What the 1960s Were Really Like–For Normal People

I like this two page-photo from the May 30, 1969 issue of Life taken at the pinnacle of all things Sixties, the People’s Park protests at UC Berkeley, because it’s a reminder that what we think of as the Sixties didn’t really happen for most people until the Seventies. From a long interesting interview with psychometrician Linda Gottfredson about her career:

Q. What led you from UC-Davis to Berkeley?

A. My husband (Gary Gottfredson) and I transferred after our sophomore year of college to UC-Berkeley, where we both majored in psychology. I especially liked the two classes I took with Richard Lazarus, who was always so passionate about his research. I also recall being intrigued by the possibility, achieved in some journal articles, that sufficiently clever research could be designed to settle long-standing scientific disputes. It was the height of the Civil Rights Era and of protests against the Vietnam War. I was concerned about racial prejudice and inequality, so I volunteered to work in one of Oakland’s ghetto schools, riding a city bus from Berkeley to assist a first- grade teacher several days a week. I also took a work-study job at Oakland’s new Human Relations Commission, one of the first in the country, where I researched media bias and black underrepresentation in journalism.

Anti-war demonstrations at UC-Berkeley escalated during my senior year, and Governor Ronald Reagan sent in the National Guard to restore order. Protestors always hoped to see pictures of themselves in magazines covering such events. Ironically, it would be my husband and I, and a friend, who would grace a centerfold of Life Magazine (May 30, 1969, pp. 42-43), the shot being taken minutes before the campus was tear-gassed by helicopter. It showed three decidedly conventional students striding business-like before a phalanx of armed National Guardsmen wearing gas masks, who were preventing the sea of protesters at their backs from moving forward across the plaza. The odor of tear gas still lingered in the Psychology library as we studied for final exams.