the summer of 69: 181/365

My mother used to say things like, “I bet you’re never going to have to wear a girdle.” That is, she used to say them up until the summer of 1969.

That summer I was staying with my grandparents in Mobile, Alabama. I was twelve.

It was the summer of the moon walk. On July 20th, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed on the surface of the moon. The night was clear, and my friend from across the street, Val, and I ran outside as if we might actually be able to see the astronauts.

Photo_0001It was the summer of Hurricane Camille, for which PawPaw boarded up the windows and put cots for all of us in the den. On August 18th, Camille made landfall as a Category 5 storm (one of only three in the US in the 20th c.) in Waveland, Mississippi, 98 miles west of Mobile. It was a long, scary night. After it was over, downtown Mobile was under water. So was Val’s backyard.

It was the summer of Woodstock, Chappaquiddick, and Charles Manson. 

It was also the summer of a lot of TV and a lot of Lilli‘s cooking. When I got home in late August, my other grandmother, Buddy, came over to visit. When I opened the door, the first words out of her mouth were, “How much weight have you gained?”

Other than my mother’s mention of girdle, this was the first time I have any memory of being conscious of my body. I had no idea what Buddy was talking about. I weighed 95 pounds–I knew that from the doctor’s office. I let her in and went upstairs and got on the scale. I weighed 120 pounds.

What doesn’t make sense, of course, is how I wouldn’t have noticed my clothes getting tighter and needing larger sizes. And I grew 3 inches taller that summer too. In any event, from that moment forward–with the exception of the year I lived in France without a car, walking everywhere and eating whatever I wanted and coming home 3-months pregnant weighing 113 pounds–until I was 55, I read about diets, talked about diets, prepared for diets, was on a diet or off a diet. You can call it healthy eating all you want, and I did, but it was still a diet.


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8 thoughts on “the summer of 69: 181/365

  1. Dear Cynthia,
    This makes me laugh; all the time I’ve been reading your blog (including your Birthday posts) I’ve been thinking of us as the same age. And we are really, I mean now we are. But in ’69 we weren’t. (I was two that summer.) I have always been lousy with numbers . . .
    And an update as you were generous enough to ask: I have submitted my thesis & I had my Mock Viva on Friday. It went really well (of course it did, it was Alice Munro’s Birthday!). I sit my real Viva on August 7th. (I’d better figure out what will make that a lucky day – ha ha.)
    All best wishes, Louise


  2. OMG – thank you for sharing that!!! Growing up in the Twiggy era it was all about starving to be skinny. My mother had several of her children on a diet in middle school. In 7th grade my mother weighed 92 and I weighed 105, which meant I was FAT!!! My youngest brother blames his short stature on her constant reminder that being chubby was not acceptable. Now when I go to yoga and they mention cow pose, I laugh and think that no matter how much you starve a cow, it will STILL look like a cow, NEVER like a deer!!!
    Maybe all your blog fans can meet you in Provincetown when you end your 365 days???!!!!
    P.S. I’m reading Anne Tyler’s “The Beginner’s Goodbye” and loving it.


    • Chris, thanks for reading. Oh yeah, I had forgotten about Twiggy. And I haven’t read that Anne Tyler yet–glad to get a thumbs-up on it. Great idea on the Provincetown celebration : )


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