1966: Happy Days

Jared Nelson, guest writer


“Yes! I passed the final exam. Now I can graduate,” I rejoiced,  “How did you guys do?”

“I passed as well.  I already knew I would,” Shawn retorted under his breath.

“Me too,” Marcia replied.

“Finally we can get out of this place and go have fun,” I said.


My name is Barry Brady.  My best friend is Shawn, and Marcia is my girlfriend.  The year is 1966, and I am 22 years old.  We have just graduated from college and that means we are free to explore. Not that I had a bad home life or anything, but I am ready to go roam the U.S. With my best friend and girlfriend by my side; we were bound to have a great time.  Little did we know that there is a great big world out there and we were in over our heads.

First stop, California.  We did not have a clue what we were going to do once we got there. The only thing that we hoped to do is see the Beatles perform live in concert! On our road trip there, we sang Beatles songs the whole way.  After driving for what seemed like an eternity, we decided to stop and stay the night at the new Caesars Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada.  I was a bit leery about staying there because of all the bad influences that are present.  When we arrived, some guys tried selling us some drugs and asked if we wanted to drink.  I was not interested in any of that stuff, but it took some self-control to not try my hand at some gambling.  I went straight to bed before I got tempted to try something that I shouldn’t.  At breakfast the next morning, I ran into Neil Armstrong!  Earlier that year he became NASA’s first civilian astronaut to fly in space!  He was the command pilot of Gemini 8.

“Mr. Armstrong.  You are a hero! How did you perform the first docking of two spacecraft?”

“That was nothing kid. I know that with all the evolving technology, it will not be long until we put someone on the moon.”

“I am a huge fan of your. I have read so much about the space race.”

“That’s great.  Maybe someday you will become an astronaut.”

“Can you tell me what your next mission will be?”

“Unfortunately even I do not know when or what my next mission will be.  I just do what they tell me to do.  Look kid, it’s been a pleasure talking to you, but I need to split.  I have a plane to catch in an hour.”

Mr. Armstrong took off to catch his flight.  As soon as we finished eating, we quickly packed our things and were back on the road.  We figured we would reach California by sunset.  Shawn turned on the radio and we heard a message from President Lyndon B. Johnson addressing the topic of the Vietnam War that had been dragging on.  President Johnson announced that the United States will substantially increase its number of troops in Vietnam.

“I do not understand why we are sending more troops over to that terrible country to get killed,” Marcia complained!

“We are trying to end this dreadful war quickly.  The war has been prolonged for a long period of time, and it seems proper that we send more troops in order to end the war,” I explained.

“I hate to interrupt this discussion, but I think we might have a problem,” Shawn added.

“What is the problem?” I asked.  Just then the car started to sputter.  I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.

“What in the world is going on,” Marcia asked.

“Apparently someone forgot to check the fuel gauge,” I replied.

“I did check the gauge.  I filled up the tank at the gas station next to the hotel.  I know we should have plenty of gas in the tank.  We literally just left Las Vegas.”

“Let me go see if I can figure out what happened,” Shawn said.

“I’ll go with him.  You can stay in the car Marcia. It shouldn’t take but a minute.”  Shawn and I began searching the vehicle to see why we had run out of gas so quickly.  The last thing we needed was a delay. We had tickets to the Beatles concert in San Francisco that evening, and we were still hours away.  If we were going to make it in time, we would have to solve the problem immediately and get back on the road.

All of a sudden, Shawn called out “I think I found the issue.”

“What’s that,” I asked.

“There is a hole in the bottom of our gas tank,” he said.

“I think I have an Idea of how we could patch that up.  I have some duck tape in the trunk.  I will go grab the role,” I said.

“Okay. Hand me the role and I will patch up the hole,” Shawn said.  Soon after, the hole was patched up, and we were ready to be on our way.

“Hang on a second.  We got the hole patched, but we still need gas,” Shawn said.

“What are we going to do.  We need to get some gas quickly or else we will miss the concert,” I pleaded!

“The problem is that there are no gas stations near by,” Shawn said.

Just then, a man in brand new blue and black ’66 Chevelle pulled over on the side of the road.  “Silver SS stripes cover the top, and all the chrome and trim was also rejuvenated” (1966).  The Chevelle was the baddest car on the road.  Who in the world with that kind of money would stop and help us?  To our astonishment, the man that had come to our rescue was none other than Ronald Reagan.  The actor himself! He had just been elected governor of California earlier that year.

“Do you kids need any help?” he asked.

“Yes sir.  You see, we are on our way to the Beatles concert in San Fransisco and it seems that our fuel tank has been punctured.  We were able to get the hole patched up, but now we need to find some gas. Is there any way that you can help us out Mr. Reagan?” I asked.

“It seems that you guys are in quite the predicament.  I am actually on my way to the concert as well.  I know of a gas station not too far from here.  Maybe I could bring some gas back for you?”

“Why, that would be groovy,” Shawn said.

After a short wait we were full of fuel and back on track.  However, we were now in a time  crunch and could not afford to have any other set backs.

With Shawn behind the wheel, we raced across the California country side on route to San Francisco.  With no time to spare we reached the Golden State Bridge, crossed over and made our way to Candlestick Park.

“We made it!  I can not believe that we are going to see the Beatles perform live,” I yelled.

The stadium was sold out; something the Beatles were accustomed to doing. The concert was was awesome and the crowd was electric!

“I was amazed that these people I’d seen on a screen at home were singing to me.  And I really believed that they were” (Sullivan).

The final song was “Hey Jude,” my favorite song.  I knew that this was the perfect time.  Right before they started playing the last song, I got down on one knee and asked, “Marcia, will you marry me?”  She was speechless, and tears filled her eyes.  I usually do not get emotional, but even I had to choke down the tears.  To my excitement she said “yes”, and we embraced.

“Are you crying Shawn,” Marcia asked.

“No. Something is in my eye,” he exclaimed sheepishly.  We all knew even he could not hold back the tears.

When we left the stadium it dawned on me. “This is the last Beatles concert ever, but it is the beginning of something special,” I said.

“When should we get married?” Marcia asked.

“I think that we should get married immediately!”

“Why not get married in Las Vegas on our way back!”

Just like that, it was official.  Tomorrow we would head back to Las Vegas and get married.


“I now pronounce you husband and wife.  You may now kiss the bride.”

Those words began a new chapter in my life.

Works Cited

Sullivan, Jim. “What the Beatles Meant to America.” usnews.com. 21 Jan. 2014. Web. 12 Apr.                  2017

“1966 Chevelle SS – Super Chevy Magazine.”Super Chevy. N.p., 01 Sept. 2006. Web. 05 Apr.                  2017.


Barbree, Jay, and John Glenn. Neil Armstrong: ALife of Flight. Sydney, New South Wales: Pan,               2015. Print.

History.com Staff. “The Space Race.”History.com. A&E Television Networks, 2010. Web. 05                  Apr. 2017.

Moore, Lt. Gen. Harold G. (Ret.). We Were Soldiers Once … and Young. 2002. Print.