Tuesday, March 06, 2007

And All That Remains is the Faces and the Names

Here's me in 1976. I had just moved to the Chicago area, but I was still wearing my Pueblo Dustdevils t-shirt from Arizona.

I know they keep saying it's going to warm up in the next couple of days, but we're not there yet and I don't want to write a bunch of blog posts (anymore) detailing how cranky it's making me. Last year, about this time, I did a bunch of posts on different places I visited or moved to, but this year, I thought I'd try a little experiment where I review different years of my life. I figured I'd start with the Bicentennial, because nothing is funnier than The Bicentennial.


General: My mom died and we moved to Alsip, Illinois, (a suburb on the Southside of Chicago that was home to a giant, garbage can, looking water tower, painted red, white and blue for The Bicentennial) to live with my aunt and uncle at the end of 1975. So, 1976 was all about dealing with ch-ch-ch-changes.

Age: I was 10 when it started, but turned 11 on July 16th of that year.

Music: As with everything else, it was a big transitional year with music for me. I still liked cheesy songs like, "Don't Go Breakin' My Heart" by Elton John and Kiki Dee, and "Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald" by Gordon Lightfoot, but I was starting to get more into album and glam rock. I loved Heart when they first came out, and I remember writing "KISS", complete with the lightning bolts for s's, on the cover of my Little House on the Prairie book. My oldest sister was really into Fleetwood Mac, so I got to hear "Rhiannon" over and over and over.

TV: My taste in televsion shows was also changing. I was moving away from the sappy "back to nature" shows like The Waltons and watching things like the The Muppet Show and Wonder Woman. The cool thing about moving to Chicago was that they had VHF channels 32 and 44. Channel 44 had all the Superhero cartoons, and weird Japanese shows like, Speed Racer and Johnny Sokko. They also ran The Banana Splits which I loved. Even though, the run was almost over, I was still in love Randolph Mantooth from Emergency! Sigh.

Books: In 1976 I was just starting to read Judy Blume. I wouldn't get to her racier stuff until later in junior high. At the time, I was into, Deenie, Are You There God? It's Me Margaret. and Blubber. I met my first real best friend, Cindy Ruf, because we were both nerd girls and I told her she should read To Kill a Mockingbird, since it was my favorite book back then. She came back from the library all frustrated, because she searched and searched and couldn't find Tequila Mockingbird. I was also getting into biographies and read Gayle Sayres', I am Third and another one on Eleanor of Acquitaine.

What I Wanted to be When I Grew Up: My aspirations have never been realistic, and in 1976, I thought I'd grow up to be a famous singer. I wrote idiotic songs in my head and practiced singing them when I was alone walking the dog or working in the garden. Ouch.

Winter: During the winter of 1976, we went into the city to do all the legal work needed in order to make my aunt and uncle our legal guardians. They asked us if we wanted them to adopt us, and we all politely declined. I, as usual, went along with whatever my siblings said, and I'm so glad now.

Spring: Our school was pretty tough, and the cool guy in our class, Michael Smolik, hated my guts because I defended a girl he was making fun of for being ugly, on one of my first days of school. He would be the bane of my existence the whole time I lived in Alsip. Since we were both really fast runners, we raced down my street when he came by to deliver papers one day. He won, and it really pissed me off.

Russell Marcordes and some of his friends were bullying my brother the first few months we lived there. We were at a skating party at the roller rink in Oak Lawn, when they started to beat him up again. A couple of my aunts saw what was going on, and went off on them. I think my brother was kind of humiliated, but Russell and his cronies never bothered him again.

Summer: My brother became best friends with Cindy Ruf's brother, John and we all hung-out at the Ruf's house. Their grandparents did ceramics and had their studio in Cindy's garage, right where the ping pong table was. We used to annoy the hell out of her grandfather, who was originally from Mexico, and he would putz around the garage muttering, "You kids can go to hell," all day long.

Cindy and I also liked to lounge around in her family's pop-up trailer and write brilliant songs like,

I am so dumb.
It is pathetic I am dumb.
And I am glad to hear
that I am a big fat jerk.

Oh, how the talent oozed out of that trailer.

Fall: I cried for the first time, almost a year after my mom died. Kenny Kozlowski (who lived across the street from me) lost his dad to cancer and I finally cried for him and me at his dad's funeral. Kenny was kind of like a friend of mine back then. I once caught him playing red light/green light with a bunch of younger kids and never told any of our friends on him. He repaid me for my kindness, by coming over to my house with his friend, Vince Martinez and shoving snow in my face. My brother and my cousins retaliated, and we had the most, balls-out, kick-ass snowball fight I've ever experienced in my life.


Bice said...

My God how do you remember so much detail from your childhood/youth? My memory must have been cleared by all the bong resin.

BTW, I looked back (since it had been ages since I was here last) and saw you have your computer back. Big yeah!

Remiman said...

I want an advance copy of your book when it comes out. You make everyday occurences pop out in interesting detail. I love it.

Margaret said...

the details here are touching

booda baby said...

I hope you sort of extrapolated or quasi-invented some of that, otherwise your memory would be scaring the hell out of me.

It's cool to figure out the genres you excel at. It seems obvious, what with the blog and all, that you'd be such a great memoirist, but not to me.

Anais Nin. Churlita. It's perfect.

Not-faint-hearted said...

I love how you can remember the details like you do. Probably because it was such a watershed year for you, but still. Even though I'm a couple of years older ('61 to your '65) I remember those songs and tv shows. (I was SO in love with Randolph Mantooth!!!)

Thanks for the memories.

mist1 said...

I'm with Bice. I can't remember crap from my childhood.

Churlita said...


With the music and the TV, I had to do a bit of Googling - just to figure out what year, I liked which bands and shows.


Thanks. If I ever write a book, I'll be sure to send you a copy.


Thanks. Is it good touch or bad touch, though?

Booda Baby,

I wish I had half the life Anais Nin had.

Not Faint Hearted,

I think that's a lot of it for me. I had a lot of really bad things happen to me growing up, so there was much to remember. Maybe it would have been better had i forgotten. I also moved all the time, so it's easier to remember what happened when, by which town I lived in when shit was going down.


When I was younger, I could close my eyes and see things exactly as they were on the page, for about 24 hours. It was great when I was in school. Now, I can never remember where I put my glasses.

Q said...

That was very interesting to read, and I know it has already been said but wow you have a great memory.

Consequently I think I wrote a similar song back when my friends and I started a band, though mine was about how I was super awesome at stuff...

Lauren said...

I love Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald. It's just so hard to remember all of those lyrics.

You were beautiful at 10 and you're beautiful now.

Churlita said...


As I recall, that song wasn't about us either. We were singing in the voice of some guy we thought was a jerk.


Thanks. That's so nice of you.
The lyrics from Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald, don't exactly flow very well either.

russ said...

Hello, this is Russ. Me, Vince and Kenny saw your comments and are trying to figure out who you are.