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Remembering America-How I wish More People Would Do The Same

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Jack is a volunteer at the CCNY Archives. Before retiring, he worked at IBM for over 28 years. His articles have over 120,000 views.

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Introduction

With the recent divide politically, I can't help but reminiscence about an olden time when I was growing up in the1960s.

It was a simpler time and a happier time where the music of those days capture the American spirit. Here are some songs and lyrics to remind us.

Perhaps we have forgotten who we are.

- Oct. 2020

Jay and the Americans - A Pop Group

One of their top hit song was titled - Only In America 1963

Only in America
Can a guy from anywhere
Go to sleep a pauper and wake up a millionaire

Only in America
Can a kid without a cent
Get a break and maybe grow up to be President

Only in America
Land of opportunity, yeah
Would a classy girl like you fall for a poor boy like me

Only in America
Can a kid who's washin' cars
Take a giant step and reach right up and touch the stars

Only in America
Could a dream like this come true
Could a guy like me start with nothing and end up with you

Only in America
Land of opportunity, yeah
Would a classy girl like you fall for a poor boy like me

West Side Story - America 1961

ANITA
Puerto Rico,
My heart's devotion—
Let it sink back in the ocean.
Always the hurricanes blowing,
Always the population growing,
And the money owing,
And the sunlight streaming,
And the natives steaming.

I like the island Manhattan—
Smoke on your pipe and put that in!

GIRLS (chorus)
I like to be in America,
O.K. by me in America,
Everything free in America—

BERNARDO
For a small fee in America.

ANITA
Buying on credit is so nice.

BERNARDO
One look at us and they charge twice.

ROSALIA
I'll have my own washing machine.

JUANO
What will you have, though, to keep clean?

ANITA
Skyscrapers bloom in America.

ANOTHER GIRL
Cadillacs zoom in America.

ANOTHER GIRL
Industry boom in America.

BOYS
Twelve in a room in America.

ANITA
Lots of new housing with more space.

BERNARDO
Lots of doors slamming in our face.

ANITA
I'll get a terrace apartment.

BERNARDO
Better get rid of your accent.

ANITA AND THREE GIRLS
Life can be bright in America.

ALL BOYS
If you can fight in America.

ALL GIRLS
Life is all right in America.

ALL BOYS
If you're all-white in America.

(an interlude of WHISTLING and DANCING)

ANITA AND CONSUELO
Here you are free and you have pride.

BERNARDO
Long as you stay on your own side.

ANITA
Free to be anything you choose.

ALL BOYS
Free to wait tables and shine shoes.

BERNARDO
Everywhere grime in America,
Organized crime in America,
Terrible time in America.

ANITA
You forget I'm in America.

(An interlude of MORE DANCING)

BERNARDO
I think I go back to San Juan

ANITA
I know a boat you can get on.

BERNARDO
Everyone there will give big cheer!

ANITA
Everyone there will have moved here.

America the Beautiful - Ray Charles 1972

Oh beautiful for heroes proved
In liberating strife
Who more than self, their country loved
And mercy more than life
America, America may God thy gold refine
'Til all success be nobleness
And every gain divined


And you know when I was in school
We used to sing it something like this, listen here


Oh beautiful, for spacious skies
For amber waves of grain
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain
But now wait a minute, I'm talking about
America, sweet America
You know, God done shed his grace on thee
He crowned thy good, yes he did, in brotherhood
From sea to shining sea


You know, I wish I had somebody to help me sing this

(America, America, God shed his grace on thee)
America, I love you America, you see
My God he done shed his grace on thee
And you oughta love him for it
'Cause he, he, he, he crowned thy good
He told me he would, with brotherhood
(From sea to shining Sea)
Oh Lord, oh Lord, I thank you Lord
(Shining sea)

My America...as I Remembered It

When I first arrived in America in December 1961, I was 10 years old. We landed at JFK airport and road on a bus to Queens NY.

This is what I remembered...

Snow as white as snow

Tall skyscrapers

Subway trains that disappears into the ground

Bright lights

Christmas trees everywhere

Cars and Taxis everywhere

Smell of roasted chestnuts in the air

Smiling faces everywhere I went

Attending public school 152

Reciting the Pledge of Allegiance every morning in Assembly

Singing Christmas carols

Wishing all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Where Have All The Flowers Gone - Pete Seeger 1962

Where have all the flowers gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the flowers gone?
Long time ago
Where have all the flowers gone?
Girls have picked them every one
When will they ever learn?
When will they ever learn?Where have all the young girls gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the young girls gone?
Long time ago
Where have all the young girls gone?
Taken husbands every one
When will they ever learn?
When will they ever learn?Where have all the young men gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the young men gone?
Long time ago
Where have all the young men gone?
Gone for soldiers every one
When will they ever learn?
When will they ever learn?Where have all the soldiers gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the soldiers gone?
Long time ago
Where have all the soldiers gone?
Gone to graveyards every one
When will they ever learn?
When will they ever learn?Where have all the graveyards gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the graveyards gone?
Long time ago
Where have all the graveyards gone?
Covered with flowers every one
When will we ever learn?
When will we ever learn?

Blowin' In The Wind - Bob Dylan 1963

How many roads must a man walk down
Before you call him a man?
How many seas must a white dove sail
Before she sleeps in the sand?
Yes, 'n' how many times must the cannon balls fly
Before they're forever banned?
The answer, my friend, is blowin' in the wind
The answer is blowin' in the wind

Yes, 'n' how many years can a mountain exist
Before it is washed to the sea?
Yes, 'n' how many years can some people exist
Before they're allowed to be free?
Yes, 'n' how many times can a man turn his head
And pretend that he just doesn't see?
The answer, my friend, is blowin' in the wind
The answer is blowin' in the wind

Yes, 'n' how many times must a man look up
Before he can see the sky?
Yes, 'n' how many ears must one man have
Before he can hear people cry?
Yes, 'n' how many deaths will it take 'til he knows
That too many people have died?
The answer, my friend, is blowin' in the wind
The answer is blowin' in the wind

Summary

JFK was President, a Camelot blooming.

The struggle for peace and equality was there.

Vietnam war was the war of the period.

America was riding high and aiming to land on the moon.

Computers are the way of the future with the release of the IBM 360 Series.

The sky was the limit.

God, Country and Family was important as life itself.

How far we have drifted away from that Golden age?

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2020 Jack Lee

Comments

Jack Lee (author) from Yorktown NY on October 19, 2020:

Marie, Yes how strange our mind seem to work. I remember the exact moment when it was announced that JFK was shot. I was in middle school and the PA system came on in the middle of the afternoon and people just started to cry all around, teachers and students. We were so innocent back then. Our country has been through a lot over the next 50 plus years. We came a long way...and yet, for some of us, they are still living or trapped in a time loop.

Marie Flint from Jacksonville, FL USA on October 18, 2020:

I was expecting more essay and fewer lyric quotations, but I realize this is what the spirit inspired you to write.

I remember crying when I heard about JFK's assassination. He was young, popular, and Catholic. He inspired a certain enthusiasm for creating and reaching goals.

I am familiar with all the songs except by Jay and the Americans.

I have to confess that, at age 16, I became weary of the "Pledge of Allegiance," although, if said with a flame at the heart, is still a worthy pledge.

Cycles turn, Jack. Thank you for sharing your memories, and take heart--there are great years ahead.

BRENDA ARLEDGE from Washington Court House on October 16, 2020:

This one is an interesting take...how far have we drifted away.

I remember those days when i was young. Repeating the pledge of allegiance in school each morning.

We were taught respect and to be proud of our country.

The songs are great. Blowin in the wind was always a favorite of mine.

Thanks for the share.

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