June…1969…One year at Kent State under my belt! Nineteen and full of vim and vigor, ready to have a wonderful summer back home in LaGrange, Illinois (soon to be nearby Western Springs as my parents moved).
As I wrote in an earlier post, summers during my college years (1968-73) were spent working various jobs and experiencing many interesting people and events. They were fun summers, to say the very least, and I also made some pretty good money during those summer months.
Summer ’69 found me hooking up with a construction company—Hardin’s in River Forest, Illinois. As had happened the previous summer, and would for the next few summers, I attained these jobs thanks to my dad and the various contacts he had at his place of employment—Hunt-Wesson Foods in Chicago.
So for the hot summer months in ’69, I worked with a guy named Ed Ivy and two or three Mexican fellows repairing curbs and sidewalks in and around the Oak Park/River Forest area. I became somewhat proficient using a pick and shovel to clear away old concrete and rubble and helping to frame out where the new concrete was to be poured. It was good physical work, and I enjoyed being a part of the crew. I wouldn’t want any part of that now, but in 1969, I was young and happy to do it.
A few weeks into the summer, I received a call from a person my age, the son of one of my mom’s friends. He played on a semi-pro baseball team on Sundays. Mom had casually mentioned to his mom one time that I was a baseball fan and would love to get back into playing the game. Thus, I received a phone call shortly thereafter with an invitation to come on out to their next game and to bring my glove and shoes and any other equipment I possessed since they needed a few more players. The manager, Hank, was able to scrounge up some pants and a jersey that fit, and, just like that, I was a member of the team. I didn’t even have to try out, so I was certain they were quite desperate for bodies to fill out their roster!
My baseball playing “career” resurrected, I spent many Sundays at Bedford Park as part of the team and meeting more friends and partaking of the wonderful post-game parties back at the manager’s house. We weren’t very good—losing most of the double-headers each Sunday—but we were very good at those parties!
What songs stick out that summer? Lay Lady Lay, In the Year 2525, Get Together, and Make it With You by David Gates and Bread evoke many a memory all these years later. Even the release of Rubber Ducky by Ernie from Sesame Street (I kid you not!) bangs around in the old memory bank from some after-game parties!
Of course it was the summer of Woodstock, but since I had no interest in that scene at all (dope, hippiedom, acid rock, etc.) it basically came and went without me being aware of it happening! Though once I returned to school in the fall, I would hear all about it—ad nauseam!
Besides my construction job and baseball playing and parties on Sundays, I also found myself one or two times a week at Comiskey Park, when the White Sox were home. To put it simply, 1969 was an atrocious year record-wise for the Sox. Consequently, their attendance was something less than visible! Often, I had the run of the place it seemed, and I always had a good time out there. I actually was able to purchase beer there, even though I was only nineteen. As I do to this day, I hung on every pitch, hit, error, home run, strike out, win, or loss. It was a terrible season for the White Sox, but I still stuck with ‘em, as bad as they were. (Perhaps it was the beer…) I suppose it’s what they call “bad fun” these days. Whatever, the White Sox were (and are) a vital part of my summers. (A topic for a future post)
Looking back, I now realize how fast the summers fled, and 1969 was certainly no exception. Before I knew it, I was preparing to head back to Kent State for my second year, one that would bring me face-to-face with many more interesting people, places, and historic events.
The fall of ’69 would turn into the spring of ’70, and most people know why that is significant at Kent State. As a nineteen year old, I could never know what lay ahead as I worked and played and laughed and sang that summer of 1969. Many things would take place in the fall that was to come and the spring that changed the course of the way things were at Kent State. Regardless, I enjoyed my summer months at home in Illinois thoroughly….MLA