CELEBRATION – To Sonny Buoncervello, the 1960s were the beginning of a dramatic amount of mobility that ended up separating families.
To Peg Dunmire, the 1960s represented the start of a huge government push to combat poverty that not only failed, but left the country with programs that this nation can no longer afford today.
Buoncervello, a Realtor in Celebration, and Dunmire, a business owner who lives in Hunter’s Creek, were both born in the 1940s and came of age during that critical decade. And they both believe that the impact of the 1960s is still being felt today – and not necessarily in positive ways.
As the Freeline Media Hour gears up to review this decade on Thursday, May 5 at 3 p.m., Buoncervello and Dunmire agreed this is a fascinating topic, with a lot of ground to cover.
Buoncervello recalled the 1950s being a very conservative decade – and one that was very family-oriented.
“I guess what I remember is what an old fashioned country we were in the 1950s, and during the 1960s, how we changed our habits tremendously,” Buoncervello said. “When you were growing up in the 1950s, you didn’t want to be disrespectful to your family, you didn’t want to do anything wrong in front of your family.
“But there were some people in your neighborhood who were stricter than your family — and you respected that,” he added. “You couldn’t go out of your house and be disrespectful to your neighbors. The parents of those children would thank you, saying ‘Gee I’m sorry I wasn’t home, but I thank you for stepping in and punishing Charlie.’ “
That kind of respect for the family and the values of the neighborhood started to change in the 1960s, he said.
“The beginning of the change started in the 1960s, and by the time we got to the 1980s, we heard ‘Don’t you talk to my child, you don’t have any right to talk to my kids.’ Wow, what a terrible transition. What I described in the 1950s was wholesome and represented the family.”
Bythe 1960s, people had become more mobile, and the family unit wasn’t nearly as close-knit, he added.
“It was the beginning of things dissolving in families,” he said. “In every home town, you had your immediate family, and your extended family, and in the 1960s, everybody started to travel extensively and start moving away from home. It was the deterioration of the family as people got separated and segmented all over the United State. There was no family structure, so the conservativeness from dress to speech was gone.”
Dunmire also recalls a lot of social and cultural upheaval in the 1960s – a decade she remembers quite well.
“I am from the 1960s,” she said. “That was my youth. There are lots and lots of things that happened. One of the things we deal with today is the effect of the Great Society and President Johnson’s leadership and guiding our country into believing that government is the solution.”
Following his landslide re-election campaign in 1964, President Lyndon Johnson promised this nation a Great Society that tackled poverty through programs like federal aid to cities, and the Medicare program covering health care costs for seniors, and the Medicaid program providing health care assistance to the poor.
However well intentioned these programs were, Dunmire said, they failed to eradicate poverty as intended, and today have left the nation with bloated entitlement programs that are moving the nation closer and closer to bankrupcty.
“Passing Medicare and Medicaid was the worst piece of legislation in our history, because it has totally distorted the costs, and now we have these costs rising and it has led to ObamaCare,” Dunmire said, a reference to the national health care program passed by Congress and signed into law by President Obama last year.
In the 1960s, Dunmire said, the nation never envisioned that the expense of operating these programs would rise to the alarming level seen today.
“We were a very wealthy county, we were a very optimistic county, and we believed we could solve poverty in this country,” she said. “And it has not resolved poverty and it has caused enormous problems. Now there are many, many people who believe Medicare and Medicaid have been tremendously beneficial, and I would not take away the medical benefits people got from it. But the mechanism for having a centralized government be able to address or take away poverty, we can say without exception, this is a failure. We still have poverty today. So big government is not the solution to poverty.”
On the other hand, Dunmire said one of the greatest legacies of the 1960s was the civil rights movement, which ended racial segregation.
“The civil rights movement was very much front and center in the 1960s,” she said. “I as a white person think we did a pretty remarkable job having integrated blacks, Hispanics, Vietnamese and all other minorities into our society, and we have a robust black middle class today that we didn’t have in the 1960s. That is a huge change.”
Dunmire also remembers the innocence of the 1950s fading as the 1960s brought about huge social changes, starting with the controversial war in Vietnam which deeply divided the nation, often along generational lines.
“I am of that era of being very suspect of the military and the government, and I think that has had an enormous impact on the psyche of our nation,” she said. “Those were years of protest and trying to make a difference in the country, and thinking we really could solve the problems in the world. Many of the problems we have today are directly attributable to the 1960s.”
Mike Freeman and Dexter Miller, co-hosts of The Freeline Media Hour, will look back at the 1960s from 3-4 p.m. on Thursday.
Contact us at FreelineOrlando@Gmail.com.