V is for Various other teen interests: From Rod Serling to RFK. Twenty-second of 26 posts in the April 2021 Blogging From #AtoZChallenge. Theme: “Endwell: My Early Teen Years”— adding my story to the family history mix. Please join me on the journey.
Apart from engaging with my family, neighborhood, classmates and popular culture, I also peripherally kept up with current events in my early teens.
Thus various other teen interests made cameo appearances in my diaries. Here are a few examples.
Arts and culture
At 13, I was interested in literature and mourned the passing of poet Robert Frost.
Jan. 29, 1963. Robert Frost of “The Road Not Taken” died today at 86 years…He will always be remembered by his fellow countrymen.
I was also a huge fan of “The Day the Earth Stood Still” — the 1951 film starring Michael Rennie, in which he and a robot named Gort arrive from space to warn Earth to end its warlike ways.
So imagine my thrill at seeing him in person!
June 26, 1963. I’m going tomorrow to see “Unsinkable Molly Brown.” June 27, 1963. Saw Michael Rennie today IN PERSON! He was sooo…well…WOW! We were sittin’ there & he came walking in & sat about 5 rows in front of us. Then, when the intermission came, he went downstairs & we saw him in the lobby! I’ll always remember!
And let’s not forget the annual Academy Awards, where history was made in 1964.
April 13, 1964. Sidney Poitier best actor! I just love him!
Finally, there was local celebrity Rod Serling, creator of the popular “Twilight Zone” TV series.
Serling was from Binghamton, N.Y., and regularly made public appearances in our area. When I was 14, my dad took me to hear him speak.
April 24, 1964. Went to Broome Tech -n- heard Rod Serling give a lecture! He’s real handsome!
The 1963 assassination of Pres. John F. Kennedy when I was 13 made a big impact, which I blogged about last year — and I was still journaling about JFK during 1964.
Jan. 2, 1964. B. gave me a card with a picture of JFK & a prayer! It’s sharp!
June 12, 1964. Saw “The Making of a President 1960.” [A documentary.] It had a great deal about John F. Kennedy! I cried the whole way through it! I don’t think I will ever admire any man as much as I admire him.
Nov. 20, 1964. It’s now 6:00 AM! Jim Scott show is on! Goin’ to Wash, D.C., bye!
Nov. 23, 1964. One year since it happened! It doesn’t seem possible! Went to see the grave! I cried just looking at it!!
Other political observations
Other political observations also popped up in my diary, amid the usual entries about school, my block, pop stars and boys.
April 13, 1964. It was reported that Premier Khrushchev had died, but it was a hoax!
Sept. 5, 1964. Melvin Belli is trying to get Goldwater out of the presidential race. He says [he] isn’t a born citizen of the U.S. because when he was born in Arizona it wasn’t a state but a territory! Which is something to think about!
Then, at 14, I went to see Robert F. Kennedy in person when he came to Binghamton while running for U.S. Senator from New York.
Sept. 10, 1964. I went up and saw Bob Kennedy! He’s reallll sharp!
Kennedy had a huge youth following, and that day he told a local reporter, “I want to lower the voting age to 6. I’ve really sewn up the vote between 6 and 16.” (Press and Sun Bulletin, Sept. 9, 1964.)
Early teens: Not entirely frivolous
In short, my early teens were not entirely frivolous — although the bulk of my diary entries might imply otherwise.
Hidden there among my day-to-day teen concerns were also more serious topics — and those gradually moved onto center stage as my teen years progressed.
Up next, World’s Fair 1964: I fall in love with NYC! Please leave a comment, then join me as Endwell: My Early Teen Years unfolds one letter at a time!
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