Wednesday, January 2, 2008

1968 Orange Bowl

That's me 40 years ago - nearly to the day.

My parents let me, along with 4 friends, drive to the Orange Bowl in 1968. Beats me what our parents were thinking. One of those friends found this photo not too long ago and shared it with me.

The photo actually has more people in it but in the interest of preserving the dignity and privacy of the innocent (or not) I have cropped the image.

We had 2 red cowboy hats and took turns wearing them. I guess it was my turn in this photo. I don't have a clue why.

And, of course, I have something in my pocket. Wouldn't want to be unprepared. Don't know what it is either. Surely I didn't take my pocket K & E Slide Rule with me although I had one at this time in my life. But the slide rule was on its way out in 1968.

This was my first big trip out of state. I was 19 still. I am so young looking even to me. I really wanted to see the ocean because I had never seen it except in movies and on TV shows. So as soon as we got to Miami Beach we drove around until we found a public access beach. I ran out on the sand in my bare feet and stepped in some tar that had washed up.

But the ocean was everything I had expected and more. It was just so amazing standing there and looking out towards the horizon and it seemed as though the ocean was higher than I was and it just went on forever. And then to swim in it and feel the salt and think about the fact that the thing extended clear across the world.

There were about a thousand times more people there in Miami than what I was accustomed to seeing. The sophistication was beyond anything I knew. Miami was legendary to me and I was so amazed at the Cuban influence and the tall buildings and the multicultural aspects of life there.

On the way down we stopped at a place in Selma, Alabama to use the phone to call home. The phone was in the "Colored"portion of the restaurant. Everything was totally segregated. Whites could go anywhere but Blacks couldn't go in places where the sign read "Whites Only." There was even a water fountain outside that had a "Whites Only" sign on it and not far from it was one that had a "Colored" sign.

Outside the restaurant and leaning up against the building there was a young guy that had a rifle cradled in his arm. He watched us get out of the car and go inside. Our car was painted and decorated for our OU Big Red football team. The Bloody Sunday part of the Montgomery March had occurred on March 21, 1965 in Selma. We were there just before New Years 1968 so just before the 3 year anniversary. We wondered if the locals thought we were outside agitators or something. Scared the crap out of us. When Deliverance (the movie) came out a few years later I always thought of our Selma experience and that guy with the rifle.

We lined up on the street to watch the Orange Bowl parade. That was kind of a big deal for us, too. Plus the weather was amazing. Dad had taken his basic training in Miami about 25 years earlier. He had told me about the weather. Maybe that's why he let me go.

Oklahoma played Tennessee that year. The score was 26 to 24 and Oklahoma won.

I was also amazed at the palm trees and the alligators. I bought a stuffed alligator and a little palm tree seedling. I finally had to toss out the stuffed alligator just a year or so ago. The kids had managed to break its tail. The little palm tree seedling I bought barely lived during the trip home and succumbed shortly after my arrival.

We all had to take our finals right after the new year and we were all poorer than poor. So we drove straight through for about 34 hours. Then we had a day or so to relax and watch the game and the next morning we drove straight through to home for another 34 hours. Then we took finals. But back then we didn't think that much of not sleeping.

I didn't know it at the time but in just a little over 3 months I would have a terrible car accident and destroy that same car we drove to Miami and nearly kill me and my long-time girl friend.

Three more months and I would celebrate my 20th birthday.

And 1 month later I would marry that very same girl.

Looking back I wonder if the marriage would have happened if the accident hadn't. I suspect not.

Events of my life often seemed so surprising and random at the time. Now I look back over 40 years and longer and see connections of one thing to another. And I'm still too close to actually have a clear perspective.

I don't want to go to work today. I'll be happy once I get there but right now I'd like to just stay home a few more days. Holidays in the middle of the week are really inconvenient.


nancy said...

what a great picture (love the serious look) and recollection of the times when you were 19 and 20.

i remember the first time i saw the ocean and it's enormity. and what a feeling of freedom. ahh, to be young again and carefree.

i too remember my first real "road trip" with girlfriends in college to florida. i think i was 20 at the time, maybe 21. we went to palm beach, 7 of us stayed in 1 hotel room and rotated sleeping on the beds at night. thanks for the trip down memory lane.

SKYGIRL said...

Well, there is nothing wrong with YOUR memory Flint! I LOVE the photo, even though my Dad is easily 25 years older than you, you look just like him, with the stern look, and the black framed glasses, and the slide-rule!

My Dad actually wore one of those pocket protectors, because he would never dream of going anywhere with out his slide-rule & pens?

Must be kind of an engineer in the making thing, anyway! HA! But tell me how would a 'slide-rule' come in handy at say "The Grocery Store?"

I just thought of ONE good thing about AD. It certainly brings people from all walks of life, together! I grew up near the coast, so when I went there, at a young age, I would hitch-hike, barefoot! And I have a classic picture of Me and Mom, on my 19th Birthday, in my Hippie-Van, that I was soon to be living & traveling in??!!?? Even though Mom's wearing her leisure suit...I had her blessings, I always did?

Thanks for the memories!

flintysooner said...

Nancy that's a great recollection. I had a few pictures of my little group on the beach. Talk about country kids come to the big city!

Well now, SkyGirl, one would use a slide-rule at the grocery store to calculate price per unit. Because back in 1968 they didn't have price per unit shown anywhere either on packaging or on store shelves. I hadn't thought of this in a long time but just discussed it with my guys who are too young to remember. They wanted to know why one would just not look on the package for unit price.

I can see you in a hippie van. And I had my own leisure suit!!!

steflovesnonna said...

Aww thanks for sharing that photo, I love it! :)

Joanne D. Kiggins said...

What an adorable picture, Terry! I think I had a red "cowgirl" hat similar to that one. LOL I'm sure it's in my mom's album somewhere. My dad used to carry a slide rule all the time. What wonderful memories you've shared and what great memories you've brought from deep within my memory bank. Thank you.

Oh, and I fully agree that middle of the week holidays are really inconvenient. Having a day off in the middle of the week feels like having a short weekend where a weekend shouldn't be. LOL

Susan M said...

Flinty, I stayed up last night and watched OU lose to WVU. Sorry Flinty I have been on the other side of the stadium yelling for whoever is playing OU!

January,1968. Wasn't at the Orange Bowl, although being a south Florida girl I went lots of times with my Mom and Dad. No, sat at my boyfriend's house and watched with his Mom and Dad. And sang Rocky Top, and yelled T E double N E double S double E Tennessee! You and I are the same age and you really took me back in time.

Until my husband and I moved to Texas I thought that there was only one UT...and then met the Texas folks who bleed burnt orange. And you know where I sat at every Texas/OU game. Thanks for the smile, and I never really mastered the slide rule...don't know how I made it through Calculus!

~Betsy said...

My first visit to the beach (that I remember) was in my teenage years, too. My girlfriend's dad was a high school teacher here in Pittsburgh but also owned a restaurant on the beach. He ran it through the summer months. I went to stay with them and work a few hours a week to offset my room and board (what the heck were my parents thinking??). To this very day, if I close my eyes and think hard, I can still smell the wonderful salt air. My beach is on the Outer Banks of NC - Nags Head or Kill Devil Hills. Gosh, what wonderful memories! But I won't tell you the year. LOL

I never could use a slide-rule, either. But my grandfather carried his everywhere. :)