Thursday, March 12, 2015

Summer of '65 by Kristine Rolofson

1965 has been turning up a lot in my life these past weeks.  I know admitting that means I am older than dirt, but so be it.  I'm feeling sentimental.

In the summer of 1965 I was thirteen and, as an aspiring folksinger and guitarist, went to the Newport Folk Festival (which was only twenty miles and a thirty-minute ferry ride from my house).  Arlo Guthrie would perform "Alice's Restaurant" for the first time.  Bob Dylan would "go electric".  The rain would pour.  Joan Baez would join her sister on stage.  Peter, Paul and Mary would bring the house down.  I would buy a necklace engraved "Newport Folk" that I would lose in Robert Redford's NYC apartment (but that's another story, and boring).

Last Christmas my mother gave me a PBS DVD chronicling 50 years of Peter, Paul and Mary.  I saved it until last week and then watched it.  There was footage from 1965.  I cried.  I still knew all of the songs.  Sniffling, tissue in hand, I sang along.  Thank goodness my husband was out of town and I was alone!

Last night I went to another concert (I'm visiting my sons in Austin, Texas this week).  Geoff Muldaur and Jim Kweskin, both well-known musicians from the 1960's, performed.  They were wonderful.  I knew a lot of the songs. They talked about the Newport Folk Festival, in 1965. Thank goodness I didn't cry--something that would have horrified the music critic from the Netherlands seated next to me.  I also didn't stand up and yell, "I saw you in Newport, fifty years ago!"

I resisted singing along and I totally behaved myself.

It wasn't easy.

I've received many lifesaving pieces of writing advice over the past thirty years, and one of them was to make a timeline for each character.  I once wrote a larger book with a significant back story involving three generations.  Intersecting historical events made for a much richer character background.  And a much better story.  I suppose making a timeline should have been obvious to me at the time, but I was immersed in the characters' relationships and not thinking how they would play out against the backdrop of the nineteen fifties and sixties.

We all have those special landmark years--when we were married, had our first child, graduated from high school or college.  1994, the year Nebraska won its National Football Championship, is special to my oldest son.  My husband's life changed in 1961, the winter he spent in a snowbound cabin.

I have 1965, even if I didn't know how significant it was at the time.  I was just a thirteen year old kid listening to the songs, taking in the sights, thinking I was the luckiest person in the world to be in the middle of the music.

Which, fifty years later, was exactly the way I felt last night.

So what's your year?  What's on your timeline?  And what kind of music brings back memories?








16 comments:

  1. Kristine, you are not older than dirt. I have photo albums of my first child born in 1960 and my wedding ones older than you. I saw that Peter, Paul and Mary final concert on PBS not long ago. Loved their music. This month's AARP magazine has done Bob Dylan's biography and features photos and songs. Those were the good old days. We all have them. I count 1956 and 597when my friends all loved Elvis, who got played on our small town music station before he became famous. I lived in Hawaii and got to go to his 1959 first Hawaii concert (free) because my husband was a Marine and they wanted Marines and their families in the audience for promo purposes. His downfall remains a sad note in my life. Talent wasted as have been many more we can name. Fun tripping down memory lane with you.

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    1. Sorry that should say '57 in there---shows I'm too old. 597-say what???

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    2. Elvis!! Wow! I once met the woman, a honky tonk legend, for whom Elvis opened, when he was just an unknown. She still has the diamond ring he gave her years later.

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  2. AWWWW. This is so much fun. 1965. What a year. Both good and bad. Detroit riots. Chicago riots. LA was in flames. Gidget was going Hawaiian. I wrote a book set in 1965 and the music I played during writing that book was phenomenal. I envy your crystal clear memories, Kristine. My year was probably 1984 to the summer of '85. Long story but suffice it to say, meeting Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner was surreal. It was living a dream and being the star all at the same time. I was blessed, but then, I've been blessed in so many ways every day of my life. I'm still alive and fortunate enough to be part of the Heartwarming group, working with my fabulous Claire and Victoria and to be making friends with so many authors. THIS is a dream come true. So, I guess, 2015 is my year!

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    1. That is so cool!!! You have to write a post about that. Please???

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  3. Love this post! Man, you've triggered so many memories rushing through my head that I can't narrow down a year! I do recall, however, loving ABBA and John Denver (obviously, varied taste lol) and your mention of Joan Baez reminded me of the time I met her dad. I think it was the late 70's and he was visiting our school near the Amercian Embassy in Algeria. I asked him for his autograph and he smiled and said something about not being famous himself and I said, 'But your Joan Baez's father!' I did get his autograph and I bet he had a laugh about it with his daughter ;).

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    1. Rula, I'm glad you liked the post. I still do a Joan Baez singing impression, just to annoy my family. I think I have all of her albums, er, cd's.

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  4. This is so much fun, Kristine! My years were 1966 - 1967. I was 21 and working as a receptionist at the L.A. times. I made tea for Jane Goodall, asked Mario Andretti if he was lost (he was wandering around, looking lost, but headed for the cafeteria.) and kept Gloria Swanson company while we waited for her interviewer. When I was little, Marge and Gower Champion (singers and dancers for you youngsters) were in most of the major musicals. I was in love with Gower big time. His wife was receiving an award from The Times for her work in dance with inner city children. She came running past me saying, "Gower's parking the car. Please tell him I'll be back stage." Me? Speak to Gower Champion? He hurried into the auditorium ten minutes later, and I believe I said something like, "Mr. Stage, your back has gone to your wife to get ready." He must have been used to that kind of reaction. He smiled and went backstage. Our lives were all about Folk Music - Christy Minstrels, Brothers Four, Kingston Trio. Wow. Where have all the flowers gone?

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    1. Uh-oh, Muriel. I've never heard of the Campions so I'll have to google them. How long were you a receptionist in L.A.? I once met Willie Nelson in an elevator in Lake Tahoe. I was so flustered and excited I lied and said I'd named my son after him. My son's name was actually Willie, but he was named after his grandfather. I still feel bad about lying to Willie Nelson. :( but it was an exciting elevator ride.

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  5. I love your post. ’65 was a very important year for me, working in New York City and getting married that summer. I wasn’t into music then, not to the point where I wanted to listen to anything in particular. But today – my music is always on, and I’ve included it in my writing. Although I still love America and have attended several of their concerts, I enjoy some of the newer singers including Gotye, Passenger, Beck and James Blunt. I looked up the two musicians you mentioned on Youtube and plan to listen to them later today. And you definitely aren’t older than dirt.

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    1. I will look up Beck and James Blunt. My sons are always introducing me to new music, plus there is the wonderful Pandora online. Now I'm into new Bluegrass stuff, like Dave Rawlings and The Steeldrivers.

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  6. I'm a late 80's, early 90's girl. Big hair, rock ballads, and rolled jeans. I met my husband in 1990 when we were both 16. I have to say that year changed my life and I look back on it with such fondness. We were young and on the brink of adulthood. We thought we knew it all but knew nothing. I had pictures of Jon Bon Jovi all over my bedroom walls. My friends were the most important thing and I didn't even have a cell phone to text them 24/7! What? You can live without a cell phone? Someone tell my children this.

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    1. Remember when the phones were stuck to the wall??? Your kids won't believe it!!!

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  7. LOL, my first crush was Peter Frampton.
    But, how cool is this, I worked on a paper in Lubbock, Texas, and I interviewed Peter, from Peter, Paul, and Mary. I didn't know a single song they'd sung. He was very gracious to a 20 something who'd been given an assignment for her school paper.

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    1. He is still involved in good works all over the world. Right now he has a foundation to combat bullying in schools. The guy doesn't stop. How very cool that you interviewed him!!!

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  8. Oh, WowQ! I loved the look back. My youngest daughter was born in 1965. I'm a 55-60's girl for sure. Lots of good music then. Great post.

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