07-21-18 Patricia Sargeant

Saturday, March 9, 2013


Who would have thought that while I am still alive I would be part of history?  The 20th century was a tumultuous one. In my opinion it was the most life changing of any other century, two World Wars, the great depression, the Korean and Vietnam Wars. Television was invented and changed the way we lived.  The contraceptive pill led to the sexual revolution.
But what about me personally?  I have to say the 1960’s was my time. Mini skirts, stilettos (I’ve bunions to prove it), beehive hair dos, I couldn’t quite manage that, although I did tease the life out of my hair and regularly put in coloured rinses, French Plum or Rich Burgundy, were the colours I favoured. I can remember when the Beatles made their first visit out to Australia. A couple of girls I worked with were lucky enough to get tickets to their concerts, (we hated them, of course), they came to work the next days minus their voices, and stayed that way for about a week, because they had screamed so much.
We used manual typewriters in those days. One original and four copies of everything we typed. I don’t know how many blouses I ruined because I got ink on the sleeves from changing the typewriter ribbon or the black stuff off the carbon paper.

During this time the Vietnam War loomed in the background. The Australian government introduced conscription. It was in the form of a ballot, or the death lottery as many called it. All twenty year old males had to register, their birth dates were put into a barrel and a certain number were drawn out, and those young men had to report to the army and subsequently many of them were sent to Vietnam. This of course caused severe bitterness and division in the community, and even though the government denied it, was subject to abuse and unfairness. Rich men kept their sons at university so they didn’t have to go.  Conscientious objectors were thrown into prison. Only sons were called up, yet families with two or three eligible males didn’t have any of their boys called up.

I only had one brother, and I can clearly remember my father (a World War 2 veteran) vowing, that if his son got called up, he would protest on the steps of the parliament with a placard on his back.

There were protests marches, anti-war demonstrations, and things often turned violent. Not that I went to any of the protest marches, but a cousin of mine did and got trampled by a police horse.  I can recall it all as clearly as if it only happened a few years ago, not half a lifetime ago.

Make love, not war was the catch cry of the 1960’s. Against a background of anti-war demonstrations, hippies and free love, Caroline’s life is in turmoil. Her soldier brother is on his way to the jungles of Vietnam. She discovers she is pregnant with her wealthy boss’ baby, and her draft dodger friend is on the run and needs her help. 




Judith Ashley said...

The 60's were a tumultuous time in the U.S. also. I always learn how our countries are similar and yet different when I read your posts. "Make Love Not War" has it all when it comes to the challenges of thata decade!

Diana Mcc. said...

Hi, Margaret,
You reminded me of all I felt and did in the 60's. I marched against the war in Vietnam. Protesting the USA being involved in that war, not protesting against the troops. They had no say, but were merely sent over by the government. Still I baked cookies and sent care packages to the troops. My post yesterday was about suicides of Vets, and a number of those 22 each day are Vietnam Vets. Your book sounds like it covers the era of the 60's well. Can't wait to read it!

Margaret Tanner said...

Hi Judith,
Yes I realize the sixties was a tumutuous time in the US as well. And we were part of it, that is what I find so exciting.



Margaret Tanner said...

Hi Diana,
Pure coincidence that my post followed yours, but they do tie in nicely don't they. The suicide rate of Vietnam veterans here in Australia was very high, I do think a lot of it because of the reception they received on arriving home. The government, who sent them over there, shunted them home in the dead of night, and people ignored or vilified them.
It was really sickening.
And, it is happening all over again, that is the tragedy of it all.



Sarah Raplee said...

Your book sounds remarkable, Margaret!

I think one of the reasons Vietnam vets were treated so badly was that the war itself and the sacrifices they made seemed unreal to people back home. I was a child on Guam, and remember talking to wounded veterans recuperating there, as well as watching the B-52 bombers take off on raids. The war was very real to me.

I also think another reason Vietnam vets have a high rate of suicides and mental illness is that they went to war at an average age of nineteen (at least in the US), while WWII vets went to war at an average age of twenty-six.