It’s Sacramento Summertime! What Was It Like 50 Years Ago?
- June 21, 2016 - Community,
We’re in the first days of a Sacramento summer. It’s hot – it’s always hot. Summertime is a time for family – for vacations – and for memories. Speaking of memories – it’s been 50 years – 50 years since the summer of 1966. That summer – its music and its cars was a big summer for baby boomers. Let’s look back.
The songs of 1966 evoke rich memories of our adolescence. We had transistor radios that seemed to accompany us everywhere. New songs got our attention – and if we liked them we wanted to hear them again on the radio. There were only a few rock stations in Sacramento – KROY and KXOA – and while we might have had particular loyalties to one station or another such loyalties didn’t prevent us from scanning our radio dials to hear the latest music.
Some of the top songs of ’66 tell the story of where we were and where we were headed. “The Ballad of the Green Berets” evoked a young unquestioning patriotism – untroubled by the intense divisions that the protracted Vietnam War would later bring.
The Rolling Stones’ “Paint It Black” evoked a sense of desperation, desolation and mourning – emotions new to baby boomers and maybe not yet fully comprehended.
Not all was dark in the summer of ’66 – in fact it is better remembered in The Lovin Spoonful’s “Summer In The City” – a “sing along” song that compared the hot gritty days of summer with its cooler more social nights.
The 1966 summer was a time when many baby boomers were adolescents. I was between my sophomore and junior year of high school. My younger sister was going into her first year of high school and my older sister was going away for her first year of college. We paid attention to the culture of the times, and a leading part of the culture was cars. We had a lot to pay attention to: Mustangs, Chevelle 396s, Oldsmobile 442s and Pontiac GTOs dominated an adolescent male’s dreams if not his parents’ garage.
I can remember the particulars of the summer of ’66 – its sights and musical sounds – better than all other summers of my youth. Does any baby boomer remember the specifics of the music heard in later adulthood – the music of 1994 – of 2003? Not likely.
The summer of ’66 ended for me on an August 29th San Francisco night at Candlestick Park – the Beatles’ final concert. None of the 25,000 fans knew that this was it – the final concert – the Beatles didn’t share that with us.
The summer of ’66 later gave way to 1967’s Summer of Love (hmm -well – drugs and sex). The summer of 1968 was a time of unraveling – the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Robert F. Kennedy, the Tet Offensive and the Chicago Antiwar riots.
Whatever bodes for the summer of 2016 I hope that for you it is a time of joy and family.