When we were asked to make a "class of ’68" sign to carry in the parade and were told that it should be completed by 7 p.m., we rebelled, not for any objection to the parade, but only to prove they could not tell us what to do. The sign-making got delegated to nearby children with more compliant natures.
What happened in the sixties that left its brand on us? Why are we still so fidgety?
Did former Harvard professor Timothy Leary really sit cross-legged in the Reed College commons and tell us to "tune in, turn on, and drop out," or was that some twisted mirage? Did our government really send kids off to the jungle for slaughter? Did we really take refuge in hedonism disguised as self-righteous idealism? Did Lou Reed really sing that badly?
And 30 years later, as we watched our own former professor Jim Webb wander through our reunion with his hand-carved staff and his Guatemalan headband, looking like some ghost of rock concerts past, we asked, are those really peyote buttons growing on Webb's homemade altar under the oak tree?
Yes, to all of the above.
So how did we manage to learn and move on? Some of us didn't. In our determination to do only as we chose, some of us chose poorly. Our excesses took a toll. There have been overdoses, mental hospitals, and rehab centers. But for most of us, it is a tribute to a great institution that, somehow, a solid education seeped through all the cultural white noise. We who survived now masquerade as functioning grownups.