March 15, 2018
In three short years we crossed from what looking back seems like Eden, to a very different world. Of course, we lived in the world on the farm, but life changed dramatically when we left it. Cracks had begun to appear in the façade of innocence both in our life and in our country before we left. I clearly remember lying on the floor in front of the television when the Beatles first appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show on February 9, 1964. My dad clicking his tongue in disapproval, stated “Look at that hair.” I was entranced. Though they broke up in 1969, it was not until years later on December 8, 1980, while driving up North Main Street in River Falls, hearing on the radio that John Lennon had been shot and killed, I realized an era was over for good.
In 1965 we left the farm and the Beatles came with me. When I was lonely I’d listen to their music or read about them. My cousin and I exchanged frequent letters in which we contributed to an on-gong evolving fictitious story about them. In 1966, when John Lennon stated at a press conference that they were more popular than Jesus (he was appalled by it), my parents reacted and forced me to get rid of all my Beatle albums. I went underground with them and took them to my cousin’s house until the heat died down, then clandestinely brought them back. Rebellion and deception had begun.
During this same time, the United States was digging itself deeper and deeper into the Vietnam War, Riots were breaking out across America, free love was emerging and revolution was in the air. Enamored by all of this, I wanted badly to go to San Francisco and be part of what was happening. We began to watch reports of the Vietnam War on TV every night. Protesting students got killed at Kent state by American soldiers.
Having in many ways left their identity on the farm, my parents were now working away from home. I went to five different schools in a row. My family and our country were in flux; I was just entering adolescence.
But my parents brought our horses with us wherever we went, finding places in the country for us to live and renting space for them when we had to temporarily live in the city Oshkosh, for a while. This fact amazes me. They had very little money, no longer had easy access to hay and a barn, yet found it essential that we have our companions. I will be forever grateful to them for that sacrifice.
My constants were family, our horses, the Beatles and church.
Eventually life settled down for my family, but not for me.