1968: A day with my amazing dad about one amazing year

So I guess you know you’re old when a museum does an exhibit of the year you were born? My dad guided me through the 1968 Exhibit , which debuted its national tour at the MN History Center.

My dad narrated every step with his memories–many of which I’d never heard. Until now.


The gallery uses a literal month-by-month account, starting in January, to chronicle this watershed year. The first exhibit features one key event from each month, and my dad, who has an amazing memory, led me through: “Ah, April 4th. They killed Martin Luther King.” There was sadness and wisdom as he shook his head. “June 8th, right after midnight. Bobby was shot.” Those dates were not on the exhibit boards, mind you. Just the months. It was a sign that this year did make an indelible impression–even now, my dad recalled the exact details.


Every single American experienced change in 1968, as the exhibit aptly illustrates. Ditto for my dad. Just the year before, he graduated from college, got married to my mom, started his teaching career and began preparing to be a parent (my parents’ first-born, I was due in July 1968; born on June 25.)

Nice davenport

If you had avocado green and gold home decor in 1968, you were “in.” My dad explained the decor of our home while we sat on the davenport and watched Walter Cronkite narrate the evening news on a console TV:

Notice the Vietnam “news” coverage. My dad said there was a “ticker” at the bottom, chronicling the day’s casualties. Sobering.

Of course much of the display centers on Vietnam.

An actual Huey - the cockpit features a series of haunting videos narrated by those involved in the Vietnam War. Just "normal" people who served in an ever-escalating, ever-confusing, senseless conflict. When it comes to war, aren't they all?

The draft

My dad did not go to Vietnam. But he still remembers the full name of the draft board lady in St. Cloud, and related his visits there. I’d never heard the stories, and I was captivated. The final thing she said to him, “Well, you shouldn’t have signed that teaching contract. Now you can’t go. We need you here to teach.” And the U.S. military said I needed him here to parent me : ) !


The youngsters spoke up strongly in 1968, whether about the war, peace, music, style and of course human rights.

Part of the impressive collection of 1968 memorabilia: clever anti-draft/war poster.

 What could have been?

One of the exhibit’s several succinct but beautiful videos chronicles Martin Luther King, Jr., his impact and his too-soon death. As you look into his eyes as he gives his last speech, “I’ve been to the mountaintop,” you somehow know… that he knew. 

Colorful funeral florals for a man who tried to teach us color just doesn't matter. It doesn't, Mr. King. It doesn't.



The actual note to the President, advising him NOT to come to Memphis for Dr. King's funeral. What. A. Year.

MN connections

My dad and I proudly noticed several Minnesota connections throughout the 1968 exhibit, including:

The Packers ruled the NFL in 1968, too. Damn.


Time for some laughs

We laughed at clips from 1968 TV shows. There were some goodies!

"Won't you be my neighbor?"
"The thrill of victory ... the agony of defeat." Remember what happens to the skiier?

Speaking of sports, remember the Olympians (1968 Games were in Mexico City) who were stripped of their medals for this anti-racism statement on the podium?

The sounds of sixty-eight

My musical genius dad talked us through the iconic sounds of the year!

Then there was Chicago

All this change, all this joy and horror and revolution. And it was only August. Time for the Democratic convention in my 2nd fav U.S. city. Who could’ve anticipated those events? Actually, who thought it would be “just another convention?” In the exhibit’s video, you see and hear a very young, very spirited Dan Rather being jostled around on the convention floor, just trying to do a report. Things were much rougher outside the convention walls.

Ads = barometer

Of course I was very intrigued by the advertisements of the year. How long has it been since we’ve seen tobacco in ads?

So how do you end a year like this?

Typical American style: Shoot for the moon. On Christmas Eve 1968, we launched three astronauts into space who became the very first humans to orbit the moon.

What. A. Day./Year./Dad!

At one point, I asked my dad if he realized–at the time–what monumental shifts were underway. “Not really,” he said. “You’re going along, in your life, trying to leave your mark and make the world a better place.”

You did, dad. And you do. Thanks for making my day and my world a better place.

Thanks, Veterans: Our aircraft carrier visit to the USS Midway

In the Brig

Happy Veterans Day. Thank you, thank you, thank you, men and women of our armed services. We owe you….well, absolutely everything. Today has me harkening back to our day aboard an aircraft carrier, the USS Midway. Especially the veteran I met who served during the Fall of Saigon and shared some incredibly bittersweet memories with incredible pride in his voice. Thank you for the indelible memory, sir.

Sailor Grandpa Ron
Throughout our visit to this now-museum carrier, we talked and thought about Greg’s dad, Ron, who served on a carrier just a few decades ago. The Midway is now the Midway Museum, docked in San Diego, and gave us a great idea of how Sailor Ron’s time–and all Navy servicepeople’s time–was on board.
Permission to come aboard:

Flight training

War room deliberations
"...for those in peril on the sea."
Brownie recipe in the galley, including 3 1/3 lbs. (lbs!) prune puree

If you’re in the area, this is a great tour. Allow at least 3 hours, and don’t miss this view, which is the shared wish of every single American for every single serviceperson:

25-foot version of "Times Square Kiss" - fitting larger-than-life tribute to larger-than-life Veterans


Docked nearby is the USS Carl Vinson, site of the college basketball game later today (and the carrier that held Osama bin Laden’s body earlier this year). More on that in this great article.

photo credit: LA Times

What we did with our extra hour: Sky Zone Indoor Trampoline Park

What to do with kids ages 13, 11 and 8? It’s getting to be more of a challenge. Daylight savings time ended this weekend, and I consider the additional hour pure “free” time. (Sporty, smart, involved kids and working moms don’t have much of that.) All kids do love to jump sky high, so our time at Sky Zone Indoor Trampoline Park had us ALL very happy!

The kids had Friday off school for the end of 1st quarter. We loaded up the SUV with friends and went to Sky Zone.

Six tips for aiming high

As with everything, I’m hoping the kids learned something from our outing amidst the sheer fun. Things like:

1. Age doesn’t matter.

If you go to Sky Zone, bring all your kids of all ages (there’s even a ‘toddler’ area for the littlest jumpers).

Sisters! That's bro in the background, scoping out his next jump moves site.
Nice air, Matt.
Cool moves, Jake R (Matt’s bud).

2. Dish it out, but be sure you can take the pressure, too.

This may be one of the last places you can play Dodgeball! Try it – adding the bounce literally adds a whole ‘nother dimension.

Shoulda seen the boys' faces when they saw this!

3. Always try new things. Always.

Try the trampolines, Dodgeball and run into the foam pit with the ‘jumping shoes’ they issue you. But also try everything barefoot. All the kids in our group preferred barefoot! 

Kate, Maddie and our Julia
Nice quad moves, ladies

4. Get a different perspective

At Sky Zone, there’s even trampolines on the walls. So go ahead, bouce off the walls. Just make sure you always land on your own two feet somewhere.

5. Anything that makes you sweat is a good thing.

Lookit these rosy-cheeked, glistening kids ~ love it!

6. Plan ahead

Sky Zone’s biggest advantage is also its biggest drawback. They only allow in a certain number of jumpers at one time, which makes it a lot more fun (and safe!). Consider pre-purchasing tickets online. We got in just fine, but they closed admissions right after we started jumping. You can also ‘like’  Sky Zone’s Facebook page to get alerts about sold out times.

Bring water bottles because you WILL get thirsty. Or bring a couple bucks for water at their cafe.

Consider wearing shorts and short sleeve shorts — they have lockers to shed the other layers.

Eat well before you go so you’re not hungry but also not too full. As mentioned, there is a cafe there, but who wants to waste time eating when you can be having fun?

Now, the only question is: When is our next day off school, mom?

We highly recommend Sky Zone — and we’ll be back.