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Sunday, September 1, 2013

Dreams and Death

In 1963 I was a teen living in Allen, TX, a very small, North Central  Texas town.  The town was surrounded by the rich, fertile, black sandy loam farmland.  There were fields of cotton, corn, maize, wheat and just the beginning of suburban sprawl out of Dallas.  That statement is really pushing the term sprawl.  A couple of paved streets with curbs on the north west side and two more uncurbed streets on the southwest edge were the 'sprawl'.  In 1959 a four lane reroute of US highway 75 was opened west of Allen.  Central Expressway was the name given the four lane freeway that led straight into downtown Dallas from McKinney.

My dear friend Dona roller skated on part of the section while it was being constructed.  Her home was just a little south and east of the aerial photo.  Look closely and you can see only one of the two 'new' streets as this picture is from 1959.  My folks home was not built at that time and it was to the west of this photo as was the high school.  Yep, these were some of my 'stomping grounds'.

Looking south in Richardson, TX.  TI was about a mile south of this intersection.

Texas Instruments had opened a new Semi-conductor site on a former rock pit at the edge of north Dallas in the mid 1950's.  Central Expressway ran right by this modern, space age facility.  My mom along with thousands of other farm wives went to work at this facility.  These were the Mom's of the baby boomer generation.  A generation filled with the visions of space ships and race riots.  We boomers started listening on the radio to Burns and Allen, the Lone Ranger and others favorites.  In just a few years later boomers and their parents watch these shows in our homes on that black and white television set!  The Greatest Generation, many who were children in the Great Depression, were determined to give their kids a better shot at life.  They pretty much succeeded.

Borrowed from
I can still remember the excited anticipation, the butterflies in the stomach, the tears of relief while sitting in the McKinney High auditorium as John Glenn orbited the earth.  Dreams were ignited by the rockets that thrust Glenn into orbit.  Dreams that would be made possible by parents' hard work.  Dreams fueled by a young President Kennedy and Rev. Martin Luther King.  "Ask not what your country can do for you" and "I have a dream..." were the mantras for many a Boomer.

Civil rights leader Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. waves to supporters on the Mall in Washington, D.C. during the "March on Washington," on August 28, 1963. King said the march was "the greatest demonstration of freedom in the history of the United States."(AFP/AFP/Getty Images) from
August 28, 1963 was the March on Washington where Rev. King delivered The speech.  There were still colored and white signs posted on some fountains and restrooms in our area.  Daddy and I had many 'discussions' about integration.  Daddy did not believe it should be forced.  I disagreed and he allowed me to disagree.  Wish I had learned more of my Dad's patience.

This Boomer recalls stopping at the stop sign in a 1959 Ford Galaxy 500 at the intersection of Old Highway 75 and Main Street/FM 2170 on November 22, 1963.  Listening to KLIF playing the latest pop hits of the time I was barely aware of the President's visit.  I was jolted into reality when the announcer broke into the music with a news bulletin, gunshots fired at the Presidential motorcade.  I was maybe a quarter of a mile from the school building.  I was horrified, terrified and alone.  By the time I reached the school there was confirmation the President was shot.  Teachers and students alike were glued to the radio updates being transmitted through the intercom of the new high school.  By 1:00 the President was pronounced dead.  Sobs filled the rooms of the new school built by the Greatest Generation for their Boomer babies.  Later the little town of Allen would discover its connection to the dark days.  Dr. Malcolm Perry, the grandson of the hometown doctor that had delivered my father and one of my classmates, had worked to save the life of the young president.

Part of the motorcade of Nov. 22, 1963.

The Boomers increased college populations.   The guys all faced the draft for service in the military as had their fathers, uncles and cousins.  Instead of fighting an obvious common enemy of the Axis powers, Vietnam presented a situation more like The Korean War.  A war where the enemy was Communism and "the domino effect".  Intervention in Civil wars to prevent the spread of Communism, or at least that is how I understood the conflicts/wars.  Somewhere along the way for many the dreams turned to division over the war, burned draft cards, riots over the war, riots over race inequality and more assassinations.

It has been 50 years since that heady August day when a black man dared to have a dream.  This November will be 50 years since another dreamer was struck down by a bullet.  Both men of vision that, like King David of Biblical fame, had personal flaws.  50 years since I was a junior in Allen High School.  Now I am one of the Boomers that is busting the budget of Social Security.  Husband and my mothers are some of the Boomer parents still drawing SS.  Medicare and TI just replaced my 94 year old mom's hip.

Part of the reason we have multiple generation SS is a result of the dreamers that watched rocket launches.  Dreamers that watched men walk on the moon.  Dreamers dreaming up ways to expand our reach into the universe and to extend life. Boomers and the following generations X, Y, etc. attempting to avoid what my Mom is calling a terminal disease, Old Age.  "It'll kill us all eventually".  You just gotta love an old lady that can still have a sense of humor after living so much life.  I do love her.  I owe it to her generation to keep dreaming.

Mom in her new digs telling a slightly risque joke!

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