Various other teen interests: From “Twilight Zone” to RFK #AtoZChallenge

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

Press and Sun-Bulletin, Jan. 29, 1963.

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.

Press and Sun-Bulletin, Apr 14, 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!

Press and Sun Bulletin, Apr 25, 1964.

Remembering JFK

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.

Eternal flame on John F. Kennedy’s  grave. “One year since it happened! It doesn’t seem possible! Went to see the grave! I cried just looking at it!!” I wrote in my diary on Nov. 23, 1964. Photo: Wikipedia

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!

Press and Sun Bulletin, Sept. 9, 1964. At 14, I was among the young people who turned out in Binghamton, N.Y., to cheer Robert F. Kennedy when he ran for U.S. Senator from N.Y.

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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20 thoughts on “Various other teen interests: From “Twilight Zone” to RFK #AtoZChallenge”

  1. You made me think with this post and I had to separate out the early 60s and late 60s. Of course JFK was a big deal world-wide (young and Catholic) and even more so when he died. There was the Cuban Missile crisis which worried my husband more than it did me at the time. Noticeable was the volatility of the different countries in Africa erupting into independence and away from their colonial powers. This example had an effect when we were in PNG when it worked towardsIndependence…we didn’t know if it would be violent (it wasn’t). And then leading into Vietnam and the slogan here of “all the way with LBJ”.
    I loved going to the high school library and learning about anthropology and archaeology.

    1. And some I forgot to mention: the introduction of TV where I lived though we didn’t get one for a few years maybe about 1962/63; introduction of decimal currency (14 Feb 1966); racial issues in USA (I had a pen pal in Little Rock Arkansas); blithe ignorance of our own Indigenous racial issues; White Australia policy; significant post-WWII immigration to Australia from Europe (our parish had people from Czechoslovakia, Poland, Yugoslavia, Netherlands….).

    2. Yes, the sixties were tumultuous worldwide — but I am saving the later items for next year when I chronicle my late teen years.

  2. The Road Not Taken is a great poem, although my favorite by Robert Frost is Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening. For some reason, when I go hiking the words to this poem often bounce around in my head. Weekends In Maine

    1. Yes, the trip to Washington, DC, was remarkable. I am so grateful to my parents for making sure we kids had these experiences.

    1. Art and culture clearly predominated in my early teens — but in my later teens as the war against Vietnam escalated, politics of necessity became more of a focus.

  3. Wish I had kept a journal of those years. Mine was so different from yours. I don’t think I did anything “typically” teenish.

    1. I agree with Pauline. And even without a journal, the memories are there to be explored — helped along by the availability of digitized newspapers from that era.

  4. This post brings up so many memories for me Molly. I don’t think I was aware of Robert Frost until my later teens. I’m in awe of your memory!

    1. Journals are a wonderful means of self-expression and a window onto one’s own life. I hope your daughter enjoys the experience. She will be grateful later to have that diary when she’s an adult.

    1. Yes, my early teen interests seem culturally specific to the U.S. in the sixties. But you might enjoy “The Day the Earth Stood Still” and old “Twilight Zone” episodes if you can find them online.

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