A Story of My Life, Part 11: 1979
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.