Fifty Years

I wasn’t sure what I was going to write today. Would I mention how every morning I wake up with a fragment of song or text rolling on a constant loop in my head? It’s really annoying, and I can’t make it stop. It has to stop on its own. I can’t fall asleep to music, and that may be why. Earlier this week, my head has featured The Four Seasons (twice), Snow White from the Disney movie, and a medley of very unrelated bits. I will say this – that does tend to keep me from falling back to sleep. When my alarm is due to go off in a few minutes, that’s a good thing. When I’ve woken up at 3am to use the restroom, not so much. Yeah, that happens a lot. But again, only during the week. Maybe somewhere in the back of my head, my brain knows I’m going to have to get up or risk hearing that alarm going off. I use my cell phone, as so many people do. Kinda like it, really; it starts off quietly, then gets louder and louder until you shut it off, or it’s been going for, I think a minute. If that happens, it automatically snoozes and does it again in ten minutes. Far less jarring than a sudden burst of sound. Keeps me from throwing it across the room.

Then I thought about an account of my week, about my follow-up visit to the nephrologist on Monday – I’m really quite lucky I live where I do. My hometown is a great place to be sick. People literally come from around the world to get better here.

2009-12-17 Day Downtown 181a
Crossing the Roebling bridge back to Cincinnati

On a vaguely-related-but-really-not-at-all note, I listen to Bob & Tom in the morning at work. It’s funny. Yesterday morning, they had a couple comedians on, one from northeastern Ohio. One of the hosts – I can’t remember which – is from the same area. They started talking about football for the under-college set, about how there are schools up there that will set up a football player with everything he needs just so he’d be able to play. There are college students that don’t have it so good. The others were surprised. High school? One of them said they would expect that in Texas, but Ohio? I’m guessing they’ve never heard of the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, and certainly don’t watch our evening news, especially on Friday and Saturday, where the high school football teams get just about as much coverage as the pro teams. This weekend down  here it will be a bit more, since the Bengals are on a Bye week. Yes , Texas is crazy about their football, and they want everyone to know it. This is Ohio – we’re secure enough, we don’t need to brag to the whole world. Oh, and high school football is actually a little more important than college. Well, none of the colleges down here really have a contending football team all that often. University of Cincinnati and Xavier tend to be more basketball schools (although UC does actually have a good football team). And Miami (was a university before Florida was a state) University is more about the academics than the sports. My first two years, they had a perfect record – 0 wins. I was there when they won the homecoming game against BGSU. The last game we won was two years prior, against the same team. That had to be a little embarrassing.

Right, so Kentucky and Indiana take basketball very seriously. For Ohio, it’s all about football. Baseball, too, but that’s more just down here, home of the first fully-professional baseball team.

238 Earl's Court Rd, London
238 Earl’s Court Rd, London. Follow the double arrows.

I thought some more about what I would write. Perhaps I would write about my favorite fantasy/sci fi television show, Doctor Who. It debuted in November, 1963. Today, the 50th anniversary special will air in a simulcast between the UK and over 70 other countries, including the US. It will be on at 2:50 EST (Daylight Savings is over) this afternoon, and I will be watching. I thought I’d mention how I’d heard of Doctor Who when I was a kid, and my local PBS station would play the shows late at night. It was usually the same time as the evening news, so I didn’t get to watch. For you young’uns, back in those days, most people still had one TV. Or at least, one main TV. We had a 13″ black & white in the kitchen. I took it to college with me. But everyone had to agree on the same show to watch, meaning you watched what your parents or older siblings wanted to watch. Fast forward far more years than I’d care to admit to 2006. I had pay TV for the first time since 1992, when I moved out of my mother’s house. I didn’t spend a whole lot of time watching TV anyway, and I just got used to it. Plus, for a few years there I couldn’t have afforded it anyway. I got DirecTv, and they had BBC America. One day I was home, and I was bored. They were playing Doctor Who, so I thought I’d give it a go. Been watching ever since. Even during the few years I didn’t have access to BBC America. There are ways if you’re determined enough. When this show debuted in 1963, they elected to rebroadcast it later; there were power outages in some parts of the UK, and then there was the news of our president Kennedy’s assassination.

How could I focus on something so ultimately frivolous, when the world is remembering the loss of what some consider one of the best leaders we’ve had? Sure, it was before my time, but it’s a major anniversary. Well, just like with 9/11, the world doesn’t stop. It continues to spin on its axis, changing day to night and night to day. People continue to sleep and wake and eat and be born and die. Because of the importance of this man to our nation, and the fact that this day is still in living memory for a large segment of our population, it will continue to get wide press, until they start to die off in larger numbers. Much like V-E and V-J days are all but ignored, and Veterans Day is a day off for many, a day to thank our veterans, but not a moment in history when World War I officially ended. Eventually, 9/11 will go the same way. As will the next national or global tragedy.

Still, that got me to thinking about 1963. Every year has a lot going on, but this one seemed to be particularly newsworthy, either at the time, or down the road. I may say the same about the next year or the next. I know the year I was born had some interesting stuff going on, some of it very negative. So what happened in 1963? My sister was born, as were Whitney Houston and Michael Jordan. The Dr. Seuss book “Hop on Pop” was published. The Froot Loop is introduced – very important for Saturday mornings. Ground is broken for the Gateway Arch in St. Louis. The Beatles release “Please Please Me” in the UK. I think most of us know they didn’t get really big here until 1964. Big enough that The Flintstones did a show about them. Fred wasn’t a fan.

Other things happened then, too. Birmingham, Alabama, continued to remain an epicenter for civil rights. The most consistently violent offenders were the ones trying to maintain the status quo. I’d love to believe those people have learned. Some have; even former Alabama governor George Wallace himself recanted. But there still are plenty passing on their hate and fear to another generation, and they’re not all in some holler in the Appalachians. In August of that year, the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and gave his “I Have a Dream” speech. In September, the 16th street church in Birmingham was bombed, killing four little girls. There were so many other things related to those; that whole decade was a time of people saying “no more.”  I could write a series of posts on that year alone.

Bernie Madoff’s mother got into a little trouble with the SEC, although there’s some speculation that she was just a straw buyer for his father. The first hints of the Vietnam War were stirring about. And of course, president Kennedy was assassinated while riding in an open car through Dallas. Oh, and a blind boy wailed on his harmonica for an album – his first.

There was a lot of misery that year, but there was also joy. And a bit of progress. Maybe that year was a bit on the eventful side, like the bulk of the 60s.

This video is from 1964, but this song debuted at the end of 1963.


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