Way Back When ... 1966
Published 3:56 pm, Thursday, March 30, 2017
Today marks the opening of the Fairfield Museum’s newest exhibition, Talkin’ ‘Bout My Generation: Fairfield in the 1960s & 1970s. The exhibition explores life in the area during those two turbulent decades, and the Museum’s South Gallery is full of artifacts, memorabilia and even clothing related to the ‘60s and ‘70s.
The Vietnam War is also a large part of the exhibition, and the stories of several local residents who served in the war are featured. During the war years, men ages 18-25 were required to register for the draft. Some volunteered for different branches of military service as an alternative to the draft or out of a desire to serve the country. Women volunteers served in the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines, especially as nurses. More than 500 men and several women from Fairfield and surrounding towns served in the war.
Barton Bean IV of Stratford was one of those men. He served as an operating room technician in a Navy base hospital at Danang from 1963 to 1967. He worked helicopter duty, helping retrieve wounded from the fighting areas near Danang, and was wounded toward the end of his service. He wrote letters to a friend at home about the bombing of the hospital where he worked, and about arguments over how to treat a Viet Cong prisoner brought in for treatment. His friend wrote years later that he returned home in 1967 with “a deep respect for the Asian peoples, nightmares about the orphans and wounded, and a continued interest in the medical world.”
One of the items on display in the exhibition is a dress Mr. Bean had made in Danang in 1966. Mr. Bean ordered the custom-made dress for his friend Jocelyn Granet of Fairfield. She wrote, “Many of the Navy men stationed in Danang ordered these dresses for their wives and girls, all specially made from our measurements.”
Vietnam veterans who would like to share their stories are encouraged to visit the exhibition and to leave their contact information at the front desk so a member of the Museum’s staff can record their stories.
Talkin’ ‘Bout My Generation: Fairfield in the 1960s & 1970s opens today, Friday, March 31 and runs through September 17. It is open daily from 10am to 4pm. A special event on Thursday, April 6, 12-2pm will feature fashions from the exhibition and the work of local designer Jennifer Butler. Tickets to “Fashionable Fairfield: A Jennifer Butler Fashion Show & Lunch” are $40 and are available at Fairfieldhisory.org/event/fashionable-fairfield/.
The Fairfield Museum and History Center is located at 370 Beach Road. Learn more about the history and culture of Fairfield, view rotating exhibitions and purchase Fairfield-themed gifts at the Museum. For more information visit Fairfieldhistory.org or call (203) 259-1598; Fairfieldhistory.org.