Wednesday, January 13, 2016

The 60's and a Walk Down Memory Lane

I came across a letter written in 1969 which brought back a lot of dusty memories.  During the last few years of the 1960s our family had lived in Wiesbaden, Germany while my dad was assigned there as a member of the US Air Force.  We always kept up on both national and international news as we were a long ways from home and we were all very aware of the Cold War between the USA and the USSR.  In my high school as a part of  Mr. Braun's Civics class we had to read Time Magazine cover to cover with weekly quizzes and required class discussions. 

The first month that we lived in Germany-- February 1967--  we spent a weekend in Garmisch where we enjoyed a true Bavarian winter.  On Sunday morning when we were packing to return home I walked out on the hotel balcony.  The church bells were ringing all over the town and lazy snowflakes the size of quarters were drifting slowly down.  I thought -- "I am going to like it here." History was all around us.  The US military resort had belonged to Hitler's regime only 25 years before, now it was all Americans. Germany was firmly divided West and East.  We had bombing drills at school and worried about possible evacuations.  We were very aware of the Soviet bloc countries on the horizon.  As the 1960's were coming to an end, we seriously wondered if we would have a country to return to as the news was often filled with reports of riots and mayhem throughout the United States. 

We read reports of the anti-war demonstrations; the riots at the Democratic Party national convention in 1968.  We read about the militant Black Panther  movement and saw the pictures of riots in Watts and other cities throughout the land.  There were bombings in New York City and Washington DC by the Weather Underground and the SDS (Students for a Democratic Society).   Their goals were to overthrow the US government.  While it is easy to think that people were "just being hysterical" about communism back then, in reality there were a lot of people who supported communist ideals and were working against the United States, including people like Bill Ayers and Bernadette Dorn -- who are still today (and in our educational system) proud today of their goals and methods.  The "fall" of the USSR gave access to a great deal of documentation showing the inroads that the communists had made inside the US government as well.

Americans at home could also see the breakdown of society going on around us.  My parent's friend Marie, who wrote to them in 1969, was writing that she was looking forward to receiving their annual "Christmas letter" talking about the past year and the adventures that they had had. In looking around at the chaos in the United States at the time, Marie wrote:

916 Mt. View Dr.,
Rapid City, So. Dak. 57701
Dec. 5th., 1969
Dear Ones:
            Here it is nearly Christmas again and am I looking forward to get your travel lodge [travelogue] each year and I just wonder where you are and what you are doing until I get our wonderful report and the dear Lord will bless you in your time, money and effort in putting these out as it is such an enlightenment to me to get them.
            I do hope that you are all well and enjoying life to the fullest as we never know when our time comes to be put on the shelve as it happen to me two years ago.  I have had three heart attacks but am on the way up and up now so I guess I am here for a purpose yet.
            At the present time I am at the intensive and extensive care center but expect to be out sometime after the first of the year but I have been here since Mar. 27th., so it is getting rather tiresome and it will seem good to get home again.
            What do you think of the world’s condition????? To me I am looking for Our Savior’s return soon as no one will be able to straighten out the mess we are in.
            I had company from Portland Ore., about three weeks ago and he said “Two years ago my wife and I went to Hawaiian Islands and I visited with some of the high up politicians and they said “Mr. Drew we were terrible disappointed when the United States accepted the Islands as a state” and he said “why?? You are all 100% Americans” and they said “O! no” and Hosey  [Hozy] said “what are you then” and they said “ a very small minority of us are 100% Americans the rest are communists and now you have Cuba on one side, the islands on the west and communist battleships south and north of you and the troops in Europe.”  Mr. Drew said “I was shocked beyond words and then to top it off Agnes and I just took this 35 day Buss tour and we have been through Canada, then down thru and on to Wash. D.C. and we stopped at the Mayflower Hotel and when the Buss drew up to the door the men were there to unload our baggage and a policemen on each side of the door and said, ‘March right into the Hotel and stay right in here till the Buss pulls up to the door at 7 A.M. in the morning.’ And Hosy said I stepped up to the Policeman and said “do you mean that I can’t take my own wife out on the street and window shop” and the policeman said I mean just that and Mr. Drew said, “why this is the capitol of our U. S. A. and the policeman said ‘I know it but if you step outside the Hotel you will take your life in your own hands, we can’t protect you.’ So Hosy said “we went into our Hotel and I sure got an eye opener.  I have read a lot but I still couldn’t believe it till I seen it with my own eyes.”  Mr. Drew is a college mate of Govern[or] Hatfield of Ore. And a staunch Nixon man but what can the do with a mess like this???
            I am so glad we know the Lord and nothing is impossible with HIM so about all we can do is to look up and pray for HIS will to be done.
            I am so burden[ed] for the coming generation, our children and grandchildren unless there is a change soon, as the Devil is sure working overtime and I don’t mean maybe.
            We have 5 Nursing Homes here now; I sponsored two of them and boosted the other three and when they were completed they would not let me be Adm. of either buildings because I am too old but they never refused my money. In other words, communists took over and everyone seems to be afraid to say or to do anything. I went to seven different lawyers here and they told me they don’t want to mix in it as they might lose some votes so now all I can do is trust the Lord. He is still on the Throne and He is so good to me and has provided for me till the Lord calls me HOME.  Praise His Holy Name.
            So dear Ones when the clouds get so thick all around us there is always one way we can look and that is UP.
            I was so thrilled to hear about Sweden as both of my parents were from Sweden so I am pure Swede and always wanted to see that country, so you can imagine my thrill to get to read about that country and also the other countries for that matter.
            Have a blessed Christmas and a joyous New Year and lots of love,
                                                Your sister in Christ,
                                                            Marie Sheldon
 P.S.  When are you coming home??

At the time Marie wrote this letter, we parents had moved back to the US from Europe and my parents were now stationed at McChord Air Force Base and lived in Tacoma, Washington.  They had spent three years in Germany and were planning on retiring from the military in the next year or so.  We had spent our almost three years in Europe visiting as many places as we could.  We had camped a month at a time each summer, one through Scandinavia (Denmark, Sweden, Finland and Norway), one through France and Italy and one summer visiting Spain and Portugal.  Every long weekend we traveled somewhere and a few times Dad had temporary duty and he took the whole family along to experience another place.  We never took this amazing opportunity to travel for granted!

Looking back on Marie's words, it is easy to think that her view is just typical thoughts of old people as they look at modern society.  Her belief that communists were her local enemies instead of corrupt politicians seems a little over the top.  However, God did answer the prayers of Marie and others who could see the nation tottering on the brink of chaos.  As has happened at various times and places throughout history, the grace of God stepped in and again pulled society back from that brink of judgement for another generation. 

As the Vietnam war wound down due to media-driven pressure and as the draft was ended (the draft being the strongest motivation for all this dissent) these organizations lost their prominence (but not their goals) and the chaos declined. At the same time a new Christian spiritual awakening began in California with the "Jesus Movement" and the "Azusa street revival" and the charismatic movement in both the protestant and catholic churches. This had a far-reaching impact on American culture with the advent of contemporary Christian music.  The record label, Maranatha Music, began as part of the ministry of Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa.  This also resulted in hundreds of radio stations providing venues of teaching and music across the country and around the world.   

Civilizations have  risen and fallen throughout history.  It is easy to fall into the trap of either thinking that nothing is going to change or of worrying about everything being out of control.  Obviously we still live in very dangerous times and we are not immune from war or rumors of war any more than civilizations past.  But we too can call upon the Lord to aid us throughout all of life's challenges -- whether our own individual crises or large national ones.  It is also a temptation to feel that God has abandoned us but that is also not true.  2 Chronicles 16:9 reminds us "For the eyes of the Lord move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His."  And Daniel 2:21 says "It is He who changes the times and the epochs; He removes kings and establishes kings; He gives wisdom to wise men and knowledge to men of understanding."  Like Marie so wisely noted, when the clouds are everywhere we need to look UP!  Marie lived nearly ten years after this letter was written -- but her words are still here for anyone who wants to learn from her life! The faithfulness of God never fails!  When things look dark, we need to look to see what God has planned in spite of how things are reported in the news. 

But one thing I do know for sure!  The 60's are WAY overrated! 

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Afterward -- here are a couple of links showing one of the nursing homes that Marie had established and that she apparently also lived at during this time if the address is any indication (when not in the hospital).  The same building was applied for the historical register (unknown by me whether that was accomplished).  I found this information and also discovered the Hozy Drew and his wife Agnes did live in Washington and also in Oregon at different times and shows up in the 1940 census.