Posted by: Kathleen's Life Waves | September 6, 2010

Life Waves Blog: The Summer That Changed my LIFE The Summer of ’69

The Summer of 69 proved to be a turning point in my life at the age of 15.  The events of 69 are not exactly as they happened in time.  I remember I was looking forward to the Summer of 69 for it was going to be filled with exciting events such as: Man walks on the Moon, Hippies, Woodstock, Music from Those Jersey Shore Guys from the Garage near Cousin Brian’s, Belmar Beach Waves and of course Joey.

We did not head South down the NJ Parkway to Exit 98 when school ended instead we drove to a cemetery to bury  a childhood friend who was murdered in AZ.  Freddy was a true Hippie, he did not want to go to Vietnam but his parents did not want him to go to Canada so he decided that before he went to War (he knew he would never come back alive) he was going to CA.  Growing up that is all he talked about–going out to CA with his guitar and drums to hang with some friends, jam some tunes, live in peace. Well he went for his physical came home and packed his car…Drove off to CA to meet up with Ron. Called everyday until the day  THE CALL came.  He had met someone who wanted to share a ride to CA.  He was in AZ told not to take anyone along he would be in CA in one more day.  Well he did not listen for he was so trusting not knowing that this animal person he let into his car would beat him to death and leave him along side the road of an Indian Reservation.

Because of the heat he was almost unrecognizable but thankfully an Indian riding horseback saw something(Freddy).

I am now attending my first wake, funeral, exposure to loss/death.  It is not until my 20’s that I realize that we all die in many different ways. Murder, Accident, Age, Illness. I loved psychology and spent years dealing with death. I do not understand why anyone has to suffer in illness, age, murder,accident,etc.  Why can’t we all just go to sleep one night and not wake up??? What difference would it make?  We are never prepared anyway and it is human nature to question and there are no answers.  I digress as usual back to how I viewed the loss of Freddy.

The church I remember nothing of…but as they lowered Freddy into his final resting place there was the most beautiful tree where the birds would sing to him in the Spring, which would shade him in the hot Summers, where he could play his guitar and drums, where the Autumn leaves would cover him like a tie dyed blanket before the winter snow.  He was my best older childhood big brother who taught me how to play a few notes on the guitar, who introduced me to a world of peace and music. How dare this happen I wanted to scream, I wanted to I do not know but I knew I felt angry.  Yet it was his peace that has stayed within my soul.  I was around 21 when I sat one day with my Gram on our front porch and realized how this had affected not just his family but mine also. I felt the change, I saw the hurt, I felt the loss of the most free-spirited person I had ever known who longed to go to Woodstock.

Things were unsettling for a while.  We were all told to go ‘play’ like  hello at 15 we did not play but I remember all the parents seemed strange so I longed to see Joey and the beach where I felt safe and freedom in the ocean.  Finally we are in Belmar but wait Belmar seemed to have changed also. There were more people, more young people around and I was liking this.  Joey and I were allowed to go to the beach by ourselves since we knew Dennis the Lifeguard.  I really did not talk to Joey about Freddy  because all the adults seemed to be quiet and I thought that was what you were suppose to do be quiet. My Gram mentioned the word Respect a few times but I did not understand why at the time.  I just know it was great being back at the beach I would jump waves for hours each day not realizing again until I was in my 20’s that I was trying to wash away my hurt, my loss, my anger.

The Rooming House also had an interesting change.  The common room had an addition of a TV. Now I was way curious how that was going to work with 20+ people yet I do remember every single one of us sat in silence to watch the Moon Walk. That day all the older people took naps which Joey should have done for he kept falling asleep and I kept pushing into him to wake  him up because I knew he wanted to see the Moon Walk  and would feel like a fool the next day if he had missed it.

For the first time that I could ever remember we were going home for a few days something my parents had to with reference to Freddy.  This was also the week of Woodstock and I really wanted to go. I wanted to go for the music.  I wanted to go for me.  I wanted to go for Freddy.  But at 15 my parents were not listening and it was not even allowed as a subject for discussion so I ran away to our detached garage.  I stayed there for three days not realizing that my Mom was watching me from the kitchen window. My Mom was cool she never said anything I would sneak into the house to use the bathroom when she went to the basement to do laundry. It was not until the third day that a bag of food was left outside the garage door.

My Gram stayed in Belmar that week and I was ever so thrilled to be back in Belmar again.  I remember not knowing how I felt about anything and it seemed Joey did not understand but he told me of something happening in Long Branch so we convinced my Gram and off we went to Long Branch to hear The Guys who played in the garage on 10th. Avenue Freeze Out.  I was loving the music these guys were playing and it is just amazing to realize that to this day I still listen to their music and have been lucky to run into them on and off for years.

Well this was my Summer of growing up.

My Gram explained it best to me. We are all here living our lives and always its best to appreciate each day, do your very best, have no regrets, remember those who love you and tell them  for we never have control as to when our living will come to an end.

What came to an end the Summer of 69 was my childhood for I grew up.  It was also the last Summer I saw Joey for he started working at Yankee Stadium the next Summer. My Gram well her arthritis got so bad that Winter that going to Belmar became difficult in the 70’s and she passed in 72′.

Some of the best waves came in that August of 69 and Joey and I rode them like they were our last not even knowing that they were until this Summer of 2011 when I rode in some waves in honor of Joey my forever Beach Bum Buddy.  RIP Joey July 2009     RIP Freddy June 1969    RIP Gram 1972

Today when I ride the waves I am never alone. I know Joey is alongside me and that Gram and Freddy are watching over me.

Thank you  for reading and riding my life waves along with me during the 60’s.

My Life Waves Blog will continue as I share with you some of my daily life waves so hold on some are wipe outs. Others are the highs and lows of life.

Remember the PEACE  and  you will always have great  MOJO



  1. Love your journey and memories.

    • Thanks Madge. The journey, the memories are like precious pieces of seaglass washed ashore from the tide now smooth and collectible to bottle up and treasure.
      Thanks for reading my Life Waves.

  2. So poignant, Kathleen. And so evocative. Beautiful.

    • Thanks Barbara. I posted a comment to your Fabulous Labour Day Blog and it just disappeared:( I will go back tomorrow and comment again.
      Thanks for reading my Life Waves. I chose this title back in high school and just never had the time to write. I had notebooks of thoughts but no time between school and work. I wanted to start with my childhood at the beach since it is my favorite place with fabulous people who meant the world to me. The waves of the ocean always representated life to me. The ups and downs the high and low tides. When things got bad I would walk for hours and the sea air and waves would cleanse my mind and soul. Peace♥

  3. Lovely story, Kathleen. so heartbreaking about your friend. Heartbreaking and senseless.
    By the way…”where the Autumn leaves would cover him like a tie dyed blanket before the winter snow.” – gorgeous line.

    • Coming from you Hollye “Thanks”!
      Heartbreaking we both know. Senseless we both know.
      Yet we rise above it= we have to because we need to Live our Lives.
      Poetry was always one of my favorites. I sometimes shy away from being so descriptive so maybe I will just start to let some of it just flow.

  4. What a way to end your childhood “Life Waves” – so very beautifu…I felt like I was there…thanks for your memories…x

    • Linda you were with me in BB although I did not ride any waves that day the undertow was on the strong side from Earl. But the Salt Sea Water was so refreshing for both mind and soul.

      My Belmar beach days were great and I wanted to share them for so long.
      I started writing notes in a journal titled Life Waves back in 8th. grade actually it was the Summer of ’69. I grew up I walked a path of loss and horror, yet I knew and learned from my Gram that one day it would make me stronger and it did.
      Your support, love, and that fabulous wit, from someone who dies mid sentence made my wave a joyous ride. ♥♥ Thank You!

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