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A Story of My Life, Part 11: 1979

Updated on October 25, 2011


The next couple of years were in so many ways the best years of my life!  (So far.)  I found a night job, working in a different factory, making buoys, which were large plastic grey cylinders; waterproof, used in oceanography and deep-sea fishing.  The temperature in the factory was always very warm, summer and winter.  I didn't mind the heat.  The factory was so hot because of the machines--the molten plastic was about 1100 degrees Fahrenheit.  In the summer, the foreman went around giving the machine operators salt pills.  We wore asbestos gloves, asbestos arm guards, and leather aprons.  The job paid better, and best of all, I got back to school, days.

I went to a local community college.  It wasn't much, but it was something.  My lazy brain woke up again.  I had 14 credits from the State U at Albany, which were transferable to the community college, but the actual courses didn't fit into my new major--Accounting.  (The community college didn't have my old major, journalism, on offer at that time.  It was primarily an accredited business school.)

I loved being back at school,.  I was surprised how rapidly and easily I made friends there.  The course work seemed easier than at the State U, if a bit boring.  My night shift ran from Sunday night to Thursday night, so on Fridays, after class, I'd sit in the little college Rathskeller, playing euchre with my friends, sipping a beer.  We labelled "our" table in this dinky little campus beer-and-wine joint, The Crazy Table.  God, we were so young!  And we had so much fun.

I met some musician people, and got an old piano in my apartment, and started with the music lessons.  I added a music minor to my college curriculum, and learned a dash of music theory, a soupcon of music history, and a light seasoning of music appreciation.

One of the Crazy Table people, Cubby (nickname for Kevin) was the guy when it came to playing piano.  He was great.  And it didn't matter whether he was doing ragtime or Chopin or hammering out some old blues or new rock -n- roll.  He could make those ivories dance, God love him.  I think I aspired to BE him, I WANTED DESPERATELY TO BE ABLE TO PLAY LIKE THAT!

But no soap, no way.  It was a real challenge to learn to play the piano.  Cubby made it look SO EASY, and FUN!  Plus, it sounded good and attracted people to him from all over the campus.

Let me tell you, the initial part is pure frustration.  I learned theory, I learned to read music, I learned to count (somewhat!), none of that was the problem.  I knew how to apply myself to the intellectual part of it and it wasn't a challenge, and I had some good teachers.

My stupid little fingers didn't want to hit the right notes, in the right way, at the right time.  Man, did I get MAD at myself.  I couldn't stumble through the simplest music without making a BUNCH of mistakes, at first.  Talk about teeth-grinding frustration!  Let me tell you, it takes some persistence and patience to get through those first few months, to the point where you can actually make something that sounds like music.  The only reason we keep going is when we finally do get it right, it's SO SATISFYING!  There's nothing like it!

So after a while we got a band together.  Playing by ear with a band is simpler, and any mistakes you make aren't quite so glaring--the rest of the band covers up the sound of a missed note.  I had both Friday and Saturday nights off from my night job, and after a while, when we started getting bookings, the extra money was very welcome.

My poor old Crate of Wrath car died, finally.  I think it had over 200,000 miles on it.  Funny, that.  It almost killed me when it died.  A tie-rod blew and the thing wouldn't steer.  It took me right into the ditch, cracking my head, hard, against the windshield.  I was unconscious until finally someone found me, and called for assistance.  I woke in the hospital with a RAGING headache, which lasted for about a month, but no other serious repercussions.  Anyone who has been concussed enough to be rendered unconscious knows what I mean about the lasting headache.  Ah well, no bones broken, my fingers and toes and so forth still worked.  It's ok.  But the poor old car was totalled.  It would cost a LOT more to fix it than the car was worth.

I found an almost-new blue Chevy named Bilbo, to get me around.  What a difference it made, to have a decent car! 

Bo Derek in "10"

It was 1979. Jimmy Carter was the United State President. He was the only US President to have received a Nobel Prize--the Peace Prize. Diplomatic relations had been established between the US and China. The cold war and the Red scare, from the McCarthy era, were slowly winding down into past-history obscurity. Communist and capitalist political and economic ideologies, though not compatible in practice, can co-exist in peace. In a ceremony at the White House, President Anwar Sudat of Egypt and Prime Minister Begin, of Israel, signed a peace treaty. Patty Hearst was freed from prison by the grace of Jimmy Carter.

Phillips, the electronics firm, exhibited the first Compact Disc.

The first space shuttle, the Columbia, is launched.

Margaret Thatcher became Prime Minister of Brittain, in May of 1979.

Oh, and at the movies?--Bo Derek got a 10.



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    • Paradise7 profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Upstate New York

      Yeah, it does, that timeline helps to place those stories of my life in the context I lived them.

      Music, the beginning part of studying music, is the most frustrating endeavor I know!

    • Internetwriter62 profile image


      8 years ago from Marco Island, Florida

      Your striving to be do music reminds me of the time I took guitar lesson at seventeen. I tried but my fingers wouldn't cooperate either.

      I'm so glad you survived the car accident without any major problems, other than a very long head ache.

      Great hub. I really like the time line, brings back memories.

    • Paradise7 profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Upstate New York

      You are still the bee's knees, my friend! Thanks for the comment!

    • profile image

      Tammy Lochmann 

      8 years ago

      I remember 1979. Third grade in public school in Canada. My friends and I thought we were the bees knees. We were allowed to wear lip gloss, that was when they started making lip smackers that was all the rage. I am off to the next installment.

    • Paradise7 profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Upstate New York

      Yeah, it was really cool after a while, when we started to sound okay...that took some time, believe me!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Yay for good memories! I tried to teach myself guitar. I so know how frustrating it is. But you got to be in a band!!! cool.

    • Paradise7 profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Upstate New York

      Oh, Jen! You were just getting married! Thank you so much for coming to visit all these hubs. It gives them a little longer to live on HubPages.

    • Jen's Solitude profile image

      Jen's Solitude 

      8 years ago from Delaware

      What a tragic end for The Crate of Wrath! Sorry to see him go, but he did serve you well. 1979, I was just about to marry in August of that year, at 19!

    • Paradise7 profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Upstate New York

      Will do, Duchess, but this week is a Christmas story, instead. I've had it in mind for some time, heard or read it long ago, and was totally charmed by it, and I'd like to share it with you all.

    • profile image

      Duchess OBlunt 

      9 years ago

      And . . . in 1979 I was married! 30 years later . . . still married to the same guy. I KNOW! What a feat :)

      Great hub Paradise7. This history facts added a nice touch. Crate of Wrath went out with a bang didn't she? Certainly left you with a lasting impression. I'll be interested in finding out how Bilbo worked out.

      Looking forward to the next one, to see if you kept up with the piano and what came next in your young life.

    • Paradise7 profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Upstate New York

      Thank you so much for the comment, Zsuzsy Bee. Yep, Bilbo did me well!

    • Zsuzsy Bee profile image

      Zsuzsy Bee 

      9 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      Looking forward to the next installment although I'm sorry to hear of the demise of the Crate of Wrath but I'm sure Bilbo will do you well.

      regards Zsuzsy

    • Paradise7 profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Upstate New York

      Catherine, Thank you for the comment. It IS weird to think that CD's were around back then. A lot of things were invented but not yet common in the marketplace. Technology is always in advance of commerce.

    • Catherine R profile image

      Catherine R 

      9 years ago from Melbourne, Australia

      I remember the year well - having just moved to the U.K. I remember Mrs Thatcher getting elected. Sounds like your life at this time was a lot of fun. I am amazed that the CD had already been invented then!

    • Paradise7 profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Upstate New York

      You know what, weirdly enough, RM, I DIDN'T miss the "Jello Rain".

      Also, weirdly enough, there were no ongoing repercussions from the accident, other than a very long killer headache. It was winter, and if someone hadn't found me and called for help, I MIGHT have died from exposure. So I'm just glad for the good Samaritan that helped me out, and all the great people at the hospital for taking care of me.

      Laura, those WERE the best of times. I really loved getting back to school. I felt like I was free and moving forward, PLUS! I discovered music in a way I hadn't before. You get something special from trying to do it yourself.

    • rmcrayne profile image


      9 years ago from San Antonio Texas

      Didn't you miss the jello when you changed jobs? And did you remember having impulsivity and irritability issues after your accident? Now most medics would expect you to have had some mental status &/or personality changes. Even "minor" head injury is still head injury.

      I graduated from tech school as an x-ray tech in 1979. I was fortunate not to have to work a job during that time. Going back to school later to be an OT, that was quite a bit tougher. For both of us and many others, in the words of Minnie Cody: A gal's gotta do what a gal's gotta do.

    • Laura du Toit profile image

      Laura du Toit 

      9 years ago from South Africa

      I can quite understand why you remember these times as being amongst the best of your life. It really sounds like this is where you came to terms with who you are and enjoyed every minute of the journey. Quite a different lifestyle than what you had been used to and sounds like you were truly free of family problems during this carefree time!

      Looking forward to next week!

    • Paradise7 profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Upstate New York

      Thanks for the comments, Dohn, Veronica and Scarytaff.

      I'm very pleased to have such an understanding audience, and look forward to seeing you all again. Veronica, I'll bet YOU'VE got some interesting life stories, too. Thank you for faithfully following mine.

      Dohn, I KNOW that book is gonna be published and the time is close. I have a tiny bit of "sight", you know, and I'll be one of its first purchasers.

      Scarytaff, if you love it, you'll keep doing it (playing the piano, I mean.) You're making more progress than you think, and it'll come together in it's own time for you. The main thing is, you want to keep going. That's what succeeds in the end.

    • scarytaff profile image

      Derek James 

      9 years ago from South Wales

      Another good one, No 7. I know what you mean about trying to play piano. I've been trying to get the basics for 18months now but athritic shoulders don't help. I keep trying though. Thanks for this hub.

    • dohn121 profile image


      9 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York

      Nope, I was too young to have remembered 1979 (sorry). During that time, my family and I were in Nong Khai refugee camp in Thailand (which is what my autobiographical novel's about). Someday, it will be in print...I just know it will.

      Thanks so much for another great installment, Paradise7. I liked how your second car's name was Bilbo (from the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings series, right?) Sorry about your accident--I take it you've gotten over it by now ;) Can't wait to hear more!

    • Veronica Allen profile image

      Veronica Allen 

      9 years ago from Georgia

      You seemed to have really had the time of your life during this period. I loved how you described your music lessons - "a dash of music theory, a soupcon of music history, and a light seasoning of music appreciation." And to top it off; you started going back to school, got a better paying job, made new friends, and got a new car (although I'm sure you missed the Crate of Wrath, even though it did try to kill you). Life seemed to be looking up! Looking forward to your next installment.


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