Chapter 1 of Arboria Park takes place in 1960, when Stacy is only five and just learning that there’s life beyond the yard to which she’s largely confined. Until the fateful afternoon described, she’s always thought that everyone she didn’t know was pretty much like everyone she did. It’s the beginning of an expanding view of the world–one her parents sometimes wish she didn’t have to have.
This is the first of a series of posts describing the world in Arboria Park. I always start with the music, and there will be a playlist for each chapter. This video has the Top 10 songs of the year, and a bit about movies, TV, and sports as well:
The Number 1 song of the year, “Theme from A Summer Place,” could be what Stacy’s mom Evelyn listens to on the radio while she’s doing dishes or sewing. Stacy’s older sister Mary is probably swooning over Elvis and looking forward to dancing to songs by the Drifters and Brenda Lee at her first high school dance.
As Stacy notes in the chapter, her sports-mad brothers Tommy and Matt like to watch car races on TV with dad Tom. They also might have watched the Pittsburgh Pirates win the World Series a few weeks after Stacy’s adventure on Arbor Circle, or the Philadelphia Eagles beat the Green Bay Packers for the NFL championship (this was before the Super Bowl existed!).
Just a few weeks later as well, John F. Kennedy would be elected president.
As the Johnny Preston song in the video illustrates, there was also plenty of racism around. Since it was built in part for Air Force families, Arboria Park would not have had deed or covenant restrictions against African American families moving in, but it is likely that in 1960 the neighborhood was primarily if not entirely white.
1960 happens to be the time of my own earliest memories. My brother was born that year, and my father took me downtown to buy him a teddy bear. We also got a new car that year (replacing the Studebaker pictured on the cover of Arboria Park), a silver Rambler station wagon with fins! It also had a roof rack like the station wagon featured in the video below:
Stacy mentions riding in the back of the station wagon, but she’s much more impressed with the Volkswagen Beetle that speeds down her street blasting Bobby Rydell’s “Wild One.”
Fun facts: I actually did bring a “diamond” to kindergarten (and got scolded), and my friend Davy and I threw rocks down a manhole once.