I was a high school sophomore and a junior in 1968. That was what I first remembered when I stumbled across the “Life” magazine that was dated January 10, 1969. The “Special Issue” was a recap of one of the most momentous years in American History, 1968. The magazine was part of a cache of “Life” magazines that had been stashed in the attic of dad’s oldest house.
First of all, I was grateful they had not been stored in the basement, so there is no mold and mildew problem. The magazines can be enjoyed in their original form in the comfort of my easy chair.
The magazines were saved because dad believed they would be valued in the future. He was correct. The editors of the magazine also knew it. Inside the January 10, 1969 issue, they printed the claim, “1 out of 4 Americans will read this issue of LIFE…48 million people will be reading it with you…Which makes Life the single most powerful communications medium that ever existed.” That’s quite a boast.
Full blown nostalgia sets in when we ponder an actual artifact from the past. This is especially true of newspapers and magazines published when we were still youths in high school. So, 1968 was an incredible year for me, personally, and for the United States as a whole.
Our history books mention the shocking assassinations of Dr. Martin Luther King by James Earl Ray, and that of Robert Kennedy by Sirhan Sirhan. There is a photo essay of these events in the magazine.
There is the big photo story featuring images from the Apollo 8 mission–one of the “forgotten” missions that were overshadowed by Apollo 11 in July of 1969.
1968 was memorable for the major student uprisings that took place in Mexico, Paris, Berlin, New York, and in the hearts of many of us young boomers. These were coupled with the ever present reality of warfare, in this case, Vietnam. There was also much concern about a terrible famine in Biafra.
Still, the historical focus of 1968 was politics. This was also a watershed year for me. I worked as a volunteer for the Robert Kennedy for President campaign in our corner of Nebraska. Mr. Kennedy actually made a personal visit to our small college town and made a stop at our humble headquarters. Needless to say, it was an event to remember forever.
That year’s Presidential race was also split between the efforts of Eugene McCarthy, Alabama Governor George Wallace, and Vice-President Hubert Humphrey against Richard Nixon.
After RFK’s assassination, most of us Kennedy volunteers went over to the McCarthy campaign, only to experience disappointment again when Humphrey was selected as the Democratic candidate for the general election. The disappointment was compounded by Richard Nixon’s ultimate selection by the voters.
The magazine recounted some lesser notes of 1968 and jogged my memories of them, too. That was the year JFK’s widow, Jacqueline became “Jackie-O” when she married Aristotle Onassis. The event raised plenty of eyebrows including those in the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church.
The other top stories of the year included a photo essay about people who survived heart transplants and another recounting the “Black is Beautiful” social movement.
After setting the magazine aside, I was again reminded that it is good to save a few important things for posterity. I’m glad dad saved the “Life” magazines for posterity. I’ll archive them, as well. I wonder who will enjoy them when my time is done.