I’ve been working on an historical fiction—no, not like back in the 1800’s, more like the 1960’s. I’m not sure why I find that era fascinating, except that I lived through the entire decade, though I don't remember much of it...that is, I was only mildly acquainted with its major events. I was born in 1960, and so I was only nine years old in 1969 and was for the most part oblivious to the Civil Rights movement, the Bay of Pigs, Vietnam War protests, assassinations of the Kennedy brothers and Martin Luther King, Woodstock and the sexual revolution. All vague memories, except for the fist walk on the moon in July, 1969.
Perhaps my fascination is in retrospect, now understanding that so many momentous things happened in the 60’s and I essentially missed out on them because I was a self-absorbed little kid, drawing and writing in my own little cosmos. I had older cousins who looked like hippies and they were so cool, but I didn’t really know what it meant to be one. I had never heard of drugs until the Beatles entered their psychedelic phase and became a topic at the dinner table. I had asked, “What are drugs?” the answer offered was so vague as to not make a lasting impression. I still had no idea what ‘mind-altering’ meant.
It seems that every up-and-coming generation looks back on their childhood years with nostalgia. As that generation comes of age and exerts their influence on the media, television and movies reflect that nostalgia. Back in the 70’s, Happy Days glorified the 50’s. In the late 80’s we had The Wonder Years, the late 90’s brought us That 70’s Show, and the 00’s bring us, well, I’m not really sure since I don’t watch much television, but I’m sure there’s some offering that puts a nostalgic slant on the 80’s.
What I do know about the 60’s was the innocence of perception through the eyes of a pre-teen who does not yet have the context of years to understand just what all that upheaval meant. We didn’t lock our doors. We rode our bicycle up and down the road without fear of strangers. I’m sure adults were aware of pedophiles, but I sure wasn’t. I didn’t even know what sex was until the 70’s. Innocence and ignorance. In many ways it was bliss.
It is against that backdrop that I am allowing my nearly twelve-year-old character, Benjamin Hughes, to experience the summer of 1969, through innocent eyes. It’s going to break my heart when his entire life crumbles around him in the ‘real’ world.