Thursday, September 28, 2023

Thursday Thirteen

The other day I was driving down the road and I thought, "Boy, things have changed in the 60 years I've been on this ol' Earth." So I thought I'd take a look at what happened 50 years ago, things that I might remember (or not).

1. The U.S. ended its involvement in the Vietnam War after signing the Paris Peace Accords. I don't remember much about this war. I read about it in the newspaper, and I had an uncle in the Army, but I was only 10 years old in 1973. So, while I knew then that this fell under the term of "big deal," it didn't impact me personally.

2. The Watergate scandal escalated as the Senate began televised hearings and President Nixon fired special prosecutor Archibald Cox. I vaguely recall some of this, but it was well-removed from my little world of school, life on the farm, and visits with my grandparents.

3. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Roe v. Wade that women have a constitutional right to abortion. I do not remember this as a big deal, either, although this was probably about the time my mother began telling me she'd tried to abort me and failed.

4. The World Trade Center in New York City was officially opened as the tallest building in the world at the time. This had zero effect on me then, but it certainly affected me and millions of others on 9/11/2001 when the buildings were hit by aircraft. The result was catastrophic and led us into wars and I personally believe was the downfall of the country as people experienced a type of fear that they'd never felt here before. Suddenly, the US was vulnerable.

5. The first handheld mobile phone call was made by Martin Cooper, a Motorola engineer, in New York City. Again, not a big deal at the time, but now we all live with one of these mobile phones attached to us like it's a feather growing out of our butt.

6. The American Psychiatric Association removed homosexuality from its list of mental disorders. Not a thing for me, but a big deal for folks who matter just as much as I do.

6. The Endangered Species Act was passed by the U.S. Congress to protect threatened and endangered animals and plants. This did not affect me, either, although in later years I wrote about local endangered species (a bat and some kind of snail).

7. The OPEC oil embargo against the U.S. and other countries triggered an energy crisis and a global recession. I remember my mother waiting in line for gas. It had something to do with your license plate. You could get gas on certain days depending on whether your plate ended in an odd or even number. I can remember when gas cost 25 cents, and I think it was up to about 60 cents or something during this time. By the time I was old enough to drive, it was about $1 a gallon.

8. Skylab, the first U.S. space station, was launched into orbit. I find space stuff incredibly exciting and impressive. I wonder what happened to that grand feeling of reaching for the unreachable that Americans once had?

9. Secretariat, the legendary racehorse, won the Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing. I am fairly sure I saw this on TV when it actually happened, but if not, I have seen it in replays.

10. The top songs of 1973 in the U.S. (in no particular order) were “Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree” by Tony Orlando and Dawn, “Bad, Bad Leroy Brown” by Jim Croce, “Killing Me Softly with His Song” by Roberta Flack, “Let’s Get It On” by Marvin Gaye, “My Love” by Paul McCartney & Wings, “Angie” by The Rolling Stones, “Crocodile Rock” by Elton John, “You’re So Vain” by Carly Simon, “Superstition” by Stevie Wonder, “Free Bird” by Lynyrd Skynyrd, “Dream On” by Aerosmith,  “Midnight Train to Georgia” by Gladys Knight & the Pips.

11. The top books published in 1973 were The Princess Bride by William Goldman, a fantasy adventure novel that became a cult classic film, Gravity’s Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon, a postmodern epic that explores the impact of technology and paranoia on humanity, Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut, a satirical novel that blends science fiction and social commentary, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson, a gonzo journalism account of a drug-fueled trip to the city of sin, and The Gulag Archipelago by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, a monumental work of history and memoir that exposes the horrors of the Soviet prison system.

12. The top five movies of 1973 were The Sting, a comedy crime drama starring Paul Newman and Robert Redford as two con artists who pull off a complex scam against a mob boss, The Exorcist, a horror film that terrified audiences with the story of a young girl possessed by a demonic force and the priests who try to save her, Paper Moon, a comedy drama starring Ryan O’Neal and his daughter Tatum O’Neal as a pair of grifters during the Great Depression, Badlands, a crime drama directed by Terrence Malick and starring Martin Sheen and Sissy Spacek as a young couple who go on a killing spree in the Midwest, and Serpico, a biographical drama starring Al Pacino as a New York cop who exposes corruption in the police force.

13. As for me, I was in the 5th grade learning next to nothing from a teacher who sat at her desk and cried all the time (I think she was going through a divorce), trying to keep my brother out of trouble (never-ending job), and learning to play the piano.


Thursday Thirteen is played by lots of people; there is a list here if you want to read other Thursday Thirteens and/or play along. I've been playing for a while, and this is my 827th time to do a list of 13 on a Thursday. Or so sayth the Blogger counter, anyway.


  1. These are interesting information and you have done a lot of research. I am not a US citizen and the information really enhance my knowledge

  2. I remember it all. Computers and the internet have changed our lives dramatically. But then I think of the changes my parents saw... TV, automobiles and more!

  3. I'm just a little younger than you, turning 3 in 1973. But I certainly remember many of these things as relevant conversations during my youth. The Princess Bride remains one of my favorite books and movies to this day!

  4. I fondly remember those songs and movies.

  5. I visited New York in the mid-1980s and we went to the top of the WTC. It wasn't my idea and I wasn't into it. After all, Chicago has the Hancock Building and we worked in Sears Tower. I thought visiting another tall building was a waste of our precious vacation time. Now I wish I'd been more attentive. I wish I had sharper memories of that building.


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