The summer of 1967 was a time of national turmoil, with the now rapidly escalating War, and the demonstrations against it, and the racial unrest which led to disturbances, and sometimes genuine riots – with the inevitable official violence in response – in cities large and small, across the country. And Aurora had its small-scale version, mild by comparison but complete with anger and fear and curfews.
During the time of the curfews, members of the Group would sometimes gather at someone’s apartment for dinner, or some such activity. As the evening wore on we would studiously ignore the time until it was too late. We would then be “forced” to spend the night, “camping out” on couches or on the floor, turning the inconvenience into an adventure. Then, before confronting the following day, we would extend the gathering by having breakfast together.
Meanwhile, the summer progressed. It was a very “group-centric” time for me; a time of very late nights, very early mornings, and very little sleep (when I was working). My immediate circle of friends – and its extensions (friends of group members) – passed up no opportunity to gather and have a good time.
A friend of mine that summer, a fellow reservist, and co-worker at the Montgomery Standard Oil gas station at which I briefly worked, mentioned one day that his parents had what I guess could be called a “summer house” on the south bank of the Fox River, just beyond Oswego, off of Route 34, opposite the dragstrip. Leaving the highway, a dirt road passed through about a half mile of cornfields and into a small cluster of houses along the river, secluded by trees, which on occasion might all be unoccupied.
It occurred to me, and my friend quickly agreed, that on such nights there could be no greater venue for a large party. A quick bit of inquiry on my friend’s part revealed an upcoming weekend when the entire community of houses would indeed be empty of anyone who might object to an evening to late night riverside party. And so I called one of the twin sisters, who were the unofficial group principles, to inform her of this new opportunity which had suddenly become available.
Some of the most memorable parties I have ever attended took place that summer and fall, on the riverbank, on the lawn, and in my friend’s summer house. More great times with the long-ago group, which I recall with great fondness. And still miss. And to top it off, I received credit for arranging all; something which, in no small measure, raised my status within the group.
So despite the escalating war, the increasing civil unrest, and my lack of steady employment, 1967 may well have been one of the best, and certainly the most carefree, summers of my adult life.