Summer of 1969, a Memoir: Why Don’t We Sing This Song All Together

A. Jay Adler
7 min readAug 15, 2019
John “Jack” Niflot (Gift of Duke Devlin)/The Museum at Bethel Woods/Via Reuters

Ann-Margaret was dancing down the middle of Sepulveda Boulevard.

We were watching her from an overpass above. We were 17 and 19, and we had just walked out of Los Angeles International Airport. We had worked the first part of the summer to afford this first ever trip on our own — a three-week odyssey up the coast of hippie California. But there was no allowance in the budget for taxis out of airports, so we walked out. Suitcases in hand, we crossed over Sepulveda toward Century Boulevard, and we looked down from the overpass. And we saw her: Ann-Margaret strutting down the street just outside LAX the very hour we arrived.

Hooray for Hollywood.

Of course, there were cameras on cranes gliding down the street beside her, filming her. That was Hollywood, too.

A fine, magical welcome it was.

Not that we two teenage hippies were very much fans of Ann-Margaret, beyond the obvious. We hadn’t traveled from our New York, East Village hangouts all the way to California — “promised land of my people” I would call it that fall in a senior-year creative writing class essay — to ogle the last gasp of old-line Hollywood’s old-time sex-kittenness. We had come on a pilgrimage, to see the Sunset Strip, the Pacific Coast Highway, Santa Barbara, Big…



A. Jay Adler

Writer. Reader. Roper of stars and Professor of English. New York and Los Angeles. Essays, poetry, fiction and creative nonfiction, memoir.