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Threads: Early 70s Miscellany

Letters written by me, updated May 2020
to include the period 1971-75

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Background:  Elsewhere, I've posted excerpts of my correspondence with a young lady I knew from college.  In those articles I didn't have room for everything, so here are a few additional bits of what I wrote to her.

We were just friends, but Jenny habitually signed all her letters "Love, Jennifer."  I eschewed that word, not wishing to devalue it.

Sunday night, April 30, 1972

I will, however, allow a little space to linguistic expert Theodore Bernstein.  In one recent column he discusses the closings of letters.  I seem to recall that one of our mutual, uh, acquaintances at Oberlin felt it necessary sometimes to use a footnote to explain his use of the closing Love.

“Love — the word, that is — isn't what it used to be,” writes Bernstein.  “If you are someone who matured before the 1960s, you wouldn't normally sign off a letter with that word unless you were writing to a person you were deeply involved with or to your parents.  Nowadays, however, the youngsters often use it as the complimentary close of a letter to someone they met on the bus last week or as a salutation inscribed in a classmate's yearbook. 

“This is really not so surprising.  Think of what has been happening to similar words over centuries of letter-writing.  Automatically we write Dear, and we write it whether we are addressing a prospective mate or the TV repair man who overcharged us for replacing a tube.  Similarly, at the end of the letter we write Yours (which is usually pretty far from the truth), Sincerely, or Truly (which is often a downright prevarication).  At one time it was Your Obedient Servant, which was probably never true.

“Fortunately,” he concludes, “this reduction of precious words to meaninglessness seems to affect letter forms primarily.  If it were really widespread, there might be real linguistic trouble.”

With affectionate memories,



Sunday night, August 22, 1971

My apologies for not returning your letter sooner, but lately I've been pretty busy with road rallying.  (Did I ever tell you about that?) 

Last week a high school classmate and I participated in a large-scale rally near Findlay, Ohio.  This was the biggest one we'd been on; it took all of Saturday and most of Sunday, and we drove nearly 500 miles.  We didn't do very well on the points (we were competing against people form Chicago, New Jersey, Texas, and the like); but we did get some good experience that will help us to do better in the future.


Saturday, August 20, 1973

This afternoon, I'm going down to a friend's apartment in Columbus to work on the Sports Car Club rally that we're laying out. 

In the GENERAL INSTRUCTIONS we're specifying that no two instructions can be executed with a third of a mile of each other.  Also, once the rallyists are in a free zone, they aren't allowed to enter a control, which consists of a flagman and timing station on the shoulder of the road.

In the SPECIAL INSTRUCTIONS we're asking rallyists to pause briefly whenever they see a sign reading in part Streng.

And then we come to the numbered ROUTE INSTRUCTIONS.

One of the trickiest says Begin free zone at railroad crossing.  Not long after crossing the tracks you see a control dead ahead, with a little road going off to the side just before the place where the flagman is standing.  So, to avoid the control, you turn down the little road. 

Which is fine, except that you failed to notice that just before the railroad that caught your attention, there was a barn with the farmer's name on it, Tunis Streng.  Therefore, you should have paused at the barn.

Therefore, because the railroad came less than a third of a mile later, you were not allowed to Begin free zone at railroad crossing.

Therefore, you should not have considered yourself in a free zone.  Therefore, there was no reason not to drive into the control at that time.

The sideroad that you did turn on eventually looped around, using subsequent ROUTE INSTRUCTIONS, to bring you intro the control several minutes late.  Sneaky, right?


Saturday, October 10, 1973

In hearing about what everybody else is doing, I'm beginning to feel undereducated.  Here I am with a three-year-old master's degree, while people younger than I are getting doctorates.  You're working on a Ph.D. at Northwestern; Jan Olson, now married to a minister (Bruce Babcock, an Oberlin grad), will be getting her M.D. in June; and even Sue Titus is working on a doctorate in psychology, according to the alumni magazine.

Who's Sue Titus?  Well, she's a member of the Class of 1970 who dated 72 briefly in '68 or '69.  Earlier, in 1966, she was the first girl I ever took out.  I was a sophomore at the time; quite a slow starter socially.  Come to think of it, I still haven't built up much momentum.  But to return to the subject, I never thought of Susan as a Ph.D. candidate.  Maybe it had something to do with the fact she was a freshman at the time.

Everyone grows up, though, and moves on to better things.  That's probably what's bothering me at this point in life.  I haven't really progressed in the past three years, at least not as much as in the decade of the 1960's.  My job has changed and evolved but not really advanced.  I have the feeling I ought to move on to a new world and conquer it.

But if I'm honest about it, I have to admit I'm happy.  I'm an important and respected member of the team where I work, getting to do pretty much what I want in the way I want.  We have some new equipment since last I wrote, some fairly decent video tape recorders.  I'm living comfortably at home with my parents.  I have outside interests, including the choir at church and the Scioto Sports Car Club at Columbus.  The overall situation could be a lot worse.

Most of my emotional attention this past year has been directed toward a co-worker, a married woman with two children who last week filed for a divorce.  Now, lest you get the wrong idea, I'm not really involved with the situation itself.  And we both agree there's no point in getting serious with her, since she's not my type (too many kids) and I'm not hers (not exciting enough).  But she knows and appreciates the fact that I care about her, that I feel although she's far from perfect she hasn't done anything to deserve the mental cruelty which her husband has been tormenting her with.  Suspicion, accusations, following her around town, profanity, things like that.

Now she's living in an apartment in her father's house, while her husband has custody of the two boys.  They're old enough that he probably soon would have won custody of them anyway.  She's a pessimist anyway, so of course she's terribly depressed by this whole mess, including the fact she now has no real home and not much to do with her time.


Sunday, January 5, 1975

Here in Washington, Pennsylvania, the past eleven months on my new job have gone rather well.  The company isn't making any more money than when I came, but at least the programs look more professional.  Some of the highlights of 1974 include the following. 

BRONCO LEAGUE TV-RADIO AUCTION.  To raise money for the annual World Series of Bronco League baseball, which is held in the local park, Channel 3 held an auction on March 31.  The format was similar to the TV auctions which are held by public-TV stations like Chicago's WTTW.  Our 76 items sold for a total of $1,909. 

HIGH SCHOOL COMMENCEMENTS.  In Marion, we'd covered the commencement exercises of the public high school every year, but it hadn't been done here until I arrived.  We did all three schools (inner-city, suburban, and parochial.)  Everything went smoothly except for some comical mishaps at the inner-city commencement, the only one that was held outdoors.

Probably the worst part of the ceremony was when the class president came up to give his little speech.  He looked like the type who had been elected mostly for his athletic skills.  He had the speech written down on a couple of index cards; but as he walked to the podium, the wind threatened to blow the mortarboard off his head, so he laid the cards on the podium in order to adjust his cap.  The wind promptly blew the cards off onto the ground.  Oh, wow, he said into the public-address microphone.  [Expletive deleted.]  Then, realizing what he had said, he put his hand over his mouth and glanced up at the parents to see whether anyone had heard him.  Flustered, he tried to ad-lib a speech but finally had to call time and walk over to retrieve his cards.


Saturday afternoon, January 18, 1975

I didn't tell you about our cablecast of the FORTY HOURS SERVICE   from the local Catholic church, earlier this fall.  Since the church was so crowded, we set up our “control room” in a confession booth.

Tomorrow we have another service to do, an ecumenical affair put on jointly by the Catholics and the Protestants.  One of the main purposes seems to be to pray for peace in Northern Ireland.  It's being held this year at a Presbyterian church that's very similar to the Catholic church, except without confessionals.  Fortunately, this time we'll be able to set up our controls in a much larger nearby room.

And then, starting February 10, I'm going to become a TV critic!  In our news half-hour, we've decided to include a couple of minutes of previews of the programs our viewers will be able to see “On the Cable” that evening.  So I get to look over the schedule and make recommendations.  Should be good for my ego!


A strange thing has been happening on Saturday mornings.  Many nights I'll go to sleep with my radio on, and it stays on all night, apparently without disturbing my sleep or the dreaming process.  At least I don't feel tired or dream-deprived the next morning.

But often on Saturday mornings, I'll wake up about 6:35, apparently wakened by the radio.  There's a show that comes on at 6:30, one of those public-service things that radio stations run when they know not many people are listening anyway, and it seems that I'm hearing it while I'm still asleep, deciding that it sounds interesting, and then waking up in order to listen to it.  One morning I woke up to an interview about the Devil's Triangle near Bermuda.  Another morning, Walter Cronkite was describing the JFK assassination in the present tense, which turned out to be part of a record of audio news highlights of the 1960's.

Am I being awakened by the subject matter at 6:35, even though I've slept through many records and several newscasts during the night?

Probably not.  My alarm goes off on other days of the week at 7:15, so I'm probably simply being awakened by my internal clock.  Internal clocks don't know about days off.









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