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.1976
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.