In 1964 I was 7 years old until November. I became a baseball fan that year. I had listened to baseball games on the radio with Great Grandpa Raymond before that year, but that had always been Twins’ games in the American League. But that was the year I discovered the St. Louis Cardinals. I followed them in the newspaper, the Mason City Globe Gazette. They had lost the greatest hitter in their history to that point, Stan Musial having retired when the 1963 season ended. But he was replaced in left field by Lou Brock, the hit-making base-stealing boy wonder of 1964. They went from near the bottom of the National League to edging out the Philadelphia Phillies and the Cincinnati Reds by one game each (they were tied for second) at the very end of the season.
The World Series pitted the Cardinals against the mighty New York Yankees. Mickey Mantle and Whitey Ford were the stars of that team and had won five World Series in a row a decade before. It was a fantastic battle that the Cardinals finally won 7 to 5 in the seventh and final game in St. Louis. Bob Gibson was a deciding factor and won Series MVP. I would become a life-long Cardinals fan.
And I lost my Grandpa Beyer. He went to work one day, driving a road grader and his heart simply stopped working. It was the first time I lost a major somebody in my life.
In 1962 I had spotted the bright pinprick in the sky that was John Glenn orbiting the earth in the Friendship 7 Mercury spacecraft. My mother and father helped me spot it from our back yard in Rowan, Iowa.
In 1964, therefore, I began to take a serious interest in outer space as the Mercury program transformed into the Gemini program that was testing procedures in space for eventual Apollo moon missions.
I was in the Second Grade in 1964. Miss Madison was my teacher. She was as old as my Grandpa and Grandma Aldrich. She got mad at me at least three times that I can remember. I mean, I know that there were more than that, but there were three times I made her so mad with a joke that she memorably made me feel the wrath that teachers reserve for classroom clowns.
The Beatles were on Ed Sullivan in February. My Grandpa and Grandma Aldrich told me that the Beatles must’ve been confused about whether they were boys or girls to have haircuts like that. And those were the bowl-cuts they had before the wild-hair days of the later Sixties. All the boys in my class had either a butch cut or a flat-top. Hair styles for boys back then meant not really having any hair.
Lyndon Baines Johnson was president. He had been since the Kennedy assassination in 1963.
In July LBJ signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 into law, abolishing segregation.
In August, the Gulf of Tonkin Incident (since revealed to be a proven false-flag operation) leads to the Vietnam War.
The “Daisy” campaign ad for LBJ, showing a little girl picking flowers and then being blown up by an atom bomb, convinces my dad that Barry Goldwater is a dangerous radical, and he votes for LBJ even though he is not a conservative or a Republican.
LBJ is elected President of the United States in 1964.
Later that November, I turned eight years old.
1964 was a notable year for me. Even if it wasn’t for Barry Goldwater.
In the picture that starts this post, I am 8. Nancy is 6, holding on to little brother David at 2. Mary is 4. We are all in our Sunday best on Easter Sunday morning.
Why am I writing about 1964 today?
My mother is in hospice at 87 years old. She is dying of heart failure. And today, I and my two younger children got to talk to her by phone. The light and hope we have today is colored by the hope and light we had in the past. Such is the nature of having a family over time.