The Summer of 1969: Reflections With My Father

By Richard Mabey Jr.


Our story so far: It is now Wednesday, late morning, on the twenty-fifth of June of 1969. I walk home, from having bought a Batman comic book at Moe’s Sweet Shop. Upon reaching home, I feel the gentle breeze in my backyard, the whisper of the Lord to come home. Inside home, I find Mom reading her Bible in the formal living room. After lunch, I climb my old tree fort and reminisce. To my surprise my dad came home a bit earlier, from work. Dad climbed up my tree fort and the two of us talked, high among the limbs and branches of the old maple tree.


The Summer of 1969 was my half-way point through my four-year journey of Boonton High School. And where I was going from there, at the age of 15, I had no idea where that would be. Dad and I both sat on the wide platform of my old tree fort. It was now about three-thirty in the afternoon. There was a certain reflective sadness that I saw swirling about in my father’s eyes.


“Son, you’ll probably be leaving here soon, in a couple of years. You’ll probably go to college somewhere. You know, this old tree fort will haunt you in your dreams,” Dad said to me in such a solemn voice.


“I can almost feel it now, Dad. Stu and I used to climb that old knotted rope to make it to the top of the tree fort. It was always so magical. I didn’t feel all of that magic, when I climbed the old rope, a little while ago,” I told my dad.


“It’s funny. When I was in the Army Air Corps during the war, I got really homesick for this old maple tree. I’d dream about climbing this tree, one more time, when I was at Hickam,” Dad replied.


“I kinda look forward to striking out on my own, but I’m kinda scared too,” I said to Dad.


“I know the feeling, son, I know the feeling, all too well,” Dad most solemnly told me.


A silence fell between my father and myself. A squirrel popped out of the little hole in the trunk of the tree, nearby where we were sitting. He looked over to us, saw us, and scurried back to his home in the crevice of the old tree trunk.


“That old squirrel ain’t so different than us, son,” Dad said to me.


“How’s that Dad?” I asked.


“He wants to leave the comfort of his little home in the nook of this tree. To run about the yard. Maybe climb another tree. But a part of him is a little afraid,” Dad said to me.


“Yea, I guess, that little squirrel is kinda like us, huh Dad?” I asked my father.


“He sure is, Richie. That little squirrel sure is a lot like us,” Dad answered.


Another moment of silence fell between my father and myself.


“Well, son, maybe we better check in with your mom and sister,” Dad said to me.


“Yea, Dad, maybe we better check in,” I replied.


Dad led the way and began climbing down the rickety old ladder to the safety of the earthen ground. I followed my father on the descent down the old ladder. We both began walking to the side door of the old Mabey Homestead. I felt a certain comfort in my heart.


To be continued.


Richard Mabey Jr. is a freelance writer. He can be reached at Please place the wording “My Life Weekly” in the subject line.

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