The buzzer sounded and the automatic response kicked in; I switched it over to the radio.  The sound of KLMS radio …. “Let’s go surfin’ now, everybody’s learnin’ how, come on and safari with me …” … The Beach Boys … new group.  It’s September, 1962 and as my mind emerges from its slumber it’s quickly filled with a swirling mix of excitement and trepidation.  I’m about to become a high school student.  Strange how the music of the Beach Boys appeals; Lincoln, Nebraska is in the middle of the plains, about as far from the ocean as you can get.  While the upcoming year might produce a drivers’ license and a car, it definitely wouldn’t be a “Woody” and neither I, nor any of my classmates would be tying a surfboard to the roof.  Still, there was something appealing in that song – somehow appropriate to the adventure that lie ahead .. “We’re loading up our Woody with our boards inside, and headin’ out singin’ our song.”  It made you feel good.  And it was a feel good time. 

At least that’s the way it appears over 50 years later.  Looking back from that perspective, it’s easy to see a time of carefree youth when “Camelot” was in full swing and there were hardly even rumors of war.  The idealism of a Peace Corps and the secure belief that racism was a southern problem made it into an age of innocence.  While adolescent angst probably did crowd our days as we tried to fit in, it is still remembered as time of freedom and independence.   And during the year ahead, the feeling would grow.  By the next September our doubts about living with the bomb would be somewhat assuaged as we would have lived through one of the greatest challenges of the nuclear age.  Our uneasiness with the racial conflict in our country, while becoming more obvious would have been placated by a mass, peaceful assembly that attested to the “American dream.”  Our country would still be at peace.

The buzzer sounded and the radio was again summoned.  KLMS again.  The Beach Boys again … “If everybody had an ocean, across the U.S.A; Then everybody’d be surfin’ like Californi-a.”  The Beach Boys were great.  It was August, 1963.  I’d survived the sophomore year of high school and a junior year filled with promise lie ahead.  Some people were upset about some Buddhists burning themselves up in a place called Vietnam.  The Kennedy baby had died and that was sad, but it was so uplifting to see how our President and First Lady stood up to adversity – they (and our nation) certainly had a bright future.  School was about to start.  And that was a good thing – the gang would all be back together, and we could drive.  We had our own world from cruising Kings to to Keen Time dances.  Life was good and the Beach Boys gave us the anthem to proclaim it:  “We’ll all be gone for the summer; we’re on safari to stay.  Tell the teacher we’re surfin’, surfin’ U.S.A.”
When the Kennedy presidency ended, Jacqueline would refer to his time in office as "Camelot." In the fall of 1962, we were in the midst of "Camelot."
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"Surfin' Safari" first hit the airwaves in September of 1962 and would peak at #14 in October. "Surfin' USA" reached #3 in May of 1963.