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Front Page » May 27, 2008 » Opinion » The Wasatch Behind: Things sure have changed
Published 2,336 days ago

The Wasatch Behind: Things sure have changed


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By TOM MCCOURT
Staff Columnist

Since writing a column about high school graduation last week, I've been thinking a lot about my own high school graduation back in 1965. Things have sure changed. Kids getting out of school today don't have much to look forward to, other than staying on the trails, getting another tattoo, watching MTV and waiting for global warming to put us all out of our misery. At least it seems that way to me. But then what do I know? I can't even text message.

When Jeannie and I got out of high school we had exciting things to look forward to; things like protest marches, race riots, political assassinations, tuning in, dropping out and getting drafted. Yes, Virginia, the mid-1960s was an exciting time to get out of high school. It was the dawning of the Age of Aquarius and we were surfing the crest of the baby boom wave.

Love and peace were sure to rule the world. Sex and fast cars had only recently been invented and we didn't trust anyone over 30.

It was the era of hippies, those lovable, mangy, longhaired bums who "toiled not; neither did they spin" (Matthew 6:28). Most were peaceniks who cluttered the sidewalks of our nation's cities, panhandling and entertaining passersby with tambourine music and words of wisdom from the mystic sages of the Far East. Some of those old hippies are now chief executives of some of our biggest corporations. Some are senators and congressmen. One has been president and his wife is a current contender. Kinda scary when you think about it.

And people think that just because we lived out in the sticks of rural Utah we missed most of the excitement, promise, and fun of the 1960s. But it's not true. We got to see it all, right here in Carbon County. We didn't need to go to San Francisco with flowers in our hair. Price, Utah was American Graffiti light.

As kids we would drag Main Street for 200 miles on Friday nights and every kid in town would be there. After all, gas was only 35 cents per gallon and you could get a burger, drink and fries for under a dollar. But of course, to put things in perspective, gas station attendant wages were about $1.10 per hour.

And we had a few hippies in town in those days, except everyone just called them bums.

We didn't know they were hippies until hippies got famous a few years later.

And in 1965 we had a race riot. It happened out on Airport Road when someone cheated in a quarter-mile hot rod race. That race riot wasn't as bad as the one they had in California that summer. It never made the papers.

There was a big love-in every Saturday night at the drive-in picture show. It didn't matter what was on the silver screen, no one was paying attention anyway. I hated to see drive-in movie theatres go the way of the dinosaurs. A great deal of social bonding took place in those open-air movie arenas, a true American phenomenon.

Several kids made the dope scene. Stupid is forever and we had our share of dopes. Few people took hard drugs in those days. Three-point-two percent beer was about as bad as it got for most of us. Weak Utah beer was a good deal because your bladder and gag reflex usually kept you off the highway.

We had a hootenanny at the high school one winter, too. For those of you born in the era of Star Trek and beyond, a hootenanny was a folk music festival and not a funny female goat. Folk music was serious business in those days. The musical poetry of Bob Dylan and Arlo Guthrie put us on the path to spiritual enlightenment.

And we needed spiritual enlightenment. I remember the time a sculpture of the CEU Eagle showed up with a dead jackrabbit in its beak. It was real gross. Some of the girls skipped lunch that day.

It's too bad we can't do 1967, the summer of love, again. And I feel cheated that I never made it to Woodstock in 1969. But then again, I wouldn't trade the night we parked the cars head-to-head on Ridge Road and danced to the radio along the yellow line.

We could do stuff like that in those days.

The world wasn't as busy and we didn't have to stay on the trails.


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May 27, 2008
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