Early Marriage | Part 24

by Elouise

Sixties Guitar

It’s 1969, our last year in Cambridge. Viet Nam anti-war protests, riots and campus unrest. Pro-civil rights protests, riots and campus unrest. Hippies, LSD, the Beatles, Woodstock, the Jesus People Movement.

All that and more. It seemed the world as we knew it was coming unhinged. Two memories stand out from the summer of 1969.

The Man on the Moon
We never had a TV when I was growing up, and I didn’t miss having one as an adult. However, a friend leaving Cambridge offered us a TV he didn’t want anymore. Would we like to have it?

I hesitated. I didn’t want something in our apartment that would detract from our lives—already busy enough. Nonetheless, we accepted his kind offer, in part because we wanted to follow national and international news.

The TV set was large and bulky, given its tiny screen. Despite all the tubes and electronic magic, the picture flickered in and out; the sound crackled and popped at will. No matter. We now owned our first TV!

So there we were, on 20 July 1969, huddled in front of our barely acceptable TV screen, waiting for the big moment. When Neil Armstrong and then Edwin Aldrin set foot on the moon, the footage itself was barely discernible, as was the sound.

I don’t remember any astute comments we made to each other. In fact, given all the pre-landing hype, I felt a bit let down. It was almost surreal. So far out there that I couldn’t even relate to it.

If you’d like to see this momentous occasion, here’s a short clip (2 1/2 minutes) that includes what we saw that evening.

The Woman in Harvard Yard
It’s summertime. Sun shining, not too hot. Blue sky and all that. I’m still basking in Motherhood, out for a stroll with Son in his stroller. What could be more wonderful?

We walk a number of blocks up to Harvard Yard. The grass is gorgeous green. I brought along a beach towel. I find a nice spot to sit on the grass, pull out my beach towel, and let Son crawl around and have a happy time with Mommy.

I feel wonderfully yet painfully self-conscious about being a Mother. Especially here in Harvard Yard where we stand out a bit from all the 1960s-type students and professors. None of whom are pushing baby strollers. Or basking in Motherhood.

I also feel proud. Of what? I’m not sure. Of being a mother? Of having a baby with me? I’m not one of those women who glorifies motherhood. At the same time, though, I’m proud to be seen with my not-yet-one-year-old son. Maybe it’s the attention he gets. So cute, and all that.

From nowhere, it seems, a young woman approaches me. I can still see her in my mind’s eye. Long straight hair, short shorts, barefoot, and a tank top. Period. I know when there’s nothing underneath a tank top.

She’s making a beeline toward me, clutching a handful of fliers. She hands me a flier, and invites me to a forum that evening on women’s rights.

I feel offended! I already know what ‘these women’ think about marriage and having babies. How we ‘sleep with the enemy’ and all that. How dare she try to upset my Motherhood high! If she thinks I’m going to burn my motherhood bra, or turn D into the enemy, she’d better think again!

I take the flier, glance at it quickly, and then toss it on the ground as she moves on to her next target. The nerve of her!

I felt outraged. I also felt scared. Whatever this was about, it seemed to be poison. She clearly ruined my lovely afternoon out with Son.

This was my first face-to-face encounter with women’s rights and feminism. I wasn’t quite ready enough. Not yet.

To be continued. . . .

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 16 July 2015
Image from Pinterest.com