Remembrances by Evelyn Sharp

Hillcrest Class of 1973
By Evelyn Sharp Stanley

We were born after World War II, part of the post-war generation known as Baby Boomers (1946–64),
and we, in particular, are mid-boomers. Our lives have been unique and vibrant—a reflection of the
times we grew up in and continue to experience.

About the time we went to kindergarten, Richard M. Nixon and John F. Kennedy were the first
presidential candidates to debate on live TV: Kennedy easily won the 1960 election. President John F.
Kennedy challenged the nation in his inauguration speech to, “Ask not what your country can do for
you—ask what you can do for your country,” (January 20, 1961). Shortly after, the President formed the
Peace Corps (March 1, 1961), changing our worldview at the same time.

We were in first grade when astronaut John Glenn became the first American in space and the first
person to orbit the earth, completing three orbits in the Friendship 7 capsule (February 20, 1962). We
were in the third grade when Pres. Kennedy was assassinated (November 22, 1963), plunging us into
collective sorrow with our neighborhoods and nation while we were still young.

We were also in third grade when the world became swept up in the “British Invasion:” The Beatles
appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show to a record (at the time) viewing audience of 73 million (February 9,
1964). Teen girls in the TV audience screamed and swooned. Even youngsters were caught up in
“Beatlemania:” if you were a lucky child, you might have had a Beatles lunch box. John, Paul, George,
and Ringo became household names. We were in ninth grade when we heard the devastating news that
the Beatles broke up (September 1969). But that was okay, because we had the Beach Boys singing
“Salt Lake City” (released July 5, 1965).

Sunday nights included watching Kennecott Copper Neighborhood Theater with the “Il Guarany Overture” by Gomes, synchronized with filmed explosions from blasting at the mine, playing through the opening credits. While we grew up, Kennecott Copper was a major employer in the Salt Lake Valley, and many daddies of our classmates found good employment there. But labor strikes—sometimes extended—meant that, at times, many families of our friends felt the impact of no income.

We frequented Dee’s, Arctic Circle, and Genie Boy’s, perhaps picking up an order to eat while catching
a show at the Ute Drive-In Theater—maybe American Graffiti or Live and Let Die.

In first grade, my mother tied three pennies in the corner of a freshly pressed handkerchief (this was so
the pennies would not get lost) which I needed to buy milk to go with my “hot” lunch every day.
Sometimes, it took major scrounging to come up with those three pennies. We used a handkerchief, or
hanky, because tissues had not been invented. We took a dime if we wanted to attend the occasional
lyceum—a national program that brought different performers into the schools. During our time in public school, we never “Xeroxed” anything. We did not have copy machines; we made dittos and ran
the copies on mimeograph machines (such a lovely purple).

We belonged to Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, Campfire Girls, and 4-H Clubs. We played baseball in the
street, No Bears Are out Tonight, Red Rover Red Rover, Here Comes the Jolly Butcher Boy, Frozen
Tag (a level up from regular tag), and Hide and Seek, calling out “home free” if we successfully got to
“kings” without getting caught, and then “Olly, olly, oxen free” to signal the final hiders that they had
made it through the entire game without getting caught and could come in free. “Real” hoppy taws for hopscotch were the coolest, but unnecessary, since a good piece of rock would do just fine. We called out “not it” in a race to see who would be the last, and therefore become “it.” We determined who got first ups in softball by the elaborate method of one captain throwing the bat, the other catching it, then moving up the bat, hand by hand, until one captain held it like a claw by the round part at the end. Then the other captain would give it a kick, and if the one holding it by the claw didn’t drop it from the force of the kick, then that team got to bat first. This whole routine, dictated by the rules of childhood, took about two minutes to complete—much quicker than trying to explain it.

Our junior high and high school years were filled with maps and stories in the nightly newspaper and the nightly news broadcasts of the fighting in Vietnam. Walter Cronkite on the CBS Evening News told us, “And that’s the way it is.” Hippies, drugs, war-protest songs played by our favorite rock bands, bell bottom pants (dungarees), and sit-ins were part of our formative years. Nixon was finally elected president in 1968, and ran for re-election in 1972. Those of us who were eighteen-years-old in November 1972, may have voted for the first time. We watched Nixon win by an electoral landslide, then resign in shame August 9,1974, and receive a controversial presidential pardon a month later from President Gerald R. Ford. Even though Nixon resigned before it could happen, we learned a new word: impeachment.

We were born the year the Salk vaccine became available and polio eventually became a distant threat. In 1962, the new oral vaccine was distributed, and vaccination campaigns with slogans such as “Polio Won’t Wait—Vaccinate!” were held, and clinics took place in schools for ages six months through adult. At one such clinic in Jordan School District, the cost of the vaccine was 25¢ but was given free if a person couldn't afford it. The author remembers going to Hillcrest High and standing in a long line to receive a sugar cube in a little paper serving cup that contained a dose of vaccine. Our generation also received the smallpox vaccination (it left an interesting pattern of needle sticks on our arm), something that was no longer necessary for our children after smallpox was declared eradicated in the US in the 1970s. Standard (red) measles, German (three-day) measles, mumps, and chicken pox were a rite of passage of our growing-up years.

McDonald’s, Disneyland, and LEGOs were also “born” in 1955. Rosa Parks was arrested on December 1, 1955, for not relinquishing her seat on a Montgomery, Alabama, city bus to a white rider who was standing. This sparked the Montgomery Bus Boycott by the Black citizens of the city. It lasted for 381 days until the Supreme Court declared that segregation on public transit systems was illegal. We may not have understood the significance of The Civil Rights Act passed in 1964, but we grew up in a time of civil unrest, protests, riots, and marches for racial equality. We were in seventh grade when Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated on  April 4, 1968, in Memphis, Tennessee. Decades later, we watched as riots for Black Lives Matter ripped through the nation and our own Salt Lake City.

Our debate classes in 1972 debated the pros and cons of holding the Olympics in Salt Lake, then we
watched and participated thirty years later, as this became a reality, and the world came to Salt Lake for
the 2002 Olympics.

The summer before ninth grade, the “Eagle” landed: Neil Armstrong walked on the moon and took a giant leap for us all (July 20, 1969). We played with Barbie, Tressy, G.I. Joe, Batman toys, Chatty Cathy (the first doll advertised on television—she became immensely popular), Matchbox cars, Easy Bake Ovens, Operation (the game), troll dolls, and LEGOs. We remember the arrival of push-button phones, hot rollers, blow dryers, and Bass Weejun penny loafers. We remember how to “dial” a phone number as well as what “party lines” were, and we also knew a world with no answering machines and no call waiting—you kept trying until your call finally went through. Our phone numbers began with letters such as AM5, which stood for Amherst-5, and later became 255. We used the phone book and the yellow pages. We dialed "O" for Operator. You could ask any question and someone there had the answer. We remember when zip codes changed how we addressed letters—yes, we wrote and sent letters. There were sponge rollers or orange juice cans with both ends cut out to make large hair rollers. We wore the curlers all day under a scarf or slept on them all night while our hair dried. The girls wore garter belts to hold up their “nylons” (which came in packs of three-for-a-dollar at the Big “V”), and we remember the welcome invention of pantyhose. The girls wore mini, then midi, then maxi skirts. The junior high dress code said that the boys were to wear their shirts tucked in. Girls did not wear pants to school (unless there was an afternoon dance) until the eleventh grade and then no denim jeans until our last year in high school. Girls wore braided leather chokers and boys slit their Levis over their cowboy boots and frayed out the hems. Bell bottoms were to cover your entire shoe to the floor; it was a sure sign of nerd death if you were “going to a flood.”

We watched afternoon cartoons and cowboy or spy shows playing on our black and white televisions.
We were one of the first television generations, however, “I Love Lucy," "The Roy Rogers Show,” and
“The Mickey Mouse Club” were already re-runs by the time we watched after school. The after school
cartoon shows were hosted by Admiral Bernie (formerly Captain KC) on Channel 5 or Captain Scotty
on Channel 4. Sundays meant “The Eugene Jelesnik Talent Showcase,” where we watched the best
local talent vie for their big break. When we grew up, there were only three network television stations plus one public broadcasting station, and they signed off at midnight, some by playing the national anthem.

We grew up during the Cold War. Some people dug bomb shelters in their backyards. We had Civil
Defense training in school on bomb raids and air raid sirens. The Cuban Missile Crisis took place when
we were in the second grade (October 16-29, 1962), and we held our breath along with the world that
war and missiles would not be launched. We were just starting first grade when the Berlin Wall went up
(August 13, 1961), and we lived to see it miraculously torn down a long twenty-eight years later
(November 9, 1989).

When we were one- or two-years-old, Pres. Dwight D. Eisenhower announced his plan to build a massive road system throughout the country. The Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956 provided for 40,000 miles of roads that would link every major US city with populations of 50,000 or greater. Called the interstate, one of its purposes was to provide a way to quickly empty major cities in the event of an atomic attack. One-mile stretches of cement were strategically included to provide emergency landing for aircraft, if needed. The construction reached Midvale, Utah, around 1966, tearing up Center Street while huge underpasses were dug. We were amazed to see the transformation in our little town—we now could get to Salt Lake City without any stop lights instead of inching our way up State Street with the State Capitol looming ahead. An interesting note: the last stretch of I-80 was completed in Salt Lake City in 1986, making it the first road to go from Atlantic to Pacific.

Even though we could now bypass State Street to go to downtown Salt Lake, this did not stop us from
“dragging State” on Saturday nights when we were in high school, while listening to the car AM radio.
We listened to our songs played on KNAK, KCPX, or KOVO radio, often changing between them by
rolling the dial to the station number and then fine tuning until there wasn’t any static. “Skinny” Johnny
Mitchell was a favorite local DJ (he loved your neck, baby). We called and called the station hoping for a chance to get our "song dedication" on the air. Nationally, we caught the "The Classic American Top 40 Countdown"  hosted by Casey Kasem each week, and Wolfman Jack was a favorite national radio
personality as well. We had clock radios on our nightstands, transistor radios that we carried, and later,
cassette tapes or eight-tracks in our cars. The #1 hit song of 1972 was “The First Time Ever I Saw Your
Face” by Roberta Flack.

We remember in 1966 when the population of Utah reached its first million (1,009, 000). July 1, 2022,
found the population at 3,404,760. Perhaps we helped lower that number by our leaving the state, or
maybe we helped it grow by staying and building our families here.

The D. & R. G. and Union Pacific railroad tracks down Center Street in Midvale were removed in 1961
so Center could be widened to four lanes. The Midvale smokestacks of the United States Smelting,
Refining, and Mining Company were blown up on July 4, 1960, however the smelting had ended several
years before. We watched fireworks while sitting in the Midvale ballpark bleachers on warm Fourth of
July evenings and went to the Lions Club Father’s Day Breakfasts in the Midvale Park Bowery. During
school lunch we would sneak--it was against school rules-- (I say sneak, but it seems the entire school was there) over to Arnie’s Little Store (Center Street Cash Grocery: Arnold Javaine, proprietor) for miniature brown sacks of carefully chosen penny candy from the delicious variety in the glass enclosed display case. The white paint in front was smoothed and worn from little arms and elbows leaning against the front while children prepared for their turn by mentally choosing what their dime or nickel would buy--sour balls, licorice records, jawbreakers, little wax punch bottles (you even ate the wax), sixlets, and so much more. It was a most serious, happy task.

We have a shared history—a part of life we walked together. It was mostly a good time and a good
place. May your walk be peaceful, and may we continue to travel together. It’s all groovy, man.