Now I’m Part of History

Rocky Flats encirclement, 1983

I guess it’s inevitable that after living 70 years you become part of history, especially in this swiftly changing culture. Because I’ve lived more than 50 of those years in the same place—Boulder, Colorado—I’ve seen a lot of transformations. Yet I was still surprised a few years ago when the local oral history project wanted to interview me about the 1970s—the fabled time of anti-war protests, hippies, drugs and (apparently) wild sex. At the time Boulder proudly wore the slogan, “where the hip come to trip.”

Yet, it didn’t seem that long ago that I interviewed an older woman for the same history project, but, I realized, it was 40 years ago, and the Boulder native described life in the 1930s and 1940s in what was then a sleepy college town. I thought history belonged to my parents’ generation, who were born in the Depression years and lived through World War II. It hadn’t occurred to me that the 1970s, when I came of age, eventually would be considered an historic era, nor that I would ever get old enough to be an authority on that history.

But I kept getting reminders. Last year my 16-year-old nephew wanted to interview me for his “counterculture” class. I was happy to oblige, because I wanted to convey to him the turbulence of those times: the anti-war protests on campus; female staffers at the university striking for free child care; how men started wearing their hair long and women gave up girdles and high heels to wear long, loose skirts; and how marijuana was everywhere.

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