1978 – 8-tracks and Moon Shoes

Jane Ann McLachlan had this great idea for a blog challenge for the month of October to do one day for each of the first 25 years of your life.  This is the 15th installment. 

In 1978 the Dow closes at 805
Inflation was at 7.62%
Average cost of a new house: $54,800
Average income: $17,000
Gasoline: $0.63 a gallon
Movie ticket: $1.50

The Hugo is won by Frederik Pohl for Gateway.
The Campbell Award Orson Scott Card for best new SF Writer.

Worst year for fashion ever!  Leisure Suits, Silk shirts, open collars, gold chains, moon shoes.  Disco is sweeping the world.

The Galaxy 2000 is opened in South Charleston.  It’s a dance club with lighted floor just like Saturday Night Fever.  The Bee Gees tear up Billboard and I actually notice.  I like their music.  It will be years before I start liking heavier stuff.  It will be a few years before I set foot in the place and by then the Disco craze is past.

Fantasy Island premieres and pairs with Love Boat.  I love both of these shows as a kid.

Elvis impersonators start coming out of the woodwork.

The first ever radio episode of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, by Douglas Adams, is transmitted on BBC radio 4.

Dallas premieres on CBS as a miniseries.

Carl Sagan wins Pulitzer for “Dragons of Eden.”

The first ever SPAM email is sent to every ARPANET address on the west coast of the U.S.

Grease premieres.  Travolta is the hottest thing on the planet. 

The Sony Walkman is released. 

Space Invaders is released.

First test tube baby is born.

I get my first turntable/8-track player.  The first albums are Dire Straits, Foreigner, the Partridge Family and I can’t remember the 4th.  My brother and I start collecting 8-track tapes.  We both like Cheap Trick.

This is the year my mother’s parents move to Madeira Beach, Florida.  The 8-tracks come in handy during our 18 hour road trips to Florida.

I went to camp this summer and experience my first real kiss with a girl I barely know. I’d kissed lots of girls prior to this, but no tongues. It was exciting and scary all at the same time.  She was ready to go behind the bushes with me, and although I wasn’t exactly sure what she had in mind, I wasn’t quite ready for that yet. Six months later my answer would have been completely different.  Puberty is such a strange animal.

I also remember drawing a lot at this age.  I did a pretty good imitation of the Dr. Smock cartoon.  I’m also elected Governor in our WV Studies class, much to the chagrin of my teacher, although I never really figured out what she had against me.

This is the era when I start lifting weights. Mark Moss, Bill Shamblin and I used to go to Carl Hundley’s house several times a week and try to put on some muscle. I weigh right around 100 pounds and could bench 120, but despite my efforts I can’t seem to get any bigger.  Carl seemed to be the only one of us that was gaining any muscle.  My metabolism is ridiculous at this age. I could eat anything and not gain a pound.  Oh, how I miss those days.

Clear Ether!

1977 – Star Wars Impact

Jane Ann McLachlan had this great idea for a blog challenge for the month of October to do one day for each of the first 25 years of your life.  This is the 14th installment. 

In 1977 the Dow closes at 831
Inflation was at 6.5%
Average cost of a new house: $49,300
Average income: $15,000, this is the 1st year it’s gone down in a very long time
Gasoline: $0.65 a gallon
Movie ticket: $1.50

C.J. Cherryh wins the Campbell for best new SF writer.

President Carter pardons draft evaders.

Radio Shack releases the TRS-80.  I managed to get my hands on one years later.  Two months later the Apple II goes on sale.

Star Wars is released in May.

Elvis does his last concert in Indianapolis June 26th. Elvis dies at Graceland at the age of 42.

Voyager 1 launches.

Bill Rogers wins the NYC Marathon.  Long distance running is becoming a fad.

The first three nodes of ARPAnet are connected.  The Internet is born.

What a great year for pop culture.
Movies: Star Wars, Wizards, Close Encounters of the 3rd Kind, Saturday Night Fever, A Star is Born, Capricorn One
TV: Roots, Three’s Company, Soap, The New Mickey Mouse Club, The Love Boat, ChiPs, The Man from Atlantis
Music: Rumors by Fleetwood Mac released, The Sex Pistols release Never Mind the Bollocks Here’s the Sex Pistols, The Clash release their first album, The Saturday Night Fever Soundtrack goes nuts and Disco takes over the world (briefly) but not until 1978.

Elvis dies at Graceland at the age of 42.

Farrah Fawcett posters.  I had one on my wall. 
Digital watches. Skateboarding is making a comeback.

In 1977 I had hair down to my shoulders and was skateboarding and playing board games, like APBA Baseball, Football and Golf, Strat-o-matic Baseball, and Negamco Basketball and Golf. I even invented my own boxing and golf game.  I started playing golf with my dad that year and quit playing baseball.  

But the huge game changer was Star Wars.  I distinctly remember going downtown to Charleston watch it at the Kearse Theater and the line went all the way around the block.  Unheard of back then.  I knew kids at school that had seen it a dozen times.  My mom let us get the soundtrack.  It was the first movie soundtrack I ever owned.  I became obsessed with Science Fiction and wanted to be Han Solo.  I started buying Starlog and comics and Omni Magazine when it came out the following year. I started reading everything I could get my hands on.  It literally changed my life.  I would not be a pilot today if not for that movie.  I am still a huge Star Wars fan and even though I was deployed in 1999, when Episode 1 came out, I managed to see it in Germany. I still love Science Fiction as well and plan on writing in that genre for the foreseeable future.

Clear Ether!

1976 – Life Changing Events

Jane Ann McLachlan had this great idea for a blog challenge for the month of October to do one day for each of the first 25 years of your life.  This is the 13th installment. 

In 1976 the Dow closes at 1004
Inflation was at 5.75%
Average cost of a new house: $43,400
Average income: $16,000
Gasoline: $0.59 a gallon, back up fifteen cents
Movie ticket: $1.50

Hugo for best SF Novel goes to Joe Haldeman for The Forever War

My sixth grade class goes to Washington DC, via bus for our Patrol trip.  This marks the first time I am away from home by myself for any length of time.  It is an inspiring trip to the Nation’s Capital and we see all the memorials, the Capitol building, Monticello and the Smithsonian.

Frampton Comes Alive is released by Peter Frampton and goes platinum. I know it was big among many of my friends, but not with me.  I still didn’t really care much about music.  Mind boggling.

U.S. Bicentennial is celebrated.

NASA unveils the Space Shuttle Enterprise.

Reds win the World Series again. Yay!

Jimmy Carter wins Presidential election.  Some say he was the “smartest” by IQ of any President we ever had.  He was a Naval Academy graduate after all.  But from all accounts he was a micromanager with too many pie-in-the-sky ideals.  Not the type of decisive leader the country needed and he was out in one term.

Apple is formed by Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak.

Chuck Wendig is born.  I was going to release a second version of Wendigisms, but I’ll wait until this blog challenge is over.  The original Wendigisms is here.

Both my father and my mother remarried (different people) that year.  We attended both weddings, which were even in the same month.  That marriage took for both of them, as they are both still married.  I now had four sets of grandparents and new extended families.  It made them both happy, so it was a very good thing, and I love my step-parents. It wasn’t always easy navigating as a kid, but on the whole it was a gain.

That was the year I played Midget League Football.  I think it was actually called that back then.  I’m sure they’ve changed the name by now, since it’s not really politically correct in today’s world.  (I vehemently dislike political correctness)  Anyway, I had the same coach for football that I had for baseball, and as I said before, I wasn’t all that great at baseball, but football was another story altogether.  I think he was shocked at how skilled I was, despite my small stature.  We used to play “Kill the Quarterback” all the time in my neighborhood and I could run all day with the ball. I was the second fastest kid on the team; the fastest was lightning in a bottle, but stick thin.  His older brother ended up playing defensive back for my beloved Minnesota Vikings, so he had some good athletic genes. 

I loved playing football. Love, love, loved it.  Even practice.  Our team was horrible, but I didn’t care.  I found something that I really enjoyed and couldn’t wait for the following season. But, in the interim the city started a soccer league for the first time.  I went out for the team and my speed was a big plus, and I ended up playing center forward.  Our team was pretty good, but near the end of the season my left knee gave out.  I had a bone come out of place and I was unable to run for several years because of it. 

It was a course change for me.  No more football, no more sports, period. And that was all I cared about at the time.  To top it off I had started junior high school.  My focus switched to academics.  Bleh.  I had Mr. Hamilton for math and science, so I had been getting As in those classes, but now I got As in all my classes.  It put me on the path to become an Air Force Pilot. 

It would be several years before I was able to run again, but the speed never came back. It wasn’t meant to be, but I used to think about how different my life might have been if I had not injured my knee. It might have been a much sadder tale in the end.

On hindsight, that was a lot to deal with in one year, but I came through it mostly intact.

Clear Ether!

1975 – Beaches and Baseball

Jane Ann McLachlan had this great idea for a blog challenge for the month of October to do one day for each of the first 25 years of your life.  This is the 12th installment. 

In 1975 the Dow closes at 858  
Inflation was at 9.2%, it has doubled in consecutive years
Average cost of a new house: $39,300
Average income: $14,100
Gasoline: $0.44 a gallon
Movie ticket: $1.50

Hugo for best SF Novel goes to Ursula K. Le Guin for The Dispossessed.

Fran Tarkington and my Vikings lost the Super Bowl to Pittsburg.  I could have named almost the entire roster for Minnesota back then.

Microsoft is created by Bill Gates and Paul Allen.  The first microcomputer, the Altair 8800 is released.  The Cray-1, world’s first super-computer is commercially developed.

Betamax and VHS video machines are created and begin to slug it out for supremacy.

Digital Cameras and Laser printers are invented.

You might recall that I mentioned Mrs. Anderson substituted for Mr. Hamilton on occasion in my last post.  Well, the night prior was the famous M*A*S*H episode where Henry Blake dies on his way home in a helicopter crash.  We watched that show religiously, and that episode really hit us hard.  When I got to school the following day, it was all everyone was talking about, and thank God Mr. Hamilton wasn’t there that day, he didn’t strike me as the sentimental sort.  Mrs. Anderson had the crazy idea to write to the producers of the show and tell them how distressed we were by what happened.  The most wonderful thing happened.  Larry Gelbart, the director of the episode, sent each one of us a handwritten letter in response, on M*A*S*H stationary with green felt pen.  He explained that bad things happened in war, and it was often a sad ending for a lot of people.  Not the response I was looking for, but it was incredible that he took the time to answer a bunch of ten and eleven year olds.

Michael Shaara won the Pulitzer for Killer Angels.

Jaws was released, and scares the crap out of me.  I struggle with swimming in the ocean forever more.  And where do I go right after this moving comes out?  The beach.

My Dad drove me and my brother to Florida that summer and we started at Disney World, staying on the property at the Howard Johnsons hotel.  It had a wonderful glass elevator in the center courtyard.  It’s not there anymore, but it was a cool place to stay.  I also remember standing in line in 90+ degree heat for more than an hour and half to ride Space Mountain, which just opened in January.  We saw all the sights and after a couple of days there, we went to Sea World and then to Daytona Beach and up the coast to St. Augustine Beach.  It was a wonderful trip and a great time to bond with Dad.

The Big Red Machine won the World Series.  Dad and Papaw (my Mom’s dad) took us to Riverfront that fall, so I got to see them in person.  Earlier that year, Dad took us to see the Pirates play at Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburg, and Willie Stargell hit 3 home runs.  While I was growing up our local AAA baseball team, the Charleston Charlies was a farm club for the Pirates and I knew a lot of these players from those days.  Dad took my brother and me to Charlies’ games often.  Thinking back to this, I am almost the same age now that he was then.

Clear Ether!

1974 – Paddles and a New Course

Jane Ann McLachlan had this great idea for a blog challenge for the month of October to do one day for each of the first 25 years of your life.  This is the 11th installment. 

In 1974 the Dow closes at 616  
Inflation was at 11.3%, it has doubled in consecutive years
Average cost of a new house: $34,900
Average income: $13,900
Gasoline: $0.55 a gallon, back up fifteen cents
Movie ticket: $1.50

Hugo for best SF Novel goes to Arthur C. Clarke for Rendezvous with Rama.

The Loch Ness Monster is photographed.

Six Million Dollar Man premieres.  I remember watching this every week with my Dad and brother.  The Rockford Files also started this year, and it was one of the few shows I ever remember my Dad saying he liked.

Gold goes from a record high of $121.25 an ounce to $197 by April.  In August congress authorized citizens to own gold.  I guess I never realized we didn’t always have the right to own gold.

The Streak by Ray Stevens hits #1. Streaking was a thing back then.  I still don’t get it.

The Watergate Grand jury concludes that Nixon is involved in the cover-up. He resigns rather than be impeached.

The Man with the Golden Gun premieres and my Mom took my brother and me to this, our first James Bond movie.  Awesome is not a big enough word to describe it.

I started 5th Grade.  Mr. Hamilton is a New York native and he had a different style of teaching than any I had been accustomed to before.  He was loud and ruled the classroom with an iron fist.  He expected us to do our homework and be well-mannered in class.  If he asked you to do something he expected it done, and right now.  His style of teaching would get him fired today but he turned my academic life around.  He seemed larger than life and I was literally afraid of not having my homework done. 

I distinctly recall one episode where one of the students was having a very hard time with his math homework and had even enlisted the help of his older sister and it was still wrong.  Mr. Hamilton was flabbergasted, but Scott Anderson started laughing at his tirade.  Big mistake.  We used the one piece metal desks with a wood top, and Mr. Hamilton kicked Scott’s desk over, with Scott in it, for laughing at the other student.  Holy Crap!  I mean he launched it! As far as I know nothing ever happened to him for doing that, and in fact Scott’s mother ended up substitute teaching for Mr. Hamilton when he was out.  So I guess she was cool with it.

He had a huge paddle that he wielded like a broadsword.  If you got out of line, you got whacked.  I was arm-wrestling with another student on our break time, but when break ended we were still locked in an epic battle and neither of us was giving in, until suddenly we were both grabbed by the shoulder and put into the leaning position against the back counter to be paddled for not getting back to our seats on time.

I was a lousy student until I had him for a teacher.  I went from below average grades to As.  He changed my life.  I know I would not be where I am now if not for him.  His style was unorthodox and would not be tolerated by today’s standards but he demanded perfection and his students performed.  I went back several years later to see him and was surprised to find that I towered over him.  He was maybe 5’ 4”, but my God, he seemed so much bigger when I was 10.

Clear Ether!

1973 – Baseball and Music

Jane Ann McLachlan had this great idea for a blog challenge for the month of October to do one day for each of the first 25 years of your life.  This is the 10th installment. 

In 1973 the Dow closes at 850 
Inflation was at 6.16%
Average cost of a new house: $32,500
Average income: $12,900
Gasoline: $0.40 a gallon, back down fifteen cents
Movie ticket: $1.50

Hugo for best SF Novel goes to Isaac Asimov for The Gods Themselves.

Schoolhouse Rock appears, loved those little vignettes.

Watergate trial begins.

Offensive action against North Vietnam is suspended.

The first Designated Hitter is signed by the Red Sox.  Boo!

First Kiss concert.

Cease fire signed with North Vietnam.  Draft ends.

Senate names members to investigate the Watergate scandal.

First POWs released from North Vietnam.  All remaining troops leave South Vietnam.

Skylab is launched.

During Watergate hearings, Butterfield reveals existence of secret White House tapes, which Nixon refuses to release.

“Smoke on the Water” is released by Deep Purple.  My friend Jonno, from up the hill, learned to play the opening chords to this song on his brother’s guitar and I thought that was super cool.

Star Trek-Animated premieres on TV.  Loved this!  I was watching reruns of the original series whenever I could find them.

Yom Kippur War begins with Syria and Egypt attacking Israel.

Spiro Agnew pleads no contest to tax evasion and resigns as Vice President, Gerald Ford replaces him.

OPEC decrees an oil embargo against countries supporting Israel, which lasts 5 months.  It sparks a worldwide recession.

Israel is victorious in Yom Kippur War, fighting ends in late October.

Nixon finally releases Watergate tapes.

Alaska oil pipeline is authorized.

Nixon makes his infamous, “I am not a crook,” speech.

National Speed limit reduced to 55 MPH as an energy conservation measure.

The Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol (TCP/IP) is designed, but would not become the standard until 1983.

As you can see 1973 was busy, but was really a set-up for events that would cascade into the following year and create major problems. For me, it is the spring that I start playing Little League Baseball. I was never all that good, but I was lucky to be on some good teams. My team won the league for four consecutive years. I was afraid of the ball, and getting hit in the nose playing catch with my Mom’s boyfriend didn’t help any.

In the fall I start 4th Grade, and Mrs. Law is my teacher. I remember her for music. We had to learn the recorder that year, but we also learned the ukulele and she even got us booked onto a local television show to play live. We practiced a whole lot of Hawaiian stuff for the show, but I got sick and missed the performance. I think Mrs. Law had a minor in music and she played a Boogie song she wrote in college for the piano. It was pretty good from what I remember. Not following through with playing an instrument is one of my biggest regrets. I had very little interest in music back then, which I cannot fathom now.

Clear Ether!

1972 – PONG is Released, Sealing my Doom

Jane Ann McLachlan had this great idea for a blog challenge for the month of October to do one day for each of the first 25 years of your life.  This is the 9th installment. 

In 1972 the Dow closes at 1020, 1st time over 1000  
Inflation was at 3.27%
Average cost of a new house: $27,550
Average income: $11,800
Gasoline: $0.55 a gallon, up fifteen cents, 3 times larger increase than last year
Movie ticket: $1.50

The Hugo for best SF Novel goes to Philip José Farmer for To Your Scattered Bodies Go

Nixon orders up the Space Shuttle Program.
Bloody Sunday happens in Northern Ireland. 14 unarmed protesters killed by the British Army.  The British Embassy in Dublin is burned to the ground in retaliation, along with several businesses.
Nixon visits China.
Watergate burglars are arrested, but nothing tied to White House yet.  It will be in courts and under investigation for more than a year before the crap hits the fan.
The International Time Bureau adds the first Leap Second to Coordinated Universal Time.  
Wil Wheaton is born.  Coincidence?
George Carlin is arrested for saying the “Seven Words You Can Never Say On Television” at Summerfest in Milwaukee.  I guess you couldn’t say them anywhere.
Huge solar flare knocks out cable lines for 6 days in the U.S.
U.S. withdraws last ground troops from Vietnam.
Munich Massacre, 11 Israeli athletes are killed by an Arab terrorist group at the Olympic Games.
Modern Molecular Biology is born with publication reporting the production of a recombinant DNA molecule.
Nixon is re-elected in a landslide.
Home Box Office is launched as the first subscription cable service, but we won’t have cable for a few more years.  I didn’t realize this at the time, but HBO only broadcast nine hours a day for the first nine years.
Atari releases the first video game, PONG.  We actually had this one.  Just the first of what would become an obsession for me.
Apollo 17, last manned moon mission, launches.

I distinctly remember watching the World Series with my paternal Grandfather. It was the beloved Cincinnati Reds vs. the hated Oakland A’s. My Dad’s family lived in Ohio. I remember Grandpa Moody chanting, “Come on Rudi, strike out for Moody.” I have been a Reds fan ever since, and even though they lost that series, good times were ahead for the Big Red Machine.
This was the start of 3rd Grade for me and Mrs. Curry was my teacher.  I struggled learning my multiplication tables.  I like math, enough to go a lot farther than 3rd grade would have suggested.  I actually kept going all the way past all the Calculus classes and into Advanced Differential Equations.  That is where it starts to get weird, with imaginary numbers and triple integrals.  I was going to be an Engineer, but life has a funny way of changing course sometimes.  I ended up switching my major to Economics. 
I can’t undo those decisions now, and knowing I was going to Undergraduate Pilot Training afterwards may have influenced my decision, since being an Air Force Pilot was going to be my trade.  It has served me well enough, but one wonders how things might have gone differently if I had stayed the path and finished my degree in Engineering Sciences, and learned to build computers instead.  Maybe nothing, maybe a lot.  Don’t get me wrong, I like where I am now, and I love my family.  I wouldn’t want to change anything that would jeopardize that.
The rest of 1972, I’m sure, was all about adjusting to life without my Dad in the house.  My Mom’s boyfriend is being extra nice to us, but his ex-wife took my best friend, Lee, to Florida. 
Clear Ether!

1971 – The Beginning of the End

Jane Ann McLachlan had this great idea for a blog challenge for the month of October to do one day for each of the first 25 years of your life.  This is the 8th installment. 
In 1971 the Dow closes at 890
Inflation was at 4.3%
Average cost of a new house: $25,250, up $10k and now $18k in two years
Average income: $10,600
Gasoline: $0.40 a gallon, up a nickel, 5 times larger than any previous year
Movie ticket: $1.50, at least this hasn’t changed

The Hugo for best Novel goes to Larry Niven for Ringworld.

Swiss women get the vote.
In February, the Brits switch to the decimal system officially.
Nixon takes the U.S. off of the gold standard.
National Public Radio starts broadcasting. I love NPR. You will not find a more diverse and obscure set of news articles anywhere else, plus the normal stuff.  The lean a little left, but they are journalists after all, and I don’t go there for my political news.
All in the Family debuts, with the first ever toilet flushing on television.  It opened a lot of doors to taboo subjects.  Once that door was open it let in a lot of garbage as well and on hindsight may be the beginning of the end for a lot of values for our American culture. I’m not a prude but we slowly started down the slippery slope of showing our kids too much too soon in my opinion, sexualizing our society, and not for the better. Television is not to blame for all our ills. It’s just one piece of a bigger puzzle.
The Manson family was caught in 1970 and sentenced to death in January of 1971.  I don’t know about you but that guy scared the crap out of me when I was a kid.  He was born in my home state and grew up in Atwater, CA, which was right next to Castle AFB.  I did a lot of my training there, and it seemed I could never escape the shadow of Manson.  He’s like a real life boogey man.
Jim Morrison dies in a car crash.
On a brighter note, Walt Disney World opens in Orlando.
Intel releases the world’s first microprocessor and Texas Instruments releases the first pocket calculator.  The first email and chat rooms appear, alongside the first floppy disks.  Astronauts from Apollo 15 ride on the moon in the lunar rover.

It also marked the end of my parent’s nine year marriage.  My Dad just moved out one day. But he was close by at first, right next to my school. I didn’t understand what was going on for a long time.  It is the beginning of the years single parenting by my Mother, the secretary.  My Dad had us on the weekends.  We split time for the next ten years before I went off to college.

I started second grade this year, I remember Mrs. Clark as young teacher and I liked her class.  We did a lot of self-study, which I loved.  I remember drawing spaceships in my quiet time with my friend Scott Anderson.  I also learned this poem:
“One Bright Day in the Middle of the night”
One bright day in the middle of the night,
Two dead boys got up to fight,
Back to back they faced each other,
Drew their swords and shot each other,
One was blind and the other couldn’t see,
So they chose a dummy for a referee.
A blind man went to see fair play,
A tongue-less man went to shout “hooray!”
And two lame men came to carry them away,
A paralyzed donkey passing by,
Kicked the blind man in the eye,
Knocked him through a nine inch wall,
Into a dry ditch and drowned them all.
A deaf policeman heard the noise,
And came to arrest the twice dead boys,
If you don’t believe this story’s true,
Ask the blind man he saw it too!
It is a folklore conglomeration and nobody is really sure who wrote it.  It has several variants floating around as well, but the first few verses still stuck with me to this day.  No telling what is going to stick in this pea brain.

Clear Ether!

1970 – Year of the Muscle Car and Bellbottom pants

Jane Ann McLachlan had this great idea for a blog challenge for the month of October to do one day for each of the first 25 years of your life.  This is the 7th installment. 
In 1970 the Dow continues to drop all the way down to 631 but climbs back up to close at 838 by year end.
Inflation was at 5.84%
Average cost of a new house: $23,450 up almost $8k from last year
Average income: $9400
Gasoline: $0.36 a gallon
Movie ticket: $1.50
Voting age is lowered from 21 to 18.
The Isle of Wight Festival takes place with over 600,000 people attending and every big name in Rock plays.  Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix both die of drug overdoses shortly after that.  Bell bottom pants are becoming the rage.
Black Sabbath releases their debut album, right alongside of the Jackson 5.  Could two albums be any more different?
The Beatles officially break-up, then release their last album.
Apollo 13 has its oxygen tank explode but the crew MacGyvers the capsule back to Earth safely.  I think I was pretty much oblivious to this when it happened.
Vietnam War protests continue with the US invasion of Cambodia and the Kent State shootings take place.
Monday Night Football debuts.
The coolest thing about 1970 is the cars.  The Charger, the Challenger, the Hemi Cuda, The RoadRunner Superbird, the Mach I , the Boss 302, the Chevelle SS, the Firebird, the Camaro, the Corvette, the GTO Judge, the Cougar, the Buick GSX, the Olds 442, the Thunderbird, all of these were super cool looking and had a lot of power.  Custom vans were becoming popular.  Oh, and let’s not forget the Pinto. Heh.
I start first grade in the fall and I remember my mother taking us to the school to meet my teacher before it started.  I remember Mrs. Mallory to this day.  The first day of school one of the older neighbor kids walked with me.  It wasn’t far, just a few blocks.  I walked it every day after that by myself.  I can’t even imagine doing that with my kids.  We are way more overprotective.
I was actually excited about going to school, and thinking about this made me realize that at some point in the coming years I was no longer excited about going to school or learning, and it took a long time to get that love of learning back.
It really is a sad thing that we don’t do a better job with not just education but the entire idea of learning.  It’s something we should all be excited about and encourage in everyone.  Public school seems to take the joy out of learning.  I can see it clearly  now, especially since my wife pulled my youngest out of school and they are on an adventure together learning all kinds of great things and having fun at the same time. 
Clear Ether!

1969 – A Summer to Remember

Jane Ann McLachlan had this great idea for a blog challenge for the month of October to do one day for each of the first 25 years of your life.  This is the 6th installment.  
In 1969 the Dow closes at 800, way down.
Inflation was at 5.46%
Average cost of a new house: $15,550
Average income: $8550
Gasoline: $0.35 a gallon
Movie ticket: $1.50
Federal Debt $365.8 Billion, it actually went down.
Vietnam is still going and the funny thing is we instituted a draft this year at the same time start drawing down troops.  Although, I‘m sure it’s not funny to the thousands of young men that were now about to be involuntarily selected to go fight a war they cared nothing about. 
I’ve been in the military since I was seventeen, but I volunteered.  I distinctly remember the mood when Desert Storm kicked off. We hadn’t been in a full out military conflict like it since Vietnam, and a lot of people had gone through their entire careers without seeing any action.  People were actually excited about it.  They were going to get a chance to use all those skills they’d spent years training.  That may sound disconcerting, but these people were professionals and they looked forward to testing their metal.  It still to this day surprises me how the young men and women of today still volunteer in droves for the military and we have been actively at war for more than 10 years.
Here is an interesting prophesy about how the future will be with computer and it is eerily close. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y0pPfyYtiBc
Led Zeppelin debuts.  Beatles perform their last live gig, but still release music.
Gold Reaches $47 an ounce. 
The Smothers Brothers goes off the air.  Hee Haw premieres.  I distinctly remember watching the Smothers Brothers with my family.   And painfully, I also remember watching Hee Haw, it was on…there was no escaping it.
First color pictures of Earth from space.
The First Moon landing, and Neil Armstrong makes his leap for mankind.  Wow, this was huge, huge, huge.  1969 is probably the most active year before or since for space launches.  The Soviet Union and the U.S. launch dozens of rockets to Venus, Mars, Earth orbit and the moon.  I also remember people starting to get bored with it as the year went on, it was becoming so commonplace.  We all thought we would be in space forever after. 
The Summer of Love culminates with the Woodstock Music and Art Fair, which runs for three days.  Probably responsible for its own small baby boom.
It’s also the summer I learned to swim, which was all I really cared about back then.  War and protest and space adventure all took a backseat to Richwood Pool.  I still remember my Mom teaching us, and swimming with Dad, riding his back as he flew through the water, it’s a powerful memory that still stays with me.  We had G.I Joe and Tonka trucks and room to run in my kid friendly neighborhood.  It was a great summer. 
That fall I turned Five and I remember getting a Batman costume for my birthday. I wore it out.  I still love Batman.  Even though the television show was pure schlock, I loved it.  Fall also meant NFL Football and I watched Football with my Dad and Papaw.  It was guy stuff, and although I didn’t really understand it I was happy to be invited to watch it with them.
This is also the year that I started Kindergarten.  We didn’t have public Kindergarten, but I went with my best friend Lee, who would eventually be my step brother.  We played Lost in Space and rode bikes and played whiffle ball and kickball and rode Lee’s mini-bike.   It was just a fantastic year from start to finish, but the end was coming and I had no idea.
Clear Ether!