In the monthly account of the days leading up to my birth, I now bring you April, 1964
Flashback to my dear mother, just about to turn 22; 4 months pregnant with the child who would later be known as her favorite (first-born) child – me. I don’t know about you, but when I was 22, I didn’t know nothin’ bout’ birthin’ no babies; mine or anyone else’s. Speaking of birthin’ no babies, earlier this week I finally stayed up until midnight to watch the entire 4 hours of Gone with the Wind – I figured what the heck, after all, tomorrow is another day and since I’m on vacation, I can sleep in.
When I was 22, it was 1986 and I’d had my Michigan State University Moo U Bachelor’s degree for a year. I had decided, in hindsight idiotically, to reject an offer from the Peace Corps where I would have spent 2 years as a volunteer in Honduras. I’d gone through the whole application process, had my wisdom teeth removed and was practicing my Spanish but, because I was a chicken pollo, I blew off the Peace Corps and accepted a job offer at the Hispanic community center where I had completed my senior internship. Instead of “Peace Corps Volunteer”, the first job on my résumé is now, and always damn will be, “Coordinator, Child Services Program”. The title sounded good at the time, and I would of course later embellish the responsibilities to potential employers, but all I really did was play pool with a bunch of future hoodlums, learn the words to Atlantic Star’s Secret Lover, memorize Spanish swear words and provide unhealthy after-school snacks to some really cute kids. My SSA earnings record shows I first hit a 5 figure income in 1986 at $15,000, more than double the $6,000 I had earned and spent on beer and Wendy’s hamburgers the year before.
To get to my job, I drove a white Ford Pinto Squire station wagon with wood-grain sides, an appreciated hand-me-down gift from my parents. I continued to drive this car with an odd sort of pride even after the 1983 movie Cujo where a mother and her son are trapped in one that won’t start AND despite the fact that the car might blow up if you hit the gas tank just right.
What I would have rather been driving is a Ford Mustang – a car that was first introduced in April, 1964 at the New York World’s Fair. My dad once owned one when I was a kid – a bright red convertible, maybe a 1967 model but I can’t remember. We lived in Minnesota at the time and it didn’t matter how cold it was, us kids wanted the top down. We would put on hats and those knitted mittens that were connected by a string, buckle the lap seatbelt around the waists of our snowmobile suits, and then cover ourselves with blankets. We’d also stay warm by munching on licorice, circus peanuts and chuckles – since that’s what my dad stashed in the Mustang’s glove box. Dad has long since sold that car but my soon-to-be mother-in-law just splurged on a 50th anniversary model. Maybe she’ll let me drive it around the block if I bring her a mother’s day gift.
So what else was going on 50 years ago, in April of 1964?
- Also introduced at the World’s Fair was Disney’s “It’s a Small World”. I’m all for world peace (though the Peace Corps might disagree), but that musical boat ride scares me every time; first as a kid at Disney Land, then as a teenager at Disney World and finally as an adult at Disney World. That last time, just to get it out of my system and have some fun, I shrieked like a frightened 12 year-old after her first trip on Space Mountain as we emerged from the It’s a Small World tunnel. I got a few laughs from the Disney workers who would probably love to scream a little after what I’m sure is like a bad LSD-like trip hearing that song 1200 times a day.
- People were celebrating the 400th anniversary of the birth of Shakespeare, who happens to share the same birth date as my mother. Guess I better find this year’s 450th anniversary party.
- The 90th running of the Kentucky Derby took place. That’s on my bucket list so perhaps I’ll plan to attend when I’m about to turn 60 so that I’ll be there for the 150th running. Or maybe I’ll just stay home, drink mint juleps and watch it on television.
- New One-A-Day Vitamins + Iron went on the market for the “special needs of women during the menstrual years”. Since most women were skinny and anemic in 1964, this was probably a good call. I’m not sure if my mom took these vitamins but I’m positive that over the coming years she would chew her weight in the Flintstones kind. Does One-A-Day make a menopausal version? They could call it One-A-Day + Oscillating Fan.
- And speaking of skinny anemic women, The Coca-Cola Company brought us that one calorie wonder in a pink can – Tab. I know I saw a few of those in our avocado-colored refrigerator over the years.
Happy Easter everyone and don’t forget to take your vitamins.