Friday, December 21, 2012

For John

John, since I'm about a decade older than you, I recognize that our individual experiences are different...we've shared time as specks in space for perhaps 55-years, or thereabouts; however, different experiences inevitably yield slightly different points of view.  And from our own experience banks, we form our opinions...if we tend to be thinkers. 

When I was about 21 or 22 in the mid-sixties, you were about 11 or 12, doing what 11 or 12 year olds do.  Your universe was most likely substantially bounded by Meadowbrook Dr, East Lancaster, and the Toll Road providing easy access for occasional forays into Big-D.  My boundaries by then had grown wider:  Sunset Blvd., Malibu, Laguna, Redondo, Hermosa, Santa Monica, etc.  The years were 1965-1970.

Politics didn’t interest me much, but those 6 or 7 flight attendant training schools down PCH at LAX did !  Working, flying, trying to avoid the draft, and chasing what social comfort I could find occupied most of my time.  My closest male friends were a TRW engineer and a recently released nuclear submariner who was working as a flight instructor…both of them a few years older.  That time was both trying and magical.

Our immature conversations were always lively, witty, and often attended by a contingent from one or more of those schools down the street.  Topical conversations were what you might expect…the news of the day and what we had been seeing.  Opinions may or may not have been carefully thought out, but they were freely exchanged and always couched in humor.  What was going on in the rest of the world those years in other social subdivisions, I have little clue.  But this one was memorable.

The years, 1965-70 on the West Coast provided a ring-side seat to pre-Vietnam culture, the build up, the involvement, the protests, and the wind down.  A socially active young adult there during those years could actually live most of the Vietnam War life-cycle experience close to the action.  Elements of the Navy’s Seventh Fleet was home-ported in Long Beach, just a few miles from my apartment; the neighborhoods were substantially populated with sailors going and returning from service in the Western Pacific…WESTPAC.  They told stories.

A number of the films of that period fairly accurately depict the every weekend party scene, as did some of the old “Laugh-in” sketches.  Much of the LA basin was filled with people employed in the WWII legacy aircraft/aerospace manufacturing plants: North American, Hughes, Lockheed, Douglas, Northrop, and their vendors.

Essentially all the airlines were training new aircrews for their new jet fleets.  It was the epicenter of space program and jet aircraft manufacturing, probably due to its mostly congenial weather.  There was a huge contingent of young adults living and working there, mostly from other places in the country and the UK.  Conversation was varied and stimulating.

University populations at UCLA and USC were some distance away, perhaps 25-miles, or so.  So, we weren’t influenced much by those points of view.  State and community colleges were closer, but by my observation, those students were not particularly involved in the more aggressive and vocal protest activities.  Perhaps they were more “working class” lacking the wherewithal of daddy’s money with which to squander their time frivolously as seems to have been the case at the larger universities, particularly Berkeley.
Anyway, the atmosphere I matured in was very interesting, varied, and stimulating with respect to free flowing conversation and expressions of opinion.  I recall neither animosity nor rudeness resulting from simple differences of opinion.     

Fu**in' hippies...

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