After The Falls: Coming of Age in the Sixties

I feel sorry for people who didn't live through the 60s. They don't know what they missed, and although they might not care, the society they live in was forged by the catharsis that occurred during that decade. Whether you lived it or not, Catherine Gildiner's book, After the Falls: Coming of Age in the Sixties, is a valuable social history.

For me, growing up in the border town of Windsor, Ontario meant weekend forays into downtown Detroit to check out the stores and Stouffers' hot fudge sundaes. Incredible as it sounds now, my friends and I would pile into a bus that took us through the tunnel underneath the Detroit River to the base of Woodward Avenue. From there we walked up to the large department store, J. L. Hudson. Even if the Black Panthers were outside handing out pamphlets, we never felt scared or threatened. And because we had no exposure to racism or segregation, neither did we understand their cause. A few years later we stood on the Windsor waterfront and watched in disbelief as Detroit burned. Afterwards, residents scrambled to the suburbs and took J. L. Hudson's with them.

Change in the 60s was not moderate. Riots and sit-ins in protest of the Vietnam war rocked college campuses in a way that two wars in Iraq have been unable to do. It was a different time and Gildiner's recollection of it is solid. Both of her books are intelligent examinations of her remarkable life at a time when America was beginning to redefine itself. One thing you cannot deny after reading them is: she sure had spunk.