Flashback

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50 Years Ago

Senator Kennedy is so much a part of us. I trust that it goes without saying that Ted Kennedy is John and Bobby to some extent for all of us.

Americans (the world for that matter) have been fascinated with “the Kennedys” for a decade now. It is the strongest international name without competition. We have projected our own aspirations onto them and the distinction between where we leave off and where they begin is certainly an ambiguous one.

Historical figures have always combined reality and myth for us and the Kennedys are the greatest modern example of this human phenomena. It is because of this heavy identification that one would be wise to go slowly before making any predictions.

Many would have said less than a month ago that the Kennedys stand first in line for compassion and understanding. Their history of known tragedy stood by itself before our disbelieving eyes. Has all of that changed? Now that we’re in a position to cast stones or votes, can we be so sure of the verdict? —William Taylor, 8/13/69, in response to Ted Kennedy being found responsible for the car crash that killed his passenger, Mary Jo Kopechne.

40 Years Ago

They’re all here tonight—the Hans Brinkers of the Roller Rink, whizzing by on big plastic wheels, doing turns or casually gliding by with hands in pockets, looking cool and relaxed. Most of them look in control, but a few have that terrified gleam in the eye—like they know they’re going to fall any second. It’s another Saturday night at Cal State in Rohnert Park, in the winterland of roller rinks. Several hundred skaters waltz along to “Sitting on the Dock of the Bay.”

…The rink lights go off and disco lights come on instead, sending pricks of light all over the floor from a huge rotating bauble in the center of the ceiling. As one fellow skater puts it, “It’s a trip, mannnn.” —D’Arey Fallon, 8/10/79

30 Years Ago

Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis turned 60 on July 28.

Big deal.

…Jackie O has never, to my knowledge, spoken a single public word in favor or against anything at all, let alone anything of political or social significance. She received accolades for not weeping during John Kennedy’s funeral. At the time, I thought it was odd that she didn’t cry. Later, after the man’s infidelities were brought to light, I thought it was because she wasn’t sorry he was dead. Now, I think it was because she didn’t want her mascara to run. —Mary Lowry, 8/11/89

…The real reason you’re told to use the revolving doors is so the real estate operators of the world can test your willingness to play ball. Do you follow directions and use the revolving door, or are you one of those independent types who insist on doing their own thing? If the latter, be forewarned: when Donald Trump takes over, you’re history. Cecil Adams, 8/11/89

Editor’s note: Holy cow, that’s prescient!

20 Years Ago

As it becomes widely accepted that sexual orientation is not a choice, and that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender kids are three to four times more likely to report attempting suicide than their peers, the need for support organizations such as Positive Images and Rainbow’s End is compelling.

When coupled with the data that at least four out of the last seven instances of school violence, including the recent carnage in Littleton, Colorado, involved the killers being taunted—often by athletes—with antigay epithets, the need for education and acceptance within schools is obvious. As support for gay kids grows and spreads from cities like San Francisco to places like San Anselmo and Santa Rosa, the prospects for this often hidden minority seem ever brighter. —Meredith Guest, 8/11/99

Compiled by Alex T. Randolph

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