Touch of Grey will, well, touch upon the rainbow that is life. Good music, good times, and good friends combine to make all the splendid colors. Touch of Grey will celebrate this beautiful rainbow.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

That Year

Was 1976.

The bicentennial.

I remember it well.

Everything was red, white, and blue. The spirit of patriotism was thick in the air, and my family, like most others, got caught up in all the excitement of our nation's 200th anniversary.

The "Freedom Train" came through Houston on its country-wide tour that year, bearing either the original or a replica of our Declaration of Independence. We surely took time out of our busy bicentennial schedule to go see this American treasure. Being 9 years old, I don't remember so much the details, but I do remember the importance of the moment and my dad and I posing outside the train.

My elementary school was positively abuzz with the spirit of '76. I am the one in the school picture in the front row wearing white pants (gasp!) and the shirt with the flag on it. Of course, we had all sorts of programs that year at school, and I particularly remember our music class rehearsing and rehearsing a special patriotic show to be given for all the parents and teachers. The thing that sticks most in my memory about that show is that all during rehearsals, being third graders, we couldn't help but snicker everytime we had to sing about "Amerigo Vespucci". Could you imagine how hilarious that name was to a bunch of schoolchildren? We vowed to get it out of our system during rehearsals so that come show time, we could be serious and get through this fine program without the giggles. So did we? Not really. But when we started laughing, so did the audience, and, of course, a good time was had by all.

1976 was the year my family got a new vehicle, which I believe was the result of our extreme patriot pride in the bicentennial. Being good American consumers, we added to the nation's bottom line at the detriment of our own by taking off that summer to "see the USA in our Chev...." uh, well, in our orange and white Ford Pinto. That's right. We just knew we were ever so mod, though, and were as proud as could be, touring our country in an American-made (mmm....probably not so much as we wanted to believe) death, vehicle. Off West we went, riding into the sunsets until we reached the holy grail of all consumerism - Disneyland. Even the Magic Kingdom had gotten into the act with red, white, and blue bunting all over the place, and flags hanging from every nook and cranny, as can be seen in the faded photo. We toured Anaheim, Long Beach, and (of course) Hollywood, but the thing I remember most from that trip was the tour of the Queen Mary ocean liner. What an awesome sight that ship was, and I remember vividly how large its engines and propellers were. I had a hard time fathoming that something that huge and that heavy could actually stay above water. I had a blast on that ship, even more so than at Disneyland or even walking in the California surf.

Even my ballet and gymnastics class got into the act, performing all sorts of silly skits and programs meant to highlight the nation's birthday. There was I, the uncoordinated one, in a garish red, white, and blue costume with plenty of spangles and sparkles, feeling like a fireworks display, when the moment I remember most from that year caught my imagination: the ballet school's owners' daughter, who was (*SIGH*) a 17-year old MODERN dancer who had long graduated from the flimsy little slippers my age group still wore took the stage. Dressed in a yellow flowing dress, dancing barefoot just because she could, Ann Gurganis was the envy of all the youngsters that night. She was so important and so graceful, she merited the stage all to herself. And the main reason this moment sticks in my head: she danced a beautiful, free dance to Steve Miller's "Fly Like an Eagle". A song about the future capturing my attention? You better believe it. That was the first time I had ever heard that song, and I knew at that moment when I grew up, I wanted to be like her. My own woman, dancing to her own song, paying homage to our past and looking ahead to our future.

And that, in a nutshell, is what I remember most about that year: a nation gratefully celebrating its storied history, and on the brink of brave new things.

Come to think of it, that's what America is all about, isn't it?


Edith Ann said...

I love this!

I got you beat on the Pinto, though. Senior year of high school--my daddy bought me a new1972 Ford Pinto. the election year special. Red, white and blue, inside and out! I loved that car. Looking back now, I cannot imagine you all making that trip to California in a Pinto. You must have never changed clothes! There was not much room for luggage.

I was out of high school by 1976, but I certainly remember the mood, if you will, and how nice that was.

Thanks for another delightful read.

Sugar Magnolia said...

Edith Ann - yeah, I'll concede defeat on "most embarrassing" Pinto story. You're right, there wasn't much room, but we took many a vacation trip in that car. I guess a kid doesn't need much room, and her little clothes don't take much either. That poor Pinto finally got totaled in a wreck my Aunt had after we passed it to her. But it didn't explode, thank goodness. And I think that was around 1982, 1983.

Have a safe and fun July 4th, Edith Ann!

Truth Ferret said...

I was away from here in 1976 and remember celebrating with friends during the day and watching the television broadcasts of the Tall Ships in the harbor of NYC and the fireworks display. I remember parts of the party (time and "Party favors" blur my memories somewhat)and a good time was had by all.

Thanks for sharing your memories, Sugar and Edith. Where did that many years go? So fast, isn't it?

Legion said...

Ah the Ford Pinto, I had a friend in high school, his first car was a VW beetle, I remember we had to stop and put air in the spare tire because the windshield wipers quit working, lol.

Anyway then he drove a Pinto, then he drove a, what we called the fishbowl... a Gremlin! lol

Legion said...

Oops not a Gremlin, a Pacer, that car had lots of glass in it.

Sugar Magnolia said...

Yeah, Legion, I never really could keep the Gremlin and the Pacer apart. It seemed one or both of them also had as an option PLAID upholstery! :D

Pilot said...

Coulda been worse......he could have bought a Chevy Vega. They made the Pinto look like a Shelby Cobra. What a cool look back - as usual. Great photos, of what must be cherished memories. Wow! You make me date myself....first marriage was in '76. I'll quit while I am ahead, with no further need to elaborate.

The Loon said...

You've always looked like yourself, even when you were a little kid. I think that's neat.

Sugar Magnolia said...

Thanks, Pilot and Loon.

I like to think I've always looked like myself; never really looked like anyone else....