Make a list of 5 important events or moments from the time frame you have chosen.
There was a polio epidemic in the 50’s – we all had to be vaccinated, but it was too late for some children. My little brother’s best friend contracted it, although he was “lucky” that it only affected one arm.
There were race riots in the States. I really wasn’t aware of the type of racism that was going on in the southern United States until all the riots started in the mid-1950’s. Our lives were very insulated, but with the acquisition of our black-and-white television the world landed in our living room every night on the news, and it was difficult to ignore. I remember watching news clips of Little Rock, and I could see white policemen beating blacks (or “negroes” back then) with their sticks, right along with other white citizens whose faces were dehumanized by hate. By contrast, the negro faces were full of fear, eyes wide and mouths screaming, scrambling to get away from the beatings and arrests. I remember asking my father why the white people hated the negroes so much. We had lots of negroes here in Nova Scotia, and although I knew that there was some prejudice against them, I had never heard of that type of violence taking place against negroes until that television broadcast. It opened my eyes to the atrocities that were visited on them in their daily lives and for generations before.
The atomic bomb, Sputnik and the Cold War – these things were so far away and I was so wrapped up in what was going on in my personal life, that I didn’t really understand how they related to me until the Cuban crisis. There was a time when we didn’t know from one day to the next if we would all be wiped out by an atomic blast. For the first time in my life, I knew real fear.
Hippies, free love and flower children – all of this began to take place when I was a young mother. I couldn’t much relate to it all at that point in my life, and didn’t really get involved in it until after my marriage broke up and I was on my own again. As a single mother, I began to be very interested in women’s liberation, especially as it related to equal pay for equal work. It was confusing, though. I didn’t really want to burn my bra, and I never related to the very militant feminists, but neither did I understand those women who were on the march against women’s liberation. To me, those were the women of my mother’s generation, and after my experience with marriage, I wanted no part of placing my life in any man’s hands – I wanted control over my own life.
Sparked by General DeGaulle’s “Vive le Quebec libre” speech in 1967, Quebec’s sovereignty movement was emboldened and the FLQ (Front de libération du Québec, or Quebec Liberation Front) began their reign of terror. In October 1970, then Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau declared martial law in Canada due to the Quebec separatist crisis. When Pierre LaPorte’s lifeless body was found in the trunk of a car, murdered by the FLQ, martial law had been in effect only one day. At that time, my French-Canadian boyfriend was stationed at HMCS Shearwater, a naval base in Dartmouth. I remember sitting with him and watching all the news reports on television during those terrible days, tears streaming down his face as he watched his home province in turmoil and violence.