P-Mag Nostalgia Project: 1969 with Dr. Deah

Dateline: December 13, 1969: a day that would live – well, for me at least – in infamy.

Editor’s Note: Welcome to The Nostalgia Project, P-Mag’s look back at the years several of our writers turned 13. First up is Dr. Deah, who became a teenager in a pivotal year in U.S. history. Everybody put on your tie-dye, pop in a little Crosby, Stills and Nash, and let’s fire up the unicorn-shaped time machine. 

Nostalgia Project banner for 1969

I turned 13 on December 13th 1969, and yes, being 13, we all giggled about the year 69 and all of the sexual connotations that came with it.

But if you look at the number 69 and remove all images and thoughts of oral sex”¦ I’ll give you a minute”¦

It looks like a yin yang symbol.

Yin Yang Symbol
Yin Yang Symbol

If ever there was an appropriate symbol for a year, this would be the one. According to the I Ching, the ancient Chinese symbol represents how forces that appear to be opposite from or contrary to each other are in fact more symbiotic or interdependent. You cannot have one without the other if balance is to be maintained. Despite the appearance of turmoil, the dualities are a necessary part of the fabric of the natural world.

Nineteen sixty-nine was a year of such dualities. It was a year of opposing cooperative forces. It was the “Dawning of the Age of Aquarius.”

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  • Women stopped shaving their legs and men stopped cutting their hair.
  • As women threw their bras out of the closet, “The Gays” were coming out of the closet.
  • The summer of ’69 was the beginning of the Gay Rights Movement erupting with the Stonewall Riots in New York.
  • President Richard Nixon was increasing U.S. troops in Viet Nam at the same time that the United States, USSR, and about 100 other countries signed the nuclear nonproliferation treaty.
  • Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were the first humans to walk on the moon and the Moonies from Korea were just starting to plan their migration to the States.
  • Drug use was up and running rampant at the same time the FCC banned all cigarette advertising on television and radio.
  • There was the peacefulness of Woodstock, (perhaps you’ve heard of this? It was a four day concert in this teeny town in upstate New York the summer of “˜69) juxtaposed with the death at the Rolling Stones Concert in Altamont, CA.


Change was, indeed, afoot. You could see it, feel it, and hear it everywhere you went.

Can you imagine coming of age during times like these? New York in 1969: Hippies beckoning me like Sirens to “drop out” and Timothy Leary urging me to turn on as he joined John Lennon and Yoko Ono at their now infamous Bed-In.

Did you know the song “Come Together” was written by Lennon for Leary as a campaign song when Leary was running for governor of California?

I started taking the “Peace Train” down to Washington DC, protested the Vietnam War, slept in front of The Washington Monument, and woke up to the sound of Phil Ochs singing about The Ringing of Revolution 

The music of the time was the soundtrack of my own personal movie. Everywhere I went whether it was the Fillmore East, The Schaffer Concerts in Central Park or the occasional visit I made to my classroom so I wouldn’t completely flunk out of school, I heard:
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  • Janis Joplin
  • Jimi Hendrix
  • The Mamas and the Papas
  • CSNY

blaring out from someone’s transistor radio.

Think about it, in 1969 the following artists and the myriad of genres they played shared the top hit charts:
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  • Elvis Presley
  • Tommy James and the Shondells
  • The Temptations
  • Sly and the Family Stone
  • Blood Sweat and Tears
  • Johnny Cash

and, wait for it…
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  • The Archies!!!


That would be Motown, bubblegum, country, rock and roll, and soul all at the same time! But there was a “B-Side” to the music scene as FM emerged and gave AM a run for its money when they played:
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  • The Who
  • The Dead
  • Dylan
  • Joan Baez
  • Joni Mitchell

Movies were becoming more sexually explicit with blockbusters including:
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  • Midnight Cowboy
  • Easy Rider
  • They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?

Concurrently that was also the year the world met
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  • Big Bird,
  • Oscar, and
  • Cookie Monster as The Children’s Television Workshop introduced Sesame Street.

And literature, not to be left out, boasted what would become future classics:
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  • Portnoy’s Complaint
  • The French Lieutenant’s Woman
  • Slaughter House Five


But all of us had our own personal copy of the I Ching tucked in our backpacks at all times if we were to be considered a bona fide part of the Hippie Tribe.

Life was NOT all sweetness and light or “Crimson and Clover“ but there was a sense of movement, connection, purpose. The tapestry that was being woven globally with threads of the duality of freedom and conflict that year was evident in all aspects of the culture. And yes, I smoked pot, experimented with free love, and played guitar.

Looking back now, I can see that perhaps I was a bit young to have been swept along by the tsunami of dualities that was the sixties. But as I reminisce on The Who concert I attended with my sister at The Fillmore East in October, 1969 I can’t help but grin. I experienced my own duality phenomenon that year as well. I may have lost a certain amount of innocence but there is no question that I gained a certain amount of wisdom. The Who!!!

By Dr. Deah Schwartz

Dr. Deah Schwartz, clinician, educator, and author specializes in Expressive Arts Therapies, Eating Disorders and Body Image. Deah is the Co Author of the NAAFA award winning Off-Broadway Play, Leftovers, and its companion DVD/Workbook Set. An outspoken “New Yawker,” Deah believes that it is everyone’s responsibility to point out and eliminate size discrimination even when it means battling the mainstream media, and even worse, family members! To find out more about Dr. Deah’s work or to book a session visit her website at

6 replies on “P-Mag Nostalgia Project: 1969 with Dr. Deah”

This is one of those years I feel like I “remember” because it’s been the focus of so many documentaries and docudramas, etc., but I was only four so I really don’t “remember” shit.

So much happened. What a year. What a turning point for the country.

Great work!

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