As we start this bi-weekly series on connecting today to the 1960s, we’re tempted to begin with something sublime – in the realm of chemistry, higher math, or the arts. And in time, we’ll get there because, as you see, there are plenty of “sublime” examples on this site.

We won’t – but we could – for instance go right away to the connection between Sir Roger Penrose’s pioneering work on black holes in 1965 that enabled the Nobel Prizes awarded last week for physics to younger scientists working today. Or in sport, we could see the Los Angeles Lakers this past weekend matching the Herculean feat of the ’60s Celtics for a record number of NBA championships by a single team. Or in medicine, we could – if we wanted to – mention the virologists who classified something called a “coronavirus” back in 1965 – as Sir Roger at Oxford described the conditions for black holes, and before LeBron James was even born. All these would certainly show the 1960s as an achievement time, and connect these accomplishments to our own day.

Resisting the temptation to start with something sublime doesn’t mean going to the ridiculous, as the phrase goes. Rather, I’d like to go with something simply more prosaic. But terrific.

Recently, our daughter has begun pointing out to us the cars she likes as she gets close to the age of being able to drive herself. Though she likes things of the past, she tends to pull to wanting new, cool, shiny, never-been-done-before stuff. Many cars fit this bill, of course, though it seems that she and many many many of her high school friends today are enamored (can you say “obsessed?”) with all manner of . . . you guessed it . . . Jeeps.

Hard top, soft top, two door-four door, hopped up or not, red, green, gold, blue, four-wheel drive, two-wheel drive, Ranger, Rubicon, Sahara, Cherokee. You name it.  JEEPS !

Our daughter probably would take any of the several options just listed, and mix ’em up in a lot of ways. Anything for a Jeep, right?  Wrong.  In the past six months, I’ve noticed she “hates” (in a teenage way) one style that appears to be one of Jeep’s newest shiny offerings: the Gladiator, which looks like a small-to-mid size pickup truck.

Now, whoever heard of such a thing? I know it seems that everybody from Porsche and Mercedes to Cadillac and Hyundai is making an SUV or truck or ATV (anything but a regular car) – but a Jeep !??  We thought a Jeep was, well . . . a Jeep. Are they copy-catting or just selling out, trying to ride a wave of trendy popularity ?

And this got me thinking: How many people think this is really a new Jeep; a new style, new vehicle; something never seen before, and on this basis, they buy it?!  Probably a lot.  In the scheme of things, I suppose this really doesn’t matter. However, in the interests of connecting the 1960s and today, it may be interesting to know the Jeep Gladiator was introduced almost 60 years ago in 1962!

Part Wagoneer/part Wrangler, Jeep produced it in great variety, different trims, and configurations. And after about a decade in 1971, the Gladiator changed its name simply to the “Jeep pickup” or J-series with different numbers like “J10” “J20” or “J200” reflecting chassis designs and engine types. And not only numbers but names for different models came along – like “Townside,” “Thriftside,” and “Honcho” which at least in the early years featured the largest coolest grilles – centrally mounted, canted forward, with the Jeep badge proudly displayed right up front.

And whether Gladiator or J20, they were fixtures on the American road for 25 years until 1988, when they vanished. A generation later, they reappeared for our daughter to see in “great variety, trims, and configurations” and must have impressed people as something special because the new Jeep Gladiator won the 2020 “North American Truck of the Year” award.


I would say we’re dealing with a revival of sorts like The Sound of Music on Broadway or a remake of The Magnificent Seven.  If enough time goes by, people think the revival version is actually the original.  Kind of like when Rod Stewart or Linda Ronstadt years ago began singing and recording standards from the 1930s and 1940s, many probably thought Stewart and Ronstadt had actually written these tunes !  I guess we can say that Jeep is reviving an old tried-and-true “standard,” the Gladiator from 1962.

What’s the French expression?  Plus ca change, c’est plus la meme chose ?  The more things change, the more they stay the same?

And like the Gladiator, we’ll see that this frequently applies going forward with The1960sToday column. Sometimes an achievement today will build on something done in the Long Decade (1960-75) – like Sir Roger’s black hole research we mentioned.  At other times, we’ll simply see a new version today of something that occurred in our era of our project – like the Jeep that our daughter doesn’t like.

Every other week, we’ll feature a connection of the 1960-75 period to the present to show the relevance of remembering this storied time for things other than the things people usually associate with the era.

It’s a celebration of achievement that has lots in store, and I look forward to this adventure with you.
Drop us a line about Jeeps or about the Project at

Until next time,

October 15, 2020


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