By BRUCE HOLLOWAY - Waikato Times
Saturday, 11 October 2008
Jefferson Airplane band member Paul Kanter once said that if you can
remember anything about the Sixties, you weren't really there.
But Hamilton author Graham Hutchins, who came of age in small-town
Waikato during that decade, has done his best to challenge that
theory with this month's release of his 30th book, The Swinging Sixties.
The cover makes the claim that this was an era "When New Zealand
changed forever" and Mr Hutchins duly presents a social history of
the country during the 60s which reads as both a nostalgia trip and
an eulogy for a convulsive decade.
"You could list a whole range of things that made the Sixties quite
distinct," Mr Hutchins said. "There was greater car ownership,
supermarket shopping speeded up aspects of the daily chores, there
were different lifestyles with different living arrangements.
"Marriage lost its sanctity, divorce was no longer a dirty word. The
pill emancipated a lot of young women.
"TV was beginning to impact, and drinking patterns changed when six
o'clock closing came to an end."
But most of all the change was about the impact on youth and a
generational quest for more freedom, with the conservatism of the
1950s challenged on all fronts.
"The youth revolution started to roll a bit, with challenges to
everything from hairstyles to fashion and music, experimentation with
drugs, and protest movement on the back of the Vietnam war.
"It was almost if society was ready for change.
"It was a time of great edginess and excitement."
Like most places, New Zealand got two decades for the price of one.
Mr Hutchins takes readers through the prosperous years of "the Golden
Weather" through to the "Summer of Love" before things got excessive
and the establishment bit back.
While the book is aimed at Baby Boomers perhaps the only people with
money to buy $50 books these days and mostly approaches the subject
from a "change is good" perspective, it may also appeal to younger readers.
Mr Hutchins said it might give children an insight into why their
parents are like they are.
"For younger generations the 60s must seem like eons ago," he said.
"But they might be interested to knowe why dad gets misty listening
to Eleanor Rigby, even now."