PREST: 1969 shaped how we see the world today

Moon landing, Woodstock and the creation of the North Shore News all made headlines in '69

The year 1969 was a memorable one in so many ways, and not just because it was the year the North Shore News was founded.

Fifty years is a nice round number for retrospection, looking back a couple of generations to see what life was like back then, and what has changed. Let’s take a look back at some of the big moments of 1969, and see how they’ve shaped the world we live in now:

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Humans walk on the moon

Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin setting foot on the moon in 1969 truly was a giant leap for mankind, but did it really happen? Yes, you tin-hatted weirdo; of course it happened! The moon landing was a defining moment for humankind, but it was also turned into a big moment for a strangely large segment of the population that likes to deny what everyone else sees as scientifically accepted truth. Many people over the years have said the moon landing was a hoax, including one person who famously got punched in the mouth by an aged Buzz Aldrin.

Now we get anti-vaxxers opting out of vaccines for their children, allowing for the return of other such 20th century classics as the measles. And the Earth is burning up – oh look, we just set a new mark for the hottest month ever recorded, again – but an alarming amount of people refuse to acknowledge there is a climate emergency. So uhh, what do we do, Buzz Aldrin? We can’t punch ’em all in the face. Maybe it’s time for a 50-year reunion on the moon to get going on building a colony up there?

Manson family murders

 The summer of ’69 also included the bizarre story of very deranged-looking, unemployed ex-con Charles Manson somehow forming a cult and convincing his followers to murder nine people at various locations around California, including seven people during a two-day stretch in August. The murders captivated and horrified the public.

Can you imagine what it would have been like if crimes like this had been committed during the Twitter age? (OMG #mansonmurders Crazy hippies out here murdering people while the government does nothing *shocked face emoji* *‘This is fine’ dog drinking coffee meme*).

Then again, the U.S. government reaction to mass murder has changed since 1969. These days America doesn’t really notice a mere nine people getting gunned down by a random shooter. That’s not a nationwide panic anymore, that’s a Tuesday. #thoughtsandprayers

Summer of ’69

Speaking of the “Summer of ’69,” did you know that the famous song of that name written by Bryan Adams was not written in 1969 and was not even specifically about the year 1969? Bryan Adams was only nine years old in the summer of 1969! So what the heck was that song about? I guess we’ll never know.

Woodstock

The summer of ’69 also gave us Woodstock, a massive music festival in upstate New York that for decades was treated as the biggest event in music history. The hype finally seems to have died down in recent years (maybe because they had a Woodstock 2, which featured a bit too much Limp Bizkit for anyone’s comfort).

Anyway, millennials might not realize how important the original Woodstock was to baby boomers. Somehow 10 million of them claim to have actually been there, and they didn’t shut up about it for the next 30 years. Then again, it was harder to see images of naked people back in those days, so the photos and videos out of Woodstock did provide a service to the curious.

Community newspaper founded

What else happened in 1969? The Beatles played their final concert together, Sesame Street aired its first episode, and a fellow named Peter Speck started a newspaper called the North Shore Shopper, vowing to get it delivered to every door on the North Shore. A few years later it changed its name to the North Shore News, and 50 years since launch it’s still covering the news of the day, still landing at every door on the North Shore (please don’t email if we missed your delivery!).

Several of my colleagues and I have spent the past couple of months leafing through 50 years of newspapers looking for content for a 50th anniversary edition, and we all agree on one thing: old newspaper ink is filthy.

We also agree that it’s fascinating to read through 50 years of “the first draft of history,” noting how things have changed and how they’ve stayed the same. If you want a little taste of that, our massive 50th anniversary special feature will be out next Wednesday, Aug. 14, delivered to every door* on the North Shore. (*OK, fine. Email me if we missed you.) 

We hope you like it. And don’t worry if you don’t agree with every single thing we’ve written. We promise we won’t call Buzz Aldrin.

Andy Prest is the sports editor for the North Shore News and writes a biweekly humour/lifestyle column. aprest@nsnews.com

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