One of the highlights of the summer of 2019 for me was watching The Blues win The Stanley Cup in Boston on June 12th. As all alert readers (ARs) undoubtedly know, the Blues’ accomplishment was unprecedented in the history of sports. Never before had a team in any of the four major professional leagues in the United States gone from last place in the middle of a season to a world championship at the end of the same season.
Six weeks after the Blues’ victory parade I got the news that I would be getting a championship ring, just like the players whose performance on the ice had actually earned The Cup. The only problem was that I was on vacation in Basalt, Colorado and would not be in town to have my ring fitted. Luckily, I found a jewelry store in Basalt called One of a Kind. I told the owner, Murray Reynolds, that I needed to be fitted for a ring that I wasn’t going to buy from him. I offered to pay him for his time, but he declined. All he asked in return was that I send him a photo of the ring. If any ARs happen to be in the market for jewelry near Basalt or Aspen, I encourage you to visit One of a Kind at 231 Midland Avenue in Basalt. The customer service, even for a non-paying customer, is excellent.
While Blues’ fans were basking in the glow of the team’s first Stanley Cup in its 52-year history, much of the country was preoccupied with the 50th anniversaries of notable events from 1969. For example, two weeks after the Blues’ victory parade LGBTQ activists nationwide were commemorating the Stonewall Riots that had taken place from June 28 to July 3, 1969. After the New York Police Department raided a gay bar called the Stonewall Inn on June 28th, patrons of the bar and their sympathizers took to the streets to protest what they perceived as police harassment driven by homophobia. A half-century later these protests are seen as a turning point in the struggle for gay rights.
Two weeks after the Stonewall Riots, on July 18, 1969, Senator Edward Kennedy took part in a celebration on Chappaquiddick Island in Massachusetts. Unlike the scene at the Stonewall Inn, this gathering of married men and unmarried younger women was decidedly heterosexual. As most ARs know, the evening did not end well for Senator Kennedy or Mary Jo Kopechne, one of the young women. According to Senator Kennedy’s version, he drove away from the party with Ms. Kopechne, took a wrong turn and drove off a bridge into a pond. Senator Kennedy escaped from the car and went back to his hotel. Ms. Kopechne was not able to escape. Unlike the Stonewall Riots, the police were not notified until the following morning, by which time Ms. Kopechne had drowned. Senator Kennedy lost his driver’s license for a little over a year as well as any realistic hope of ever being elected President.
Later this same weekend the Apollo 11 mission landed on the moon. (Some ARs will recall that we celebrated the anniversary with our special Lunar Lager series.) While there was a huge amount of media attention at the time and 50 years later, two aspects of the mission are especially interesting to me and worth repeating. First, because there’s no wind on the moon, Neil Armstrong’s and Buzz Aldrin’s footprints in the lunar dust are still perfectly intact and will be for the foreseeable future. Second, my iPhone (like those of most ARs) has 100,000 times the processing power of the Apollo 11 computer; over a million times the memory and more than seven million times more storage capacity.
On the weekend of August 15-17, 1969 the iconic music festival known simply as Woodstock was held in Bethel, New York, in the Catskill Mountains. As is the case with the Apollo 11 mission, so much has been written both about the original event and the celebration of its golden anniversary that I can’t add much that most ARs don’t already know. I would simply note that, in my humble opinion, the quality of music since Woodstock has definitely not improved as much the power of computing since Apollo 11. In fact, baby-boomer curmudgeon that I am, I would say that the quality of music hasn’t improved at all in the past 50 years and may even have declined.
Not that all of the music of 1969 had benign consequences. One weekend before Woodstock members of the Manson Family committed some infamously horrific murders inspired by The Beatles’ White Album. The song “Helter Skelter” in particular was interpreted as a call to action for a violent race war.
December 1, 1969 was a significant day for lots of male baby-boomers. It was the date of the first modern selective service lottery. Like many young men of my generation, I remember listening anxiously while random birthdays were announced, indicating who was likely to be drafted and who wasn’t. To my chagrin I got number 94.
I had a similar feeling on August 13th of this year when I called the Office of the Jury Supervisor for the City of St. Louis and learned that I had an unlucky juror badge number and needed to report for jury duty the next day. As was the case with the draft, jury service was compulsory and underpaid (twelve dollars per day) and consisted of a lot of “hurry up and wait.” I also realized that, just like the army, the same rules don’t apply to everyone. Outside the courtroom there was a sign expressly prohibiting food and drink inside. Meanwhile, inside the courtroom the judge and prosecutors were openly drinking coffee in front of jurors who weren’t even allowed to have water.
I became subject to jury service on October 28, 1969, when I turned 21 and was not only able to vote but also to drink beer legally in Missouri. It would, however, be several decades before I was actually called for jury duty. I was initially exempt because I was in the Missouri National Guard and later exempt as a lawyer. Since the Missouri General Assembly repealed the exemption from jury service for lawyers I’ve been summoned several times, but have never been picked for a jury.
Twelve days before my 21st birthday the New York Mets won their first World Series, beating the Baltimore Orioles in five games. In the first seven years of their existence, the Mets had never had a winning record and had never finished higher than ninth place out of ten teams in the National League. This climb from ignominy to world champions earned them the moniker “Amazin’ Mets.” As “amazin’” as the 1969 Mets might have been, their achievement still pales in comparison with that of the 2019 Blues.
Chairman – The Saint Louis Brewery