Top Picture: Doc Martens.
Second Picture: The 1960’s mini skirt.
Icons of the Sixties
I thought I would look at some of the things that are associated with the early to mid 1960’s
Doc Martens. When the German doctor, Dr Maertens, injured his foot in a ski-ing holiday in Bavaria, he could not have imagined that the orthopaedic shoe he designed for himself would still be going today, let alone become a boot of rebellion. In 1958, the Grigg family acquired rights to the air cushioned sole and started making boots at their factory in Wollaston. The first boot was produced on the 1st April 1960, and so was christened the 1460. The 1460, in black and later cherry red, was popular with postmen and policemen and then the 'mods' began to adopt them in the mid-60s. They became notorious when the steel-toecapped variety was used to inflict grievous bodily harm on football fans and rival gangs, but now Doc M’s are now almost compulsory kit in the music industry - worn by rockers and boy bands alike. There are 70,000 possible varieties of Doc Martens, starting at 3-eye and rising to a 20-eye boot. Elton John wore an enormous pair in The Who's rock opera movie 'Tommy'.
Mothercare. This is thought of by many as the first major fashion outlet for tiny tots. Mothercare stores opened in 1961 to great public interest. Although not from the babies themselves. Mothercare became popular with mothers for pioneering easily laundered fabrics and bringing a bit of style to kids clothes at reasonable prices. Mothercare UK now supplies goods through their stores and mail order to customers from 130 countries.
Teddy Boy Suit. The original teen rebels, Teddy Boys originated in early 50’s London. Though their days were numbered in the Sixties, the young mods were taking a leaf out of the Teds fashion book. Teds dressed in a blend of romantic Edwardian clothes including slim coats with velvet trim. Hair was cut into an outlandish DA (Duck's Ass), long jackets were worn with thin, bootlace ties, stovepipe trousers which were cut short to show off patterned socks - and the look was completed with suede brothel creepers or winkle-pickers. But behind the dapper facade Teddy Boys were hard as nails - carrying flick knives bicycle chains and razors. The look was synonymous with coldhearted violence and was used as a basis for the costumes of the thugs in A Clockwork Orange. Though the Teddy Boy style was decidedly macho, there were girls who wore velvet-collared jackets and black stockings and cut their hair into a DA.
Mop Top Hair. The description came from the similarity to a dish mop, and led to comments such as: 'Did you see that boy? His hair touched his ears!' Much was done to stamp out the Mop Top cut made popular by The Beatles, but nothing was going to stop the trend going into fashion history. When the boys from Liverpool turned up with their dodgy bowl cuts, people were shocked. The older generation in particular hated it - seeing men with long hair was just 'not on'. Although very tame by today's standards the mop top was shaggy - even daring to touch the shoulder in days when men were expected to show military precision and have the hair neatly cut above the ears. Mop top hairdos took off across the country, despite some schools banning the style - and Middle England calling on the government to reinstate National Service and 'stop the rot'.
Wigs. Once it was discovered that The Supremes used them on stage the wig went right to the top of the fashion class. And it wasn't only women, led by Pop artist Andy Warhol who sported a selection of silver, blue and white wigs, chaps got in on the fad too. Of course, the Beatles got in on the act. Their famous Beatle wigs were one of the best selling pieces of pop merchandise ever, although the band made very little from them after one of Brian Epstein's less successful business deals. A range of 'groovy' wigs were also created by John Stephen and found popularity with trendy blokes across the land. Later in the decade 'afro' wigs became popular with both men and women, although the people sitting behind them at the cinema weren't too impressed.
Twiggy Look and False Eyelashes. In the 1960s there was only one model anyone was bothered about - Twiggy. Girls dieted and slaved over a hot pair of eye-brow curlers to perfect her look and designers clamoured to have her wear their clothes. Woman's Mirror magazine had been on the look-out for models who were young and very thin. They found her in Lesley Hornby who was only six and a half stone and a size 6. Designer John Bates described her, rather coldly as 'Narrow body, perfect square shoulders, long legs, small bust'; in other words the opposite of the pin-ups of the fifties in the Marilyn Monroe mould. Twiggy's distinctive look was typified by two elements - her elfin haircut and panda eyes. The first time her hair was cut into the trademark pixie style it reputedly took eight hours. Almost as long as it took women across the land to master the art of applying three sets of false eyelashes to each eye in order to gain the right amount of doe-eyed appeal. In 1967 a range of Twiggy clothing was launched, presumably to a rather restricted market but the fact that Twiggy's still a star today proves that there was more to her than big eyes and a fancy haircut.
Mini Skirts. If one fashion item could sum up the 60’s it would be the mini-skirt. Opinion is split on who came up with the idea - the wise money would probably go on a Frenchman, Jean Courreges, but Mary Quant is widely accepted as having dreamt up the ever more daring hemline. Within a year anybody who had the body to pull it off was wearing a mini. In New York the norm was 4-5 inches above the knee but in Swinging London anything other than 7-8 inches above the knee was considered positively decent! The usual look was to pair what little was left of the skirt with matching sweater and tights for a uniform look. When, in 1968, Jackie Kennedy wore a white Valentino miniskirt for her wedding to Aristotle Onassis its place at the pinnacle of fashion was confirmed.
Just a few more items from the Diddy box of memories.
Stay in touch,
I am an avid allotmenteer and have been safely gathering in my harvest - this of course means much chopping, stirring and filling the house with vinegary smells as I make chutney from this years huge crop of beetroot. Inevitably there is always a surfeit of runner beans and gardenless friends have been known to receive parcels of them in the post! I also have plenty of vegetables to take me through the winter, nothing like going to pick your own Brussel sprouts and parsnips for Christmas dinner.
This led me to think about Harvest Festivals at school and church. We were encouraged to take along something from the garden but I inevitably took a tin of something from the larder. At church on Harvest Festival Sunday the church was filled with a beautiful smell of all the flowers and vegetables, at the back there was the loaf of bread in the shape of a sheaf of corn. As children we had to come to the front and give our contribution to the Minister, the following night there was Harvest Supper when some of the food was used and some was auctioned off for church funds - all very simple but memorable.
I was born in St Mary's Hospital, where a payment had been made to the doctor and hospital. This was done by most people belonging to a Mutual Aid Society to cover any doctor's bills. Another small payment was made for the hospital stay, this was based on what you could afford, my Mum's friend had to pay less than her because her husband had a smaller military pension. Apparently St Mary's was very popular and Mum didn't know anyone who had their baby at home which must have been quite a social change. I suppose there aren't many of us who still have their Mum's around to fill in the information!
Your article on children's manners then and now was excellent. I, like so many of us, were children of those parents served their country and suffered the hell of WW2 for our basic freedoms, am revolted by the horrible, spoilt, rude brats of today's society. I add quickly that they aren't all like that thank God but sadly too many are. Even here in Thailand which tells the World how polite they are, has serious problems with its youth.
I quite agree with what you say about manners and discipline. My father was very strict and if I uttered a word sometimes he would say "Little boys should be seen and not heard". I remember once when holiday plans were under discussion, I just managed to get out "I think.." and was promptly told "We do not wish to know what you think".
On one occasion I brought home a form from school about careers, what sort of thing I was hoping to do etc. I had already filled it in, but when father saw it I was told to destroy it, get a new form from school the next day and redo it with HIS answers!
Actually I reckon much of this just made me dislike my parents, which continued into adulthood. However, things seem to have gone way too far in the other direction these days. But I would like to think and hope that my experiences made me a kinder and more considerate person towards others, whatever their age, as I've got older.
News and Views:
Clear Lake, Iowa, near where Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper died in a 1959 plane crash, dedicated the Three Stars Plaza in their honour on October 13th. In addition, the city will dedicate Ritchie Valens Drive and J.P. Richardson Avenue, along with the existing Buddy Holly Place. Together they will triangulate the Surf Ballroom, where the trio played their last concert.
On this day 21st October 1960-1965.
21/10/1960the number one single was Only the Lonely - Roy Orbison and the number one album was South Pacific Soundtrack. The top rated TV show was No Hiding Place and the box office smash was Psycho. A pound of today's money was worth £13.68 and Tottenham Hotspur were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.The big news story of the day was Britain launches first nuclear submarine.
21/10/1961the number one single was Walkin' Back to Happiness - Helen Shapiro and the number one album was Black & White Minstrel Show - George Mitchell Minstrels. The top rated TV show was Sunday Night at the London Palladium and the box office smash was One Hundred and One Dalmations. A pound of today's money was worth £13.25 and Ipswich Town were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions
On 21/10/1962 the number one single was Telstar - The Tornadoes and the number one album was Best of Ball Barber & Bilk. The top rated TV show was Coronation Street and the box office smash was Lawrence of Arabia. A pound of today's money was worth £12.89 and Everton were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.
21/10/1963the number one single was Do You Love Me? - Brian Poole & the Tremoloes and the number one album was Please Please Me - The Beatles. The top rated TV show was Coronation Street and the box office smash was The Great Escape. A pound of today's money was worth £12.64 and Liverpool were on the way to becoming the Season's Division.
21/10/1964the number one single was Oh Pretty Woman - Roy Orbison and the number one album was A Hard Day's Night - Beatles. The top rated TV show was Coronation Street and the box office smash was Dr Strangelove. A pound of today's money was worth £12.24 and Manchester United were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.
21/10/1965the number one single was Tears - Ken Dodd and the number one album was The Sound of Music Soundtrack. The top rated TV show was Coronation Street and the box office smash was The Sound of Music. A pound of today's money was worth £11.69 and Liverpool were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.