With 4 days to go before the Big Birthday, I thought it time to recall how old I really am. I feel young in many ways, but based on the music, sports, religion and politics that I can remember from my lifetime, I could be wrong.
Here’s a small collection of snippets of memories from as far back as I can reach:
M - Music
- I remember buying 45 RPM records at the 5 & 10 store, and occasionally springing for that 45 record accessory - the little plastic insert so record would fit on the spindle.
- I remember when The Beatles Let It Be and Hey Jude were new songs on the radio (although I don’t remember the big break up announcement).
- I remember watching first run episodes of The Monkees
- I remember coming home after a grueling day of 1st grade and putting Iron Butterfly’s In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida on the turntable. 17+ minutes of psychedelic heavy metal is good for an 8 year old. It has one of the few drum solos I can stand.
- I remember hearing about the Jim Croce and Lynyrd Skynyrd plane crashes on the radio. Could have been my first brushes with mortality.
- I saw the first concert ever staged at Giants Stadium…a stadium that was razed last year and replaced because it was too old and outdated. I can relate.
- I remember when Cher was Madonna before Madonna was Madonna, and before Lady Gaga became Madonna.
S - Sports
- I remember watching the first World Series night game ever played. In that 1971 Series, the Pirates beat the Orioles in 7 games, and Steve Blass became as star. The next year, losing all pitching ability inexplicably became known forever as Steve Blass Disease.
- I remember watching Super Bowl V
- I remember watching the Steelers-Raiders Immaculate Reception game. To this day, I still can’t believe Harris caught that ball.
- I remember the hype over Ali-Frazier I.
- I remember the Olympic heroics of Olga Korbut and Mark Spitz, but not the tragedy in Munich during those same games.
- I remember the 1972 Canada vs. USSR hockey series
- I remember that all my friends had those colorful ABA basketballs. They were cool.
- I saw O.J. Simpson play. I saw Willie Mays hit a home run. I saw Joe Namath play for the Jets in Shea Stadium. I hounded Phil Esposito for his autograph after Ranger games. I got to see the Big Red Machine – Bench, Rose, Morgan, Perez, and Bench – at the height of their powers.
R - Religion
- I remember a lot of guitar masses in the 1970s.
- I remember the introduction of the option to accept communion in the hand instead of the mouth. I was all in favor of the change.
- I remember that First Communion and Confirmation preparation involved memorizing the answers to a list of questions. That was pretty much it. If the priest didn’t call on you to answer one of the questions, you passed.
P - Politics
- I remember when stamps were $.06 and gas was $0.36 per gallon. Those are political mileposts, aren’t they?
- I remember RFK’s funeral, but not MLK’s.
- I remember watching the Watergate hearings on TV after school, and enjoying it.
- I remember staying up late to watch the 1972 Republican convention, and listening to the crowd chant “4 more years!” for Nixon.
- I remember the 1968 Presidential election. I wanted Nixon but the rest of my family wanted Humphrey. I think that was the last Republican candidate for President I ever supported.
- I remember that our school was a nuclear fallout shelter, and I remember practicing nuclear preparedness drills. Heads down, sitting in the hallway – like that would save us.
- I remember our elementary school teachers rolling TVs into the classroom (black and white of course) so we could watch Apollo missions in progress during school hours.
Other Cultural Touchstones
- I remember riding my bike everywhere, rarely with permission from an adult.
- I remember when Sesame Street debuted on PBS.
- I remember seeing The Dirty Dozen in a drive in movie theater with my family. Pretty sure I fell asleep before it ended. It was a double feature.
- I remember that we owned one of those vibrating belt that supposedly would shaking the weight right off of you. Jack LaLanne must have been too hard to follow (although I did watch his program as a kid).
- I remember milk being delivered to the front door, twice per week.
- I remember when color TV was what the rich families had. I remember when cable was a futuristic fantasy to a kid who had rabbit ear antennae wrapped in tin foil for improved reception on his 19” Magnavox in the kitchen.
- I remember when copy machines dispensed that curly thermal paper. Copy machines, not fax machines.
- I remember that cars only had lap belts. We never used them, but cars did have them.
What I don’t really remember is growing old. Guess that hasn’t happened yet. I’ve got a few more days.