra, Free Speech
1964. The year of the Beatles, Mario Savio and the Berkeley Free Speech. The year I also began protesting the Vietnam War, racial segregation, …
1965: Worst Job Ever
Worst job ever: selling encyclopedias door to door. Or, in my case, not selling encyclopedias, door to door. You may not be aware of …
1966: High School to Haight Ashbury
The summer of 1966 changed my life completely. Magic for me, black magic to my parents. Finishing high school, followed by a magical summer, …
1966: The Haight to Notre Dame
Through August of 1966 I evolved from Catholic High School kid to the Trinity Alps to Haight Ashbury hippie. In September I devolved into …
1967-68 Innsbruck
In early July, 1967, I sat at breakfast in the dining car of the Orient Express train from Paris to Salzburg, Austria. The train …
Protected: 1969: Crazy Love
She just stuck in my mind. I couldn’t date her, yet; but I couldn’t let go either. It wasn’t just that she was gorgeous …

70s: Table of Contents

Protected: 1970: Crazy Married
January 24, 1970. It was crazy, obviously. I was one week past my 22nd birthday. I was still an undergrad at Notre Dame. We …
1970: A Quick Change in Direction
I didn’t just fall in love with journalism. I also fell out of love with literature. Well, the graduate level study of literature. We’d …
1971: Getting a Job in Journalism
June of 1971. We lived in the old Amazon married student housing that has long since been plowed over. It was a collection of …
1972: Get the Story or Don’t Come Back
June, 1972. I had turned 24. Vange was due with Laura, our first, in a month. I’d been Night Editor, Mexico City, fox six …
1973-74: Around the World in 31 Days
“Tim, can you get six weeks off, beginning next month? I want to send you around the world, as a tour guide for my …
1973: Allende in the Hotel Garden
April of 1973. It was two or so in the morning. Pleasantly warm. I walked the paths that crisscrossed the interior gardens of the …
1973: Headlines: Naked, Vicious, Brutal, and So Forth.
I was 26 years old. Married, already a father, but still, so young, and so full of illusions. I still thought – although I …
1974: I Sold Out
Back in the late sixties, when I was a hippie and hippies were everywhere, there was this thing called “selling out.” The whole hippie …
1977: Me in Cuba with Fidel
Castro, in person, was amazing. I loved the guy. I should remind you that my Spanish was fluent by 1977, when this happened. It …
1979: Hong Kong or Stanford
Hong Kong was magical. March of 1979. Exotic. Huge hotels along the waterfront. Me running along the bay, on the Kowloon side, in dark …

50s: Authentic Post-war Boom Times

Boom times. We’d won the war and destroyed the industrial base of our main would-be competitors. There were jobs everywhere. Good jobs in manufacturing, on assembly lines, were readily available. Eisenhower, a war hero, was president from 1952 through 1960. Tax rates were historically high, upwards of 70%, but not a big political issue because they were progressive so only the truly wealthy paid the high rates. Families moved to the suburbs. Husbands worked and wives kept house. Kids were born. Suburbs exploded.

I turned two in 1950, twelve in 1960.

50s: Howdy Doody, B/W etc.

I was three years old. I sat in a basement family room straining to see a small black and white television set. The big kids, four and even five years old, mostly blocked my view. One of them was my older brother Chip. I was there only because he let me tag along. I watched spellbound as Howdy Doody bobbed back and forth and talked to Cowboy Bob, a middle-aged man in a stylized cowboy jacket with leather tassels down the sleeves. Clarabell the clown came on and off the screen, talking.

Television was new and exciting. It wasn’t just me, at three; it was just starting for everybody back then. The one in the basement was the first one on the cul-de-sac in Park Forest, IL. Ads called it a magic box.  The parents got together to watch it. Everybody wanted one of their own; but few actually had one.