Chapter 2: Stacy, 1963

By 1963, Stacy has a bit more freedom to roam, but it’s still not enough. She’s curious about what’s beyond the spaces she’s allowed to inhabit. It’s a similar time in the U.S. as a whole. Events outside the country intrude; things are mostly going pretty well but are a bit unsettling.

Stacy gets a chance to defy her parents when she and her friends follow some older boys down to “the woods” across a creek from their neighborhood. It’s a fun adventure, but also a dangerous one: The children are trespassing on a farm owned by Mrs. Ramsey. Though Stacy doesn’t believe the woman is a witch (as one of her friends does), she realizes quickly that their presence on the farm is not welcome.

Just a few weeks after Stacy’s adventure, President Kennedy will be assassinated and the world will become a less certain place. Lines and boundaries will be drawn, just as Stacy experiences being grounded by her parents and fears that even her limited freedoms could be coming to an end. But there are also larger opportunities and changes afoot: Stacy’s dad correctly interprets Stacy’s longings even as he must rein in her impulses. He realizes she’s ready to learn a lot more about the world around her; past and present, good and bad. Many young people in this era were waking up to the world beyond the safe spaces where they were raised in the 1950s, even as films like Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds portrayed how danger lurked in the most innocuous places.

Music doesn’t play a big role in this chapter, but things were in flux there as well. A lot of pop music had been neutered since the rock’n’roll rebellion of the 1950s; sugary-sweet girl groups like the Chiffons and the Angels and clean-cut pop idols like Bobby Vinton dominated the charts. But things were stirring: Though the Beatles and the British Invasion were still a few months away from conquering America, the Beach Boys, the Kingsmen, and Paul Revere and the Raiders were making stabs at the big time. Folk music was seeping out of the cafes of New York City into the mainstream, with Bob Dylan’s socially consciousness anthems sharing chart space with Lesley Gore’s teenage laments.

But Lesley was doing more than just whining about a spoiled party. She was also throwing down some proto-feminist warnings to go along with the publication of Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique in 1963. (Joan Jett would cover the song in the punk era several years later.) And as Stacy spends a hard week of being grounded, stuck in her room or her back yard, she may well be longing to tell her parents “Don’t tell me what to do. You don’t own me.”

 

Top songs of 1963

It’s My Party       Lesley Gore

Surfin USA       Beach Boys

Blue Velvet          Bobby Vinton

He’s So Fine             The Chiffons

My Boyfriend’s Back           The Angels

Blowin in the Wind              Peter Paul and Mary

Louie Louie               The Kingsmen

Be My Baby              The Ronettes

 

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