Monday, July 6, 2009

To the Moon

Woodstock. The moon landing. The secret bombing of Cambodia. All of it 40 years ago.

Other things that happened in 1969: Sheri graduated from college and started teaching junior high English in Michigan. Michael entered kindergarten in Connecticut.

That fall, Sheri picked out dishes and flatware patterns and got married. Michael took naps with his afternoon-session classmates and learned how to make puppets from paper bags. His was a tiger, which he later lost.

Some of Sheri’s 8th-graders had crushes on her. Michael did NOT have a crush on his kindergarten teacher. “She was older,” he says, without irony.

The Grammy award for best song that year went to Simon and Garfunkel’s “Mrs. Robinson.” Coincidence? You decide.

But look how the seeds of the new generation are contained in the old. In 1969, the same year that saw the death of 1950s icon Dwight Eisenhower and launched the Woodstock generation, “Sesame Street,” was born. If the seminal events of my baby boom generation were the Vietnam War and a concert at Max Yasgur’s farm, Michael’s generation would be shaped by Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch and the Cookie Monster on a mythical urban corner.

My generation learned to question authority, but the moon landing also taught us to dream big.

Michael’s Sesame Street generation learned — from a frog — that
it’s not easy being green. But Kermit also taught him to find beauty in the ordinary, one of Michael’s most endearing qualities.

1969. A rebellious English teacher. An earnest kindergarten kid. An impossible distance. As far apart as the moon and earth.

1 comment:

  1. Given how we turned out, isn't it possible and peculiar to imagine that right now, somewhere in America, a 5-year-old boy is finishing his pre-K daycare and looking forward to summer, and a young woman just graduated college, and neither of them suspects that one day ...