Remembering A Memorable Summer Fifty Years Ago

I am old enough to clearly remember that memorable summer of 1969. Like Sherman and his dog Peabody from the old Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoon show would say, let’s go into the way back machine to that summer of 1969.

In the summer of 1969, I was attending the summer session at Kent State University, so I could graduate on time in June 1970 and living in an off-campus apartment that had a nice swimming pool. That was the perfect place to spend a summer as well as study by the pool.

One memorable day was the 4th of July that year. It was a warm and cloudy day that was very humid. During the day, one could feel that something was brewing with the weather. Then after 7:00 p.m., the storms moved in. We hadn’t heard about the storm damage in Cleveland, but the storms were just as bad in Kent. In fact, a tornado was spotted about five miles from the campus. It didn’t cause much damage, but I do remember that it never stopped raining all night and into the next day.

But the one thing that caught the attention of the world was the Apollo 11 moon landing. I remember seeing the launch of the astronauts on July 16 and it was four days later that they landed on the moon. I watched on television in my apartment late that night as Neil Armstrong got out of the lunar module and walked on the surface of the moon. It was hard to believe that here it was on live television and men were walking on the moon!

That was on a Sunday night. The next day, Monday, I had a class in astronomy where the professor was an old man who I believed had dementia. Everyone in that class that day was still excited about the moonwalk the previous night. But the professor had no idea about what happened. In fact, he didn’t even know that there were men on the moon as he taught that class.

That summer, the war in Vietnam was still all over the headlines. Every day on the evening news there was some story about our troops being in some battle there with men getting killed. There were many protests against the war during the spring. But with the students mostly home for the summer, anti-war protests were minimal that summer.

But a few weeks after the moon landing came another signature event of that era; the Woodstock Music Festival in upstate New York. There were posters all over Kent promoting “three days of peace, love, and rock and roll.” The posters featured a lot of the popular musical acts of the day and I knew several students who were planning on attending that event. In fact, one asked me to join him and others. They were going to skip classes on Thursday, Friday and the following Monday and drive to the Catskills of New York for the festival.

But I had some final exams in my summer classes coming up in a couple of weeks and needed to study. I was close to graduation and really needed those courses. Also, the money was a factor since tickets to the event were about $20, a lot of money for a college kid those days as well as the cost of gas and any lodging on the way.

But when I heard all about the massive crowds there that broke the infrastructure and how there wasn’t enough food, water, and toilet facilities, I was glad that I didn’t go. That was made clear when I saw that it rained on Saturday, the big day of the event.

The summer wound down with my final exams at the end of August. I returned to the campus in September to begin my senior year at Kent State. The anti-war protests began again in the fall with a large protest march from the campus into the city in October and a large national day of protests in November. Of course, everyone knows what happened at Kent State the following spring.

However, it seemed for me at least that the summer of 1969 was a time of contrasts, of American greatness and of cultural upheaval. For me, perhaps it was the last summer of innocence since I did graduate in June 1970 and lost my deferment from the military draft. I was classified as 1A and eligible for military service. That was another chapter in my life and the subject of another column.

Lee Kamps

Lee has been working with Medicare, Medicaid, and private health insurance since he began working at the Erie County Welfare Department in January 1973 where a major part of his job was determining eligibility for Medicaid. He went into the private insurance business in 1977 with Prudential Insurance Company and within a short time had become one of the company’s top sales agents. In 1982, he was promoted into management where he managed two field offices and as many as thirteen sales agents. After leaving Prudential in 1986, Lee decided to become more focused on health insurance and employee benefits. He has advised many local employers on how to have a more cost-effective employee benefit program as well as conducted employee benefit meetings and enrollments for many area employers. The companies Lee has worked with ranged from small “mom and pop” businesses to local operations of large national companies. Lee received his B.S. degree from Kent State University where he has been active in the local alumni association. He has completed seven of the ten courses toward the Certified Employee Benefit Specialist designation. He has taught courses in employee benefits and insurance at Cleveland State University and local community colleges. In addition, Lee is an experienced and accomplished public speaker. He has been a member of Toastmasters International where he achieved the designation of “Able Toastmaster – Silver” in 1994. He has also served as a club president, Area Governor and District Public Relations Officer in Toastmasters as well as winning local speech contests. Lee has also been a member of the Greater Cleveland Growth Association’s Speaker’s Bureau where he was designated as one of the “official spokespeople for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame” prior to the hall’s opening in 1995. He has given talks and presentations before many audiences including civic organizations, AARP chapters, and many other community groups. With the implementation of the Medicare Modernization Act (Medicare drug bill) in 2006, Lee has shifted his focus to Medicare and helping Medicare beneficiaries navigate the often confusing array of choices and plans available. As an independent representative, Lee is not bound to any one specific company or plan, but he can offer a plan that suits an individual person’s needs and budget. In addition, Lee is well versed in the requirements and availability of various programs for assistance with Medicare part D as well as Medicaid. While he cannot make one eligible, he can assist in the process and steer one to where they may be able to receive assistance.

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Volume 11, Issue 8, Posted 3:14 PM, 08.01.2019