J. William Bowser

J. William Bowser

Martinsburg, Pennsylvania - Grade School Student

I was born in 1957, so I thought the Sixties were normal.  I was literally a child of the Sixties, in grade school from 1963 to 1969.  Just to think about my first grade year: In June 1963, the Supreme Court declared organized school prayer unconstitutional.  In July, I turned six years old.  In August, Martin Luther King gave his "I Have a Dream" speech at the March on Washington.   In September, I started first grade.   In October, we stopped saying the Lord's Prayer every morning.   In November, President Kennedy was shot in Dallas - on the Friday before Thanksgiving.  Two days later, Lee Harvey Oswald was murdered, live on national television.

All this - and the Beatles on Ed Sullivan - happened in less than nine months.   How does a six-year-old take it all in?  Much differently than teenagers and adults.  Kennedy's death shattered their expectations of the world.  But mine were only then being formed: I remember so clearly thinking to myself, "I guess presidents get shot every now and then."

As the Vietnam War played out, and the political turmoil of the Sixties, I was still taking it all in.  We saw it all on television: fire, blood, riots, and napalm.  Everything.  So for those of us in grade school during Vietnam thought that's what the world was like.  We couldn't help it: This was done to us without our knowledge or consent.  Like Pavlov's dogs, we were imprinted by the Sixties.  And my Inner Child lives there still.