December 31, 1993: I Will Always Love You

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(Pictured: Whitney Houston.)

December 31, 1993, was a Friday. Eastern states from the Great Lakes to New England are digging out after a snowstorm yesterday. Erie, Pennsylvania, got 10 inches, and some locations in Maine recorded over a foot. Funeral services are pending for Irving “Swifty” Lazar, a Hollywood agent who represented stars from Humphrey Bogart to Madonna, who died yesterday at age 86. On Christmas Eve, in Humboldt, Nebraska, transgender teen Brandon Teena was raped by two men angry to learn he was born female. He reported the crime to police, who released his assailants without charges. Tonight, Teena and a friend are murdered by the two men. The case will inspire the 1999 movie Boys Don’t Cry. ABC airs its usual Friday night lineup: Family Matters (which tops the evening’s ratings), Boy Meets World, Step by Step, Hangin’ With Mr. Cooper, and 20/20. CBS sandwiches a clip show titled Great TV Moments between repeats of Diagnosis Murder and Picket Fences. NBC opens the night with a broadcast of the annual Orange Bowl parade and follows it with the TV movie Love Can Be Murder, starring Jaclyn Smith as a private detective who has to solve the murder of the ghost (Corbin Bernsen) who haunts her office. Fox airs repeats of The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr., and The X-Files.

Four college football bowl games are played today, including California’s 37-3 Alamo Bowl win over Iowa in San Antonio. Eight games will be played tomorrow, including a showdown between Florida State and Nebraska in the Orange Bowl. Florida State is #1 in the Associated Press poll; Nebraska is #1 in the coaches’ poll. The winner will have the inside track on the undisputed national championship. (FSU will win the game 18-16.) Also tomorrow: the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California. Wisconsin makes its first trip to the game since 1963 to meet UCLA. Demand from Wisconsin fans has ticket prices soaring: tickets with a face value of $46 have been selling for $300.

Barbra Streisand opens a two-night stand at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. It is the first stop on a 26-date concert tour, and her first live performance in 20 years. Weird Al Yankovic plays Disney World and Phish plays the Centrum in Worcester, Massachusetts. Billy Joel plays Nassau Coliseum on Long Island and the Grateful Dead plays Oakland. Radio stations around the country count down the top hits of 1993. Billboard magazine’s chart is topped by “I Will Always Love You” by Whitney Houston, which did 14 weeks at #1 from late November 1992 through this past February. It’s from the year’s #1 album, the soundtrack from the movie The Bodyguard. Breathless by Kenny G is #2 on the year-end album chart; Unplugged by Eric Clapton is #3. The #1 country single of the year is “Chattahoochee” by Alan Jackson. The top adult-contemporary hit of 1993 is by Vanessa Williams and Brian McKnight: “Love Is.”

Perspective From the Present: December 31, 1993, was the final day of my full-time career in radio. I did my station’s year-end countdown that afternoon without thinking anything was out of the ordinary, but on Monday, January 3, wearing my Wisconsin Rose Bowl sweatshirt, I showed up for work and got fired. My boss had decided to start the new year by getting rid of the burnout case—which I definitely was. As it turned out, he did me a favor, forcing me into decisions that ended up changing my life for the better. Although I would take two other full-time jobs, one at the end of 1994 and another one in 2013, neither one of them was meant to be, so I gave them back. After this day, I would never be a radio guy in quite the same way again.

Programming Announcement: When I started this blog in January 2017, I thought it had a shelf-life of two years. I figured that was how long it would take to repeat all of the One Day in Your Life posts I’d written at my other blog, and after I’d done that, I’d stop posting here. But as the second year draws to a close, I find that I have a few old posts left over, and new One Day in Your Life posts are my favorite thing to write. So this blog will remain a going concern at least through the end of 2019, as long as I’m still here to write and you’re still there to read. 

Thank you for reading and happy new year.


December 25, 1989: Storm Front

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(Pictured: Billy Martin and George Steinbrenner, together again.)

December 25, 1989, was a Monday. Much of the United States is gripped by record cold. Fifty-six cities have set low temperature records in recent days. Temperatures between 20 and 40 below were recorded across the Midwest late last week, although they moderated a little in time for Christmas. Parts of the South are experiencing their first white Christmas in 100 years. Tallahassee, Florida, gets a trace of snow today, and in Miami, for the second day in a row, the mercury falls below freezing. Citrus crops have been largely wiped out across the South. Yesterday, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, got 14 inches of snow, and elsewhere in the state, snowdrifts are as much as eight feet high. At least 77 deaths have been blamed on the cold since December 15, including that of New Orleans mayor Ernest “Dutch” Morial, who suffered cardiac arrest last night after an asthma attack induced by the cold. Newspapers around the country this weekend carried a review of a new book by climatologist Stephen Schneider titled Global Warming: Are We Entering the Greenhouse Century?

Since the opening of the Berlin Wall in November, Communist governments in eastern Europe have been reforming and/or falling. In Romania, revolution against the government of Nicolae Ceausescu began eight days ago. On Friday, Ceausescu was deposed as president, and he fled his palace after it was invaded by protesters. On Saturday, he was captured in the Romanian city of Targoviste. Today, after being convicted of illegal gathering of wealth and genocide by a revolutionary court, Ceausescu and his wife are executed by firing squad. Last Wednesday, a United States force of 28,000 troops and 300 military aircraft invaded Panama. The goal of Operation Just Cause is to capture Panamanian president Manuel Noriega, neutralize military units loyal to him, and protect American lives and property. Today, many of the military objectives have been accomplished, although fighting continues. Noriega has yet to be nabbed; yesterday he sought asylum at the Vatican Embassy in Panama City.

Billy Martin, who had five different stints managing the New York Yankees between 1975 and 1988, dies in a traffic accident at age 61. The college bowl season continues today; 16 games will be played between now and New Year’s Day. Michigan State beats Hawaii 33-13 in the Aloha Bowl in Honolulu. In the annual Christmas Day Blue/Gray college all-star game in Montgomery, Alabama, the Gray team, made up of players from southern colleges, beats the Blue, 28-10. The National Football League regular season ends tonight. The Minnesota Vikings beat the Cincinnati Bengals 29-21, knocking them out of the AFC playoffs and taking the last available NFC playoff spot from the Green Bay Packers. Yesterday, the Packers beat the Dallas Cowboys 20-10, ending the Cowboys’ dismal 1-and-15 season. The San Francisco 49ers and Denver Broncos are the top seeds in the playoffs, which will begin with wild-card games on New Year’s Eve.

ABC’s Monday Night Football (which is preceded by an episode of MacGyver) is the only program on network TV tonight that isn’t a repeat, and it wins the night. CBS airs six sitcoms in a row: Major Dad, The Famous Teddy Z, Murphy Brown, Designing Women, Newhart, and Doctor Doctor. NBC fills primetime with the 1965 movie The Sound of Music. Fox presents 21 Jump Street and Alien Nation. At Z100 in New York, “Pump Up the Jam” by Technotronic is the new #1 song, knocking Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start the Fire” to #3. “Another Day in Paradise” by Phil Collins is #2. Also in the Top 10: Michael Bolton, New Kids on the Block, and Milli Vanilli. There’s little movement on the chart: Rod Stewart’s “Downtown Train” makes the biggest move, up four spots to #17. “Janie’s Got a Gun” by Aerosmith debuts in the Top 30 at #25. The #1 album in New York again this week is Billy Joel’s Storm Front.

Perspective From the Present: On Christmas Eve 1989, my wife and sister-in-law and I sat in my parents’ living room reading, as Mother made dinner in the kitchen while Dad was out milking his cows. Christmas music played softly on the radio. After a while my sister-in-law piped up, “It’s too quiet. In my family, there’s always an argument or a fight on Christmas.” So—of course—Ann and I pretended to have one to make her feel more at home. I hope that your Christmas has been quiet. Or noisy, whichever you prefer.

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.

December 21, 1981: Overtime

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(Pictured: Jane Fonda at the premiere of On Golden Pond, 1981.)

December 21, 1981, was a Monday. Poland’s crackdown on political opposition continues after martial law was declared on December 13. Yesterday, Polish ambassador Ronauld Spasowski reportedly defected to the United States. Today, there are reports of militiamen attacking Catholic priests in Wroclaw and Gdansk. Shipyards at Gdansk have been ground zero for a series of strikes by the Solidarity labor union and its leader, Lech Walesa. President Reagan meets with top advisors regarding the situation in Poland and the federal budget for the forthcoming fiscal year. The New York Times reports today that the budget may include $45 billion in tax increases over the next two fiscal years. Reagan’s working day ends with a brief appearance at a surprise party for a departing presidential assistant. Many retailers are disappointed with sales figures for the weekend before Christmas. Shoppers are favoring larger stores and cheaper gifts as inflation continues higher than predicted.

Yesterday, the Minnesota Vikings played their final NFL game at Metropolitan Stadium in Bloomington, Minnesota, losing to Kansas City 10-6. It was their fifth straight loss, ending their season with a record of 7-and-9. In the postgame rush for souvenirs—seats, bleachers, goal posts, and chunks of sod—dozens of fans were injured. Tonight, in college basketball, Cincinnati defeats Bradley 75-73 in seven overtimes. The game was tied at 61 following 40 minutes of regulation play. Through 35 minutes of extra time, both teams play keepaway. Only one overtime period (the fourth) features more than one basket each, after neither team scored in the third overtime. The game is decided on a last-second shot by Cincinnati’s Doug Schloemer, who scores the only points in the seventh overtime.

Top box-office draws over the past weekend included Reds, On Golden Pond,and Porky’s, and new releases Sharky’s Machine starring Burt Reynolds, Neighbors starring Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi, the re-release of Walt Disney’s Cinderella, and Absence of Malice starring Paul Newman and Sally Field. Tonight, Field stars with William Hurt in a live NBC presentation of the Pulitzer Prize-winning play All the Way Home, which follows an episode of Little House on the Prairie. The CBS lineup features four sitcoms: Private Benjamin, The Two of Us (starring Mimi Kennedy as a single mom and Peter Cook as her English butler), a Christmas-themed episode of M*A*S*H, and former M*A*S*H star Wayne Rogers in House Calls, plus Lou Grant. An ABC News Closeup investigation of possible Soviet “yellow rain” chemical warfare in southeast Asia precedes the Oakland Raiders and San Diego Chargers on Monday Night Football. The Chargers win 23-10 to capture the AFC West and knock the Denver Broncos out of the playoffs. San Diego has a bye in the opening round, which will begin with two wild-card games next Sunday.

AC/DC plays Landover, Maryland, and Black Sabbath plays Chicago. Rush plays the first of two shows at Brendan Byrne Arena in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Duran Duran plays Birmingham, England, and U2 wraps up a two-night stand at the Lyceum Ballroom in London. Journey opens a two-night stand in Honolulu, the last dates of their Escape tour until April. At KFXM in San Bernardino, California, “Young Turks” by Rod Stewart is the new #1 song; last week’s #1, “Waiting for a Girl Like You” by Foreigner, falls to #4. (On the Billboard Hot 100, “Waiting for a Girl Like You” is in its fourth of what will eventually be 10 straight weeks at #2.) In between Rod Stewart and Foreigner are “Leather and Lace” by Stevie Nicks and Don Henley and “Trouble” by Lindsey Buckingham. Three songs are new in the Top 10: “Heart Like a Wheel” by Steve Miller, “I Can’t Go for That” by Hall and Oates, and “Yesterday’s Songs” by Neil Diamond. Those three take the places of Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing,” “Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic” by the Police, and “Oh No” by the Commodores.

Perspective From the Present: The first semester of my senior year in college was over, and I had just completed a third semester as program director of the campus radio station. Come spring, I would take 13 credits, most of which was independent study or internship, because in February I would start my first full-time radio job at KDTH in Dubuque. In early January, a fire in my college apartment would accelerate my timetable for moving to Dubuque, but on this day, I was merely looking forward to Christmas.

December 19, 1974: Movin’ On

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(Pictured: the 1975 Ford Thunderbird, which would be made in smaller numbers by fewer workers in that year.)

December 19, 1974, was a Thursday. A devastating week for auto workers continues as Ford Motor Company announces more layoffs for the first quarter of 1975, bringing the total number to 90,000. Yesterday, GM announced layoffs that will total 132,000. On Tuesday, American Motors announced that it would lay off more than 15,000 workers in January. President Ford has a day of meetings, but he also makes an hour-long visit to Alexandria, Virginia, to present George Washington’s copy of the Constitution to organizers of the Freedom Train, which will tour the country as part of the Bicentennial celebration. Tonight, he swears in New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller as Vice President of the United States. The ceremony is the first broadcast from the Senate chambers over a TV system that had been quietly installed during the summer in anticipation of President Nixon’s trial on impeachment charges.

In today’s Doonesbury strip, presidential press secretary Ron Nessen continues his week-long joust with the White House press corps. Future NFL players Jake Plummer, Bryant Westbrook, and Joe Jurevicius are born. Four games are played in the National Hockey League tonight, four in the NBA, and three in the ABA. The NFL playoffs begin on Saturday with the St. Louis Cardinals at Minnesota and the Miami Dolphins at Oakland. On Sunday, Buffalo plays at Pittsburgh and Washington travels to Los Angeles to play the Rams. The Green Bay Packers, who finished with a record of 6-and-8, need a new coach. Dan Devine resigned on Monday after three seasons to take the head coaching job at Notre Dame. On TV tonight, NBC leads off with The Mac Davis Show, returning to the air after a summer run, followed by Ironside and Movin’ On. CBS starts with The Waltons, followed by the 1971 theatrical movie Catlow, a western starring Yul Brynner, Richard Crenna, and Leonard Nimoy. ABC’s lineup includes The Odd Couple and Paper Moon, a sitcom adaptation of the popular movie, which stars Jodie Foster in the Tatum O’Neal role. Also tonight: The Streets of San Francisco.

Rush plays New Orleans and Led Zeppelin plays the Rainbow in London. Barry Manilow plays Washington, DC. George Harrison plays Madison Square Garden in New York with Ravi Shankar. Harrison’s band includes Billy Preston and Tom Scott, each of whom gets a solo spot. Before the show, rumors flew that John Lennon, who had recently played the Garden stage with Elton John, would appear with George, but he does not. Paul and Linda McCartney are there, but strictly as spectators and in disguise, although Paul is quickly recognized. Earlier today, he and George met to sign legal documents officially dissolving the Beatles, a meeting at which John failed to show.

On the Billboard 200 album chart, Greatest Hits by Elton John is at #1 for a third week. On the Hot 100, “Kung Fu Fighting” by Carl Douglas is #1 for a second week. Billboard has discontinued its special Christmas chart this year, but holiday music plays on in its current edition. WMEX in Boston is reporting Elton John’s “Step Into Christmas” as one of its playlist adds this week. Bibo Music Publishers has taken a full-page ad touting the many versions of its property “Blue Christmas” that have been recorded over the years, including new-for-’74 versions by Charlie McCoy, Don Tweedy, and the Magic Organ. A BBC Radio executive says he’d like to see a new Christmas standard emerge this year, since “it’s been years since we had one.” The Hits of the World section reports that in Britain, the new “Hey Mr. Christmas” by Showaddywaddy is up to #33; “Father Christmas Do Not Touch Me” by the Goodies is #41, and “Wombling Merry Christmas” by the Wombles is #47. Under “Recommended LPs,” the magazine touts a new holiday release, the debut album by the Rhodes Kids, titled Rock ‘N’ Rhodes Christmas.

Perspective From the Present: The three UK Christmas hits are intolerable—I couldn’t get through 30 seconds of any of them. The Rhodes Kids sound just a bit better, but only just. They were a show band that played around their hometown of Houston before being discovered in 1972 by a guy named Michael Thevis. Over the next several years, Thevis got them into big-time hotel showrooms and on TV, and they made several more albums. It turned out, however, that he was using them to launder money he earned as one of the biggest pornographers in the country, and he eventually ended up in prison, convicted of murder. The whole wild tale is here.

December 17, 1960: I Gotta Know

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(Pictured: Charles Brown asks that you please come home for Christmas.)

(There will be a new post here every other day through Christmas Day because why not.)

December 17, 1960, was a Saturday. The top headline this morning concerns the mid-air collision of two passenger planes over New York City yesterday. A total of 136 people died, including 128 passengers and crew on the planes and eight people in the ground in Brooklyn. This afternoon, a U.S. Air Force plane crashes into a crowded street in Munich, West Germany. Fifty-two people die, 20 on the plane and 32 on the ground. Twelve of the dead on the plane were students at a University of Maryland satellite campus located on a U.S. Army base in Munich; they were headed home for Christmas. Also today, the prime minister of Ethiopia, Abebe Aregai, is shot to death when Ethiopian troops storm the palace where rebels have been holding him hostage after a coup attempt earlier in the week. A more peaceful transition of power will occur in the United States on Monday, when the Electoral College confirms the November election of John F. Kennedy to the presidency. Earlier in the week, the state board of elections in Illinois certified Kennedy as the winner of the state’s 27 electoral votes after several weeks of Republican vote-fraud accusations.

The British medical journal The Lancet publishes a story about the risks of lead poisoning from drinking homemade wine. In today’s Peanuts strip, Charlie Brown is awakened by a sound in the night. The NFL regular season ends this weekend. Tonight, the Green Bay Packers clinch the Western Conference championship with a 35-21 win over the Rams in Los Angeles. The Packers will play for the NFL championship on the day after Christmas against the Philadelphia Eagles, who have already wrapped up the Eastern Conference championship regardless of the outcome of their game tomorrow. The first regular season of the new American Football League also ends this weekend. The Houston Oilers have already won the Eastern Conference; the Los Angeles Chargers can win the West by beating the New York Titans tomorrow. The NFL championship game will be played at Franklin Field in Philadelphia on the day after Christmas; the AFL championship game will be played on New Year’s Day in Houston. They will not be the final games of pro football’s postseason, however. In addition to the NFL Pro Bowl all-star game on January 15, the NFL will hold its first Playoff Bowl on January 7 in Miami. Second-place finishers in each conference, Detroit and Cleveland, will meet in a game whose proceeds will benefit the players’ pension fund.

Sebastian Cabot, Anthony George, and Doug McClure, stars of the CBS-TV detective series Checkmate, are on the cover of TV Guide. Checkmate is part of the CBS lineup tonight, along with Perry Mason, Have Gun Will Travel, and Gunsmoke. NBC airs three westerns tonight: Bonanza, The Tall Man (about the adventures of sheriff Pat Garrett and outlaw Billy the Kid), and The Deputy, starring Henry Fonda as an Arizona marshal who doesn’t like to use his gun. ABC starts its night with The Roaring 20s, which follows a newspaper reporter and gangsters in 1920s Chicago, and an episode of Leave It to Beaver.

At WOKY in Milwaukee, Elvis Presley’s double-sided hit, “Are You Lonesome Tonight” and “I Gotta Know” stays at #1 on the new Hit Parader survey released today. Two versions of “Wonderland by Night” are shown tied at #2: a vocal by Anita Bryant and an instrumental by Bert Kaempfert. “He Will Break Your Heart” by Jerry Butler, “Lonely Teenager” by Dion, and “Fools Rush In” by Brook Benton make strong moves into the station’s Top 10. Other major movers in Milwaukee include the Shirelles’ “Soldier Boy,” “Exodus” by Ferrante and Teicher, and “Corrina Corrina” by Ray Peterson. WOKY charts several holiday-themed records on its Top 60, including the double-sided “Christmas Auld Lang Syne” and “Child of God” by Bobby Darin at #16, “Please Come Home for Christmas” by Charles Brown at #33, “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” by David Seville and the Chipmunks at #43, and “The Little Drummer Boy” by the Harry Simeone Chorale at #54.

Perspective From the Present: December 17, 1960, may not be one day in your life, but it’s one day in mine. This blog and the other place are both vanity projects at heart, and I wanted to write about the week of my first Christmas, and a few more Christmas weeks to come in future days.

December 11, 1972: Corner of the Sky

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(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.

December 7, 1990: Unauthorized Pyrotechnics

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(Pictured: Madonna, in the elaborate getup she wore for the MTV Video Music Awards in September 1990.)

December 7, 1990, was a Friday. The top headline this morning regards Saddam Hussein’s surprise announcement yesterday that he would release more than 2,000 foreigners held hostage in Iraq and Kuwait, one of the objectives set down by the UN for ending the four-month old Persian Gulf crisis. There’s no indication of a timetable, but Iraq’s UN ambassador says he hopes the captives will be home by Christmas. Cable TV mogul Ted Turner and actress Jane Fonda announce their engagement. (They will marry next year and divorce in 2001.) Actress Joan Bennett, best known for her film-noir roles in the 1940s and an Emmy-nominated performance on Dark Shadows, dies at age 80. Soul singer Dee Clark, best known for the 1961 hit “Raindrops,” dies at age 52. Future baseball star Yasiel Puig is born. Six games are played in the National Hockey League tonight; yesterday, the league announced that new franchises, to be named the Tampa Bay Lightning and Ottawa Senators, will begin play in the fall of 1992. Nine games are played in the NBA tonight. The Utah Jazz snap the Los Angeles’ Lakers eight-game winning streak with a 101-79 victory. Karl Malone leads all scorers with 27; Magic Johnson leads the Lakers with 20.

On TV tonight, ABC wins the night with Full House, Family Matters, Perfect Strangers, the sitcom Going Places (about young TV comedy writers in Los Angeles) and the newsmagazine 20/20. CBS counters with a Garfield special, a repeat of A Claymation Christmas Carol, Over My Dead Body (a detective drama starring Edward Woodward and Jessica Lundy), and Dallas. Fox airs America’s Most Wanted and an episode of Against the Law, a legal comedy/drama set in Boston and starring Michael O’Keefe. NBC’s lineup includes Quantum Leap, Night Court, Wings, and a news special following homicide detectives on the job in Houston. Later tonight, Johnny Carson welcomes singer Patti LaBelle. The top new movie this weekend is The Rookie, starring Charlie Sheen and directed by Clint Eastwood; it will place third at the box office behind Home Alone and Misery and ahead of Dances With Wolves and Three Men and a Little Lady.

Fleetwood Mac wraps up its eight-month, worldwide Behind the Mask tour in Inglewood, California. It’s the last show for guitarist Rick Vito, and the last for a while for Christine McVie and Stevie Nicks. Poison and Warrant play the Rosemont Horizon in suburban Chicago. Level 42 plays Hammersmith Odeon in London, and Jane’s Addiction plays the Utah State Fair Coliseum in Salt Lake City. New Kids on the Block wrap up a two-night stand in Providence, and the Go-Gos play Dallas. A death-metal show in Milwaukee comes to an abrupt end when one band’s unauthorized pyrotechnics sets their drums on fire and blows up the drum riser. On the new Billboard Hot 100 to be released tomorrow, “Because I Love You” by Stevie B goes to #1, knocking last week’s #1, “I’m Your Baby Tonight” by Whitney Houston, to #2. “From a Distance” by Bette Midler is up to #3 from #5 last week. Two songs are new in the Top 10: “Tom’s Diner” by DNA with Suzanne Vega and “Justify My Love” by Madonna, which blasts to #10 from #23 on the strength of recent publicity. MTV has already decided not to air its controversial video; earlier in the week, Madonna appeared on ABC’s Nightline, which showed the video and grilled her about it. “Justify My Love” makes the biggest move within the Top 40 by a longshot; the next biggest mover is Janet Jackson’s “Love Will Never Do Without You,” up seven spots to #24. To the Extreme by Vanilla Ice marks its fifth week atop the Billboard 200 album chart.

Perspective From the Present: “Because I Love You” is one of the more inexplicable #1 hits of all time. It’s a generic R&B love ballad with absolutely nothing interesting about it, but it would spend the rest of the holiday season, four weeks in all, at #1. That was my first holiday season at the little AM/FM combo in Clinton, Iowa, which I had joined in March. I don’t know how happy I was to be there at the time; I felt as though I should be further up the market ladder in the year I turned 30. The experience looks better in retrospect, however. I had a good boss committed to doing good radio, and he left me alone to do my job, which was not always my experience.

December 3, 1968: That’s Life

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December 3, 1968, was a Tuesday. Tonight, ABC leads its network newscast with stories about student unrest in San Francisco and New York City. San Francisco State University reopened yesterday with 300 cops on hand to restore order after a student strike. Today, students toss rocks and bottles at police and battle with fellow students opposed to the protests. In New York City, the rioting students are high-schoolers who protest longer school hours imposed due to a teacher’s strike earlier in the year. CBS leads with ongoing trouble in the Middle East, as Israel and Jordan engage in an artillery battle. NBC leads with President-elect Richard Nixon’s appointment of Robert Finch, who had served as senior advisor during Nixon’s campaign, as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. As part of the story, NBC reports that Nixon is considering the appointment of 1948 presidential candidate Thomas E. Dewey as attorney general, or possibly FBI director should J. Edgar Hoover choose to retire. In addition, all three networks cover reaction to this week’s report on the violence at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago that describes it as a “police riot.” Rod Serling speaks at Moorpark College in Moorpark, California. His appearance is briefly in doubt after he refuses to sign a loyalty oath. He speaks about current events, including the violence in Chicago, San Francisco, and in Vietnam. Future actor Brendan Fraser and future singer Montell Jordan are born.

United Press International’s final college football poll makes Ohio State the national champion. The undefeated Buckeyes will meet Southern California in the Rose Bowl on New Year’s Day. USC, ranked #4 in the poll with a record of 9-1-1, is led by running back O. J. Simpson, who is the favorite to win the Heisman Trophy, to be awarded on Thursday. After a year of dominating pitching performances, including Bob Gibson’s 1.12 earned run average and Denny McLain’s 31 wins, Major League Baseball lowers the pitcher’s mound and adjusts the strike zone to give hitters some help.

In primetime tonight, NBC airs Singer Presents . . . Elvis, Elvis Presley’s first TV special and his return to live performance after several years concentrating on movies. It’s sponsored by the Singer Sewing Machine company. The show, which was recorded over several days last June, includes both stand-up and sit-down perfomances and concludes with “If I Can Dream.” It will be the highest-rated program of the week, get mostly positive reviews, and go down in history as the ’68 Comeback Special. Before the Elvis special, NBC airs episodes of The Jerry Lewis Show and Julia. It’s followed by The Unabridged Brigitte Bardot, a variety special produced in France. CBS counterprograms with a National Geographic special titled “Reptiles and Amphibians,” followed by The Red Skelton Show, The Doris Day Show, and a news special in which Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black discusses the Bill of Rights with reporters Eric Sevareid and Martin Agronsky. On ABC, it’s The Mod Squad, It Takes a Thief, N.Y.P.D, and an episode of That’s Life, a musical comedy that stars Robert Morse and E. J. Peaker as a young married couple who have various domestic and workplace adventures and periodically break into song. The Kinks play in Madrid and the Troggs play in Paris. At WABC in New York, “Love Child” by the Supremes is in its second week at #1. “Abraham, Martin and John” by Dion moves to #2 from #5. Other songs on the WABC chart include “Hey Jude,” “Both Sides Now,” “For Once in My Life,” “Magic Carpet Ride,” “Wichita Lineman,” “White Room,” and “I Heard It Through the Grapevine.”

Perspective From the Present: We would not have watched Elvis on this night, because the favorite TV show at our house, the only one I can remember all of us wanting to watch together every week, was The Red Skelton Show. Tuesday was the only night of the week we weren’t required to go to bed at 8:00, since Red’s show lasted until 8:30. Several CBS sitcom themes of the late 60s, including “Que Sera Sera” from The Doris Day Show, come with the strong image of hearing them while lying in bed at the end of the hall while the TV continued to play in the living room, and not being ready to sleep.

December 25, 1969: Family Affair

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(Pictured: two soldiers decorate a trench for Christmas in Duc Lap, South Vietnam, December 1969.)

December 25, 1969, is a Thursday. In Vermilion Parish, Louisiana, a tornado kills one person and injures eight. Nine other tornadoes are reported today in Louisiana, Florida, and Georgia. In Portville, New York, the Portville Star has a front-page story in which a Cornell University economist predicts that the 1970s will begin with a period of slow economic growth but no prolonged or serious recession. President Nixon issues a Christmas message to American armed forces around the world. Three games are played in the National Hockey League: the Philadelphia Flyers beat the Oakland Seals 3-1; the Boston Bruins blast the Los Angeles Kings 7-1; the Chicago Black Hawks and Minnesota North Stars play to a 4-4 tie. In the National Basketball Association, four games are played. The league-leading New York Knicks run their record to 30-and-6 with a 112-111 win over the Detroit Pistons. Willis Reed of the Knicks leads all scorers with 33 points. In the American Basketball Association, the Los Angeles Stars beat the Kentucky Colonels 105-101 and the Washington Capitols beat the Pittsburgh Pipers 131-112. Future comedian Costaki Economopolous is born. The top movie at the box office is the James Bond film On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. Also packing them in, as it has since its release in September: Butch Cassidy and the Sundance KidThe Reivers, starring Steve McQueen, opens today.

The federal government issues a regulation requiring all TV sets manufactured after January 15, 1970, to conform to new standards designed to make sure sets do not pose a radiation hazard. On today’s Merv Griffin Show, guests include Carol Burnett, Danny Thomas, and Green Acres stars Eddie Albert and Eva Gabor. Shows on TV tonight include This Is Tom Jones, with guests Judy Collins and David Frye, Daniel Boone, Ironside, That Girl, The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, Family Affair, Kraft Music Hall with guests the Cowsills, and It Takes a Thief. Florence Henderson fills in for Johnny on the Tonight Show. Jazz saxophonist Ornette Coleman is on the cover of the current edition of Down Beat. The Velvet Underground open a holiday run at the Second Fret in Philadelphia.

At WKNR in Detroit, known as Keener 13, the new music guide shows “Venus” by the Shocking Blue at #1, knocking last week’s #1, “Leaving on a Jet Plane” by Peter Paul and Mary to #2. “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head” by B. J. Thomas is #3 and “Don’t Cry Daddy” by Elvis is #4. “Midnight Cowboy” by Ferrante and Teicher, Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love” and “Jingle Jangle” by the Archies are next at #5 through #7. The biggest mover on the survey is “Fancy” by Bobbie Gentry, up 10 spots to #18; Dionne Warwick’s “I’ll Never Fall in Love Again” is up nine to #19. Topping the album chart are Led Zeppelin II and Abbey Road. The main page of the WKNR survey plugs the game at Detroit’s Olympic Stadium between the Keener Cagers and the Harlem Globetrotters, coming up on Saturday night.

Perspective From the Present: As I have written many times in other places, our family Christmas routine was very much the same for as long as I lived at home. On this day, my brothers and I (ages 9, 7, and 3) would be positively vibrating with anticipation on Christmas morning, waiting to see what Santa had brought, but we weren’t allowed out of our bedrooms until Dad could finish the milking and come in from the barn. That period of time, from Mother’s signal to his footsteps up the basement stairs, however long it may actually have been, represented the longest minutes of each year. All these years alter, I marvel at the sheer amount of stuff we got every year, things we’d asked for and things we had not (which often turned out to be even greater than what we had asked for). Dad and Mother weren’t rich, but we never wanted for a single thing, not just on Christmas but the other 364 days of the year. Whatever I’ve been able to do for them in adulthood will never come close to paying what they’re owed.

I owe each of you reading a debt of gratitude as well, that you have found your way to this lightly traveled corner of the Internet and the other corner on which I do business. Thank you, and a merry Christmas to all, wherever you are.