Three hundred and fifty eight thousand. That's what rolled up in green lights this morning on the odometer of our 2002 Dodge Ram. Three hundred and fifty eight thousand miles. I'd sure like to see it turn over to 400,000. Picture a distance runner with the finish line in sight. Every time I climb in those creaking doors, buckle up and push the plastic seat belt holder back into the front seat, I'm rooting for the old darling to rumble on and on. Fourteen years and three hundred fifty thousand miles is quite a lot.....but not enough.
As many years and as many miles of gravel, terraces, interstate, and two lane oiled state highways as the brown pickup has traveled, they are just a drop in the bucket compared to the miles and years accumulated by this pair of middling married folk. Thirty nine years is the tally this year...thirty nine years! That's the sum made famous by Jack Benny...perpetually thirty nine years old after declaring "there's nothing funny about 40" ,(how about it, Matt?) and adopted thereafter by legions of adults facing the imminent departure of youth and arrival of middle age.
Soo...what about thirty nine years ago...that would be 1977, right? What was going on in 1977, the spring we went to a jeweler one afternoon and picked out a ring, that I ate lunch with my mother at Katy Station and told her we were engaged, that Blake and I wrote letters (snail mail!paper!)every day I was in D.C. and talked on the "Watts" line (remember that?!) once a week?
January...Apple Computer is incorporated, it snows in Miami, and Jimmy Carter, newly inaugurated, pardons Vietnam era draft evaders.
March...Three Washington DC buildings are seized by Muslim gunmen who hold 149 hostages. Negotiators include three Muslim ambassadors who urge the gunmen to surrender, citing passages from the Quran.
April...The Mariners and Blue Jays play their first baseball. Optical fiber is used to carry live telephone.
May....Space Mountain opens in Disneyland. Star Wars opens May 25.
June...Jimmy Carter cancels the B-1 Bomber program (revived later by Reagan). James Earl Ray escapes but is recaptured. Apple sells its first Apple II computers. The Supremes perform for the final time.
And.... Elvis Presley dies at Graceland on August 16, age 42.
Sad to say, that last news item is the one indelibly imprinted on my brain. I'd spent my summer earnings on an unfinished table and chairs, a dresser, and a nightstand. The week Elvis died, I borrowed my parents' car to drive over to Columbia so I could stain and varnish our new furniture in our soon to be duplex. Solid Gold Elvis was the soundtrack of every radio station all day long, imprinting my ears and memory for, apparently, the next thirty nine years!
We have celebrated...and not celebrated...our anniversary in many different ways over thirty nine years. Many years, we have spent August 27 in some small town in Missouri, eating ham, or chicken, or brisket, with a roomful of Farm Bureau friends. Late August is prime time for both county annual meetings and delivering mums. And other years, it's just been another pleasant summer night to raise a toast over grilled steak or burgers...then watch baseball.
This year, August 27 is a golf date with friends and family in Mound City for our Community Hospital. Since we are celebrating thirty nine years, why not top this piece off with another bon mot by Mr. Benny, this time concerning golf....