December 11, 1972: Corner of the Sky

Embed from Getty Images

(Pictured: an artist’s conception of an astronaut and the lunar rover on the moon.)

(Correction below.)

December 11, 1972, is a Monday. At 2:55 Eastern time this morning afternoon, Apollo 17 astronauts Gene Cernan and Jack Schmitt land in the Taurus-Littrow valley of the moon. During their first EVA (extra-vehicular activity), Cernan breaks a fender off of the lunar rover the astronauts use to drive on the surface; they improvise a fix with a paper map and some duct tape. The investigation continues into the crash of a United Airlines plane near Midway Airport in Chicago last Friday. Forty-five people died including two on the ground. One of the passengers killed was Dorothy Hunt, wife of E. Howard Hunt, one of the Watergate burglars. Today, President Nixon’s taping system captures a conversation with Chief of Staff H. R. Haldeman in which the president worries that the $10,000 in cash found on Mrs. Hunt’s body might be traced back to the White House as hush money. Nixon and Haldeman also discuss legal and PR strategies to defuse the Watergate scandal, and whether blame could be placed on Attorney General John Mitchell. Funeral services are pending for Louella Parsons, who pioneered the Hollywood gossip column beginning in the 1920s. She died on Saturday at age 91. In Cincinnati, City Hall is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Yesterday, major league baseball owners agreed to adopt the designated-hitter rule starting in 1973. In a compromise move, the DH will be used only in the American League and only on a three-year experimental basis. After three years, the rule will either be adopted by the National League or scrapped entirely. Also yesterday, veteran AWA wrestler George “Scrap Iron” Gadaski appeared on a bill in Rice Lake, Wisconsin. His opponent was 23-year-old Richard Fliehr from Memphis, Tennessee, who made his professional debut, and who wrestles under the name Ric Flair. Today, future professional hockey player Daniel Alfredsson is born.

In today’s Peanuts strip, Sally gives a report on dinosaurs. Tonight’s lineup on CBS includes Gunsmoke, Here’s Lucy, The Doris Day Show, and The New Bill Cosby Show. NBC has Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In and the 1964 theatrical movie A Shot in the Dark starring Peter Sellers as Inspector Clouseau. ABC airs an episode of The Rookies followed by Monday Night Football with the New York Jets at the Oakland Raiders. Despite 403 yards passing by Jets quarterback Joe Namath, the Raiders win 24-16. It’s the final Monday night game of the year; the regular season will conclude this coming Sunday.

Genesis makes its American debut at Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts. The Grateful Dead plays Winterland in San Francisco, and Led Zeppelin plays Cardiff, Wales. After a concert in Knoxville, Tennessee, James Brown is arrested on suspicion of starting a riot when he’s actually talking to fans about drug abuse. He is charged with disorderly conduct but swiftly released after threatening to take legal action against the city. At KDNT in Denton, Texas, “Rockin’ Pneumonia and the Boogie Woogie Flu” by Johnny Rivers leaps all the way from #14 to #1 on the new survey released today. Last week’s #1, “I’m Still in Love With You” by Al Green falls to #6. Between those two are “Living in the Past” by Jethro Tull, the Stylistics’ “I’m Stone in Love With You,” “Corner of the Sky” by the Jackson Five, and Billy Paul’s “Me and Mrs. Jones,” which makes the biggest move within the survey, from #17 last week to #5 this week. Four songs debut within KDNT’s Top 40: “Been to Canaan” by Carole King at #15, “Sitting” by Cat Stevens and “Your Mama Don’t Dance” by Loggins and Messina at #25 and #26 respectively, and Elton John’s “Crocodile Rock” at #30. The new #1 single on the Hot 100, “I Am Woman” by Helen Reddy, does not appear on the KDNT chart. The #1 album in Denton is Catch Bull at Four by Cat Stevens. Catch Bull at Four has just dropped out of the #1 spot on the Billboard album chart after a three-week run, replaced this week by the Moody Blues’ Seventh Sojourn.

Perspective From the Present: I think I’ve said before, somewhere, that what I remember of certain times or places, apart from songs that call them back, is the light. December 1972 is the warm yellow light filling the junior-high gym during basketball practice, the bluish-white street light harsh against the 6PM darkness outside the back door of the school, where Mother would pick me up after practice, and the dashboard lights of the ’65 Comet—and the AM radio playing Johnny Rivers, Al Green, Billy Paul, and all the rest.

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