By Gary Littman
In the 1960's a rock group called The Youngbloods produced a song titled "Get Together"-the content of this book is a reflection of a lyric within that song-the words are: "We are but a moments sunlight fading in the grass."
No words can better describe the lives of two people falling in love and going through life's journey experiencing both good times and tragedies. This book is an amazing story of true and enduring love. Life is like a book with a beginning, middle, and ending, and this story has all of those elements.
For those people who are in love or are about to fall in love, this book is a way to find out what it means to be truly In Love. It is a view into the minds of two people who, through their "baby boomer" time line, build family, careers, friendships, and battle unforeseen events that change and rock their world. It is a way to show how love, devotion, and caring can make life worth living even through the roughest times.
For those who have already read this book, the reviews have been ones of emotion, self-reflection, and revelation.
Comments have been:
• A must read for the Baby Boomer Generation.
• An accurate time line covering forty years,
• I couldn't stop crying.
• My life is similar to yours.
• I didn't know love could be so wonderful.
• How did you get through life with all the bombs going off around you?
Although this book discusses events from the 1960's through the present, the story told crosses all generations, past, present, and future. The theme of love is timeless and the people in the book can be you, relatives, or neighbors.
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.26(d)|
Read an Excerpt
By Gary Littman
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2012 Gary Littman
All right reserved.
It was a beautiful Thursday afternoon in the spring of 2008. My wife and I were holding hands and looking into each other's eyes. I loved Joyce's crystal blue eyes, beautiful blond hair, and soft skin. She looked like an angel to me, with all of her beauty and softness so apparent to anyone who looked at her. We were comfortably sitting in stately leather chairs in a place of life and death—an oncologist's treatment room, which seemed to be magical and terrifying. The smell of medicines, the surreal scene of other patients' getting treatments, and the medical staff trying to do their tasks seemed so unreal to me. Joyce started to sleep under the influence of heavy-duty chemotherapy medications, and my fear that the drugs were not working combined with my thinking about the sweet past weighed heavily on my mind. We continued holding hands, and I started to stroke her hand gently to comfort her. As I touched her hand, it began to shake and became very cold, the effects of the awful drugs that were causing her to suffer so much. I remember missing the warmth of her skin and its tenderness. I didn't know how to react in this situation. The only way for me to survive was to recall the past. I began to daydream.
My dreams were so vivid that they seemed real. I began to go back in time forty years to remember all the events in our lives that would eventually lead us to this moment of hope and despair.
My mind drifted back to events starting in 1968, a year of change not only for me but for the country as a whole. The Vietnam War continued to escalate and take its toll on the youth of America. The Tet Offensive, the My Lai massacre by United States troops, failed peace talks in Paris, the end of the Johnson presidency, and the beginning of Richard Nixon's ascent to power were changing the American landscape that baby boomers had grown up with.
The Vietnam War was a source of both concern and conflict in many households. In my own home, my father was a World War II veteran. His view of America was shaped by the war he had fought in. He and I engaged in many arguments about the justification of the Vietnam War. He would never back down and didn't want to listen to the truth. My dad was a very decent and honorable man; however, he never wanted to hear that his country could be wrong. My mother, on the other hand, knew I was right and agreed with me that the war should be stopped. The truth is that she didn't want me to be drafted. As in most households, the "Archie Bunker" pro-war mentality ruled. In my home, I was the "Meathead," or Michael Stivic, who represented the anti-war movement of our generation in the television sitcom All in the Family.
The assassinations of Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. contributed to the era of violence. Our nation was rocked by the loss of these two leaders, adding fuel to the fires of the antiwar and civil rights movements. The Civil Rights Bill passed under President Johnson proved to be a needed step forward not only for blacks in America but also for the country as a whole.
Music in America was rapidly changing to reflect the mood of the country's young people. Different genres of music developed, with peace as their central theme. Songs ranged from those of the Beatles' supreme reign to the acid rock of Steppenwolf's "Magic Carpet Ride" and the wonderful sound of Cream's "White Room." The Supremes' song "Love Child" talked about an illegitimate child and the poverty often associated with that situation. Songs like "Hey Jude," "People Got to Be Free," "Mrs. Robinson," "Light My Fire," "Born to Be Wild," "Midnight Confessions," "Mony, Mony," and "Lady Willpower" were hot on the music charts.
So there I was—a seventeen-year-old, clean-cut Brooklyn boy of medium height, raised in a conservative Jewish household with some sprinklings of Orthodoxy. My father had worked for General Motors since coming out of the army and had learned most of his skills while in the service. I had a brother who became a New York City teacher. Teachers were in short supply, and such a position offered a continued military deferment. For this reason, teaching was an attractive occupation for men who wanted to avoid going to Vietnam.
We lived in a two-family house in the Canarsie section of Brooklyn, with primarily Italian and Jewish populations. Academically, I was an above-average student. I was in honors classes with an A average in high school, and in 1968 I was accepted to the City College of New York, commonly known as the poor man's Harvard. As a tuition-free school, it was certainly attractive to my parents, who did not want to absorb any costs related to sending me to a state or private institution. Attending the City College of New York was certainly going to be an "out-of-town" experience since it was located in Spanish Harlem, far from the Brooklyn neighborhood where I grew up. A ride on the A train to 125th Street would be an adventure. Like most young students, I did not have a clue what I wanted to be when I grew up.
As September 1968 approached, I was becoming increasingly apprehensive about attending college. I received an invitation to attend the college orientation and began to understand that there was no way out of it. All through my academic life, I had been afraid of failure. Failure had never come to pass, but going to college energized my negative thoughts. As the orientation day approached, my mother was increasingly reassuring that everything would be okay. The meeting day arrived, and my parents drove me to CCNY. They were somewhat disappointed with the surrounding neighborhood and were concerned about my safety, but somehow they concluded that everything would fall into place and no harm would come to me. I think the "tuition-free" part influenced their decision.
City College, being part of the City University of New York, is a large institution. Even in those years, there were about twenty thousand enrolled students. As we approached Shepard Hall, where the orientation was taking place, I could immediately see the difference between high school and college. Shepard Hall looked like a sixteenth- century building. Outside, the gothic building was made of austere gray stone with stained-glass windows and ivy growing on its walls. Inside, it resembled a cathedral, with high ceilings, ornate walls, tapestry, and wood within its landscape. The smells of Shepard Hall were similar to those of a church setting as well. The scents of wood and burnt candles permeated the air and reinforced my belief that, at one time, this building had been a place of worship. For a moment, I felt that God was present. What a change—from a high school auditorium to a truly magnificent and formidable setting.
All of a sudden, the doors of the Great Hall (the room within Shepard Hall) opened up, and the president of the college, Buell Gallagher, entered wearing a majestic, velvet academic robe and holding a wooden rod. His stature as a very tall man enhanced his presence, and he seemed to be bigger than life. His body language conveyed authority and confirmed his high level on the academic chain of command. His entrance resembled something from Buckingham Palace. He walked in first, followed by an entourage of the college's faculty, also adorned in their academic garb. I couldn't believe the pomp and ceremony taking place. In high school, I would once in a while see the principal in an old suit, and now I was seeing royalty. All we needed was trumpets and angels. This was indeed a change.
The opening ceremony matched the grand entrance. The saying of the Pledge of Allegiance, the rendition of the "Star-Spangled Banner," and all of the opening speeches praising faculty members, parents, students, and the college itself were moving—and at the same time frightening because they reinforced what I believed could happen to me. The thoughts of not succeeding, being a disappointment to my parents, and not being able to cope with the academic demands kept pounding in my heart and brain.
Once the orientation was over, we were invited to take a tour of the campus. I had never been there before and thought it would consist of a few buildings. I was wrong. The campus was ten blocks long and two blocks wide. There was a North Campus and a South Campus. I later found out that the entire campus occupied thirty-five acres. The buildings were a mixture of Old World and modern architecture. One of the most striking structures was Lewisohn Stadium. It looked like it belonged in another era—maybe in ancient Rome. This structure would later become a focus of Vietnam protests as it was where campus military organizations practiced drills and ceremonies.
No doubt, change in my young life was occurring rapidly. Not only was I exposed to a new educational venue, but it hit me that I was beginning to grow up and take on more responsibilities. No one was going to lead me anymore. I had to begin to lead myself.
During the campus visit, I noticed that the students looked different from what I was accustomed to. I am not saying they looked like Martians, but their clothing and physical appearance were a reflection of what was occurring in our society. Most of the male students on campus had long hair and facial hair, and outfits were mostly jeans and ripped polo shirts. This was a far cry from high school, where male students were still wearing dress pants and button-down shirts. The lax mode of dress was a striking change that would lead me to look at myself differently in the mirror. By December 1968, I also had long hair and a beard, having conformed to the college dress code of "anything goes."
While viewing the campus, I also realized that there would be a dramatic difference in the logistics of movement on a daily basis. In high school, students were confined to one building, changing classes from room to room. At City College, I would be changing classes from building to building. This added both additional freedom and additional responsibility.
One of the most dramatic differences between high school and college was the display of anti–Vietnam War posters and graffiti throughout the campus. Even during the orientation, students were handing out pamphlets discussing the antiwar movement. This was far different from the parent-teacher association (PTA) flyers distributed at high school. Indeed, college was going to be a different world for me.
Socially, growing up in Brooklyn was tough sometimes, however, at other moments, a time of fun and games. Brooklyn lived up to its tough reputation on many occasions when fights broke out about ball games or territorial possession. One boy in particular liked to constantly fight and convince himself that he was the leader of all of us. Even I, the kind and thoughtful person, had to physically battle with him a few times. There were episodes of victory and some of defeat. Eventually, he moved away, and that was the end of the violence and competition.
For the most part, many of the kids stayed together as a group and played all the urban games, including baseball, stickball, slap ball, punch ball, softball, football, basketball, Johnny on the pony, hide-and-seek, and skelly. We also roller skated and biked and used the streets as our playground. Dodging cars while playing was common and also dangerous. I guess danger and toughness were things we learned to deal with, not only during our growing years but throughout life as well.
We never thought the relationships among us would end. But they did. At the end of the summer of 1968, all my friends gathered at a place where we had played as young children and hugged each other. With this last gathering, our solid and long-lasting friendships ended as well. Everyone chose a different school to attend, and by September of that year, all the good-byes had been said and everyone had scattered. Life would never be the same. Each of us chose our own path, and many of us today live in different parts of the country.
From age eleven, I certainly had girls on my mind. Since there was no Internet or easy access to anything from which we could find out what girls really looked like without clothes on, an occasional peek at some father's Playboy magazine was the only resource to feed our imaginations.
Socially, I went out occasionally with girls in my neighborhood and my high school. There was no one special, and at the time, there wasn't anyone on the immediate horizon. I was seventeen and didn't drive yet, and that certainly made my dating possibilities more restrictive.
To enhance my chances of having a wonderful social life, I joined a fraternity, thinking that it would be the outlet for my raging hormones and the path to find the woman of my dreams. Nothing could have been further from the truth. Becoming a fraternity brother was a challenge and a half. All the hazing and pranks that one could think of took place, on top of the subservient tasks for the older "brothers," such as serving them food at school as well as the frat house. The frat house was no lap of luxury, either. It was located over a real estate agency office in Brooklyn and looked like something out of a horror film. It was separated into two rooms—the bar and the "boom boom room." The bar consisted of a long table with lots of liquor bottles and dirty glasses on long wooden shelves on the back wall. The table was never cleaned, nor was the wooden floor it rested on. Both were sticky, and sneakers squeaked as people walked across the floor. The house smelled like Rheingold Beer and pretzels. I won't mention anything about the bathroom in that frat house. I will leave that to your wildest thoughts.
The boom boom room was the place and palace of paradise. It was there that all the parties took place and where all of our fantasies were supposed to be fulfilled. Its decor was from the 1880s, with green velvet drapes, velvet chairs, and a beat-up piano that nobody played. It looked like a hotel room that Marshal Matt Dillon from Gunsmoke would stay in. Yet we had happy times in that room, both socially and romantically. It was indeed a place to meet girls and sometimes do things that we ordinarily wouldn't do in other places. I will leave that to your imagination as well.
Drugs, alcohol, and cigarettes were in constant supply. Marijuana was the drug of choice because of its cheap price and quick high and because it was thought to be a cool thing to do. We didn't use other, heavy-duty drugs such as LSD or heroine due to their higher prices and uncertain effects and danger. Brownies, cookies, and drug pipes could be found everywhere. Alcohol was consumed in unbelievable amounts, most of it coming from cheap beer and liquor. After a while, when we were high or drunk, the fraternity house did seem like paradise. It was an escape from the pressures we felt at school and a way to be part of a group of people who were in the same boat we were in.
As a seventeen-year-old college student—a big man on campus, a freshman at the City College of New York—everything seemed to be going right. I was making new friends, meeting some very pretty girls, and having a good time. I was very thin at the time, with a thirty-inch waist and a good physique. Some girls told me I looked like a young Omar Sharif due to my dark skin, large dark eyes, and long hair. These words were good for my ego and a definite confidence builder. My academic and social lives seemed to be on a steady track until that fateful day in November, when something wonderful happened.
In November 1968, my brother was dating a girl (who would later become my sister-in-law) who was in a sorority at Brooklyn College. One of her sorority sisters had a fifteen-year-old sister named Joyce who wanted to meet a college man. That someone would be me. Ordinarily, I did not go on blind dates, but this time I decided to do so. Little did I know that this would change my world for the rest of my life.
I clearly remember that November day. The weather was crisp and dry, with the days getting shorter and the nights colder. The leaves on the trees had already vanished. The night seemed so quiet and comforting. The silence of the evening seemed to scream peace.
Since I wasn't able to drive yet and my date lived in the Sheepshead Bay section of Brooklyn, I needed transportation to her home. My brother and his girlfriend were kind enough to drive me to the corner near her house and drop me off, and we arranged for them to pick me up at 11:00 p.m. on the same corner.
It was a Saturday night, November 16, at around seven o'clock when I was dropped off at the corner and walked to the middle of the block to my date's house. The house was a kind that was commonly built in Brooklyn in the late 1940s—a two-family attached brick house with a long, narrow porch. Joyce's family lived upstairs and a tenant downstairs. As I approached the stairs to the front door, I was somewhat nervous and apprehensive about the date. Certainly, I was scared about meeting her parents for the first time and wondered what my date looked like. I rang the doorbell, and her father greeted me at the door with a firm handshake and a smile. Her mother followed and seemed not so happy to see me. They told me to sit in the living room until their daughter finished getting ready to go out. While waiting for Joyce, her father started a conversation with me. His focus was on my college course of study and what I wanted to do professionally when I graduated. I remember telling him that since I was a freshman, it was too early to decide on a major or career. He seemed pleased with my honest answer and continued to be cordial toward me.
Excerpted from In Love by Gary Littman Copyright © 2012 by Gary Littman. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1 Dreaming....................1
Chapter 2 1969-1972: The College Years....................11
Chapter 3 1973-1974: Life Changes....................21
Chapter 4 1975-1979: Sharing Love....................29
Chapter 5 1980-1983: Dreaming Again....................41
Chapter 6 1984-1992: Life and Death....................49
Chapter 7 1993-1998: Life Continues....................57
Chapter 8 1999-2006: Life and Death Continue....................63
Chapter 9 2007-2008: Tragedy....................75
Chapter 10 Reflection and Life after Tragedy....................93
About the Author....................99
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Great book, I felt a real connection as I am currently grieving for my late wife
Incredible and moving story. I loved the historical context surrounding the events of this loving couple
I read this entire book last night because I couldn't put it down. This is one of the most romantic books I've ever read. I really felt a part of the story and fell a tie to the characters. As I've seen in other reviews, this book is a must read for baby boomers. I hope to see more books from this author in the future
Unbelieveable book! Cried the whole time!
This is one of the most heart touching books I've ever read. Highly, highly recommended!!
Truly exceptional story. It was very touching and heart warming
This is an amazing book. I am a widow and really connected with the author's story.
heartfelt story, a++, cried a lot, i'll be reading it again soon
Very touching! Loved it! Cried the whole time because I really connected with the story
I couldn't agree more with all the reviews for this book so far. It's a delightful book and very touching. I plan on reading it again soon
Must read for all who love books about true love and romanticism!! I felt a real connection to the author and his family!
Awesome book!! Very well written! Cried a lot at the end. This is a book for baby boomers like others have said
Quick read, very emotional book. I loved it and and hope to see more books from this author
Beautiful book! I couldn't put the book down and kept crying. Like JillCohen said, this book really defined my life. This is a must read for baby boomers!!
This was a great book and really spoke to my heart because I am a widow, myself. It really defined my experiences as a woman of the 60's. If you are a baby boomer like me, a widow or widower, or just a lover of romantic books, this is definitely for you