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Were the 1960s a great time to be alive?

(77 Posts)
Jacinta55 Fri 12-Apr-19 11:57:32

My daughter has mentioned that Mumsnet has a topic discussing being alive in the 60's, and asked me my thoughts. I was born in the late 40's, so was a teenager in the 60's. Things were certainly changing in terms of music and culture, and there was more freedom. Sex outside of marriage was frowned upon, and no pill until later. I used to enjoy dressing up to go to dances and parade for the boys. I remember wearing net underskirts with lovely flared skirts, strapless longline bras, girdles and stockings. The house was generally pretty cold as there was no central heating, and we didn't have a car until the late 60's. Now look how many there are.

sodapop Fri 12-Apr-19 12:20:50

So many things to remember Jacinta55 , suspender belts and stockings which wrinkled at the knees, party lines on the phone, more freedom for teenagers, abundant food no rationing, coffee bars and so on.
It's said there has been no greater time of change than from WW2 to the present day.

TerriBull Fri 12-Apr-19 12:44:34

My kids think we were both very lucky to have lived through the '60s and remember it. I was still at school and was aware there was a ground swell movement of change, I think The Beatles were very much at the fore of that, they certainly put England on the map. Before those times, it seemed that we were still covered in a blanket of greyness thrown up by the post war where everything was happening elsewhere, particularly in the US. Mid '60s I felt pretty lucky to be living in the 'burbs near to London, where friends and I were able to get up to places such as Carnaby Street and the Kings Road, not that we had any money to buy anything but it was enough just to go there and walk up and down on what we perceived was hallowed ground. I was really too young to indulge in anything like sex and drugs grin but of course we were well aware of all of that In retrospect my friends and I were just observers, and soaked up the culture through the prism of magazines such as "Rave", "Petticoat" and "NME" This was mentioned on another thread, but I do remember being 12 or 13 and going to nearby Weybridge with a friend, we lived in Surrey, to look for John Lennon's house which we did find, but alas no John Lennon.

When I first met my husband and we discussed the '60s, he being a decade or so older than me I remarked, he would have been old enough to appreciate it all, "too busy paying a mortgage" came his sad riposte sad

Yeah our house was pretty cold, I'm not sure I knew anyone with central heating then, but that was normal. I do remember my father first getting the family car when I was about 7 or 8, although I did have friends whose parents always had cars and some of their mothers drove EVEN! my mother didn't learn till I was in my teens.

I think like the 1920s the 60s was a seminal decade. In the '20s it was coming out of the awful Great War years, hemlines went up and it was the essence of the Jazz Age, ending in the Great Crash. The '60s threw off the gloom of post war years and it was a time when working class heroes emerged to displace the status quo of BBC English and everyone looking middle aged whether they were 14 or 45.

The decade ended with men on the moon. I'm probably remembering it through rose coloured specs though, it wasn't all great.Still lots of oppression in the deep south of the US and the assassinations of the two Kennedys and Martin Luther King.

humptydumpty Fri 12-Apr-19 12:49:58


Fennel Fri 12-Apr-19 12:57:31

I'm older than most of you - moved down to London as a student in 1958 and spent the next few years there. After the deprivations of the war years, and postwar gloom, it was a time of rejuvenation. Especially for young people. Music, fashion etc.
I had lodgings in Hackney, at the time when the Krays were active nearby, so there was good and bad.

BlueBelle Fri 12-Apr-19 13:05:01

I loved the 60 s I was 15 in 1960 and just starting out in life
I loved the swinging circular skirts with wide wide belts, lots of petticoat well starched and flat shoes, pedal pushes I loved the Stones, Elvis, and all the Liverpool groups, Adam Faith and so many more I saw most of the big groups I went to youth clubs and art school and was never ever offered drugs and never knew anyone who took them Sunday night was walking on the prom in twos and threes hoping to catch a boys eye I drank Babycham, CherryBs and if a boyfriend offered Benedictine’s and Drambuie, by 1964 I was working and met my further husband and yes sex outside marriage did happen we were just more careful I guess
I married outside my race and England was a very raciest society in the 60 s so I had some hard old times but I still loved that decade

craftyone Fri 12-Apr-19 13:07:41

omg yes, I lived in Liverpool. My parents were strict, I was not allowed out to roam the streets at night or go to festivals. The music and clothes, amazing, what a memory. We cycled everywhere in the shortest of skirts and going to college and uni cost us nothing. Anyone who wanted to work at school did well, the teachers were generally good and had good values and people still had good manners and cared for their communities. I loved the 60s

Grannybags Fri 12-Apr-19 13:08:22

Yes! I left school in 1967 and life was fun! grin

rosecarmel Fri 12-Apr-19 13:49:40

Vietnam war, counter culture movemement, protests, rioting, The British Invasion smile which even my parents enjoyed and loved, lunar landing, boho / hippie clothing, frosted lipstick, mini skirts, go go boots, skateboards, surfing, the rise in divorce rates marking the beginning of the trend when grandparents began looking after grandchildren which has continued to rise ever since, the assassination of JFK, Bobby Kennedy, Martin Luther King, the civil rights movement, expansion of middle class, Bay of Pigs, Cuban Missile Crisis, feminism, bra burnings, birth control, Manson Murders, drugs, Woodstock, West Side Story, Easy Rider, The Graduate, Guess Who's Coming To Dinner, Twiggy, big sideburns ..

It was an incredibly confusing time ... I was just a child, But I had fun too ..

rockgran Fri 12-Apr-19 13:51:06

It was a great decade to live through but 1961 was very different to 1969. Fashion and music changed out of all recognition.
There was a distinct difference between the early 60s which were very like the 50s and the mid to late 60s after the Beatles and Mary Quant. I remember stockings then tights, full skirts then shifts and minis, stilettos then boots, ski pants then bell bottoms. I'm often amused by films supposedly set in the 60s that seem unaware of the progression of changes that came throughout the 60s.

Bathsheba Fri 12-Apr-19 13:55:00

All my teenage years were in the 60s and my rose coloured specs recall a whirlwind of boyfriends, parties (many all night ones!), dancehalls, shopping in the West End and lazy Sunday mornings in bed recovering from whatever I'd been up to on the Saturday night grin.

But of course, it wasn't all fun. There was school, GCEs, boring Saturday jobs, broken hearts (well, just one heart, but multiple breakings sad)

But oh yes, it was such a great time to be alive, particularly as a teenager!

Grandma70s Fri 12-Apr-19 15:26:46

I certainly enjoyed most of the 60s. I was in my twenties, a postgraduate student in London from 62 to 64, with a reasonable scholarship income and subsidised university accommodation with other postgraduates, mostly from other European countries. I had a wonderful time going to ballet, opera and theatre, always in the cheapest seats. We didn’t care if we had to live on baked beans for a week as long as we could get to the theatre. Those were definitely the best years of my life. Things weren’t so much fun when I got my first job - hated it - but I moved to a happier one and then got married in 1968.

I remember very well the feeling of change in the air when I was living in London. The fashions were gorgeous, and I was tall and slim so I looked quite good in my clothes. Everything was more free and open, laws were becoming more liberal, and of course I was young. I was vaguely aware there was poverty, but I had no idea how bad it was.

The pop music culture didn’t impinge much on my life. We knew about it, of course, but it wasn’t my world. I remember finding Elvis Presley hilariously, unintentionally funny. The Beatles were quite fun, but the only Beatles record I ever bought was PennyLane/Strawberry Fields. That was in the mid-60s, when I was living in Liverpool and knew both those places.

Grandma70s Fri 12-Apr-19 15:33:42

I agree with rockgran, though, that the early 60s were very different from the late 60s, particularly outside the capital.

Fennel Fri 12-Apr-19 15:37:01

I've just remembered - we used to go often to the London folk clubs, as here:

KatyK Fri 12-Apr-19 15:54:56

I loved the 60s. The music, the fashion, everything.

Jacinta55 Fri 12-Apr-19 16:06:24

It was a great decade to live through but 1961 was very different to 1969. Fashion and music changed out of all recognition.
So true Rockgran. Remember Mary Quant with tights and the mini skirt. I was at boarding school by then and we weren't allowed to wear them. And the music!

Fennel Fri 12-Apr-19 16:36:46

What about the Mods and the Rockers - when were they around?

Fennel Fri 12-Apr-19 16:41:46

I had forgotten about this:
Things don't change!

NanTheWiser Fri 12-Apr-19 18:04:10

Oh yes, agree with all the comments. I was born in '47, so was a teenager throughout the 60s, no other decade has seen such a change in fashion music or attitudes.
If only we had known!

Liz46 Fri 12-Apr-19 18:14:23

You've all brought back memories! I lived on The Wirral so spent a lot of time in Liverpool at clubs, The Cavern (yes, I saw The Beatles there) and there were quite a few clubs in Wirral too. I had a great time and it was all pretty innocent.

I did jury duty 4 years ago as they got me just before my 70th birthday. I was a bit embarrassed in the jury room when I still knew absolutely nothing about drugs.

travelsafar Fri 12-Apr-19 18:19:32

Loved every minute of it and wish i could go back to relive.!!! Mum and Dad both still here, family still living under one roof so we shared, argued and laughed about everything.Great times.

Grandma70s Fri 12-Apr-19 19:01:03

The big celebrities of the 60s for me were Margot Fonteyn and Rudolf Nureyev (I did see them), Maria Callas (I couldn’t afford to hear her live, minimum ticket price was £5), models Twiggy and Jean Shrimpton, David Bailey the photographer, actor Terence Stamp. Lots of others, but those are the ones who first came to mind.

Grandad1943 Fri 12-Apr-19 22:39:45

I was just fifteen when I left school at Christmas 1959. I had no qualifications whatsoever, but all who left that school with me emerged into a land of full employment where there were more jobs on offer than there were people to fill those vacancies.

In that, I walked into a large department store on the Saturday following the Friday I left school and seen an advertisement in their food department for a trainee Butcher. I spoke to someone in that department, and he took me in to see the Butchery Dept manager who after a ten-minute interview told me to start work there on the Monday.

The above may seem incredible to many in these times, but such was the attitudes and approach to life at the start of the sixties, and that attitude maintained itself throughout that decade. There quickly evolved a revolution in music and with even young people like myself earning good wages the dancehalls and theatres were always packed out as the Mersey sound swept the nation.

Of course, the Cold War was at its height, and we had the "Cuba Crisis", which has been the only time in my life that I really believed that nuclear war was really about to overcome us all. There was also the ever-growing Vietnam war which the United States were always hoping that Britain would join them in. In the short period that Alec Douglas-Home was Prime Minister America really put the pressure on him to send troops into that morass which would have meant the return of National Service or us young men.

However, the above did not come about, and I went on through the above full employment to join the Road Haulage Industry. In that, I lived for my Motorbike and my mates, until in 1968 i met the best girl this world has ever produced and we became married, and by the lords good grace still remain together after more than fifty years.

So yes, for me and many others who spent their young adult lives in the 1960s decade it was a wonderfull period to which Britain has not witnessed any period that can compare since. It was a decade of change that belonged to the young in Britain, who believed that a great future for all was at hand. However, the 1970s quickly demonstrated that would not come about, and here we are.

crazyH Fri 12-Apr-19 23:00:06

I was a teenager in the 60s, in a land far away. It was idyllic, beach parties, guitars, Mum dragging me by my hair (beautiful dark, thick, long hair ) out of a house party because couples were "snogging". Beatles, Everley Brothers. ........Where have all the flowers gone? 🎶 🎶 what a great carefree time that was!!M
Now sans hair, (nearly), sans teeth (nearly)......😫🤓😧

Nanah67 Fri 12-Apr-19 23:02:18

Born in 1958 but remember so much of the 60 s and still remember it today..
The 10 siblings ahead of me having the time of their lives.
Waking me up at all hours to recount concerts and fashion tips..they made their own dresses for Saturday night times but seems like yesterday ..highly critical of my choices in the 70 s..they thought it all rubbish..had a ball with disco music and met my dh in 1976 ..we are still rocking..gks love it ❤️❤️