Monday, September 14, 2015

Dispatch #41: The Spirit of 1976

by Lupe Fernandez

In our last post, Pen and Ink Blogspot writer Hilde Garcia wrote about documentary novel Revolution by Deborah Wiles and her memories of segregation in 1976.

I commented on her post.
Ah ye good olden days of yore. In 1976, I was at Winton Jr. High. All I thought about were girls, monster movies, girls, special effects movies, girls, ancient astronauts and girls. Hmm...I smell my next blog.
When I write fiction placed in 1976, I include historical references to important events. But what do I really remember from those days. I’d like to think I was well informed about the issues of the day. I wasn’t. I remember the Bi-Centennial – the celebration of 200 years of these United States - was a big deal. I remember singer-guitarist Peter Frampton’s Comes Alive big hit album. “Do you feel like I do?”

I remember the Israel Commando raid on Entebbe airport in Uganda to rescue hostages. My brother and I discussed a rumor that actor Steve McQueen would star in movie version.

My dad – in a rare act of clarity – drove me up the hill to the California State University of Hayward to attend a showing of 3-D photos taken by Viking 2, the second unmanned probe to land on Mars. Viking 1 transmitted only black and white images.

Jimmy Carter is elected 39th President of the United States.

Did I mention the nation-wide Bi-Centennial celebrations?

And television. Lots and lots of watching TV.

Then there were girls. Sigh.

What’s the point of all these recollections? Things I wished I knew about.

The Vietnam War. The Cold War. Watergate. CIA involvement in Latin American countries. Why was my father unemployed? Why was my mother always working? Why did my brother become aloof after he started high school? Why did I have to sell school-sponsored candy door to door?

Stuff I could have known and stuff nobody knew.

Especially about girls. Kissing in the hallways. What was that all about?

No. I wasn’t a well-informed citizen. I was thirteen-fourteen. Liked Language Arts. A passable clarinet player.

During P.E. a guy named Hines noticed I was too skinny to heave the basketball near the hoop. Hines took sympathy on me.

"You need to build up muscle," he says in the locker room.

I had P.E. before lunch. Hiss of showers. Clank of lockers. I stayed after with Hines and he had me bench-pressing a bar. My scrawny arms shook pushed the metal bar off my chest. Since I was too passive to complain, I missed lunch. Hines must've noticed starvation on my face; he shared his sandwich with me. It tasted of warm mustard and tangy pickles. I hated mustard. I hated pickles.

Our weight lifting sessions didn't last long. A couple of days maybe. Then Hines forgot. I was grateful.

I wasn’t who I wanted to be. But I’ll write as if I was.

The next year of 1977 would see the release of a modest motion picture called Star Wars.

May the memories be with you.

I still hate mustard.

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