The story of a boy, who enlisted in the Navy, who became a man, who still retained the emotional maturity of that boy, yet convinced a woman to marry him.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

1975 Part I

It was more than disco. 
There was Gerald Ford, too.

    The eighth decade of the 20th century began with our nation in turmoil. American troops were embroiled in the quagmire of Vietnam, Richard Nixon was president, and the Jeffersons moved next door to the Bunkers.
    WACKY MATH FACT:  1971-1980 was actually the eighth decade, since 1901-1910 was the first decade.  Of the 20th Century.   Because 1-100 was the first century, that’s why.  No, there was no year “0,” wiseguy.  But, since this is called the 1970’s, I’ll save anything which happened in 1980 for the chapter on the “1980’s.” 
    Confused?  Oh, we’re just getting started.         
    Closer to home, cracks were starting to develop in the sheetrock of my parents’ marriage, great-grandma (financier of our Catholic school tuition) finally succumbed to her 30 year illness and departed for that great Bingo Night in the sky, and my body was sprouting hair in places where none had previously existed.
    As 1979 came to a close, my parents were divorced, Jimmy Carter was president, “Babu” was still dead, but I still couldn’t grow a beard.
    Oh, yeah, and I had been in the Navy for 3 years.



“In the Navy, we call it a ‘head.’”
-RM2 Thomas Paul

October 24
Wallingford, Connecticut
Easter 1976
Yeah, we had it goin' on in the 70's.
I'll have you know that suit was 100% polyester
    I didn’t give much thought to my future until the middle of the decade because the first few years of the 1970s were pretty much a blur.  Family disasters, fashion dysfunction, teenage angst, an international oil crisis, and inconvenient boners combined to form a rich tapestry of polyester amnesia.

    I’m not going to count those years.  Although, it was 1971 when I first mastu.....oh, let’s not go there.

    Let’s just put it this way:  the Sears Roebuck catalogue can get mighty racy.

    So, it wasn’t until the fall of 1975 that the question of life after home first arose.

    Mom, newly divorced and newly remarried, was faced with the challenge of how to pay for her first-born’s college education.  Together, we carefully examined each school’s program of studies.  We evaluated every one’s strengths versus that of comparable out-of-state institutes of higher learning.    

    As a direct result of our exhaustive research and painstaking cost benefit analysis, my mother came to a solid conclusion.

    One night after a sumptuous meal of Salisbury Steak, Hungry Jack mashed potatoes, and chocolate chip Snackin’ Cake, she fixed me with a serious look.

    “So, have you given any more thought to that Navy thing?”
Yeah, that's right.
I wrote in my own yearbook.
You think I've only recently become a screwball?
November 19
Navy Recruiting Station
Meriden, Connecticut

    Having successfully completed the ASVAB (Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery) during 9th period Study Hall, I was assured by my recruiter that I qualified for any job the Navy had to offer.

    As long as I didn’t do drugs or was a homosexual.  Or could successfully lie about either.

    My verbal aptitude, math analysis skills, and ability to completely shade in ovals with a #2 pencil clearly demonstrated my unlimited potential.  Whether processing critical intelligence data, assisting in the development of innovative war fighting doctrine, or drawing moustaches and buck teeth on pictures of communists, I had what it took to be a sailor in the post-Vietnam American military.

    However, it was my uncanny knowledge of how many batteries go into a flashlight-and how to turn it on-that set me apart from the rest.  Apparently, I was born to be an electronics technician.

    That, combined with the fact that I wanted to “Fly Navy” (I had the bumper sticker) sold me on the job I wanted.  Armed with the confidence borne of reading a colorful brochure, I strode purposefully (as opposed to “ambled sheepishly”-aren’t adverbs fun?) into the Navy/Marine Corps recruiting station.

To be continued..... 


  1. hahaha you wrote in your own yearbook, that is one way to get what you want to hear.

    Never knew those sears catalogs were that useful back then. I always wondered that math fact too, people tend to disregard it.

    1. Counting my Social Studies teacher, I had two entries in my yearbook.

  2. Kids nowadays just don't know how rough it was being a teenage boy back then, huh? Now there's Victoria Secret, Fredrick's of Hollywood, etc.

    That picture of you in the polyester could be one of my brother. The only thing missing is the huge, mirror glasses. Yep, my brother was a true stud!

    1. Those mirror sunglasses were great for going to the beach. I needed to lay on my stomach, though.

  3. reminds me of my old yearbooks. There were much less signatures in it than other people's. I also remember people writing HAGS. Is that like a terrible hug? Oh Have A Great Summer.

    1. I really didn't know you, but you seemed like a great kid.

  4. This is why I like blogging- finding people who had the same experiences as myself. Never joined the Navy, but we did get the Sears Catalogue.

  5. The women's underwear section of the Sears Wish Book seemed to come in handy for a number of my male friends before Al Gore invented the internet. I think the polyester leisure suit was about the worst fashion faux pas ever. My mom insisted on getting one in green for my dad. He looked like a giant stalk of celery.


    1. Oh, you should have seen our hideous uniforms. Not in boot camp, mind you, where the Navy gave us the [cheaper] wool blends, but out in the fleet it was a double-knit nightmare as all of our clothing (except underwear) was petroleum based. Thankfully, they started going away in the late 80s, but even my last khaki uniforms were what was called "Certified Navy Twill" which was polyesterISH (but NOTHING like the 70s). You may not know, but the Navy went away from the traditional sailor uniform (aka "crackerjacks") for about five years. I'll be posting pictures of what our dress uniforms from 1976-1980 looked like.
      BTW, my suit above was green. Ewwwwwwww

    2. X went to the naval academy from 77 - 79. He was handsome in his uniform. Never looked good again.

    3. How cool is that? He may enjoy this story as it starts to crank up since we were contemporaries.
      If I had it to do all over again....
      I would have looked into going to the "Boat School." Or an NROTC college. I eventually became an officer and got a college degree, but it was a torturous affair. Which involved cleaning my share of toilets.

  6. I love your recollections of the 70s. I was just a tyke so I don't remember much, except for polyester bell-bottom pants. I hope that style never returns!

    1. Me, too. Especially since my wife threw out all my disco clothes.

  7. When I was at school we didn't have yearbooks, not sure if they do now days or not with the country wanting to adopt American things who knows. The 70's not a time I remember very well but I was only a child then teenager so who wants to remember those years..........oh right me if I could remember I could blog about them but I don't so I can't....... which has nothing to do with this post..............

    1. Be careful what American things you adopt. We've got our issues (i.e., Snooki, Miley, Kanye, Lohan, etc).

  8. My granny's National Geographic collection was porn compared to the Sears Catalog.

    1970's? I don't remember much about that decade. Well, except for the fact that I was in an altered state of consciousness for most of it.

    1. We didn't get the National Geographic. Wish we did. Mom and Dad weren't big readers. But they could shop.

  9. I would've signed your yearbook, Al. Not that you would have been able to read my smeared lefty handwriting from a nervous clammy hand condition. Hope that "inconvenient boner" condition has gotten better. Looking forward to Part II!


    1. At my age, I would welcome any boner, inconvenient or otherwise. Except in church. That's just wrong.