In 1968, we lived in a small southern town near a large lake north of a big city. The state looked like a fireman with Virginia as the helmet. Despite its appearance, I was sent to the principal when a classmate told my teacher I said hell at lunch. I had just seen John Wayne in 'Hellfighters' and knew what I wanted to be when I grew up. A rich fireman.
The south was a strange place in 1968. Very Christian but not very accepting. My classmates told me John Lennon would go to Hell for saying the Beatles were more popular than Christ. I couldn't say Hellfighters but there was nothing wrong with turning your nose up at a "Nigger Toe" nut or saying someone was 'going to Hell.' Especially John Lennon.
We watched news film of white lanky policemen with weak chins and angry German Shepherds attack protesters in the streets while Walter Cronkite seemed embarrassed to be in the same room with the footage. You didn't have to be Walter to know that something was crazy wrong. What no one knew was how much worse it was going to get.
Ignorance was carried like battlefield flags to the infield of NASCAR tracks. Restaurants proudly proclaimed, "We Reserve The Right To Refuse Service" while a Disney-like cartoon of a short fat Confederate general, grumbling, "Forget, Hell" spoke to something far darker.
There was a lot of ugliness despite plain front khaki trousers and button down oxfords. Made in the USA labels hid Mill Towns 10 miles from my home and and a hundred years from 1968. George Wallace bumper stickers were as thick as pine trees and friendships dissolved when I wore a HHH pin to school. "Forget, Hell" will always mean something different to me.