It Was the Best of Summers, It Was the Worst of Summers 

June 7, 2023

Summer is here again, but only time will tell if it will be a good or a bad one — or go down in history for some reason. Let’s go with Uncle John on a time-traveling trip through some of the most notable summers of all time (for better or for worse). 

The Summer of Love 

When we think of the 1960s counterculture, war-protesting, psychedelic rock-loving, drug-taking, “hippie” movement, we probably all picture something that took place during the “Summer of Love” — the zeitgeist moment that would define late 1960s American youth culture. Over the course of the warm summer months of 1967, about 100,000 young people, dressed in tie-dye shirts and fringe vests with their hair worn long, gathered in the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood of San Francisco. In nearby parks and clubs, they held rallies, staged public works of art, and listened to music by bands like the Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane.  

The Year Without a Summer 

That’s the name historians give to the year of 2016, in which the climate all over the world went haywire. In 1815, the Indonesian volcano Mount Tambora erupted. One of the largest on record, it sent so much ash and acid into the atmosphere that by 1816, global temperatures had dropped by about 1°F on average. across the globe. That’s enough to lead to absolute catastrophe. Summer temperatures in Europe were the coldest in history and led to torrential, weeks-long stretch of rains in dry and hot places and unseasonable cold and snowfall in tropical places. Countless people across the world starved to death because the climate issues caused widespread crop failure.  

“Summer of ‘69” 

In 1985, Canadian pop-rocker Bryan Adams scored the biggest hit of his career to that point with “Summer of ’69.” A hard-charging rocker, the lyrics are a bittersweet, nostalgic reminiscence of a narrator remembering his first garage band (which broke up when members quit to pursue less pie-in-the-sky dreams) and his carefree youth. “Those were the best days of my life,” Adams intones with an ache in his voice. Adams wrote the song with frequent collaborator Jim Vallance, but the song isn’t exactly autobiographical. Both men played in go-nowhere garage bands early in their careers, but Adams didn’t start playing music until the mid-‘70s, and Vallance joining a band as a drummer in 1972. Nevertheless, in the actual summer of ’69, Adams would’ve been just 10 years old. 

There’s plenty more strange history to be found in Strange History. It’s available now from Portable Press. 

READ MORE: , , , , , ,