Where Were You In 1962?

In 1973, a movie premiered titled American Graffiti that had as it’s line “where were you in ’62? The movie dealt with the adventures of a group of young adults who had recently gradated from high school the previous June over a Labor Day weekend. The movie was set in Modesto California and was directed by a young man who grew up in Modesto and remembered those days of rock and roll music and “cruising” down the main drag of the city on summer evenings. That young director was George Lucas and the success of American Graffiti gave him the credibility to begin on his next project, a science fiction movie that was Star Wars.

What inspired me to write this column on this particular subject was a small piece of information I received on a Facebook post. It was sixty years ago this summer that one of the most popular and influential rock and roll groups had their first hit in 1962. Of course. that was The Beatles who had a hit in Europe with their song Love Me Do However it would be another two years before audiences in the United States would hear that song since it wasn’t released in the United States until 1964 after the Beatles appeared on the Ed Sullivan show.

However, another very popular and influential group had their first national hit in the summer if 1962. That was the Beach Boys with their song Surfin’ Safari. The Beach Boys were three brothers, a cousin and a neighbor who got together to form a rock and roll group. The Beach Boys became perhaps the most popular American rock and roll band of the 1960s, just as popular as The Beatles became.

The year of 1962 also saw the first big hit by another very popular rock and roll group as well. The Four Seasons, four young men from New Jersey who had been performing locally for years finally hit the big time in the fall of 1962 with their first big hit Sherry. Together the Beatles, the Beach Boys and the Four Seasons dominated the charts of rock and roll throughout the 1960s.

But this column isn’t just about rock and roll music. I do remember where I was in 1962. I was living in Parma near the intersection of Pearl and Ridge and was about to begin the 9th grade at my fourth school in four years when the new Greenbriar Junior High school opened in September. Back in the 1950s and 1960s Parma was growing so fast that they couldn’t build new schools fast enough to educate us baby boomers, In fact, in 1963, I started in the 10th grade at Valley Forge High School, making it five schools in five years without moving. Perhaps half my graduating class of 1966 had the same experience.

Getting back to the summer of 1962, I was about to turn 14 years old in September. I was between childhood and adolescence that year so it was pretty mixed up for me. What I do remember from that summer was taking a vacation trip with my family to Washington DC. On the way, we visited the Antietam Battlefield one month before the centennial of that historic Civil War battle. I remember walking over the battlefield one hundred years after the battle and finding spent minie balls on the field.

Back in 1962 John F. Kennedy was President and we got to tour the White House and the Capitol building. The country was enthralled with the young President and his pretty wife. Even though my parents didn’t vote for John F Kennedy when he ran for President in 1960, they liked and respected him.

But there was a dark side to that year of 1962 and that became apparent in October. On a Monday night in October 1962, the nation and the world learned when the President went on national television and outlined that the Soviet Union was building missile silos in Cuba and that those missiles would be armed with nuclear warheads and could reach American cities within minutes.

The President declared that the United States would not allow the Soviet Union to install nuclear armed missiles in Cuba and that the President ordered a Naval blockade to prevent the arrival of Soviet ships carrying missiles and equipment to launch them. For ten days that October the world waited and came close to the brink of nuclear war. After ten days, the Soviet ships turned around and returned home.

I bring this up because nowadays we often look back and remember nostalgically about the past. But it was not without it’s share of problems and issues. One thing going on in 1962 was a little war in a country half way around the world named Vietnam that would dominate the news later in the decade. But for a teenager in Parma, life was a lot of fun in 1962.

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 14, Issue 8, Posted 8:43 AM, 08.01.2022