Singer Bryan Adams, in his 1985 hit single, called the summer of ’69 “the best days of my life.”
For many Americans, however, that summer now half a century removed represented a time of chaos, turmoil and change while for others it was a time of hope and a giant leap for mankind.
Jimi Hendrix, the Who and others thrilled a crowd 400,000 strong at Woodstock, an August festival billed as three days of peace and music. Four months later, however, several Hell’s Angels stabbed Meredith Hunter to death while the Rolling Stones played “Under My Thumb” at the Altamont Festival in California.
In July that year, the world watched as Apollo 11 landed and the first man walked on the moon then recoiled in shock the following month after the Manson family murders left five dead. Elsewhere tensions simmered over Vietnam and civil rights and the Beatles, who would soon be no more, prepared “Abbey Road” for release.
Former Cleburne High School history teacher Gene Petross will discuss the good, the bad and the ugly of that tumultuous year at 6:30 p.m. Monday at the Cleburne Public Library, 302 W. Henderson St. The event is free.
“Along with many other thinking people in Cleburne, Mr. Petross sees history as vital to understanding human nature,” Library Manager Tina Dunham said. “That means embracing the good lessons of the past, as well as avoiding mistakes of mankind.”
Petross, the middle of five children, grew up on his family’s ranch in Blanket, Texas where he pitched in raising sheep and cattle and baling hay. After graduating Blanket High School Petross entered North Texas State University in 1969 and earned degrees in geography and history.
Petross taught at Edinburgh High School after he graduated college but later enlisted in the U.S. Army National Guard where he served for seven years.
Petross later taught history at CHS but then left to work as a salesman for John Deere. He returned to CHS in the 1990s and retired having served 25 years in the Texas public school system.
Petross loves exploring all history but especially western and Texas history.
“Please join us for an informative and exciting evening of history,” Dunham said. “Whether you were there in 1969 or have only heard about it.”
The Cleburne Public Library offers an array of programs and activities throughout the year for all ages.
For information, call 817-645-0934 or visit the library’s Facebook page.