By the end of 1968, I was six years old.

What do you do to celebrate yourself?

I honor myself annually for a week around the time of my birth. The joy of reminiscence mixed with the vivification of inspired ideas encourages me to expand inner growth. This year’s basking in my internal reflection has taken on new meaning

In the days leading up to my 60th birthday on 11/22, my dear friend Jody posed a question to me before we said our goodbyes for the Thanksgiving holiday week: “Do you remember your 6th birthday? Can you think of anything you wanted that you may not have received you can remember now?” I thought about it for a moment and couldn’t specifically recall being six years old. So, I decided to summon the year 1968 to figure it out: Hmmm. A few instant memories flooded in.

1968 was a pretty heavy year for a six-year-old in a family undergoing incredible changes that mirrored the times we were living in. My mother and father had divorced a year or two earlier…I can’t remember exactly when nor did I know why until much later in life. They certainly didn’t seem to get along after 22 years of marriage. My oldest brother, Bob, was among the U.S. Army troops fighting the Tet Offensive in Vietnam. The next eldest, Bill, experienced his second and third deployments in the U.S. Navy bringing more soldiers to Vietnam while the 13-year-old youngest son, my brother Barry, remained with his newly divorced mother and 6-year-old little sister back in the San Fernando Valley of southern California’s sprawling Los Angeles area.

In the late summer, a few months before my sixth birthday, I have a vivid memory of my mom taking Barry and me to some kind of event gathering, a rally perhaps, where bands were playing and attendees seemed caught up in a mix of elation and grief that I did not understand. I can still see, hear, and feel that event in my mind looking up at people much taller than me. I remember hearing “Hey, Jude” playing on the sound system toward the end of the event as we were leaving. It seemed everyone joined in during the 4-minute “nah-nah-nah” coda as I found myself in the first collective chorus of my life. I am only realizing now as I sit and think about 1968, how that truly affected me for the rest of my life and my life work.

Other songs of 1968 affected me deeply as my mother was exploring her freedom and played music constantly in the car and in our apartment. Bobby Goldsboro’s poignant anthem to “Honey” was a particular favorite of my mom and I would sing along with her while wondering why she was always wiping away tears streaming down her face by the end. “Sitting on the Dock of the Bay” was another favorite I remember singing along with mom. Turns out that song moved me in more ways than I could know as I set out for the San Francisco Bay as well in the summer of 1980 and it’s been my home ever since. I had a Cream Disraeli Gears album art poster my brother Bill left me among his other cool vinyl and music possessions when he shipped off to war. I would stare at it for long lengths of time thinking of him and Bob on the Friday nights mom sat me down to write a letter to my brothers “fighting overseas.” The Supremes were a huge hit in our living with mom. She played their albums endlessly. By the end of 1968, “Love Child” became their 11th number-one single selling 500,000 copies in its first week and 2 million copies by the end of 1968. At this point in their career, they had become Diana Ross and the Supremes.

The fabulous letting go of celebration.

Part Two shows up soon when time permits. I will detail the more difficult aspects of 1968 and my young Dana watching television with the historical events that transpired before me.

About danaj33

writer * department chair of Broadcast Electronic Media Arts and audio faculty at City College of San Francisco * music composer and producer * always in discovery mode, learning, living, loving, and laughing.
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