Much is being made of all the 40th anniversaries swirling around this summer. The 6-Day Arab-Israeli War. Race riots in Detroit, Newark, and Washington DC. The release of Sgt. Pepper's. The Summer of Love. It was a hot old summer, evidently - full of The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly (released in 1966, foreshadowing the year to come, I reckon).
Most of that, however, was off my 16-year-old self-involved radar screen (except for the music part). I don't think I found out about that 6-Day war until years later. Truly. Because I spent most of the summer of 1967 bouncing between my aunt Nell's apartment in Orlando and my friend Emily's house in St. Pete. For us, the Summer of Love consisted of long days by the pool or on the beach, late afternoons scaring ourselves silly watching "Dark Shadows" and re-runs of "Alfred Hitchcock Presents," and relaxed evenings at the movies or watching TV, falling into bed after "The Tonight Show." Totally Gidget.
Things were a little more carefree for us when we were with Nell, because she worked all day, and as long as we kept things neat and did her ironing (that's what I did while we were watching afternoon TV - didn't mind a bit, really), we were free to lay out by the pool as long as we wanted. Heat. Water. Baby oil and iodine. Radio. A snack once in a while. How good could life get? Completely self-absorbed. Or boy-absorbed. Or Sean Connery-absorbed. Wars and riots just didn't touch us that summer.
We had a different schedule when we were in St. Pete. We had to fit into a family of five, and Emily's mother didn't work. We did a lot more house-cleaning and chores there, but we were rewarded with trips to the beach. Chores were a small price to pay for a day on the beach. Heat. Water. Baby oil and iodine. Radio. Snacks. Boys. Ahh, the good life. What riots? War? Where?
A sickeningly joyous middle-class 16-year-old American experience in light of all the turmoil of that 1967 summer. But I can still feel the glory of the heat and water, of clinging to girlfriend and little sister during the scary Hitchcock moments, of wonderful meals and mindless, funny conversations. Wouldn't trade it for anything.