I’m old enough to remember…

…a town filled with World War II veterans, only that’s not what they were to me. They were my dad and my uncles and my aunt and my neighbors and my coaches and the people who owned and worked in stores and shops. Something like 1200 people served in the WWII-era armed forces from St. Marys, PA, out of a total population of 8800 or so.

… when in the summer my mother had only a foggy notion of where I might be between meals, and that might be at any of a number of houses in a big neighborhood or in a large swath of woods across the road and across the creek.

… when we carried jackknives and slingshots and had a real treehouse/clubhouse.

… grade school classes with 50 kids, with one nun or lay teacher who could keep order.

… hiding under the desk in air raid drills. That was the best we could do in the face of a possible nuclear attack. Our town was “sixth on the list,” according to some friends, since our carbon industry was key to automobiles and had military applications.

… midnight mass in Latin.

… two days, in February 1961 and February 1963, when the temperature hit 40 below.

… portraits of John Kennedy and Pope John XXIII hanging together in public buildings and in homes. Pope John was a breath of fresh air in a stuffy Vatican, and Kennedy—well, even people who didn’t like his politics, and there were a lot of Republicans in that town, loved that there was a Catholic president, since this was a community so Catholic it turned down the chance to be county seat out of fear more Protestants would move in.

… the announcement, over the school loud speaker by Sr. Marie Therese, that Kennedy had been shot, and a second announcement an hour or so later, that he’d been killed.

… the dawn that came less than two months later when the first Beatle records hit the airwaves, in this case, on our own WKBI.

… February 9, 1964, when The Beatles played The Ed Sullivan Show and symbolized everything free, open, creative, colorful and rebellious about the ‘60s.

… playing and attending dances that featured new songs like “In The Midnight Hour,” “Gloria,” “Mustang Sally,” and “My Girl.”

… the awful flip side of that decade—riots, assassinations, the war in Vietnam.

… Meet The Beatles, Rubber Soul, Pet Sounds, Are You Experienced, Surrealistic Pillow, Tommy, Sweet Baby James, and Live At Fillmore East.