Wednesday, November 2, 2016

37 years ago this month

In the fall of 1979, I was a brace-faced, underachieving geek in 8th grade.

Your humble blogger's photo in the 1979-80 school annual,
sporting a seventieslicious terrycloth shirt.
Hello, ladies.

I don't know if I can remember what classes I was taking during 8th grade, but I'll take a stab at it:
Physical Science
US History
Band and theatre - my geek credentials are bona fide, baby! That schedule sounds about right, but it didn't really matter because my life in the fall of 1979 revolved around watching football:

Sunday/Monday: Houston Oilers

While I lived in a small town on the gulf coast, most all of our media (TV, radio, newspapers) came from nearby Houston. As a result, I couldn't help but be an Oilers fan, especially in the days of Earl Campbell and "Luv Ya Blue!"

Luv Ya Blue! flash card (from the MFD archives)
Under the direction of head coach Bum Phillips, the team finished the regular season with a record of 11-5, good enough for a wild card berth in the playoffs.They would win two playoff games before losing to the Steelers in the AFC Championship game. Campbell was named NFL MVP that season. I didn't attend any games - tickets were hard to come by as the team was winning and the Astrodome's seating capacity was only 45,000.

Saturday: Texas A&M game

In 1979, I was convinced I would attend Texas A&M and major in architecture. Even though neither of my parents had attended A&M, they humored me. In 1977 and '78, we even attended the football game between A&M and Texas Tech. We were unable to make that happen in 1979, but I kept up with the Aggies (usually through the radio). Back then, I remember only one or two college football games being broadcast on television each Saturday and we were lucky to get a Southwest Conference game as ABC tended to favor the Big Ten and the Big 8 conferences. The '79 Aggie team ended the season with a 6-5 record and did not attend a bowl game.

Postcard of the Texas A&M architecture building (from the MFD Archives)
I kept the postcard on my bulletin board as a motivational tool.
My architecture plans left me my freshman year in high school
when I realized the mathematics involved in the profession. 

Friday: local high school game

Team name: Black Cats
Team colors: Blue & Gold
Go figure.
I can't tell you much about the local high school team that year because, as an 8th grader, I attended games as a social activity, not to watch the game. At home games, there was a special, isolated section in the east endzone where the jr high kids sat and did everything but watch the game. For away games, the local Baptist church would take jr high kids to the games in their bus for $1, which I did once or twice. All this mainly because I had a crush on a cute little blonde we'll call Beth because that was her name. In stereotypical fashion, this junior high romance was doomed when Beth suddenly disappeared from school one Monday as her father had been transferred. And young Mark didn't rate so much as a goodbye. There's gonna be a heartache tonight.

Turns out the high school team did very well that year, racing through the playoffs before losing the state championship game held at the Astrodome, a game I attended with my parents and spent the whole game wandering around the domed stadium looking for my friends.

If you're wondering why I haven't mentioned my own exploits on the 8th grade football team in the fall of '79, did you read the earlier part where I mentioned my geekness? The closest I got to playing football was on one of these bad boys:

I would go on and be the star on the school tennis team the following spring, but that's another story for another time.

But enough about football, this is allegedly a music blog, so let's see what was topping the Billboard charts on November 10, 1979.
Top LP
The Long Run
Hot 100
"Heartache Tonight"
Soul Album
Off the Wall
Michael Jackson
Soul Single
"Ladies Night"
Kool & The Gang
Disco Single
"Harmony/Ooh La La"
Suzi Lane
Country Album
Kenny Rogers
Country Single
"You Decorated My Life"
Kenny Rogers
Adult Contemporary 
"Broken Hearted Me"
Anne Murray
Jazz Album
Street Life
The Crusaders
Spiritual Album
Love Alive II
Walter Hawkins and The Love Center Choir

Here's the top albums from Rolling Stone magazine, November 15, 1979.

Being a young teen with no money, no transportation, and no prospects, I only owned three of the above 100 albums at the time.

Take a close look at that R&R Top Ten because it has a little bit of everything: soul ballad, disco, country, fifties doo-wop throwback, jazz instrumental, and rock both hard and soft. And even though all three charts agree that the #1 song that week was "Heartache Tonight," the best song on that whole wonderful list is "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough" which was on its way down the chart at this point.

1 comment :

  1. So, so much to love here.

    While I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life in 8th grade, in ninth grade I was on my way to becoming an architect taking advanced math and drafting classes, using Dad's old drafting board and supplies at home. Then I was gonna be a teacher. Then a writer. Now, I'm a writer. I guess.

    My interest in football had faded immensely after my get football card infatuation of 1974-1978. My favorite team was first Minnesota and then Dallas. My interest in math was partially fueled by my interest in football and baseball stats. Then my Uncle Sam showed me what he knew about "handicapping" college games and we spent one season - 1978? - picking every game that the Aggies played because they were the closest school to Navasota where he lived with my Texas Grandma and he spent his Summers. Had the extensively marked up college football annual I had purchased at U-tote-m that Summer until 2000 when we moved and I dumped the majority of my paper archives.

    I have my original Mattel Football game as well as Football 2 and both a keychain model and handheld model from a decade or so ago when they reappeared on store shelves, just not under the Mattel name. Also have the Coleco head to head two player football game and its original box. Even today, I'd rather play games on a hand-held device (still have my purple Gameboy) rather than console or big screen UNLESS you're talking Intellevision.

    And the charts are music to my er eyes. Magnificent.

    Thanks for the trip. Where to next?