Maybe We Were so Vain

In January 1973, President Nixon announced a halt to all U.S. offensive action against North Vietnam. A couple of weeks later, the draft officially ended. By March, the withdrawal of all U.S. troops, and release of the 590 U.S. prisoners of war held by communist forces in South Vietnam was complete.

It should be no surprise then that the 1973 pop music chart topper was Tony Orlando and Dawn’s Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree, which won an American Music Award the following year.

Past double digits, and not yet a teenager, I had a whole life ahead that I foolishly believed would no longer include war. My life to that point had included the backdrop of the war in Vietnam and the incessant drum beat of potential global annihilation, so I had an idyllic sense of hope that this would be the last. It did not escape my attention that we could become victims of “the button” at any time and that all was not right between Israel and Syria.

Maybe it was political; ridding the world of communism, maybe it was like the song Money from Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon album…

Money

It’s a crime

Share it fairly

But don’t take a slice of my pie

Money

So they say

Is the root of all evil today

Perhaps it has always been about power or vanity —about who’s in charge. I never understood war then and I am no closer to understanding it now.

In April that year, the ribbon cutting ceremony was held for the World Trade Center in New York. I first saw the twin towers as I stood on the sidewalk alongside them in 1976 while on a field trip to New York City, but I didn’t get the opportunity to go inside until late spring of 1993 only a few months after the bombing there.

The sidewalk, closed for repairs made the surrounding block much more crowded, even for New York. I admit it was unnerving to step into the place that I knew had been a target before.

Our group went to the mezzanine and at some point took a high-speed elevator to the top. I have a photo of myself taken atop the observation deck; a 3×5 piece of history. I cannot begin to wrap my head around the colossal loss of those structures, any more that I can fathom the enormous loss of innocent lives.  Maybe we were just so vain to believe we were invincible.

Then what happened?

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Reflections on 1970

Today I hear the word “awkward” used a little too frequently, so I hesitate to use it to describe myself in 1970.  My pixie haircut had grown into longer locks, my buck teeth had grown in, and my head was still a little too big for my body. I was clumsy and rarely had a good sense of where I was physically.

Every girl I knew read Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret, and it was consistently wait-listed in the school library. Recess conversations about the book served to make me feel more informed, yet less adequate.  I was caught in that in-between stage of life.

Had I been an animated cat, I could have seen the attraction that Aristocat Duchess had to Thomas O’Malley for that kindness beneath his diamond-in-the-rough exterior. I certainly was still uninhibited enough to waltz around singing, “Ev’ry Body Wants to be a Cat,” or “Scales and Arpeggios.”  At the same time, my childhood was unraveling as I became more aware of the world around me.

The opposite sex had gained some ground on my radar, and I had a crush on my piano teacher.  A year later, when he could no longer offer lessons, I immediately scratched concert pianist off of my things-I-want-to-become list, thus ending my piano career permanently.

A Dose of Reality…Only One Guy out of Four in the box Worth Dating

Today, the more I think about it, the less I believe it was only me who could be described as awkward. The sixties were over.  As Wikipedia so aptly puts it, “The 1970s, pronounced “the Nineteen Seventies”, was the decade that started on January 1, 1970, and ended on December 31, 1979.”

See what I mean?  Awkward from the start.

In 1970, television changed too. Syndication made a difference in discussions at home and at school. The Phil Donahue Show, the first notable TV talk show to push the envelope on previously taboo TV subjects, brought ideas right into our homes. Oprah, Raphael and Rivera all took their cues from him. The pill, abortion, homosexuality, divorce, infidelity and incest, for better or worse, were all suddenly fair game for open discussion.

The year was the first for Monday Night Football TV broadcasts with the familiar voice of Howard Cosell, whom I had earlier come to know as the announcer for the Ali fights.  Anwar el-Sadat became the new president of Egypt and I followed his presidency via the CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite. The incident at Kent State in Ohio made me wonder if a future in college was any better than going off to Vietnam.  I contented myself to watch the popular weekly comedy, Room 222, which I was only allowed if my homework was done.

The seventies were a time of great tumult. It’s amazing I made it out alive.

Then what happened?