My wife, Neva, and I had been asked to host the dessert portion of a progressive supper for our church’s small youth group. Given her gift of hospitality, Neva quickly accepted the offer.
The group had been to two other homes before arriving at our place for the 1960s themed desserts. Neva made finger Jell-O, Rice Krispies bars and pistachio cake baked in an authentic bunt pan. We added some 60s era candies that I found in a local store, and had Kool Aid to drink.
We wanted to get the kids in the 60s tempo as best we could by making the house look cool, you know. Neva loves to decorate, and she did a groovy job this time. In fact, I don’t know where she came up with all the 60s stuff she displayed.
Peace signs drawn on paper plates dangled from the dining room light fixture. Party balloons, secured in a paper bag festooned with smiley faces, and a smiley face Pez dispenser adorned the dining room table.
I found a magazine completely dedicated to Bobby Kennedy that I had sequestered. I also brought out an old black and white 8 x 10 photo that my late father had framed for me. It was a shot of a fellow Plain Dealer intern and myself dressed as hippies. That’s a 1969 story for another time.
Neva hung a few clothes we had saved from the 60s, including a lacy dress and a checkered sports jacket. I also resurrected my senior year high school letter jacket. It still looked like new, while I don’t. But I can still fit into it.
Neva also exhibited a variety of purses she had from the 60s along with a few pieces of china. She also found an old dress pattern in its original package.
The center of attention in the living room was a treasure trove timeline of 60s items. Included were some Archie and the Gang comic books, popular children’s books from the era, a Winnie the Pooh bear, and of course a small collection of Beatles record albums. It was a shame we no longer had a record player on which to play them.
The real treat came when the 10 teenagers arrived. Most were dressed in cool clothing from the 60s obtained at thrift stores. Psychedelic T-shirts and paisley dresses and shirts were suddenly back in vogue, if only for the evening. One savvy dude somehow found a brown checked suit that perfectly fit him.
We briefly explained the reason for the dessert offerings, and the food was quickly consumed. Other Baby Boomer adults also attended to help share their growing up experiences.
It was during that time that the real spirit of the turbulent 60s was revealed. The kids seemed spellbound by the personal stories. And well they should. The 1960s were a tumultuous, passionate time of change, drama and societal conflict. Reliving those long forgotten moments seemed to energize everyone in attendance.
Of course, one of the adults, no names mentioned, went a little long. Nevertheless, the kids courteously listened to what was said, and their attire certainly helped everyone feel in the mood.
Oh, yes, I forgot to mention my skinny knit tie, white shirt, white socks, mohair sweater, and rolled up blue jeans that I wore. Other than the hippie outfit, it may have been the only other time in my life that I was considered cool. Or were they just being kind?