Posted by: Sue Spencer | June 7, 2008

June ’68 to June ’08

Riding into Boston on Tuesday, it suddenly occurred to me that it was a significant anniversary. As the city’s tall buildings came into view from the Southeast Expressway, I realized it had been precisely forty years since I’d started my first full-time job ever – in Boston, on June 3, 1968. Since most of these buildings hadn’t even existed in 1968 – outside downtown, the Boston skyline had boasted only two skyscrapers back then – I’m not sure why they should have sparked this memory, but they did.

June 3, ’68 was a Monday. I had arrived in town two days before from Ann Arbor, Michigan – a new college grad with a B.A. in philosophy. It was a beautiful day as I recall, with the flowering trees in the Public Garden in full bloom. I walked down the hill from my tiny Myrtle Street apartment to begin work at the Beacon Street headquarters of the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee, where I would serve as secretary to two staff members: the director of U.S. programs, and the coordinator of conscientious objector placement. Eventually that job would kindle my feminist consciousness, but right then I was simply happy to have finished school and to have found work.

June 4 was the day of the California primaries. After work, I went over to Cambridge to visit my sister Betsy, who had a spiffy new apartment in Central Square. We had dinner – eggplant parmigiana, spaghetti, and a small bottle of Mateus rose, if memory serves me – and then watched TV as the primary results came in. It was pretty late when we learned of Bobby Kennedy’s victory; I remember listening to his victory speech and then falling asleep on the couch. I woke up the next morning to Betsy’s voice, announcing that Bobby had been shot. Looking back, it’s as though I’d gone to sleep in one kind of world – a world full of hope – and woken up in an entirely different one.

Interesting that 40 years later, I should be back in Cambridge for a few days. And even more interesting that this sad anniversary should coincide with Barack Obama’s clinching the Democratic nomination for president. When Obama gave the keynote address at the 2004 Democratic convention, I was taken aback: “Wow – this is who should be running for president!” And now, incredibly, he’s the nominee.

With RFK’s assassination, a kind of magic seemed to go out of the political process. Now – although I’m no longer inclined to view presidential candidates as saviors – it seems to have come back in. Rationally or not, a bit of hope that I’d lost forty years ago has been rekindled.



  1. Sue:

    Wonderful and inspiring blog! I love your style, musings, and sharings. Thank you.

    How lucky we are to be able to reach out so easily and openly…and follow our fellow travelers through their journeys.

    Keep the flow flowing…

    Larry G.

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