The ’60s and ’70s were periods of monumental change and upheaval in American history.
It was the era of the civil rights movement, the Vietnam War, the assassination of President Kennedy, the emergence of psychedelic hippies, daring fashions and music that reflected the conflict of the time. But despite the events that characterized a turbulent time, most baby boomers reminisce on the era with great nostalgia.
For residents of Winter Park, memories of places such as the Beef and Bottle, where customers knew the staff just as well as the menu, and the iconic Langford Hotel, where President Reagan and his wife celebrated their 40th anniversary, are unforgettable.
But not everyone can think back to a time when telephones were not portable and there were other things to do during the day that did not include searching the Internet for YouTube videos or socializing with friends via Facebook.
On Wednesday, Oct. 19, the Winter Park Historical Museum hopes to reinvent those times for residents of all ages with “The Way We Were: Park Avenue in the ’60s & ’70s.” It’s an exhibit creators hope will bring back good memories for those who lived it and create new ways to enjoy history for those who did not.
“We want it to be a heartwarming nostalgic walk down the Avenue,” Museum Executive Director Susan Skolfield said.
It should be just as fun for people who weren’t here so they can experience history in a fun way, she said.
The grand opening “The Way We Were: Park Avenue in the ’60s & ’70s” is Wednesday, Oct. 19, from 5-8 p.m. at Winter Park Historical Museum, 200 W. New England Ave. It's free and open to the public.
The historical exhibit of Park Avenue in the ’60s and ’70s will feature signs from clothing store Hattie’s, Cottrell’s 5 &10 cent store and the restaurant La Maison — major components of the Avenue scene in this time period. There’s documentary photography from Peter Schreyer, executive director of Crealdé School of Art as well as a Winter Park Chamber of Commerce video from the ’60s and a historical timeline of Winter Park from the Native American time period to the present.
“It is as comprehensive as we have room for,” Winter Park Historical Association President Linda Kulmann said. “It gives an overview of the major events.”
There’s also a ’60s living room, where the opening songs from shows of the time period, put together by students at Valencia College, will be playing from the wooden television, and books and magazines of the time will be showcased and available for residents to browse.
“It was a monumental task,” curator and exhibition designer Camilo Velasquez said.
Mannequins will be dressed in clothing of the time, replicas of kiosks that were used as information bulletins will be showcasing modern Park Avenue shops, and paintings from Jeannette Genius McKean will be hung to pay tribute to her for opening the Morse Museum of American Art, home to the world’s most comprehensive collection of Louis Comfort Tiffany glass.
“It’s also about the movers and shakers,” Velasquez said. “It’s about the people who created the change, the business people, so to speak. People like Eve Proctor, Hattie Wolfe, Bob Miller and Robert Langford. They have marked the personality of the area.”
The exhibition team is also going above and beyond to keep children just as entertained as their parents and grandparents. They have a children’s section featuring toys of the era such as the Slinky, Etch A Sketch and Rubik’s Cube.
“We are looking forward to the kids getting rich in the ’60s and ’70s and kind of submerging them in that culture,” Kulmann said.
They will also launch a new children’s show for 3- to 5-year-olds called “’70s Show Winter Park” with main characters "Sunny Day" and "Delta Dawn", which will debut at the museum on Saturday, Nov. 5 at 10 a.m., for the first Saturday every month and at 10 a.m. every Wednesday thereafter. The show is free and open to the public.
“It is a great way to introduce history to kids — a great way to make it come alive and make it have relevance,” Kulmann said.
Appetizers and wine will be served at the grand opening of the exhibition on Wednesday, Oct. 19, from 5 p.m-8 p.m. The Museum is asking guests to dress in '60s and '70s garb.
The exhibit runs until July 28. Museum hours are Tuesday-Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Saturdays, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.