the start of the 1960's America was at peace. Life was good
for many Americans. Many people made a good living and families
were happy and moving all over the country. Mobility was in
the air. The automobile and hundreds of highways made it easy
for Americans to travel wherever they wanted to go.
Americans no longer lived in the big cities, but even fewer
lived in the country. A great migration to the suburbs had been
going on for the last fifteen years. The suburbs are areas away
from big towns, but not quite out in the countryside. Many Americans
with there families lived in the suburbs because life was less
crowded. Families lived in big homes and many family members
commuted to the city to work. This is why suburbs were called
middle class families in America consisted of a wife and husband
and usually three children. The husband went to work in the
morning and the mother stayed at home to take care of the children
and do household chores. Let us drop in on one such family.
The Ritchie family of San Jose, California.
Chad Ritchie worked for a computer company and wrote software
programs for big computers. At the time small computers did
not exist. Most Americans didn't know much about computers and
didn't care about them either. Deborah Ritchie is Chad's wife.
She is a very good looking lady with long blonde hair and deep
blue eyes. Deborah is also the mother of the Ritchie's two children.
Mara and Harvey. Mara is twelve years old and goes to junior
high school. Harvey is eight years old and likes playing baseball.
" So where do you want to go on vacation this summer? "
He asks the family.
yells: " Let's go to the national park. I like climbing
the big trees. It's a lot of fun. "
Mara yells back: " No. I want to go to the new shopping
mall that just opened up a few miles away. I want to go see
the stores and hang around with my friends. I don't feel like
seeing a bunch of stupid trees "
Chad: " can't you be a little more enthusiastic, Mara?
If we don't go to the national park. I will just work in the
garage with my new power tools and listen to the baseball game
on my new hi-fi radio. "
Deborah interrupts the conversation. " Mara, don't you
want to meet some new people? We don't get to meet too many
people here you know. We just moved to California from Chicago
and most of the family is still over there. "
Mara: " Who cares about them. I like my new friends here
and the shopping center is so much better than going to parks
or visiting relatives. I want to see the new kind of jeans they
are selling at the clothes store. "
Chad: " Life is not just about shopping for clothes. Didn't
you see the new spaceship lift-off on television yesterday?
It was so exciting. America is the strongest and richest nation
in the world. "
" Yeah, it was so neat seeing the spaceship take-off. "
Yells Harvey. " When I grow up I want to be an astronaut
too and go fly out in Space. "
" Don't worry, you will one day. " Responds Deborah.
" But first you have to finish school and learn to be a
really good boy. "
" Hey, champ. Do you want to go out in the backyard and
catch some balls. " Chad urges Harvey as he points to the
back of the house.
Yeah, Dad. Let's go catch some balls. " Yells Harvey.
was the big spring-time of the Second Wave. Just what is the
Second Wave you are probably wondering. Well, most societies
until a few hundred years ago were very different compared to
America in the 1960's. Most people in these societies lived
in the country and grew their food in farms. Some people sometimes
call this kind of civilization a First Wave civilization.
America because of industrialization rapidly became one of the
first Second Wave civilizations in history. A civilization based
on factories and machines and big cities where most of the population
lived. By the 1960's America was the most powerful Second Wave
civilization on Earth.
and Television were important forms of communication in Second
Wave America. Most Americans received most of there news this
way. Politics, sports, and entertainment were seen and heard
by millions of Americans through these new media and all kinds
of news spread quickly. When President John F. Kennedy was killed
within one hour most Americans knew about it. Six hours later
almost everyone had heard the news. More than half cried and
nearly that many had trouble getting to sleep that night. For
three days the entire country sat next to the television watching
until President Kennedy was finally laid to rest.
one knew it at the time, but the Second Wave had just ended
and a new period of national troubles and changes had just begun.