June 9, 1967 – Exactly fifty-one years to the day. Fifty-One years and a whole lot has been forgotten, swept under the rug, quietly lost, loudly destroyed or just relegated to the fading, dust-covered memory banks we each carry around with us – those of us who were around at the time. Kicking and screaming, getting busted, listening to music, seeing new things, having a lot of new experiences.
Contrary to public belief, the influence of the counter-culture, the “hippies” as they were classified, and the protestors constituted a small minority of our population. Those “baby boomers” they all spoke about were coming of age, not necessarily responsibility. And those still in charge wanted nothing to do with the new vestiges of our society, certainly not the scraggly parts.
America, for the most part was still snugly ensconced in the 1950s – and most anything that traversed that norm was quickly rejected or ridiculed. Much as the saying “don’t trust anyone over 30” was the mantra of the Youth culture, “don’t trust anyone under 30” was the mantra of the elders.
Art Linkletter was an institution of American media from just after world war 2 until the end of the 1960s. He was America’s “go-to” guy for wholesome, somewhat precious, highly nostalgic entertainment which represented a brief daily respite from the rapidly changing world of 1967. He offered a haven and a place for poking fun at what was becoming an unsure and largely unpredictable world.
In this episode, he goes out into the audience for an impromptu discussion on how the average person felt about Love-Ins. But rather than get what might have been scathing denunciations, he got comedian Louie Nye instead, doing what was clearly an over-the-top Gay character, gushing romantically over the notion of men with long hair. It goes along with the tone of the program; subtly misogynist, quietly homophobic, yet a slice of Americana as it was in 1967.
Art Linkletter’s House Party would last on radio until October of 1967, the television version would stick around until 1969. They were relics of a rapidly changing world – one where youth was about to take center stage and one where the social mores of Post World War 2 and 1950s was rapidly fading into the distance. In 2018 we never think about this aspect of Americana; we somehow think the world turned day-glo when January 1st 1967 rolled around. Life doesn’t happen that quickly; and change comes even slower.
So if you missed the quaintness of House Party – the folksy, somewhat naive presentation at the time, here is an opportunity to dig in and listen to what dominated our culture in 1967. This was what the so-called Silent Majority of America was listening to, contrary to what you may think.