Loose Change

Come mothers and fathers throughout the land,

And don\'t criticize what you can\'t understand,

Your sons and your daughters are beyond your command,

Your old road is rapidly agin\'.

Please get out of the new one if you can\'t lend your hand,

For the times they are a-changin\'.

Bob Dylan, The Times They Are A-Changin\'

The Sixties gave us some of the most radical changes in our history. The Vietnam War and the Anti­–war movement, student protests, the music, drug use, mini skirts, communal living, sexual freedom, Women’s Liberation, and the Civil Rights Movements, to name a few. These events changed the face of our country and depicted a sense of looseness amongst the young people during this time. Sara Davidson’s Loose Change: Three Women of the Sixties, guides us on a vivid tour of these events through the eyes of Tasha, Susie, and herself, and gives us an up close and personal look at this time of change…“loose change.”

The idea of “loose change” is portrayed throughout Davidson’s book. For instance, many students in the Sixties found one reason or another to protest the government establishment. Civil Rights for blacks was one platform for them to express their political views. Sara tells about a protest, which took place when a local supermarket refused to hire blacks for good jobs. After picketing failed to accomplish their goals the protesters came up with a new tactic: a shop–in. “This is how it worked: students would wheel shopping carts sown the aisles, load them to the brim and abandon them at the check stand saying coyly, ‘Oh, I forgot my wallet.’ Others went around rearranging the shelves and dropping food on the floor” (pg. 57). Sara witnessed Susie participating in the shop–in by throwing potatoes on the floor. Sara, Susie, and Tasha all took part in another Civil Rights demonstration against The Sheraton Place Hotel. The protest was staged because they only had 31 black employees out of 550 and refused to sign a no–bias hiring pact. The protesters eventually got the hotel to change its policy after an 18-hour stand off and several arrests.

The Vietnam War and the Anti–War movement were a major backdrop of the sixties, and another cause for student protests. Some men were burning their draft cards and declaring themselves free. In December 1966, thousands of students, including Susie, voted to begin a school strike at the student union, due to the arrest of several students who were handing out anti–draft literature. Susie eventually goes to Vietnam and becomes “enraged” at what she sees. The death, destruction, and the eyes of those young soldiers who were fighting the war. “These ignorant, unconscious children were going to die and she saw it in their jumpy eyes–they had no notion why” (pg. 317)

More evidence of the loose changes taking place in the 1960s was the sexual revolution. The whole generation growing up in the 1960s developed a radically different attitude toward sex than their parents. Drugs like marijuana and LSD loosened inhibitions and sex became just another thing to do. Sara, Susie, and Tasha follow their sexual drives and suffer many bad love affairs. Although Susie was married to Jeff, this did not stop them form exploring other sexual encounters. While at a party, Jeff is attracted to a black girl and openly tells Susie, “you know how long I’ve wanted to ball a black chick. What do you say” (pg. 103)? Susie concedes because she believes there is nothing she can do but accept it and play along. In return, before Jeff goes out of town, he consented to Susie having an affair with a friend while he was away. “Susie was attracted to the hippies for different reasons: being a hippie meant you could run naked in the forest, get away from your husband and fuck everyone else” (pg. 153). Sara and Tasha also practiced this sexual looseness. While in New York City Tasha carried on relationships, ”with a painter from Argentina, a Dutch Sculptor and a novelist from Brooklyn,” (pg. 115) and eventually had an affair with a married man. Sara also had an affair with a married man, and eventually met Michael who opened her up to a whole new sexual experience.