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
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?
Navy Recruiting Station
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.....