I'd a '57 Chevy convertible in 1966. Paid $125. The Vietnam War: always on TV news. Fire fights, campaigns, numbers, always numbers, the war generally devoured Time magazine like a tiger atop a baby water buffalo. We sanded away the sunfade robin's egg blue, fixed-bondoed the rusted rocker panels---primed, and then spray glossed it a metal flake midnight. Older neighborhood guys were by this time flown home dead from the war. We scrubbed that canvas top as pure as the driven snow. Mothers wailed at military funerals. We'd stage drag races at all hours, attacking the night. The girls took turns anxious to drop that pink carnation and we'd roar screech wheelie-clutch off into the yellow-lined dark. Yeah a lot of those kids were reading Atlas Shrugged, the marching band practicing Wild Blue Yonder, The Marine Hymn, that Caissons Rolling Along Army Song, & Anchors Away, Anchors Away. Just boys changing-wrenching brake shoes and coils. Hundreds of batteries, fan belts and drinking Pabst Blue Ribbon close to the fire or around the manifold. Moon River was never far. The Sound of Silence one button next. Tethered behind fraying, oily nylon cords we'd grip tight toward flight experiments on water skis. Zig-zagging we'd angle/jump the wake FLYING stretched behind those heavy glass boats. Huge rumbling black/silver-lettered Evinrudes. Sandbars. Bold otters.
One of the Jacks always wore a Milwaukee Braves cap.
His older brother Tommy wrote gruff letters from China Beach until he didn't.
We became the radio.

Views: 162

Comment by J.P. Hart on May 4, 2019 at 4:37pm

TOP TEN 1966

1. The Ballad of the Green Berets - Sgt. Barry Sadler
2. Cherish - The Association
3. You're My Soul and Inspiration - The Righteous Brothers
4. Reach Out I'll Be There - The Four Tops
5. 96 Tears - ? and The Mysterians
6. Last Train to Clarksville - The Monkees
7. Monday, Monday - The Mama's and The Papa's
8. You Can't Hurry Love - The Supremes
9. The Poor Side of Town - Johnny Rivers
10. California Dreamin' - The Mama's and The Papa's **********



Comment by Ron Powell on May 4, 2019 at 9:17pm

The top 20 is a complete and comprehensive reflection of what America can sound and look like:

Frank Sinatra and Percy Sledge, Roger Williams and The Four Tops, The Beatles and The Supremes, Jimmy Ruffin and Nancy Sinatra all on the same list that Americans heard on AM radio from coast to coast and border to border....

Comment by Robert B. James on May 4, 2019 at 10:42pm

I was 9.  On the estuary, with my father in New Orleans. Deployed? Underemployed?  Came back like they did, if they did, Marines. No one said nothing ever...ever. That was then, 1966...

Comment by koshersalaami on May 5, 2019 at 4:53am

I know every song on that list

Comment by Steel Breeze on May 5, 2019 at 5:53am

i can relate.....from both sides...

Comment by J.P. Hart on May 5, 2019 at 7:50am

Now you know I appreciate the attention LO:}
That year more that 20 from the Yalta Conference yet 9 like still frames (how far off) until the fall of Saigon, April 1975, the crying child on the cover of Time headline It's Over.
1966: that midway of the mind twix Boy Scouts and basic training licensed to drive, ride ride. Bored, stroked cylinders. No, Vettes don't rust that's fiberglass. Movie of the year:
Man for All Seasons...what else: strike me! Fahrenheit 451. POTUS LBJ...hey hey what'd say. Frolic! Did 'ya see those new Firebirds!? The War on Poverty only two years old,
having had commenced 8 JAN '64. And the year before was it? The Newport Jazz Festival...'It's Alright Ma'.
Long time passing. Half a century and more. The 1966 DJIA 785.69 (US$) & till then:
Cost of a new home: $23,300.00
Cost of a new car: $
Cost of a first-class stamp: $0.05
Cost of a gallon of regular gas: $0.32
Cost of a dozen eggs: $0.60

For sure: racing slicks! For sure we got our kicks, long long time ago, that year 1966!

Oh: odd too 'twas the year of the old sweet Bob Hope movie: The Russians are Coming

Comment by Anna Herrington on May 5, 2019 at 8:58am

Vietnam was on the news all the time in 1966? Huh. I like how you wrote this one, James Hart. Brought us in. Memories. Music. Cars.

Having war on the news is how it ought to have stayed. Maybe we'd not be so happy to enter in when the populace is watching. It was traumatizing, that is for sure, even when in a suburban house with dinner on the table. 

I turned six later in that year, only remember Vietnam on the news a couple years later, once my brother was there, the other brother had disappeared into Canada by then, too. The music in our house all through the '60s was still Benny Goodman. Parents dancing after dinner. Sometimes. In 1966 a VW van full of pachouli-smelling bright and colorful, shaggy people came to our Dallas, TX house. I was entranced. My father was decidedly not.  A brand new Valient in the driveway that year, the first 'new' car my folks ever bought, totalled in a wreck a few weeks later. I flew from the backseat but sturdy Valient windshield kept Mom and I alive. Seatbelts might wrinkle outfits, my sister remembered being said... before. 1966 was the first year seatbelts were required to be installed in cars. Dad's first heart attack that year, too. Lots of sitting in hospitals in that era. Not sure if it was '66 or '67 (the last year in TX) when Dad brought a colleague home for dinner, had the neighbors up in arms. Literally knocking on the door for weeks afterward, with 'concern.' Dad had brought home a black man... to dinner. Not to work in the yard but to dinner. First glimmers in my own head about people and fears and hates and stupidity. That's when the first discussions about moving out of Texas started. My parents, from NY/Pa. hated Texas. "Too flat. Too bright. Not enough greenery. People so full of themselves..." My white parents didn't fit in either with that narrow crowd. When the movie Look Who's Coming to Dinner came out soon after, Dad joked 'they'd made a movie about us,' and remarked to Mom, "but that Katherine Hepburn wishes she had your curves. And your height."  Mom was 4' 10".... Dad was so hurt by what he'd thought were friends....  1967, after requested company transfer to Connecticut, back near family, Dad/we were sent instead to hills and greenery, and a bastion of tolerance and love. Georgia. Adventures ahead.

Thanks for this post, Mr. Hart. Cheers ~

Comment by Maui Surfer on May 5, 2019 at 9:12am

For those of you unfamiliar with many of those of us who were in the crosshairs utter fear of Conscription look into 1966 itself more clearly; be confronted with Project 100,000, apply modern standards and KNOW why that number was worse than even the one on a ping pong ball- how they had no chance and were killed at the highest rate ever.

Then, buy a classic car for $100. Get some slicks costing nearly as much as car. Burn rubber for Vancouver.

Comment by Ron Powell on May 5, 2019 at 12:18pm


"Dad was so hurt by what he'd thought were friends.... "

"A primary reason for the persistence of racism in our society is, the average, so-called non-racist, white person would rather suffer the consequences of being called/labeled a hypocrite, than suffer the consequences of being ostracized and shunned by his/her fellow hypocrites."


Hooray for your Dad!!!!

Comment by J.P. Hart on May 5, 2019 at 4:50pm

Ms. Herrington: Beautiful comment. You've the consciousness and artistic moxy to really roll. I see that six year old: unforgettable--concisely descriptive,wise beyond her years.

Maui Surfer: Good point. I've noticed how older classmates and citizens took the brunt of that crazy Asian war. The only other military historian I know was a guardsman activated with free transit to Operation Desert Storm. He hooked up with his son, Airborne dude. in Kuwait City. Lamborghinis in the white marble malls. Project McNamara 100,000 (I've just learned,thanks)was blatantly unfair. And who's to say where any of us would have been on the list, if it weren't for heroes like Marine Sgt. Ron Kovacs in our midst? No kidding I didn't get to vote until 7 NOV '72. No sense apologizing for having survived. No one I ever met felt 'good' about the era. Forever it'll give us pause, remorse. ANGER...respect and thank you, brothers....
Ron: I seem to recall that minorities comprised 11% of the population but accumulated 30% of the casualties. Who'll ever forget the protracted Paris Peace Accords. On and on and on...be active, be very active!
Born in the USA LO;}


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