Bergenfield High School - 1969

The Students of Bergenfield High in New Jersey - Just your typical bunch of kids . Just your typical bunch of problems. Today they are grandparents.

Your Homeroom On Drugs – The Dilemma of Dope In High School – 1969 – Past Daily Reference Room

Bergenfield High School - 1969
The Students of Bergenfield High, New Jersey – Just your typical bunch of kids. Just your typical bunch of problems.Today, they are your grandparents.

Guideline – The Drug Age – October 5, 1969 – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –

By the end of the 1960s drugs were practically a foregone conclusion – they were everywhere and everybody had access to them. The varieties and the affects were different and most everybody knew Speed was going to wreck you up eventually, because everybody had at least one friend who was overdoing it. But everybody knew somebody who knew somebody who had “the best weed on earth”.

But because drugs were becoming an integral part of our youth, it became a point of concern for a lot of people and a lot of institutions. Subsequently, much hand-wringing was going on all over the U.S. – we had discovered drugs in a big way and some of us got into raiding our parents medicine cabinets in search of something that could alter us in one form or another. We were busy making our own discoveries and some of them yielded expected results, while others either did nothing or put us in a coma.

Marijuana was the big issue of the day, mostly because you couldn’t really hide it if you were smoking it because the smell was a dead giveaway. And because it was also illegal meant the jails and juvenile halls were overflowing with kids whose crime was they couldn’t get away with it. And even if you were within a few feet of someone else smoking it, you were under suspicion and very often you were dragged in to face a fine, jail time or the wrath of your parents.

This episode of the Public Affairs program Guideline deals with drugs in high school. And the producers of the show decided to travel to Bergenfield New Jersey to have a sit-down with a bunch of 11th graders from Bergenfield High School (the kids in the photo above, although not the same kids on the show, but a reasonable representation), because they represented a fairly conservative, but nonetheless typical swath of kids wandering in the direction of their senior years in High School.

Heading up the group, and giving a seminar is a member of the Clergy who was also running a rehab in New York city. Joining him was one of the 16 year-old “former addicts” named Tina who came along to bolster the argument and play the part of a cautionary tale.

The Bergenfield episode was a fairly common one in schools around the country – it seemed like every Police Department or Church Parish in the country had at least one Drug Prevention unit whose sole purpose was to caution teenagers on the evils of drugs.

Whether they were successful or not largely depended on where you were socially – you were either a “doper” or a “sosh” and it was as simple as that.

An interesting sidebar is the fact that these kids (including the ones in the photo) are all hovering around their early 70s right now, and that everything we were going through in the 1960s was all considered BC (Before Crack) – and drugs are a bit more turbo-charged in 2022 than ever before – testing before you take anything is a given – being aware of Fentanyl could mean the difference between life or death and overdoses are truly a serious problem. Our drug use in the 1960s pales by comparison.

But that was the 1960s and there were social aspects and barriers and it was all very new territory.

Bear that in mind when you listen to this. Here is that episode of Guideline as it was heard on October 5, 1969.




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