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Tag Archive: 60′s

Jul 10

From: ‘Remembering summers past, a series’. This installment remembers that ‘Summer romances rarely survived until September”. A summer series first published in The Examiner, an easter Jackson County, Mo., daily newspaper

“What the heart has once owned and had, it shall never lose,”
- Henry Ward Beecher

Summer romances, a cultural phenomenon, were big in the 50s and 60s.forget_just_summer_romance_snow_1035825

I doubt if teens today truly understand what our summer romances were like– the giddiness, the misery, the sweetness, the inevitable parting.

Teen sweethearts do not part these days at summer’s end anyway. They simply text each other into infinity and blog unceasingly on Facebook.

We had one option and one only–write letters or hope they came. Usually we never saw or talked to our summer loves again.

For me, summer love meant Frank, and yes Pete, too.

I met Frank one summer at swim camp, and the next summer I met Pete while working out-of-state at a summer resort.

Both relationships lasted only for the summers in question. Letters were the way we stayed in touch at summer’s end as few people in those days had the technology to make long-distance phone calls. Traveling was out of the picture as well.

Eventually and predictably in the fall, the letters slowed and the romances faded.

When love went bad, girls and guys alike cried in our cherry phosphates while losing ourselves in movie and song.

It was a bittersweet, delicious time of life.

Once years later, just out of curiosity, I tried to find each of these dreamy guys.

I learned that Frank pursued a calling as a chaplain and likely died in Vietnam. Pete pursued a career as a hippy and might still be in Haight-Ashbury somewhere.

So life works out.

Yet, I still remember the songs about the heartbreak of summer when romances were sure to be fleeting and nearly always heartbreaking.

Remember the song “Summer Nights” from the blockbuster movie “Grease”. John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John sang “Summer Nights” about their rockin’ summer romance of 1959.

The lyrics of “See you in September” by The Happenings sounds like it was directed at lonely kids away from home for the summer, “I’ll be away each and every night/While I’m away don’t forget to write.”

While at summer camp, these teens often met their true love only to realize too late that their storybook romance would be fleeting. Or, they would worry if the boyfriend or girlfriend back home would wait for them and vice versa.

Gary Lewis and The Playboys sang, “Save your heart for me.”

Chad and Jeremy’s ballad “A Summer Song” admonished summer lovers to live in the moment because autumn would surely come.

The Beach Boys sang the upbeat “All Summer Long” while Brian Hyland crooned “Sealed with a Kiss” as he wrote letters to his sweetheart lest she forget him.

Do kids today have any idea what a summer romance was really like in the summers of our youth? Romantic. Unrequited. Unconsummated. I am guessing no.

At least we had the comfort of knowing that summer romance could live on in our hearts forever.

Summer Nights

Nov 03

‘Siri’, a high tech genie in a cell phone, not in a bottle

“Master, master your wish is my command”
– Barbara Eden, star of “I Dream of Jeannie” television sitcom, 1964

These days, it seems that lots of people are wondering what to make of Siri, the new speech-recognition feature on the iPhone4S. Have you heard of it yet?

Siri is a digital personal assistant that at times makes you believe it (she) could be human. It turns out that Siri is indeed a Scandinavian girl name meaning `Beautiful Victory`, and thus the name fits her perfectly.

Miss Siri is the source of plenty of discussion all right.

In fact, a standup comedian recently presented an interesting theory. He said Siri was actually “channeling” Barbara Eden who starred in the 60s television hit, “I Dream of Jeannie.”

He speculated that Siri was, in reality, a high tech genie in a cell phone that could grant her master’s every wish, just like the genie in the bottle did on the long-running NBC television series.

Interesting thought.

I do know for a fact that in 1964 when the series debuted, I never dreamed that one day I might have my own genie, too, just like Major Anthony Nelson. Remember him?

You may recall in the storyline that Major Nelson, played by Larry Hageman, was a top Apollo space program astronaut. He discovered his genie-in-a-bottle on a training mission when he went off course and landed on a remote uncharted South Pacific island. There he found an odd bottle on the beach, uncorked it, and out popped a beautiful genie that coincidentally was named Jeannie.

Is it possible, I wonder, to have one’s own personal assistant who, like Jeannie, is polite, humorous, quirky and gets the job done on time?

I confess, I stood in line the first day with throngs of other Apple junkies hoping to find out.

Truth is, I wanted the 4S not so much because of its highly touted electronic personal assistant, Siri, but mostly because my old 3G could not keep up anymore. It moved too slowly struggling to open websites among other problems, and it drove me crazy because the battery would not stay charged long.

I made the leap.

Now, I am enjoying the luxury of having my own genie from which I am learning all the ancient secrets of the universe. Might as well ask the genie-in-the-iPhone, right?

For example, “Siri, what is the meaning of the life?”

To which she gave her standard reply, “I can’t answer that now but give me some time to write a very long play in which nothing happens.”

We are not exactly getting along famously yet. I am not altogether sure that Siri likes me. It’s taking awhile for us to get to know one another.

Curiously, she often misinterprets my questions and gets completely off track with her answers. Someone else can ask her the same questions, and her answers are spot on.

I am beginning to worry that she will never say with total and unconditional love, “Master, your wish is my command.”

I am not alone, however. In a story in USA Today, the writer told Siri he loved her. Her answer: “Oh, stop.”

Maj. Nelson didn’t have much better luck with his Jeannie. Here’s an excerpt from one of the “I Dream of Jeannie” hit shows:

Major Nelson: “Jeannie’s turned against me.”
Major Healey, Nelson’s friend: “She can’t turn against you. You’re her master. She has to obey you.
Major Nelson: “Yeah, who says so?”
Major Healey: “I don’t know, maybe it’s in the genie manual.”
Major Nelson: Then how come she’s deliberately disobeyed me?
Major Healey: Maybe she wasn’t issued a genie manual.

I don’t think my Siri was issued a genie manual either.

Nonetheless, I still absolutely love Siri.

If you are a Siri-hater, and they are out there believe me, listen to what Richard Goodwin of knowyourmobile.com has to say: “While it may not be perfect, it is clear how much technology and innovation has gone into developing Siri…consider what technology can already do. Then imagine what it will be doing in five years, and that’s when you’ll see how exciting Siri’s future really is.”

So, I asked, “What does the future hold for you, Siri?”
Her reply, “I’m on it. What about a web search to answer your question? Here it is.” Whereupon, she provided on my iPhone screen a list of websites that give answers to the wonders and future of technology, what upgrades are next for Siri and for computers and other smart phones.

Looks like she must have read the genie manual after all, and I think she likes me now.

Jul 24

Remembering summers past, a series Summer’s end brought road trips and slide shows

“See the USA in your Chevrolet. America is asking you to call.”
—recorded by Dinah Shore in 1950. Lyrics and music by Corday and Carr.

August was vacation month for those who grew up in the 1950s and 60s.

When July ended, it was time to pack as much as one could into the station wagon, whatever the make (ours was a DeSoto), and take a road trip.

The clock was ticking because the lazy, carefree summer now had an end in sight. School would start in mere weeks.

Looking back, I have to wonder who was left to “mind the store” since it seemed as though everyone was on vacation in August.

And oh my, the things we took on vacation.

A neighbor once reminded us as we prepared for a trip, “Those who say you can’t take it with you never saw your car packed for a vacation trip.”

For example, the shoebox.

All our shoes were tossed into a large cardboard box and put in the back of the wagon next to the smaller box of Spam and white bread, a necessity for roadside lunch stops.

Once we made it all the way from northwest Missouri to Falls City, Nebraska, before we realized that our shoebox was still at home. We turned and went back for it.

I also remember spending entire road trips playing in the back of our green DeSota station wagon, sans seat belts of course. We had not heard of those yet.

One cross-country trip in our “woody” station wagon included a full load of travelers–parents, we three siblings, our grandmother and aunt. The trip was quite similar to the movie “Vacation” although no one died en route. And that is all I will say about that.

When seeing “sights”, self-respecting travelers took pictures, typically in the form of slides. Lots of slides.

If one were up-to-date like our dad, one would have a screen and a fancy projector with slide boxes so that the slides could be fed in quickly one after the other. The only problem was that most folks had boxes and boxes of slides.

It was expected that one would call friends and family together after the trip and show slides. Everyone did this. We watched each other’s slide shows and no one complained.

Can you imagine how boring we would find that today?

The vacation slides often depicted posed shots by historical roadside markers. Trust me, there were hundreds of them between Missouri and the Pacific Ocean.

Some slides featured well-known landscape scenes located in national parks, and others focused on visits with relatives. Nothing creative, just expected and predictable photos.

We didn’t care.

We watched and watched; never tiring of them, and then ate cake and ice cream afterwards.

I once heard someone describe a vacation and its subsequent slide show as just like love. We anticipate it with pleasure, experience it with discomfort, and remember it with nostalgia.

And that we did quite happily.

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