Friday, September 9, 2011

And The Beat Goes ON...On...on!


The Kansas City Times ~ March 18, 1966

Here we are...back in time...again!  When I was a senior in High School, I fashioned to be fashionable!  Actually, I did want to be a model, and I attended "Charm School" at Hartzfeld's department store in downtown Kansas City, Missouri, where I did get to model in a fashion show.  Now, the style show referenced in the above article was in Kansas City, Kansas, not affiliated with that particular department store, but it was a fundraiser for a training center for the mentally retarded.   This is a photo featuring several of us who modeled in the show-which one is me?   You guessed-the one whose eyes cannot be seen because of the 'too long' bangs!  And, I'm wearing burgundy bellbottoms and black boots with buckles on them.  A cross between 'Cher' and 'Paul Revere and the Raiders', ya think?  haha!  And our bellbottoms are kind of short, too, I'd say.  I guess dragging the pant hems on the ground came a little bit later.  The show was fun!  I modeled a 'Jane Bond' trench coat and a white eyelet lace bellbottom outfit with a cropped top (just like Cher).  My mom did buy the trenchcoat and outfit for me, so, it was well worth it.

I believe that I was fortunate to grow up in the era that I did.  So many much to see and do!  And even with the dangers, I still felt safer than I do today.  I experienced and lived through the "Intregation and Segregation" movement,  "Rock N Roll",  "Elvis", "Fairyland Park","The Beach Boys", "James Brown", "Women's Liberation" movement, "Helen Reddy", the "VietNam" war, "John F. Kennedy" presidency...just to name more than a few. 
Little did I know, that behind some of these changes were the voices of  Martin Luther King, Jr. and the likes of Pete Seeger, Peter, Paul and Mary, and various other writers and singers.  Nor did I realize that some of the folk singers of the late 1950's and early 1960's, such as Joan Baez and Arlo Guthrie, were actually voices for civil rights, freedom of expression, and antiwar protests. 

"Do this, don't do that...can't you read the sign!"

I was just a young, impressionable female, who loved all kinds of music, and wardrobe changes!

The 'Beat Generation' did influence my life, as much I was allowed to let it do so.  I thought the clothes were cool, and the 'beat lingo' was cool, daddyo! 


So, what is a beatnik?  According to , a beatnik is a member of the beat generation; a non-conformist in dress and behavior.  The "beat generation" was actually an outlaw movement created in the 1950's against social conformity and materialism.  The "beats", wanting to have voice in these matters, took their new, radical, self-expression to the streets and coffee shops.  They would compose and write poetry, using jazz as a rhymthic backdrop for their recitations.  There was a poet named Allen Ginsberg, who was one of the most respected American 'beat writers' of his generation.  He played a huge part of inspiring this movement with the 1955 writing of his poem "Howl".  I read as much of this poem as I could stomach...not to say that it's a bad's just full of sadness and bitterness.  But there is a lot of sense to be made of it.  There are a lot of truisms in Mr. Ginsberg's writings, however crude and radical they may seem.  Here are just a few excerpts from this poem...

"I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness...
...angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly connection to the starry dynamo in the machinery of night...
...who passed through universities with radiant cool eyes hallucinating Arkansas and Blake-light tragedy among the scholars of war...
...who ate fire in paint hotels or drank turpentine in Paradise Alley, death, or purgatoried their torsos night after night...
...who burned cigarette holes in their arms protesting the narcotic tobacco haze of Capitalism...
...a lost battalion of platonic conversationalists jumping down the stoops off fire escapes off windowsills off Empire State out of the moon..."

If you would like to read (experience) the entirety of  Allen Ginsberg's poem, go to  type in the search area 'Howl'.

Phew!!!  This poem is major lengthy! I guess this means I wasn't a true 'beatnik'...I could not have sat still for very much of this poem, nodding my head and chanting "for sure, for sure!" I guess I was just a 'beatnik' wanna-be.  We did listen to a little jazz during the early 1960's, and wear dad's big shirts with tights and ankle boots, but, I just couldn't get into the poetry.  A little, "Cool Man" and "Like, that's really hip, you dig?" went a long way, and was just fine with me. 


Actually, I fashioned my 'beatnik' ideas from the coolest 'beatnik' ever!
Bob Denver * January 09, 1935 - September 02, 2005

Bob Denver appeared on the TV show, 'The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis', that aired from 1959-1963.  He is dubbed as the first TV 'beatnik', and is noted and blamed, as one for starting the hippie movement in the 1960's (go figure!).  We watched this program, mainly to see Denver's character, Maynard G. Krebs.  I thought he was so cool...he liked jazz, and sat around playing his bongos...AND, he got away with it.  He spoke with a cool slang, "LIKE WHAT?" and, "YOU RANG?"  How about his famous words when the word 'work' was mentioned?  "Work...WORK?" using an upward screech to his voice. Maynard's goatee really polished his 'beatnik' look, and his overall appearance and personality radiated individuality and freedom.  Sadly, we lost Maynard G. Krebs (Bob Denver) in 2005, but it is said that he is the most famous 'beatnik' in history, and I agree!

Peter, Paul and Mary

Now, here is a trio who mingled their music with liberal politics, both on, and off stage.  They, too, projected the 'beatnik' look-two bearded guitar players, and Mary, who was referred to as the 'Blonde Beatnik'.  And, in her earlier years, Mary performed with Pete Seeger.  Peter, Paul and Mary scored big hits with "Puff The Magic Dragon" and "If I Had A Hammer".  However, unbeknownst to us 'teeny boppers', their politics were somewhat risky, for a group who purportedly was looking for a great musical fan base.  According to arts and music section, Mary was very outspoken in her support for civil rights and antiwar movements.  Over the years, the group performed at political rallies and demonstrations in the United States and abroad.  It is said that they performed at the 1963 'March on Washington' and joined other voting-rights marches in Alabamba in 1965.  You know, I was never aware of the political undertones of this group.  I always enjoyed their music for what I perceived it to be...just 'good old folk songs'!

Peter, Paul and Mary's "Blowin In The Wind" became another civil-rights anthem.  They were staunch in their opposition to the Viet-Nam War, and even marched with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in Selma, Alabama, and performed with him in Washington.

In about 1964, I and a school friend attended a concert of Peter, Paul and Mary in Kansas City.  It was a great concert and dynamic production.  I'll never forget, Mary wore a blue satiny Mandarin dress with slits up the sides, highheeled pumps, and her blonde hair seemed to glow in the spotlight!  Some of their earlier songs were written by Bob Dylan, one of which is "Blowin In The Wind".  The group acquired grammy awards for "Leaving On a Jet Plane", "Puff The Magic Dragon", and "Blowin In The Wind".  And I recall the controversy over the real meaning behind the lyrics of "Puff The Magic Dragon".  Remember, I was just in my early teens when this song became popular.  Actually, I thought it was quite a goofy song, but tolerated it because of it's popularity.  And now, I still don't know if I believe it had marijuana-related undertones, or, if, it was just a really goofy song as I previously thought!   

Mary Travers passed away on September 16, 2009, at age 72,  after battling leukemia for several years.  Peter, Paul and Mary were one of the most successful folk-singing groups of the 1960's.  I still like to hear "Blowin In The Wind" and "Leaving On A Jet Plane".  Thus, I believe them to be an integral part of
"The Beat Connection"!


 Bob Dylan

Well, well, well..this man has been a major figure in U.S. culture for five decades.  He was said to resemble "A cross between a choir boy and a beatnik" by Robert Shelton of the New York Times in 1961.  Mr. Shelton also writes, "His clothes may need a bit of tailoring, but when he works his guitar, harmonica or piano and composes new songs faster than he can remember them, there is no doubt that he is bursting at the seams with talent."

Some of Dylan's songs did become anthems for antiwar and civil rights movements, like "Blowin In the Wind", recorded by Peter, Paul and Mary, and Bob's"The Times They Are A-Changin".  But Dylan chose not to be openly, politically active.  "Like a Rolling Stone" and "Mr. Tambourine Man", are among those songs that earned Bob Dylan a reputation as the most influential singer-songwriter of the 20th century.  The New Yorker's online newsdesk quotes Dylan as saying:

“I came out of the wilderness and just naturally fell in with the Beat scene, the bohemian, Be Bop crowd, it was all pretty much connected,” Dylan said in 1985. “It was Jack Kerouac, Ginsberg, Corso, Ferlinghetti … I got in at the tail end of that and it was magic … it had just as big an impact on me as Elvis Presley.”

So, you see, this guy, Bob Dylan encountered many influences throughout his journey to become the icon he is today.  I believe his true quest was to find his own place.  It was not his intentions to be an actual member of a stereotyped group, but he had to experience and explore all avenues to become what he has become.  His journey has been amazing, you would have to read about it to get the full scope behind the man.

I never saw Dylan in concert...I was not much of a fan during his earlier career.  One of the first times I was introduced to his presence, was around 1965 when our neighbor's daughter came to live with us while she attended beauty/hairdressing school in Kansas City.  Her family had moved to Montana and she stayed behind for a year.  This girl adored Bob Dylan, and would sit on the bed singing his songs and trying to mimic his voice.  I couldn't understand a word of it.  I said, "What the that mealy-mouthed drawl?"  I thought she was just trying to be funny!  Well, anyway, I have come to admire and respect him, and even enjoy some of his work.  Whenever an old concert is on TV and Dylan is to make an appearance, I'm watching!  And I do remember the conflict and disdain of some of the folk groups when Dylan opened up and went electric-but hey, they overcame, didn't they?  However, I, as many others, did not enjoy his Christmas album from last year.  And his voice is not what it once was.  But, he remains a true asset to the beat, folk and pop movements today. 

It just so happens that after writing my little spill about Mr. Dylan, I sit back down after a short break, and Karo has KERA on our TV with a documentary by Martin Scorsese about Bob from American Masters called "No Direction Home".  What timing, my dear readers!  I came to learn so much more about this man, and he, himself is narrating this program, which aired in 2005.  I find that one of the greatest influences in his career and life was Woody Guthrie.  Bob sang Woody's songs a lot at first, then wrote one for Woody.  I think it was called "Hey Woody".  Bob said, "I wanted to portray my gratitude to him somehow."   

There are a handful of people who take credit for discovering Bob Dylan.  One man, Izzy Young, did take an  active interest in Bob's career.  His first impression of Dylan, however, went like this:  "He didn't look too interesting...he didn't look too commanding."  But Bob kept going back and asking Izzy to listen to his songs.  Bob did some concerts in nightclubs in 1960 and 1961.  He said, "There were always talent scouts in the clubs.  But nobody had ever spoken to me about making any records...I just assumed they passed on me." 

The documentary also showed footage of his concert in London in 1966, when he went electric.  The audience booed him and told him to go home...they called him a traitor, and, yet, they stayed for the entire concert!  And Pete Seeger, who was a friend of Bob's really got ticked off and ran off stage cursing!  Bob had gone on the road some, also, with Pete Seeger in the early years, where they did sing together for civil rights.  About his song, Blowin In The Wind, Bob said, "I really didn't know that it had any anthemic quality."  But, as we know,  this song became a civil rights anthem made popular by Peter, Paul and Mary.  And when Allen Ginsberg (who wrote the poem Howl) heard Bob sing, "Hard Rains Gonna Fall", he cried.  As I mentioned earlier, Bob Dylan did not set out to become a political activist.  Izzy Young said that Bob was thought of as being a political person, "but he was 'hopelessly' not political."

Ok...ok...I know this post needs to end at some point!  But it was exciting to see Bob Dylan, Joan Baez (who had been his girlfriend for a while), Peter, Paul and Mary, Pete Seeger, and I think one of the Staple ladies up on stage together in 1963 at the Newport Folk Festival singing
"Blowin In The Wind"!


Sonny and Cher

This famous couple hit the pop music scene in the mid 1960's, their first two hits being "I Got You Babe", and "Baby Don't Go".  They met a few years earlier while Sonny was writing and working for Phil Spector.  At that time, Cher was singing backup for the "Ronettes".  Sonny and Cher released their third album in 1967, which featured their hit single, "The Beat Goes On", written by Sonny.

According to  "they were a strange team in a sense that neither had a great voice, and, indeed, their voices were so similar that Atlantic's president Ahmet Ertegun was convinced that Sonny had come close to breaking his contract by singing with Cher on her solo hit "All I Really Want To Do."

The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour premiered in 1971 and, consequently cancelled in 1974, due to their divorce.   In 1976, the couple reunited to come back with The Sonny and Cher Show, but it was obvious that the comedic spontaneity so enjoyed in their previous show, was no longer there.  This show was popular enough to be renewed for a second season, but in 1977, it's ratings were at a decline, thus preventing another season for the couple. 

In the midst of pursuing their careers separately, Sonny and Cher each remarried and had additional children, aside from their daughter Chastity.  Cher has since enjoyed a successful singing career, and an acting career.  And Sonny entered into the political arena, first as mayor in Palm Springs, California, and then, in 1994, he was elected to Congress.  In 1998, Sonny Bono died from injuries received in a skiing accident.

Even with Sonny and Cher's complex lifestyle changes, I must say, they were my favorite duo, and they're still way up there in my book.  I loved their music and faithfully watched their variety shows.  Cher has a most dynamic stage presence...her costumes and hairstyles, with her all-encompassing voice, literally sends chills my way.  Some of my friends and I, and my sister, idolized Cher.  We grew our hair long, tried to look and dress like her, and sing like her.  When I visited a friend in California in 1967, we went to a boutique, and I bought a couple of Cher fashions.  I mean, that's what the tags on the clothing read!  A bellbottom outfit with a cropped top, and eyelet lace on the large bell-bottoms!  Such cool clothes.  I wore them out!  Cher has appeared in 13 movies during her career.  I enjoyed her performance in Silkwood (1983),  was captivated with her character in the movie Moonstruck (1987), for which she won an Academy Award for best actress, and I was awestruck by her film in 1985, Mask.   I have yet to see her in the 2010 film Burlesque, but I'm sure I'll get around to it eventually.  Sonny and Cher were said to have a 'beatnik' appearance in their early years (previously known as Caesar and Cleo), but I believe their look evolved into a 'Mod' look, as their costumes had become very extravagant. 


Thank you so much for coming by to experience my dive into past 'beat' generation nostalgia.  I picked this group of folks to write about, because I feel they contributed greatly to so many changes in our music culture, and, as we've learned, they have contributed much to social changes.

For my resources may I thank:
Yahoo Images
The Kansas City Times Newspaper, March 1966
(thank you Mom for saving the newspaper article)
KERA American Masters
and any other sites I have mentioned in this post

This morning, at 8:25 am, our firm paused for a moment of silence, in remembrance of the life-shattering tragedy that occured on September 11, 2001.

Be happy!
To hear from you again would be my pleasure!

Happy Grandparents Day!
Sunday, September 11, 2011

 ...La dee da da dee da da dah!


  1. What a lovely quote at the end of your post about the candle! I think I may re-use that if you don't mind. Phew, that was some post there Susan! Well done you on all the information you came up with. It certainly brought back happy memories for me. Gosh, Beatnik - I had forgotten all about that word, but it was used all the time in the early-mid sixties! I loved Peter, Paul & Mary but, like you, wasn't aware of the undercurrent of their politics. I agree that we have lived through some good times, and I think we are very fortunate in that.

  2. *Thisisme...Thank you for stopping by...I hadn't thought much about beatniks either until my mom sent me the newspaper article of the fashion show I was in, and I saw my hair! It was hard to keep the info condensed, there is so much info out there. What a time of life! The quote about the candle is nice...I certainly don't mind if you use it. Thank you again for the great compliments and your tribute to our country's tragedy 10 years ago. Have a wonderful weekend.

  3. Hi Susan, this is just a great post... oh the memories you brought back. I've been back a few times (computer playing up)and I didn't want to miss anything.
    I love the picture of you in the fashion show. I always liked my fringe long as well.
    Your recollections and little stories are priceless. Thank you for all the effort you put into this post :D)

  4. * Susan, when my mom sent me that newspaper article, it did set me to thinking about those days. I started this story last November, but, when the holidays started looming at me, I put it on hold. I had already done a lot of reading and writing by then...tried to keep it short. But realized that there were so many influences that affected those years. More than I knew of at the time. Thank you so much for taking the time to read my recollections! Have a glorious week!

  5. HA!! GROOVY!! what a fun post...sure brought back a lot of memories! love all the pictures...
    although i did have ALBUMS of Dylan...and main listening at that time was Hendrix...Stones...the Who...Zeppelin...jethro '67 when 'are you experienced' came out...i think i wore the grooves right out of that album!!
    there are certain songs that REALLY take me buffalo springfield's For What it's Worth still gives me goosebumps!!

    anyway...i could go on and was a good time then...all that & flowers...the vietnam war :( was cool to reminisce with you...and step back in time...
    can you dig it?? :) xxxooolaura

  6. oh yeah....susan...i forgot to mention...NEAT picture of you from '66!! wow!! hip-hugger bellbottoms...i rememeber a pair i had that were so covered with patches, you couldn't tell they were bellbottoms...well, from the knees up.

    and sonny & cher's uh...daughter...chastity...have you seen her lately?

    and your 9/11 pic & quote...i like that a lot!
    seeya! laura

  7. * Hi Laura, I remember seeing "Alice's Restaurant" with Arlo at the movies, and really loved it. He was very good. And we were always adding some kind of trim and junk to our bellbottoms to make them, yu have to pay a pretty price to get a pair like the ones we re-designed!
    * I'm with you on the Rolling Stones...I like them better than the Beatles, but kept it quiet for many years, because they were such "bad boys", and people were always dogging them. Well...well...well, they're still with us 45 or more years later!!! And I love watching them-actually got to go to one of their concerts in 1988 in Dallas. So cool!
    * This was fun to write, but took some time. Had to put it on hold several times to make way for, you know, "HALLOWEEN", and other holidays. A lot of info to read. Yes, how about that 'Chaz'? I didn't expect that at all! Thank you for the compliments and, I got the candle idea from you.
    * I didn't even know my mom had that newspaper article...what that woman comes up with!
    * We're still without rain here @ 101°. Thought it might cool off soon, who knows anymore? Have a great to you soon.


  9. * Hi Mom, Thanks for your compliment. It did take some time. I gathered all my info last November, and in between all other posts, gradually put it together. The newspaper article you sent me was the inspiration! Thanks, and hugs to you!

  10. Bonnie wrote: "Read the blog and it's great as usual, Love this picture, I remember you looking just like this. Your mom does come up with some neat stuff from the past!!"

  11. Bonnie, Thanks! I hope mom can come up with some more stuff. I don't have too much from those days-guess I was too busy having fun!

  12. Hi Susan,I loved the old newspaper article and your blog..Both are great..The old music takes me back to the Vietnam War.All the groups you talk about were popular back then and we listened to them over and over to get away from what was happening.No one wanted to be there but we had to be.Thank you again for bringing back the old memories. Bill Hylton

  13. * Hi Bill, Thank you for spending time reading this lengthy post. But, there is so much to say about those times. I just wish I had understood more about what was going on. I'm glad you enjoyed reading and remembering the great music and groups! And, I want to thank you for your service on behalf of our country!

  14. Hi, Susan! I decided to follow your suggestion and read your Beat Goes On post. It's quite comprehensive and I enjoyed it very much. I get the sense that our values are closely aligned and that pleases me greatly. As a boy I watched Dobie Gillis every week and enjoyed the mannerisms and lingo of Bob Denver's breakout character Maynard. Remember "Miss Gillhooly" (Zelda Gilroy) and how she always called Dobie "Poopsie"? I saw Peter, Paul & Mary in concert circa 1989 and enjoyed their show very much. It made me sad when Mary passed away. I always thought "All I Really Want to Do" was a Sonny & Cher duet because they really did have similar sounding voices. It was nice to see a picture of you from back in the day and I hope that you'll do more articles like this one and post more of your pictures. Wonderful job, Susan!

  15. AH! Shady-Hi! I'm glad you enjoyed this post. And, like you, I felt like "All I Really Want to Do" was a duet, but when I think of the song, I listen to it in my mind, I can't be sure. I do remember Zelda-what a corker! And, that show was a classic! I always have a story up my sleeve, just a little slow sometimes to get them written. I think I appreciate the 50's and 60's more now than I did then. Thank you so much for taking the time to read this...I tried to keep it condensed, but there was so much to say about that time. And thank you for your uplifting comments Shady!


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