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Summer of my 12th year

June 1, 1967 Des Moines Register

The summer of 1967 I was 12 years old and had just "graduated" from elementary school. I lived in Des Moines, Iowa with my parents, older brother, sister, and nephew. With everything going on in my life, it could have been a terrible summer, but in reality, it was a great summer. 

In May, my dad's union, the Des Moines Local 310 of the United Rubber Workers (URW) went on strike, what would turn out to be the longest strike in rubber industry history, affecting all of the major rubber manufacturers workers union's history and lasting 91 days.

My family was typical for this period--dad was the breadwinner and mom stayed at home taking care of the house and family. With dad on strike, he was not bringing home his regular paycheck. But that didn't stop him from taking care of his family. He went out looking for work. Our neighbors on both sides of us (one worked in a warehouse and another for a moving company) found extra work for my dad. In addition, he started knocking on neighbors' doors asking if they wanted their house painted. My dad earned a lot of respect from me for not sitting around waiting for work to come to him, but instead going out and finding or making jobs in order to take care of his family, all the while continuing to picket and put up blockades.
 July 3, 1967, Des Moines Tribune, page 1
My brother had enlisted earlier in the year on a deferred enlistment and come September would be going into the Navy. With the Vietnam War, he was probably safer in the Navy, but there was still a lot of fear. In Vietnam, 1967 was the year of the Allied offensive. At home, anti-war protestors were all over the news changing "make love, not war," while pro-war Americans carried banners urging people to support the troops. 

The summer started off with a picnic at Riverview Park for being on the safety patrol during the school year. Once summer started, my days were mostly spent at the local swimming pool with my friend Jill and frequently my 4-year-old nephew Jeff. Jill's mom would usually drop us off at 1 p.m. and my mom would pick us up around 4. We would get so dark from all the time spent in the sun. After swimming we would go to the concession stand for snacks. I almost always would get popcorn. Something about the swimming pool's popcorn was so good. Evenings would be spent reading books or magazines, lounging around outside as our house just had a window air conditioning unit in the living room, and listening to music. My interest in music was more Paul Revere and the Raiders and a group called Dino, Desi, and Billy (Dean Martin's son Dino, Desi Arnez and Lucille Ball's son Desi, and their friend Billy. 

Our family never did go on vacation, but I never felt left out. While going to a drive-in movie was an occasional treat, during the summer of 1967, the drive-in movie theatres admitted the striking Firestone workers and their families for free. Because of this, we went to the drive in a lot. We would pop a big bag of popcorn and take a cooler with our Pepsi. 
Come August, a trip to the Iowa State Fair with my sister, nephew, and mom would have taken place. I would have also gone one day with my cousin Candy and we would be on our own to roam the Fairgrounds. 
Come fall big changes were on the horizon, including going to a different junior high than my elementary school friends and my brother leaving for the Navy, but the summer of 1967 was a wonderful time to be 12.


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