What do you see out of your window today?

A Decade With Jesse

A story by Richard Adamski



Jesse lived through one of the most transforming, eventful and tumultuous decades in human history. This decade in its own unique way equals the far reaching political, social and cultural occurrences such as the Renaissance, the Enlightenment and the Industrial Revolution. This decade Jesse lived through in the late twentieth century in the United States, provided Jesse the opportunity to participate in and observe events which would shape the person Jesse would be, as well as the society he would live in. Jesse had a witty intelligence and intuition that would lead him to understand and comprehend the meaning of events at such a young age, far better than anyone his age. This would give him a great advantage late in life. In 1969, when Jesse was seven, he and his Mother were driving on the local interstate highway. There were numerous people hitchhiking on the highway, holding cardboard signs which said, Concert, Woodstock, and Bethel, New York. The hitchhikers were on their way to the Woodstock Arts and Music Festival, which was taking place in Upstate New York. I get a sense and feeling that something significant which would define a generation is taking place, Jesse said to his Mother. A change in society and the way things are done is long overdue. Perhaps this event called Woodstock is ushering in a new era that would improve the state and lot of humanity, Jesse’s Mother explained to him. A year went by, and 1970 arrived. The Vietnam War was raging, and the United States military deployed in Vietnam was making little progress. American fatalities were enormous. The country was divided and polarized due to the War. Social and political discontent in America was widespread. 1972 soon arrived, and basically everything in American politics and society was at a stalemate. American troops arriving home from Vietnam were stunned, disrespected, and treated like third class citizens. Mom, when Dad came home from Europe at the end of World War II, he and all the other troops were treated like heroes. Why aren’t those returning home from Vietnam being treated with esteem and not being well regarded just on the merit of the determined effort they put into fighting the Vietnam War, Jesse inquired of him Mother. People are funny, behave, say and do things in a certain manner when they’re confronted with something they don’t understand, Jesse’s Mother responded. During 1972-1973 major occurrences took place. Nixon announced a peace treaty with North Vietnam. The Watergate Break-In and scandal happened. The 1972 Presidential election pitting incumbent President Richard Nixon against Democratic Party candidate George McGovern was held. Nixon won the election, but resigned during his second term due to the Watergate scandal. President Nixon announced that the United States struck a peace accord with North Vietnam. North Vietnam and South Vietnam would keep their previously held borders and all American troops would be withdrawn. South Vietnam would stand as a sovereign independent nation. American troops withdrew from South Vietnam, but the North Vietnamese reneged on their agreement in the peace accord. The North Vietnamese military systemically invaded South Vietnam, occupied it, and took control of it after the American troops departed. Mom, when some political state strikes a treaty in good faith and then totally disregards the agreement they made, what does that have to say about human nature? Jesse inquired of his Mother. Human nature is imperfect. There is both good and evil in the world, and that includes human beings. Some people just as soon pull the wool over someone’s eyes rather than to play the game straight. Jesse’s Mother explained. The 1972 Presidential election was coming up and it consisted of Republican incumbent Richard Nixon against Democratic challenger George McGovern. A third rate break-in occurred at the Democratic National Committee’s Headquarters which was housed in the Watergate Building in Washington, D.C. There was evidence on the participants involved in the break-in which implicated that they had connections to the higher levels of the White House staff. President Nixon defeated George McGovern in the Presidential election, but during his second term he resigned, was given a pardon and several members of the White House staff went to prison. Mom, when some people like the members of the White House staff turn to criminal activities, what does that signify about morality? They already have more than anyone else could imagine and they are supposed to be the honest servants of the people? Jesse asked his Mother. That’s what happens when greed plays the key. They have more than they could possibly ask for, but the temptation to reach out and grab more is always there. It’s a strong temptation, Jesse’s Mother replied to him. The Vietnam War, the Woodstock Festival and the Watergate scandal all played their way out around 1974 and 1975 and they left a strong mark on the human experience. Jesse continued to reflect on his observations of these events, and they were absorbed into his psyche. The United States needed something positive to lift itself up and celebrate and just what the country needed arrived. It was the American Revolution Bicentennial Celebration which consisted of festivities and events centered around the 200th year anniversary of the establishment of the United States as a sovereign and independent nation. Americans all across the nation took part in the elaborate Bicentennial celebration. Houses which stood in Revolutionary times where historical events took place were made open to the public. People wore clothing which was the style and fashion in Revolutionary times. Historical parks which were the sites of Revolutionary War battles became popular spots to visit. People went to visit plaques or markers which indicated that a Revolutionary War historical event occurred there. Jesse’s Uncle, named Charles, took Jesse to visit Philadelphia, PA, during July of 1976. The highlight of that trip was a visit to Independence Hall. They stood in the same room where the Declaration of Independence was debated, ratified and signed. The interior of the building consisted of furniture, objects and items about the room and on the desks in July of 1976, which were exactly as they were on July 4, 1776. They were awestruck that the structure was as well preserved as it was. Uncle Charles, I’m so pleased that I can come here and actually stand at a place where an event that would influence and change the course of human history took place. It was right here that the nation which would have the greatest impact on the world stage was born. It’s all here for me to see, and my being here makes it come alive, made personal and real to me! Jesse emphatically told Uncle Charles. There are preservationists who work very hard using their own special techniques of their trade to insure that our historical gems are well taken care of and maintained, Uncle Charles responded. The date July 4, 1976 came and went, and with that date’s passage, most of the American Bicentennial celebration had concluded. During the latter part of 1976 and into 1977, a Citizens’ Band Radio craze swept through the United States. It seemed like everyone had a CB Radio and the CB airwaves were jammed by users making transmissions. The high level of usage compelled the FCC to add another 20 channels to the CB wavelength frequency in order to accommodate all the users. Since the Citizen’s Band Radio frenzy was so widespread and popular, Jesse purchased a CB Radio and installed it in his bedroom. While scanning the channels, he came across a group of Citizens’ Band Radio enthusiasts who were all gathering together and converging in their automobiles at a local Dunkin Donuts, where they would have a coffee party in the parking lot. Even though Jesse’s CB Radio was placed in his bedroom and he had no driver’s license, he made contact over the airwaves with those at the coffee party. I’m up here on the hill north and west of you, Jesse announced over his CB Radio. I have a good notion and idea of where you’re located. Your location must be good for making transmissions. Donny, parked at Dunkin Donuts? Jesse inquired over the air waves. There’s fourteen of us and with you, we’re fifteen, Mark, parked at Dunkin Donuts, transmitted back to Jesse. If I’m not there with you, in the parking lot at Dunkin Donuts, how could you consider me as being one among you? Jesse broadcast. CB Radio operators and enthusiasts are a brotherhood. Just the fact that you are communicating with us over the CB Radio includes you as a member in our brotherhood. You are one of us, Mark transmitted to Jesse. The CB Radio craze was a fad which would fizzle out as its popularity and sense of novelty would lose its luster. The CB channels cleared up and quieted down, as Citizens’ Band Radios were no longer a focus of interest. From 1977 to 1980, there was a movement which would revolutionize the way many Americans were entertained and listened to music. The movement was the Disco fad, and it flowed into many aspects of American pop culture. It introduced along with it a new form of recreation, dancing in nightclubs which were called discothèques. The Disco music was easy going and fast and the dancing to the music was a good way to burn off and get some exercise. Performers such as K.C and the Sunshine Band, Heatwave, The Bee Gees and Donna summer, among others, were enticing listeners to buy their records and go to the discos to dance. In 1978, Jesse started to gain admission into the discothèques, even though he was underage. Initially, Jesse was never able to dance, but he started to make a good attempt at it. As he started to learn through experience, he was awkward. However, as time and effort went on, he was able to put together a good step and movement. After going to one particular discothèque for some period of time, called the Dialtone, there was one woman who would become Jesse’s regular dance partner. Her name was Maura. As they became regular partners, meeting at the club on a regular basis, the two of them got to know each other. One weekend at the club, after Jesse had his usual dance with Maura, he sat down at his table next to his friend Lewis. He soon decided to get up from his table and make a proposal to Maura. I’m wondering if I can get your phone number and if we could meet somewhere else besides the club, Jesse asked Maura. I can meet you here, at the club, and we could dance together, but I don’t want to take it any further than that, Maura answered. What better way for two people to bond together than through dancing? Dancing is a ritual that makes people to have a conversation with each other and have their inner beings and souls meet. Dancing is the ultimate form of self-expression and communication, Lewis explained to Jesse. When the Disco craze subsided and seemed to fall flat on its face around 1980, it was natural that the next form of diversion would appear to captivate much of the public’s senses. In 1982, Jesse met Kelly, a college student who was working on a degree in counseling and psychology. Kelly told him that he could make his thinking calmer, sharper and more controlled through meditation. During the practice of meditation, thoughts would slow down, perceptions and outlook are made clearer and optimistic and anger and anxiety would become more controlled and held in their place. Probably the greater thing that can cure the emotional and spiritual ailments and discontents of society is deep relaxation over any form of psychotherapy or study of philosophy, Kelly explained to Jesse. Kelly referred Jesse to a meditation center called the New Haven Zen Center, located in New Haven, CT. He attended a meditation group practice every Sunday night. For fifteen minutes, the group would chant in order to slow down and control their thoughts. The chanting attempted to control anger and anxiety and tried to produce an overall effect on the mind. After chanting, the group would sit motionless and quiet, letting the chanting and meditation take effect. The meditation indeed had the effect on Jesse that Kelly promised him it would. He did in fact feel positive and beneficial effects in his psyche due to the meditation. By 1984, Jesse would make the giant step into adulthood. All the experiences he had, all he saw and everything he absorbed were paramount in his developments as an adult. Everything had an influence on his being and shaped what his opinions, viewpoints, relationships with other people and style of living. You had quite a life there, John, a new friend who heard Jesse’s story said to him. You have a lifetime of experiences, even at age thirty. You shouldn’t feel humiliated by any student at college, given the advantage you have over them with all the living you have done compared to them, a Doctor informed Jesse. A lot happened during Jesse’s youth and he saw a lot of the passage of history. The period of his youth was truly one of the most epic and influential periods of human history. He was not sheltered from it and his family and friends were helpful in him experiencing life and the world. He was a participant in that history in his own unique and personal way. They were all there. The Vietnam War, the Woodstock Music Festival, the American Revolution Bicentennial celebration, the Disco music boom and the meditation practices.

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 Bicentennial,dancing,Disco,experience,history,Meditation,Nixon,OLLI,Viet Nam,war,Woodstock
  Waterbury, CT
Jan 01 1970


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