December 23, 1976: Christmas Spirit

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(Pictured: the cast of Barney Miller from the episode airing on December 23, 1976.)

December 23, 1976, was a Thursday. It’s a cold day in the Midwest, with temperatures in the single digits above zero in many places and strong winds driving wind-chills near 40 below. The forecast for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day contains a slight chance for snow. Today, president-elect Jimmy Carter completes his cabinet selections by naming Joseph Califano to be Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare. While appointing a special energy adviser, Carter says he may consider creating a cabinet-level Department of Energy. All three network newscasts lead with news of Carter’s appointments. Other stories covered tonight include new cases of paralysis linked to the swine-flu vaccine, and the conviction of Watergate bagman Tony Ulasewicz for tax evasion. He failed to report as income payoffs he received personally. President and Mrs. Ford are spending the holiday in Vail, Colorado. The president spends the morning in meetings but goes Christmas shopping in the afternoon. In the evening, the Fords attend a cocktail party and a dinner at Sheika’s Discotheque. U.S. marshals in four cities seize 4,500 square yards of carpeting manufactured by a Georgia company because it does not comply with federal flammability standards. The New York Times reports on Wednesday’s 41st annual Debutante Cotillion and Christmas Ball at the Waldorf Astoria, at which 76 debs made what the Times calls “their formal bows to society.” Also yesterday, Monty Hall taped his last episode of Let’s Make a Deal.

Future major league pitcher Brad Lidge, future NHL star Scott Gomez, and future NFL kicker Kris Brown are born. Five games are scheduled in the National Hockey League; the Chicago Blackhawks have the night off after losing to Buffalo 4-2 last night. Before the game, the team fired Billy Reay, who had coached the Hawks since 1963. In Philadelphia, the Flyers beat Washington 5-2. Flyer Mel Bridgman, the first player taken in the 1975 NHL draft, records what is known as a Gordie Howe hat trick: a goal, an assist, and a fight. Hit movies in theaters include King Kong, The Enforcer, The Pink Panther Strikes Again, Silver Streak, and Andy Warhol’s Frankenstein. Car buyers in Madison, Wisconsin, can get an Oldsmobile Omega Brougham, loaded, for $5188, then drive it to Fuzzy Thurston’s Left Guard restaurant for the Thursday night filet special, which costs $3.95. On ABC tonight, the Sweathogs get the Christmas spirit on Welcome Back, Kotter, and it’s Christmas Eve in the 12th Precinct on Barney Miller. ABC also airs the final episode of canceled sitcom The Nancy Walker Show, created by Norman Lear. The CBS lineup includes The Waltons, Hawaii Five-O, and Barnaby Jones. NBC starts its night with Doug Henning’s World of Magic, a live show on which the magician makes an elephant disappear. The Henning special is followed by part 4 of the miniseries Once an Eagle. Later, on Tomorrow, Tom Snyder welcomes musician Van McCoy and DJ Norm N. Nite to discuss disco music.

The Beach Boys play Portland, Oregon, Blondie plays CBGB and Barry Manilow plays the Uris Theater, both in New York City, and AC/DC plays at a high school in Australia. At WLS in Chicago, “Tonight’s the Night” by Rod Stewart is #1 for a fifth straight week. “Nadia’s Theme” by Barry DeVorzon and Perry Botkin Jr. makes a strong move from #8 to #3, as does “Blinded by the Light” by Manfred Mann’s Earth Band, which goes from #20 to #13. The two biggest movers on the chart are both up 12: a live and edited version of “Free Bird” by Lynryd Skynryd (#30 to #18) and “Weekend in New England” by Barry Manilow (#42 to #30). The new #1 album in Chicago is the debut album by Boston, taking over the top spot from Frampton Comes Alive!

A young radio geek in southern Wisconsin listens to all these songs and more, sometimes on WLS but more often on FM stations from Madison, Dubuque, or Freeport, Illinois, and he looks forward to what turns out to be a most memorable Christmas, the echoes of which he will still be able to hear many years in the future.

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October 22, 1976: The Song Remains the Same

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(Pictured: Robert Plant on stage at Madison Square Garden in 1973 during the filming of The Song Remains the Same.)

(Edited below.)

October 22, 1976, was a Friday. Amendments to the Tennessee Department of Agriculture’s rules governing movement and handling of livestock at fairs and exhibitions go into effect today. The FDA bans red dye #2 due to a potential cancer risk. (Late edit: the dye was banned in February; today, the FDA recalled tons of candy made with it.) The decision will cause M&M/Mars to stop selling red M&Ms. President Ford starts his day with a doctor’s appointment after breakfast, then has a morning of meetings concerning the presidential campaign and a photo op with Noor Hussain, an 80-year-old Pakistani woodcarver who presents him with an ivory table. At noontime, President and Mrs. Ford leave the White House for Williamsburg, Virginia, and tonight’s final debate with Democratic challenger Jimmy Carter. The presidential debate leads all three evening newscasts and is carried on all three networks. CBS precedes the debate with an episode of Spencer’s Pilots, an adventure series about a private aviation company. NBC presents an episode of Sanford and Son called “I Dream of Choo-Choo Rabinowitz,” in which Fred tries to break a world record for staying awake, and an episode of Chico and the Man. ABC airs Donny and Marie, with guest stars Cindy Williams and Charley Pride. The movie Car Wash is new in theaters.

It’s the second night of the NBA regular season; all four former American Basketball Association teams that joined the older league this summer make their debuts. The New York Nets, San Antonio Spurs, and Denver Nuggets get wins; the Nuggets beat their former ABA foe, the Indiana Pacers. Future major-league catcher Michael Barrett is born. In Monroe, Wisconsin, the Cheesemaker football team’s losing streak reaches six after a 37-0 home loss to Sun Prairie that drops them to 2-and-6 on the season with one game to play. After the game, late that night, a Monroe police officer will have to kick several couples out of Twining Park for parking after closing time.

Last night, the Who closed their 1976 tour at Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto. It would be the last performance featuring drummer Keith Moon. Tonight, Barry Manilow plays Dallas, and Elvis Presley plays Champaign, Illinois. Black Sabbath opens a tour in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and the Eagles play the Forum in Los Angeles. Their performance of “Wasted Time” will appear on the 1980 album Eagles Live. Album releases today include Elton John’s Blue Moves, Bob Seger’s Night Moves, and Led Zeppelin’s The Song Remains the Same, which is the soundtrack to the movie that came out earlier this week. At B100 in San Diego, “Do You Feel Like We Do” by Peter Frampton is #1 on the new survey out today, knocking last week’s top hit, “Lowdown” by Boz Scaggs, to #2. The rest of the Top 10: “Rock’n Me” by the Steve Miller Band, “Shake Your Booty” by KC and the Sunshine Band, “Devil Woman” by Cliff Richard, Walter Murphy’s “A Fifth of Beethoven,” “Still the One” by Orleans, “Getaway” by Earth Wind and Fire, Heart’s “Magic Man,” and Rick Dees’ “Disco Duck.” Five songs are new in the Top 30; the highest debut belongs to Rod Stewart and “Tonight’s the Night.”

Perspective From the Present: I have told the story at my other blog several times, I think: at the football game, my girlfriend and I were on our first date since splitting up over a year before, and afterward, we wanted to make up for lost time. I recognized all of the other cars that were kicked out of the park with us, and their drivers recognized me. Such was my reputation with the ladies that one of the other guys said to me on Monday, “I thought to myself, that’s Jim’s car, but who would he be here with?” That night, and the several months that followed it, are among the very favorite times of my life. We only fall good and truly in love for the first time one time, and it tends to leave a mark.

October 7, 1976: Hope Springs Eternal

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(Pictured: Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford debate, 1976.)

October 7, 1976, is a Thursday. At last night’s second Ford/Carter debate, President Ford said there is no Soviet domination of Eastern Europe. Today, Ford’s campaign unveils a new ad touting the president’s biography. Hua Kuo-Feng is named chairman of the Chinese Communist Party Central Committee, succeeding Mao Tse-Tung, who died last month. In a meeting with the foreign minister of Argentina, Secretary of State Henry Kissinger gives indications that the United States will not oppose Argentina’s “dirty war” against its own people. Gary Gilmore is convicted of murder in Utah; he will insist on a speedy execution by firing squad, and in January 1977, become the first person to be executed in the United States since the death penalty was banned by the Supreme Court in 1972. Future actress Rachel McAdams, future singer Taylor Hicks, and future Pro Football Hall-of-Famer Charles Woodson are born. Hank Aaron, baseball’s all-time home run king, joins the Atlanta Braves’ front office after retiring as a player. High-school football fans in Monroe, Wisconsin, look forward to tomorrow night’s game despite the fact that their team is mired in a losing streak; hope nevertheless springs eternal because the team opened the season in September with two straight wins, equaling their total over the two previous seasons.

Connie Stevens is this week’s cohost on The Mike Douglas Show. Burt Reynolds is today’s guest. On the competing daytime show Dinah!, Dinah Shore’s guests include Sid Caesar and Marsha Mason. Shows on TV tonight include the NBC sci-fi series Gemini Man and the CBS crime drama Barnaby Jones. Elton John appears on the cover of the latest Rolling Stone. In the cover story, he reveals his bisexuality. Frank Sinatra plays Hartford, Connecticut, Neil Diamond plays Fort Worth, Texas, and Lynryd Skynyrd plays Spokane, Washington.

At KYA in San Francisco, “Disco Duck” by Rick Dees is #1 again this week; “Play That Funky Music” by Wild Cherry holds at #2. Peter Frampton’s “Do You Feel Like We Do” jumps from #11 to #5; in Cash Box, it’s the highest-debuting record on the magazine’s chart for over a year, coming on the Top 100 at #48. Three new songs debut on the KYA survey: “Rock’n Me” by the Steve Miller Band, “You Are My Starship” by Norman Connors, and “Still the One” by Orleans. The station adds three songs to its playlist: “Nadia’s Theme” by Perry Botkin Jr., “Just to Be Close to You” by the Commodores, and “Muskrat Love” by the Captain and Tennille. “Muskrat Love” is the biggest mover within the Cash Box survey, up 29 spots to #31. The Captain and Tennille’s TV variety show is new on ABC, with its fourth episode scheduled for this coming Monday night. Guests will include Leonard Nimoy, Rita Moreno, and the cast of What’s Happening!! In its first three episodes, the show has already scored guest appearances by Jackie Gleason, Bob Hope, and Redd Foxx.

August 5, 1976: What’s Happening

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(Pictured: a cast shot from What’s Happening!!, 1976.)

August 5, 1976, is a Thursday. In Wisconsin, it’s a pleasant summer day with cooler weather on the way tonight. Governor Patrick Lucey announces that he will appoint University of Wisconsin law professor Shirley Abrahamson to the state Supreme Court as the first female justice. She will serve as Chief Justice from 1996 until 2015, and will retire after the 2019 elections at age 84. A lube, oil, and filter for most American cars at Firestone stores in Madison costs $5.88; Goodyear shops will do it for $4.88. In Washington, President Ford welcomes Olympic hero Jesse Owens and his wife to the White House and presents Owens with the Medal of Freedom. Ford also meets with members of the Pennsylvania delegation to the upcoming Republican National Convention, hoping to keep the support of the state’s delegates despite rival Ronald Reagan’s selection of Pennsylvania Republican senator Richard Schweiker as his potential running mate. Officials are still trying to figure out what mysterious disease has sickened and killed attendees at the American Legion convention in Philadelphia. Today, they’ve ruled out swine flu.

Ohio State’s athletic director decries recent reports of recruiting violations in its football program as “the worst kind of character assassination.” The merger between the National Basketball Association and the rival American Basketball Association, announced in June, becomes official today. Four ABA franchises, the Denver Nuggets, Indiana Pacers, New York Nets, and San Antonio Spurs, join the NBA; players from the Kentucky Colonels and St. Louis Spirits are dispersed among the existing NBA clubs. Future major-league outfielder Bobby Kielty is born. On TV tonight, What’s Happening!! premieres on ABC, right after a Welcome Back Kotter rerun. NBC counterprograms with It’s OK, a special starring the Beach Boys with special guests Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi.

Elvis Presley wraps up a three-night stand in Fayetteville, North Carolina, before taking a three-week break on his current tour. Jean-Luc Ponty plays Austin, Texas, and the Eagles play Portland, Oregon. The Doobie Brothers play Norfolk, Virginia, and Jethro Tull opens a two-night stand in Chicago. At WLS in Chicago, “Afternoon Delight” hit #1 on the survey dated July 31, just ahead of “Rock and Roll Music” by the Beach Boys and last week’s #1 song, “Got to Get You Into My Life” by the Beatles, which falls to #3. “Get Closer” by Seals and Crofts is new in the Top 10 at #10. “You’ll Never Find Another Love Like Mine” by Lou Rawls takes a mighty leap from #23 to #12; moving from #27 to #19 is “Teddy Bear” by Red Sovine, a spoken-word weeper that currently tops the nation’s country chart. There’s little movement on the WLS album chart: nine of last week’s Top 10 albums are still in the top 10, although they’ve shuffled around a bit; the Beatles’ Rock and Roll Music is still at the top. New at #10 is Spitfire by the Jefferson Starship, up from #31. The Beach Boys’ 15 Big Ones soars to #13 from #33.

A reluctant 16-year-old farmer and radio addict has been clocking a few hours on a tractor every day this week, but not on this day. He looks forward to tomorrow night’s softball game, and once the hay is made, to spending a few days in Madison next week with his cousin. A family trip to Chicago and to the Wisconsin State Fair in Milwaukee are also coming up. The family has to squeeze as much into August as possible, because summer is fleeting.

June 8, 1976: Happy Days

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(Pictured: Shirley, the Fonz, and Laverne.)

June 8, 1976, is a Tuesday. A heat wave continues in the Midwest. At an appearance last night in Bowling Green, Ohio, President Ford was momentarily stunned by an exploding flash bulb. Among his appointments today, Ford gets a briefing on the Teton River Dam collapse in Idaho last Saturday, meets the attorney general of Mexico, and greets finalists in the National Spelling Bee. It’s also the final primary day of the 1976 campaign, with contests in California, Ohio, and New Jersey. Jimmy Carter will not clinch the nomination, but he will win enough delegates to make him the prohibitive favorite. On the Republican side, Ronald Reagan wins California, but Ford takes Ohio. There’s no Republican contest in New Jersey.

ABC’s Tuesday night lineup includes Happy Days, Laverne and Shirley, and a 1968 theatrical movie called Prudence and the Pill. CBS counters with a repeat of Really Rosie, an animated adaptation of the Maurice Sendak children’s book starring the voice of Carole King. Also in the CBS lineup tonight, Good Times and M*A*S*H. NBC’s shows include the trucker drama Movin’ On and Police Woman starring Angie Dickinson. Future pro tennis player Lindsay Davenport is born, and former NBA player, coach, and general manager Bob Feerick dies at age 56. The major-league baseball amateur draft begins. Pitcher Floyd Bannister is taken first overall by the Houston Astros. Future Hall of Famers Rickey Henderson, and Wade Boggs are selected in later rounds, as are pitcher Jack Morris and shortstop Alan Trammell. In Wisconsin, a baseball fan with more interest than ability attends his first softball practice of the summer. The church league season begins on Friday night.

AC/DC plays Portsmouth, England, Bob Marley plays Dusseldorf, Germany, and the Eagles play Seattle. At WLS in Chicago, “Silly Love Songs” holds the #1 position on the singles chart; the four songs behind it were also in the top five last week, but have shuffled positions: “Shannon” by Henry Gross, “Happy Days” by Pratt & McClain, “Love Hangover” by Diana Ross, and “Welcome Back” by John Sebastian. New in the top 10 is “Fooled Around and Fell in Love” by Elvin Bishop. The biggest moves on the chart belong to “The Boys Are Back in Town” by Thin Lizzy (#44 to #33), “Takin’ It to the Streets” by the Doobie Brothers (#34 to #25) and “More More More” by the Andrea True Connection (#35 to #27).

The softball player knows that there will be hay to make in a day or so, which means he will be expected to spend his mornings and long afternoons driving a tractor in the heat. There’s no radio on the tractor, but it doesn’t matter. All the songs that matter are in his head.

April 9, 1976: Winners and Losers

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(Pictured: Helen Reddy, circa 1976.)

April 9, 1976, is a Friday. Frisch’s Big Boy Restaurants in the greater Cincinnati area invite you in for fish fillets tonight with fries, salad, and a roll for $1.60. It’s the second day of the major-league baseball season, but only two games were played yesterday; 16 teams open their seasons today, including the Chicago Cubs, who lose to the Cardinals 5-0 in St. Louis. On a trip to Texas, President Ford visits the Alamo in San Antonio during the morning and then goes to Dallas. He throws out the first pitch at the Texas Rangers’ season opener, staying only for the first inning. In the first pro sports event at the new Seattle Kingdome, Pele scores two goals as the New York Cosmos defeat the Seattle Sounders in pro soccer, 2-1. Folksinger Phil Ochs, most famous for “I Ain’t Marching Anymore,” hangs himself; he was 35. A strong earthquake kills eight people in Ecuador. In Nagoya, Japan, a 13-year-old boy takes a series of photos that seem to show a UFO. In Syracuse, New York, the Onondaga County Public Library unveils its new logo. In Madison, Wisconsin, the first edition of a new weekly newspaper, Isthmus, is laid out in the living room of one of its co-founders.

New movies in theaters include All the President’s Men starring Dustin Hoffman and Robert Redford and Alfred Hitchcock’s Family Plot. On daytime TV, Foster Brooks ends a week co-hosting The Mike Douglas Show; guests today include Gloria Swanson, Frankie Valli, and Geraldo Rivera. The Merv Griffin Show welcomes Kaye Ballard, Jack Jones, comedian Charlie Callas and impressionist Marilyn Michaels. In prime time, the animated special The First Easter Rabbit, featuring the voices of Burl Ives and Robert Morse, airs on NBC, and so does The Rockford Files. CBS airs an episode of Sara, starring Brenda Vaccaro as a schoolteacher in an 1870 Colorado town. She will be nominated for an Emmy, but the show will end after 13 episodes.

Rush plays the Indianapolis Coliseum with special guests Ted Nugent and the Sutherland Brothers and Quiver. On separate bills, Genesis and Donovan play New York City. The Electric Light Orchestra and Journey play Huntsville, Alabama. Bruce Springsteen plays Colgate University in Hamilton, New York.

The Midnight Special airs on NBC following Johnny Carson. Host Helen Reddy welcomes Fleetwood Mac, who perform a blazing version of their new hit “Rhiannon.” Also on the show, Gary Wright, Barry Manilow, Queen, and Hamilton Joe Frank & Reynolds, who perform “Fallin’ in Love” with Reddy and their recent hit “Winners and Losers,” and then come back for a second spot doing “Every Day Without You.”

Perspective From the Present: I was equipment manager of the high school baseball team, and we had a scrimmage on that Friday after school. That night, a couple of friends and I went to the local drive-in theater for what I recall as some terrible movies (although I don’t remember what they were), killing time until midnight. The Key Club at my high school was putting on a marathon basketball game that weekend, in which teams signed up to play for an hour at a time from Friday afternoon through Sunday night. I was on a team scheduled to play at midnight and again at 5AM, so the night of April 9 and 10, 1976, marked the first time I ever stayed up all night. Spring break (known to us then as Easter vacation) started on Monday the 12th. On the Tuesday the 13th, I passed my behind-the-wheel test and got my driver’s license; on Wednesday the 14th, the local radio station said they’d hire me for the summer—although they didn’t follow through on that.

An eventful few days, for sure.

March 19, 1976: Show Me

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(Pictured: Peter Frampton gives it all he’s got, 1976.)

March 19, 1976, was a Friday. Newspaper readers learn that Democratic Senator Frank Church of Idaho entered the presidential race yesterday, even though the race is well underway already. Also yesterday, Paul McCartney’s father, James, died at age 73, and the state of Kentucky officially ratified the Thirteenth Amendment abolishing slavery. (It had rejected the amendment in 1865.) Today, closing arguments continue in the bank-robbery trial of heiress Patricia Hearst. Hearst was kidnapped in 1974 by the Symbionese Liberation Army; within weeks, she had taken the name Tania, became a member of the group, and remained underground until she was arrested in the fall of 1975. In Britain, Buckingham Palace announces the separation of Princess Margaret from her husband, Lord Snowdon. They have been married 15 years and have two children. At the White House, President Ford meets members of the National Newspaper Association and takes questions. After the public announcement of the appointment of diplomat Thomas Gates to head the United States Liaison Office in China, Ford, Gates, Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, and National Security Advisor Brent Scowcroft hold a classified meeting in which they discuss the political signal sent to Chinese leaders by the Gates appointment. In Sierra Madre, California, a bicentennial time capsule is buried under the flagpole of the city’s new police and fire building. The Garden State Rotary Club of Cherry Hill, New Jersey, holds its first meeting.

The Indiana Hoosiers defeat Alabama in the Mideast Regional semifinals of the NCAA basketball tournament. (On Sunday, they will qualify for the Final Four by beating Marquette, and will eventually win the national championship, going undefeated for the year.) Third-ranked UNLV is upset by Arizona, 114-109 in overtime. In Illinois, 16 teams in two classes open the state high school basketball tournament. Tomorrow, Chicago Morgan Park (class AA) and Mt. Pulaski (class A) will win championships. Celebrity guests on the recently renamed $20,000 Pyramid are Soupy Sales and All My Children actress Stephanie Braxton. Panelists on The Hollywood Squares include Bob Newhart, Shirley Jones, Hal Linden, Don Rickles, Jonathan Winters, and Arte Johnson. Joining Brett, Charles, and Richard on Match Game ’76 are Clifton Davis, Patty Duke Astin, and Joyce Bulifant. Programs on NBC tonight include Sanford and Son, The Practice, a sitcom starring Danny Thomas as a physician, and The Rockford Files. Future TV actress Rachel Blanchard and future NBA player Andre Miller are born. Guitarist Paul Kossoff, formerly of Free and currently of Back Street Crawler, dies aboard an airplane flight after years of drug abuse; he was 25.

Bette Midler plays Tarrytown, New York, the Electric Light Orchestra plays Boston, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band plays Kansas City, Kansas, Elvis Presley plays Johnson City, Tennessee, and Bad Company plays Dallas. David Bowie plays Buffalo and the Who plays Denver. On the new Billboard Top 40 that Casey Kasem will count down this weekend, “December 1963” by the Four Seasons and “All By Myself” by Eric Carmen hold at #1 and #2. Aerosmith’s “Dream On” and Johnnie Taylor’s “Disco Lady” are new in the Top 10. The hottest hits within the Top 40 are “Show Me the Way” by Peter Frampton, up 12 places to #25, and “Right Back Where We Started From” by Maxine Nightingale, up 11 places to #14.  A teenager in southern Wisconsin continues his behind-the-wheel driver’s ed instruction in eager anticipation of getting his license within a few weeks; whenever he’s in the car, the radio is always on. And whenever he’s not.

October 21, 1976: No Perspective

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(Pictured: Thurman Munson of the Yankees heads for home plate, defended by Johnny Bench of the Reds, during the 1976 World Series.)

October 21, 1976, was a Thursday. The Cincinnati Reds beat the New York Yankees 7-2 to sweep the World Series, giving them back-to-back championships. President Gerald Ford issues a statement expressing pride in the fact that Americans have won all five Nobel prizes: medicine, economics, physics, chemistry, and literature. Ford meets with Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, who reports that former vice-president Hubert Humphrey wants Ford to defeat Jimmy Carter in the upcoming presidential election. Later in the day, both Ford and Carter will campaign in New York before tomorrow night’s final debate in Williamsburg, Virginia. Carter’s brother Billy speaks to an audience in Georgia, telling them that his brother drinks Scotch, and that “I’ve never trusted a Scotch drinker.” A new Gallup poll shows Carter’s lead over Ford down to six points. Also today, Ford signs a bill mandating the expansion of the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. With the nation preparing for the outbreak of swine flu, the Cass City Chronicle of Cass City, Michigan, publishes local residents’ memories of the 1918 flu epidemic. On the night of their season-opening game, the NBA’s New York Knicks retire the number of longtime center Willis Reed. Future actor Jeremy Miller and future pop singer Josh Ritter are born.

On TV tonight: Barney Miller (an episode set on Election Day), The Waltons, and Barnaby Jones. Aerosmith plays Erlangen, Germany, and Elvis Presley plays Kalamazoo, Michigan. The Eagles play the second night of a stand at the Los Angeles Forum; their performance of “Desperado” will later appear on the album Eagles Live. The Who plays Toronto. In London, Paul McCartney and Wings wrap up their “Wings Over the World” tour at the Empire Pool, Wembley. In New York City, George Michael is rockin’ the evening shift at WABC, taking over from the legendary Cousin Brucie Morrow. “Disco Duck” by Rick Dees is #1 on the station’s latest survey, knocking “A Fifth of Beethoven” by Walter Murphy out of the top spot. “If You Leave Me Now” by Chicago is at #3. New in the Top 10 are “Rock’n Me” by the Steve Miller Band and “She’s Gone” by Hall and Oates. “Fernando” by ABBA is at #29 on the survey. They lip-synch it on today’s episode of the long-running syndicated kids’ show Wonderama.

Perspective From the Present: When it comes to this particular date, and this particular season, I’ve got no perspective. Everyone, if they’re lucky, has a single season in which they’d live forever, given the opportunity. The fall of 1976 is mine. If I could keep it in perspective, it wouldn’t be what it is.

August 25, 1976: Late Summer Early Fall

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(Pictured: Bert Convy, aboard The Love Boat with Kristy McNichol, 1977.)

August 25, 1976, is a Wednesday. In Monroe, Wisconsin, it’s the first day of school. In France, premier Jacques Chirac resigns in a dispute over political strategy with president Valery Giscard d’Estaing and is replaced by foreign minister Raymond Barre. President Ford is on vacation in Colorado. Among his activities today: attending a picnic hosted by prominent Vail restauranteur/hotelier Pepi Gramshammer. The Russian space mission Soyuz 21 returns to Earth early; a crew member has begun displaying psychotic behavior possibly linked to toxic gases in the ship’s cabin. The Lincoln Park Carousel, which has stood in an East Los Angeles park since 1914, is burned by vandals. In Allentown, Pennsylvania, Earl F. Hunsicker Bicentennial Park opens. Future actor Alexander Skarsgard, NBA journeyman Damon Jones, and New York Yankees pitcher Pedro Feliciano are born. The Yankees beat the Minnesota Twins 5-4 in a 19-inning game that takes five hours, 26 minutes to play. Yankee Dick Tidrow enters the game in the 7th inning and pitches through the 17th.

On daytime TV, Dinah Shore welcomes Chuck Berry and M*A*S*H star Mike Farrell. Merv Griffin’s guests on his daytime show include singers Mel Torme and Cyndi Grecco and the group Silver. In primetime, a pair of half-hour, four-week summer variety shows premiere back-to-back on CBS: Easy Does It, starring Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello, and The Late Summer Early Fall Bert Convy Show, which stars the erstwhile game show host. Also in the cast is comedian Lenny Schultz, who performs as Lenny the Bionic Chicken.

Jethro Tull’s Too Old to Rock and Roll tour continues in Calgary, Canada, while Lynryd Skynyrd’s tour moves on to Lewiston, Maine. Frank Sinatra plays Holmdel, New Jersey, Tom Waits plays Cleveland, and the Band plays Los Angeles. The Electric Light Orchestra plays St. Louis, with opening acts Mahogany Rush and Pure Prairie League. The self-titled debut album by a new group, Boston, is released. At WLS in Chicago, “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart” by Elton John and Kiki Dee is at the top for a second week. New in the Top 10 are “Let ‘Em In” by Paul McCartney and Wings, “I’d Really Love to See You Tonight” by England Dan and John Ford Coley, and “Say You Love Me” by Fleetwood Mac. The biggest movers on the chart are “Baby I Love Your Way” by Peter Frampton (up 10 to #27) and “With Your Love” by Jefferson Starship (up 14 to #29). The Beatles compilation Rock and Roll Music spends its fifth and final week at the top of the album chart. Next week, it will be knocked out by Heart’s Dreamboat Annie, currently at #2.

Back in Wisconsin, a new high-school junior knows he is ready to return to school, because anything is better than driving a tractor in the heat. But the things he does not know are legion: He doesn’t know that he’s just passed the summer he will cherish the most as the years go by. Neither does he know that the coming fall will be a season he will never leave behind.

July 31, 1976: A Laugher

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(Pictured: a streaker interrupts the closing ceremonies of the Summer Olympics in Montreal on July 31, 1976, because of course he did.)

July 31, 1976, was a Saturday. In Colorado, a foot of rain falls in the mountains, causing a flood in Big Thompson Canyon that kills 150 people. Barry Manilow plays Philadelphia, where health officials are struggling to figure out what mysterious disease sickened over 200 people and killed 34 during an American Legion bicentennial gathering a few days earlier. It’s been nicknamed “legionnaire’s disease.” NASA releases a photo taken by the Viking Mars probe before it landed on July 20. It seems to show a face on the Martian surface, but NASA says it’s merely a rock formation and nothing mysterious. A UFO is sighted in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin. Louisiana adopts petrified palm wood as its official state fossil. The Montreal Olympics are coming to an end, as an East German marathoner wins the gold in the final event of the games, and six athletes, five Romanians and a Russian, defect to Canada. The Green Bay Packers play the earliest preseason game in their history, losing to the Cincinnati Bengals, 23-16. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers play the first game in their history, losing to the Los Angeles Rams, 26-3. Future pro football player Marty Booker is born.  NBC airs the first-season finale of its new weekend late-night show, NBC’s Saturday Night, hosted by Kris Kristofferson. (His wife, Rita Coolidge, is the musical guest.) Sketches include “Samurai General Practitioner” and “Gynecologist Blind Date,” with Kristofferson and Jane Curtin. Other TV programs on the air that night include the syndicated soap Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman and The Invasion of Johnson County, a western starring Bill Bixby.

Elvis Presley, on his last tour, plays Hampton Roads, Virginia. Eric Clapton plays London. Jethro Tull plays Tampa, Florida. On the Billboard singles chart dated July 31, “Kiss and Say Goodbye” by the Manhattans is spending its second week at #1; “Love Is Alive” by Gary Wright is #2; Starbuck’s “Moonlight Feels Right” is at #3; At #4 it’s “Afternoon Delight” by the Starland Vocal Band. The Beatles and the Beach Boys are back-to-back at #7 and #8, with “Got to Get You Into My Life” and “Rock and Roll Music,” the first time both bands have been in the Top 10 at the same time since 1966. New in the Top 40 are “Say You Love Me” by Fleetwood Mac, “Play That Funky Music” by Wild Cherry, “Who’d She Coo” by the Ohio Players, “Shake Your Booty” by KC and the Sunshine Band, and War’s “Summer.” Two versions of Bobbie Gentry’s “Ode to Billie Joe” are bubbling under the Top 40—one is the 1967 original, the other is a new recording from the hit movie of the same name. New on the Hot 100 that week: “Still the One” by Orleans and “Don’t Fear the Reaper” by Blue Oyster Cult. George Benson’s Breezin’ tops the album chart.

Perspective From the Present: The Green County Fair was going on in my hometown that week, and on Saturday night I would certainly have been there. And I was probably in a pretty good mood. The previous night, our Church League softball team had enjoyed a rare laugher, a 16-to-1 victory over Washington Township. I found time to listen to American Top 40 on that weekend, probably on Sunday night, probably on WROK from Rockford, Illinois—and I would probably have had to try and pick out the last few songs through the static after the station cut its power at sundown. I had been rooting for “I’ll Be Good to You” by the Brothers Johnson, a favorite song of the moment, to reach #1. Maybe you had to be a 16-year-old Top 40 geek to feel the clanging sense of disappointment when it dropped to #9 this week after being stuck at #3 for two weeks, destined never to make the top.