The City I Love: A decade gets its own anniversary
I can remember adult men in this city donning Beatle wigs, laughing and trying to play along. They were a bit unsure and hoping to make sense of it all. The women, meanwhile, fashioned pillbox hats, just like the ones Jackie Kennedy wore. Pittsfield's hair has thinned a bit since those Life Magazine-cover times, wouldn't you say?
"I came upon a child of God, and he was walking along the road. I asked him tell me where are you going, and this he told me."
We weren't all children of God during the 1960s, but man, we followed roads that went in all sorts of directions. And not all of them led to Yasgur's farm. We all didn't join rock ‘n' roll bands.
Some flew, others crashed and burned. Still others worked hard just to cling to middle ground. It was a decade like no other, and it seems I'm reminded of that fact just about every night, as television shreds the decade apart with historical perspective that the "boomers" understandably find a bit redundant.
But I get it. We are being forced to relive the ‘60s, because guess what? Everything that happened within the boundaries of that 10-year shooting star is coming back to life in the form of 50-year anniversaries. And the networks, for lack of better programming, has seized the opportunity to teach me what I didn't learn the first time around, while passing the wisdom along to subsequent generations.
It started with JFK in November. We couldn't get enough of the former president and the first lady. I watched every tribute and retrospective, and maybe during the flood of shows, learned a few new things. That in itself was remarkable, given that we've been defining and re-defining Kennedy's legacy since Nov. 23, 1963.
And now, the Beatles. The network with the eye will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the "Fab Four'" and their first American television appearance with a special early in February. It was on Feb. 9, 1964, when John, Paul, George and Ringo appeared on the Sunday night Ed Sullivan variety show, much to the squealing delight of young American girls both in the studio and in living rooms across the nation.
It may have been the halcyon days of black-and-white television sets, but the drama dripped with color, or so it seemed. The time frame between Jack Ruby shooting Lee Harvey Oswald and the Beatles appearing on the Ed Sullivan Show was less than three months. Both were live on television and certainly a study in contrast. One was hyped beyond imagination, while the other was an eye-popping blast that came out of nowhere,
I don't know what JFK's taste in music was, or if he cared at all, but we came that close to having a photo opportunity with Kennedy and the Beatles. It's safe to assume that the president and the music icons would have hooked up somewhere. Imagine, Lennon and Kennedy together.
I'm sorry it never had the chance to happen. The passing of Kennedy seemed to close one door on American history, while the arrival of the Beatles opened another. Interesting.
I watched The Grammys on Sunday night, mostly to see Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr perform together.
I still listen to their music and I'll try to watch the network special. I will also watch all the 50-year shows yet to come. We still have Robert Kennedy, Martin Luther King and don't forget Neil and Buzz on the moon. A historical perspective on the Vietnam War I'm sure is in production somewhere, and I'm probably leaving out a few other 1960s things that merit a 50-year look back.
Sports will offer up 50-year looks at the "Impossible Dream" Red Sox of 1967 and the "Miracle Mets" of 1969. Locally, it will be 50 years for the 1965 Pittsfield Red Sox Eastern League championship in their first year at Wahconah Park, and 50 years for the state champion Pittsfield High School baseball team coached by Buddy Pellerin, and led on the field by Tom Grieve and Paul Pierce.
Oh yeah, there was Woodstock, too.
"We are stardust, we are golden. And everywhere was song and celebration."
Brian Sullivan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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