Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Growing up in America -- 1950’s and 1960's--2015, the Highlights

Hello World Wide Genealogy Blog readers-- I am a new author, Helen Spear Youngblood Holshouser.  As a means of introducing myself to you, I’d like to share my own story of growing up in America--especially coming of age in the 1960’s. As you well know, the 1960’s in America was a volatile time in history. I turned 11 years old in 1960, and 20 in 1969! What teenage years I had!

I grew up in a home in Richmond, Virginia, USA, with a live-in paternal grandmother in residence; she died when I was 15. There were also my Mom and Dad, and four of us children, older sister born 1942, older brother born 1947, myself in 1949, and my younger brother in 1955!  We generally gathered for dinner every night, seven around a table it was my job to set, and my sister’s and my job to clean up afterwards.

Sharing a room with my older sister, meant being exposed to some cultural things as a child I might not have been otherwise…like music, religious discussions, and long talks into the night about high school and boys!  I was in love with Elvis by the time I was 10! LOL

Events which I remember as being very important to me in my lifetime can be shown on this time line:

1949--born, (of course I don’t remember!) second girl, baby boomer, after WWII in which my father fought. Mom worked full time, unusual for the 1950’s. Mom and Dad and Grandmother had experienced the war and the depression, both affected their perceptions of life greatly.

1950-1975--the Vietnam War was ever present and a living topic in our home. Dad worked for the Federal Government in logistics and supply. He railed against communism all of our lives.

1952--President Dwight Eisenhower was elected the 34th President of the US, and serves for eight years, my ages 3-11. He was a large influence on my life. He was often the topic of conversation at home, and I had the opportunity to see him speak in Richmond, Virginia, while he was President.

1954--Hurricane Hazel hit taking down trees, and killing 95 people in the US.  I remember it hitting our neighborhood! We lost power for a week, cooked over the fire, and trees were blown down all over the place, cars and houses were destroyed, people killed!

1954--Landmark Supreme Court case, “Brown vs. Board of Education, Topeka, Kansas” requires public schools in the US to be integrated-- declares segregation of black and white citizens illegal. Nonetheless, I continue in all white schools throughout my school career.

1955--My little brother was born, a huge event in my life!

1955--I started public Elementary School in first grade and rode a school bus with my two older siblings. I continued in public schools of Virginia through 12th grade.

1959--January, Alaska becomes the 49th state in the US, and then in August, Hawaii becomes the 50th state! I remember the celebrations--fireworks and parades!  

1960, John F. Kennedy is elected as President of the USA, so young, so dynamic. I idolized him.

1961--“Freedom Riders” travel through-out the southern USA protesting segregated buses, schools, restaurants, etc.--I was 12 years old, and it got my attention!

1962--There was the Cuban Missile Crisis, where we children all thought we would be blown off the face of the earth by nuclear missiles any minute!  Fallout shelters became very popular, and our basement was sealed and well-stocked for survival! Cold war with the Soviet Union was a topic of frequent discussion in my home.

1963, August-- Martin Luther King delivers his “I Have A Dream” Speech which galvanizes the Civil Rights Movement already strongly active.

1963, Nov. 22--President Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas Texas, I was in ninth grade. I remember clearly our principal informing all of us, and silence falling as the impact was felt and many began to weep.

1964, February 9th, The Beatles appear on TV in America for the first time on the Ed Sullivan Show, and like so many of my 15 year old friends, I fell in screaming love!

1964, June, I travel to the World’s Fair with my Girl Scout Troop after a year’s fund-raising effort! We are exposed to many international events and understandings we’d have never experienced otherwise. We also sang and danced to the Beatles’ music all the way up and back on the train from Virginia to New York City, New York.

1964, July 2--President Johnson signs the Civil Rights Act. The Vietnam War is raging; many young men were dying for a war many did not believe in.

1965--Civil Rights riots are taking place all over the US with many people killed. Students join the protest marches in great numbers.

1966--I join a southern branch of “Up With People” called “Sing Out South”--a touring, singing group that I saw as optimistic and pro people of all races and creeds. 

1967--I graduate high school, Huguenot High School in Richmond, Virginia, and go on to attend a small private Methodist college in Greensboro, North Carolina, Greensboro College.

1968--Martin Luther King, Jr. is assassinated in Memphis, Tenn. In April, and Senator Robert Kennedy is assassinated in Los Angeles, California in June! These events scare me and make me feel unsafe in our world.

1969--Richard Nixon is inaugurated as the 37th President of the USA.  Astronauts Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin, Jr. become the first men to land on the moon, July 20.

1970--Four college students are shot to death by National Guardsmen during an antiwar protest at Kent state University, May 1.  As a college student, I was stunned!  Instead of deterring me from social activism, it encouraged me to speak and act in their names!

1970-- Fall--I meet my husband to be, and we start dating in September.
-- I join a protest rally, several in fact, in support of Civil Rights and against the Vietnam War. I supported my many friends who were soldiers in the war, I just wanted them to come home alive, and I didn’t think the war was worth their lives. Once while I stood in solidarity with my friends-- as we stood arms linked around the perimeter of the campus, the North Carolina National Guard formed a ring around us. They had rifles and were four feet in front of us, also shoulder to shoulder. We sang, “We shall overcome one day” and “All we are asking, is give peace a chance” over and over. I have to say, I thought I might be shot and die that day.

1971--April--the schools in Richmond, Virginia where I was reared, were finally ordered desegregated by the courts!  My younger brother was bused across town to a traditionally all black high school. My parents, strong believers in public education, refused to move or to send him to private schools as most of his friends did. He rode a half empty neighborhood school bus to his new school at age 16. He was big and tall, but gentle, and everyday he was challenged to a fight, everyday he was assaulted in the bathroom! School became hell for him, and he dropped out. He began cutting school unbeknown to my parents until he’d missed two months and the school sent a letter finally!  He had a gifted level IQ, so he made up his schooling and attended college, but was impacted for life by this experience as were many youths, both black and white during this volatile time!

1971, June--I graduated from college! Went back to Richmond, Virginia, served as a lifeguard for my 7th summer, and then started teaching Emotionally Disturbed Children in September.

1971, December--I married Max Holshouser, a mechanical designer, woodworker, and teacher and had two children over the next eight years.  In 1978 I went to graduate school to earn a Master’s Degree in Clinical Psychology. I moved from Richmond, Virginia, to Raleigh, North Carolina and moved from being a teacher of Emotionally Disturbed Children to being a family therapist and staff psychologist for a private practice and for public mental health. My social activism continued in a much milder way, volunteerism among other things.  

1999--age 50, I had a heart attack, preceded by weeks of unexplained fainting and coughing spells. Experimental open- heart surgery revealed a serious, non-bypassable, stage four heart condition that took me out of my life as I knew it, and made me a chronically ill person, living on disability, having to sell my house to survive financially, and one who was expected to die within five years! However, I am approaching my 16th year of this illness and have three delightful grandchildren as gifts of this life I never expected to have!

2001, Sept. 11--Terrorist attack the World Trade Center in New York and our world becomes dominated by the war on terrorism as well as the war on drugs. I got so upset about it, so mesmerized by it, that I ended up having another heart attack and spent a week in the hospital.

2011--I discovered ancestry.com, and my new hobby and life interest began!  It started as a way to give a gift of a small family tree to my last remaining aunt, and ended up as a passion for the rest of my life! 

2012-- I started blogging as I had always loved to write, but it wasn’t until February 2014, that I began to write about genealogy exclusively! So I am approaching my first anniversary of genealogical blogging which has opened a whole new world to me , including this present community in which I am just becoming involved, thank you very much! The title of my blog is Heart of a Southern Woman, and there you can find the list of surnames I am researching.


Notice what a melting pot American I am with ancestors from:  Denmark, England, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Scotland, and Wales, among others. My ancestry DNA says this is my ethnic DNA make-up:

 Europe 99%

·                     Europe West 51%
·                     Great Britain18%
·                     Ireland15%
·                     Trace Regions15%
·                     Iberian Peninsula6%
·                     Italy/Greece5%
·                     Scandinavia3%
·                     Finland/Northwest Russia< 1%

West Asia< 1%

·                     Trace Regions< 1%
·                     Caucasus< 1%


Well, now you know who I am, and I hope you enjoyed glimpse into one family in the American South.  I’m looking forward to getting to know many of you and your genealogical discoveries. I’d love to know what you experienced in the 1960’s as well: what did you think of the Kent State shooting? What did you experience of the Civil Rights Movement, the Women’s Movement, and the Vietnam War? I’d really like to hear of your own memories.




  1. I do timelines for family/ancestors all the time in an effort to understand their lives better. I never thought to do one for myself though. Great idea!

    Jeanne Ruczhak-Eckman
    Genealogical Gems

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. Hi Jeanne Ruczhak-Eckman, thank you so much for your feedback! I had never done one for myself either, and not only was it helpful for me, I was pleased when my sister said something like, "Oh, I didn't realize you started school the same year I went to New Mexico to visit our Aunt! She was thirteen! Its so interesting to get it in perspective. Thanks for being my very first commenter on this blog as well, makes me feel accepted! LOL Look forward to seeing you again. Helen

  3. Helen, It is delightful to have you here! It is so important to put not just our own lives, but that of our ancestors into context. I was reminded recently, when my Godson said " oh yer, forgot you were born way back before the internet" bless him!

    1. LOL, Julie Goucher, our Grandkids do keep us in check! That sounds just like something my own 7 year old grandson might say! Thank you so very much for your help and support! --and the welcome! Helen

  4. I was born in 1946 so lived through the many of same events you did but from a black Detroit viewpoint. I've written quite a few blog posts about my experiences but I don't think I've ever put them in a timeline. I think I will do that. Soon as I get a spare minute. I'd like to see what my sister, who was born in 1948 was doing at the same time. Although I know in a general way, and then as my kids were born and grandkids, and oh, yes, my husband... this could become a real family project :)

  5. Kristin, I have always enjoyed your posts and this sounds like a fun and interesting project for the family

    1. Hi Kristin, nice to "meet" you! Your project sounds like so much fun, and it makes me want to expand my timeline similarly to include the kids,my husband, and the grandkids! Wouldn't that be a great visual, and fun for the whole family! I can hardly wait to go back and read your blog posts! Thanks for sharing!

  6. Great post and the videos are a nice touch. It is great you are pulling you whole family in. :-)

    1. Dear Fran Ellsworth, thank you so very much for your support! I am very blessed with a sister who is a great editor when she has time, and just a neat person who stays involved with me! I love her dearly. Thanks for noticing. I'm so glad you liked the videos, I love them. I wanted to put a few more in, like Martin Luther King giving his "I have a Dream "speedh, the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan show...but I thought it might be too much! LOL Maybe another time, orn on my own blog. Looking forward to sharing more.

  7. Loved Helen! I'm so Glad you are with us. If my Grandfather was Living he said: That's some Heck of a Girl! I truly enjoyed your writing. Your Life Story in that timeline. You've seen so many things. You had a front row seat to History like Kristin! So glad we are online buddies. It seems like you have been doing this for a long time. I enjoy your Stories and can't wait to read more! Thanks for Sharing.

    1. Dear, dear True, I am also happy we are online buddies now, and am looking forwarrd to our getting to know each other better! Thanks for the welcome. And you are right, by luck of birth, I have had the opportunity to see and be involved in a lot of things. But we all are really, that's why I love the stories, yours, mine, our families...theyare endlessly amazing! I loved the Genealogy Roadshow program last night! Talk about stories!

  8. Hi, Helen. Welcome to WGC. I have done a timeline for my ancestors, linking their key dates with events in local, national and international history, but had never thought of writing one for my own lifetime. Thank you for the idea.

    1. Hi Sue, so glad you liked the idea. It just so happens I had a "best friend" named Sue Scott in Richmond, Virginia in high school! We ended up sharing an appartment together after college, before we were both married. She did the name proud! Thanks for the welcome, and I'll look forward to getting to know you! Helen

  9. Hi Helen welcome to the World Wide Genealogy blog I love your time line. I too use time lines all the time to write about family. I must have a go at doing one for myself. Looking forward to hearing more of your stories. Cheers Di

    1. Thanks for the warm welcome Diane! I look forward to getting to know you all also! I really appreciate your taking time to read and cmmmnt! elen

  10. Helen, welcome to a group of genealogy obsessives. I really enjoyed reading your timeline because we are a similar age and it was interesting to see which events impacted you in The US and where they overlapped or differed with mine in Australia. Luckily I've been spared the terrible health scare you had. It's easy to forget as family historians that we are also part of our family's history.

    1. Dear Pauline, sorry i hadn't checked back before, i'd love to hear what did impact you in Australia in similar times! How cool! I would guess the Beatles were just as impactful for you in your teen years? But , i wonder, i don't think you had so much racial strife? I'd love to hear. Helen

  11. Thank you Carol, thanks for coming by and for saying hi. Helen

  12. Hi, just stumbled on your wonderful post and timeline. I grew up in Norfolk a decade earlier and I appreciate all the events you mentioned. I am a 7th generation southerner with my first parents landing near Moorehead City, NC ca 1700. What an eventful time we all have lived through. Thank you so much for this post.


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World Wide Genealogy Team