...I liked Father Pierce, and my conversations with him were relaxed and pleasant---nothing like some of his sermons. They were almost hell, fire, and brimstone in tone. He was becoming concerned---in the 1950s---about the direction of American Society. He railed against tight shorts on the girls and women, revealing blouses and dresses, promiscuity, unwed mothers (abortion was still under the table, as it were,) growing free sex, lack of loving husbands and fatherly presence, and any number of burgeoning moral problems. But he wasn’t a ranter. It seems he was something of a prophet about such ills. We now have to deal with all of them and more. But his sermons fell on mostly deaf ears, as society---including Middletown’s---marched down the road of increased “free” choice about everything. Father Pierce, who died years ago, would have been appalled at the lack of moral responsibility and free exercise of immature sexual and bodily choices throughout the world today. Just thinking of his possible sermons about divorce, abortion, living together, or stem cell research should be enough to make you quake in your boots---if you’re wearing any.
I was in college from 1963 to 1967, the height of the 60’s youth rebellion. Drugs and promiscuity were rampant among the college students of the country. Sit-ins and other protests covered the news pages. Some reached a violence not expected or seen before. Many students were against the Vietnam War and authority in general. They protested racism, sexism, injustices and perceived injustices. They became draft dodgers and moved to Canada. The 1968 Democrat Presidential Convention was hit with violent protests. The hard rock music festival in Woodstock in 1969 was rife with drugs and sex and violence. All students of the 1960s were painted with these actions, whether or not they participated. People still use the excuse today: “Well everybody did it back then!”
Well, they didn’t! I didn’t participate, and I don’t know anyone who did. The only student political gathering I was involved in was when Bobby Kennedy came to our campus. Everything was peaceful, and I remember being in the crowd and touching his hand. I say touch only because he didn’t do any shaking. His hand was like a limp noodle, and I suppose that was only to be expected of a popular politician. Just how many hands can one shake? And having to react to everyone around you doesn’t leave much time to relax your worn-out hand.
Drugs were not my style. I never took them in any form, and I never smoked a joint. Hard to believe? Well, it’s true. And I don’t think I was a wimp then or now. I’ve just never had the desire or need for any of them. Nor was I at Woodstock. I wasn’t even in the country at the time. I was in Newfoundland, Canada---as a Naval Officer, not a draft dodger.
We never used the word “wuss” or “wussy” during the sixties (a shortened combination of “wimp” and a body part.) But, you could be called a “wimp,” a “pansy,” or a “candy ass,” among other still prevalent colorful epithets. Beer was our only vice, and most of us didn’t get carried away with it. Why? I don’t know. I guess we had better things to do. Or maybe our rearing and education led to our being more responsible than the newsworthy others of the era. We weren’t among the marching rebels and protestors....