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Boomer’s Journal: We were ‘groovy’

The designers of the fashion industry had a heyday in the mid-’60s and on through to the disco age. As we look back at old photos, we may wonder, “What were we thinking?” Yet, at the time, we looked pretty cool. We were groovy.

The ultimate cool and groovy came upon me as an old photo of my in-law family surfaced. Admit it, whatever age you were in about 1969-70, you very likely have a photo similar to this one.

My father-in-law, Truman, patriarch of the family, clearly set the tone, from the hair to the double-breasted sport coat, right down to his white patent-leather shoes…he didn’t miss a detail. He clearly had more options than the Barduson men who came before him in their black, gray or brown suits. It was revolutionary. He was pretty “hip” while he worked at Prudential Insurance in Willmar.

Let’s start with the ascot tie. Clearly, Truman was not immune to “the British invasion.” The Beatles  brought the long hair, and men grew out their sideburns. Truman followed suit. He oozed “cool,” and he was proud of it.

Although I have never seen my mother-in-law, Maren, in a dress or skirt, she worked at First National Bank in Willmar at a time when the dress code undoubtedly dictated a strict business attire. It was a dress, pantyhose and heels. Every single day. It’s no wonder that in retirement she is found in capris and comfortable Ts, whether in Minnesota in the summer, or Arizona in the winter. No pantyhose for her.

The white bell-bottom jeans of the late sixties got wider and wider during the early seventies, and it’s quite apparent that Steve, the older brother, influenced the younger brother Jimmy. Just look at their stance, so proud it seems, in their white bell-bottoms. The sons, groomed to grow up and be insurance agents like their dad (not).

The older brother has the “rebel” look…the button-fly and zippered ankle boots. The younger brother wasn’t so lucky. Both boys embraced the mop-top hair, brought to the United States by John, Paul, George and Ringo. It’s interesting that the boy’s mother mixed their cool bell-bottoms with a conservative wide tie, while their father sported the ascot. The older brother won with the favored white tie, the younger brother, dressed a little more boring with dad’s old tie, found at the bottom of the drawer. Their shirts followed the color trend that men had not used during the 1950s, when white shirts and narrow ties were the norm. The Barduson boys were almost hippies but, whew, saved by the conservative tie.

And then there is little sister Cindy. She reminds me of Cindy from the Brady Bunch, clutching her favorite doll, Velvet. Velvet was Chrissy’s cousin and her hair grew. The concept of a doll that could grow hair started with the “Tressy.”  She had a knob mechanism in the back of her head that would retract the hair. Today, Velvet, Chrissy and Tressy are all vintage, right along with their former owners, so to speak.

The Barduson family photo. Classic. Each individual making a statement of their own. Groovy style, revolutionary at the time. The American family that broke all the conservative rules along with millions of other American families. Unique, bold and proud of it.

As high school sweethearts Truman and Maren approach their 80th birthdays, old photos like this family favorite, bring back lots of stories around the dining room table, but today, you won’t find Truman following any style trend. He’s happy in his sweats and T-shirt, “thank you very much.”

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