The IM Saturday Monks Brunch: December 15, 2018 — A nostalgia feast

East Dover VT village c.1911

The IM Saturday Monks Brunch: December 15, 2018

It’s a celebration Brunch! It’s a feast of nostalgia!

This time of year is always a big one for our family, with birthdays and anniversaries galore, as well as the usual holiday gatherings. But this year is even more special, because it was forty years ago, on December 16, 1978, that this happy picture was taken at our wedding in Baldwin, Maryland. We honeymooned in Colonial Williamsburg.

I also became a pastor that year, in a little village in the mountains of southern Vermont, at the wise old age of 22. My first preaching series was on 1 Peter…or was it Philippians? I led worship choruses on a Madeira guitar (by Guild).

I (and then we) lived in a house built in 1860, with no heat upstairs and furnished with a white naugahyde sofa and not much else. No TV. An old two-seater outhouse still sat out in the attached shed. Oil heat. I drove a black 1974 VW Super Beetle we named Ebenezer. I wrecked my father-in-law’s car a few weeks before the wedding. We had a cat named Fatty Bolger who had extra toes and claws. Someone had abandoned him near Gail’s parents’ home.

Speaking of Vermont, 1978 was the year Ben and Jerry opened up their first ice cream parlor, in Burlington, VT.

1978 was the year the Blizzard of ’78 hit the Midwest, the worst blizzard Indiana (where we live now) has ever experienced. Almost 31 inches of snow fell in Indianapolis, burying the city for days. In Ohio, 51 people died. Meanwhile, where we lived, in “snowy” Vermont, we had a virtually snowless winter.

In baseball, Pete Rose of the Cincinnati Reds got his 3000th hit (that’s for you, Michael). The Yankees’ Bucky Dent broke the hearts of Red Sox fans everywhere by hitting a homer to win a tie-breaker game and send the Yankees to the World Series, where they defeated the Dodgers. The Cubs finished 79-83.

Other significant sports news: The Boston Celtics drafted Larry Bird. A 17 year-old player named Wayne Gretsky was signed to the Indianapolis Racers of the World Hockey Association. Leon Spinks became the first man to defeat Muhammad Ali in a title match, but later in the year, in a rematch Ali reclaimed the championship belt for a record third time.

One of my all-time favorite films, Annie Hall, directed by Woody Allen, won the Oscar for Best Picture in 1978. On television, Dallas debuted and Laverne and Shirley was the most popular show. The best advice of the year was uttered by John Vernon in National Lampoon’s Animal House — “Fat, drunk and stupid is no way to go through life, son.”

Alvy Singer: …it was great seeing Annie again. I realized what a terrific person she was and how much fun it was just knowing her. And I thought of that old joke: this guy goes to a psychiatrist and says, ‘Doc, my brother’s crazy; he thinks he’s a chicken.’ And the doctor says, ‘Well, why don’t you turn him in?’ The guy says, ‘I would, but I need the eggs.’ Well, I guess that’s pretty much now how I feel about relationships: they’re totally irrational, and crazy, and absurd, and… but, I guess, we keep goin’ through it because most of us… need the eggs.

Some books published in 1978: Chesapeake (Mitchner), The World According to Garp (Irving), The Road Less Traveled (Peck), Celebration of Discipline (Foster), War and Remembrance (Wouk), The Book of the Dun Cow (Wangerin).

Louise Brown, the first “test tube baby,” was born in the UK. Balloon angioplasty was introduced to remedy coronary artery disease. The Navstar Global Positioning System (GPS) was launched. Janet Parker, a British photographer, was the last person to die of smallpox. Microsoft opened its first international office in Japan.

This was the year when turning right on a red light became legal throughout the U.S.

Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin won the Nobel Peace Prize for the Camp David Accords, facilitated by President Jimmy Carter.

In crime, it was the year of the Hillside Strangler, Ted Bundy, John Wayne Gacy, and the Unabomber. Larry Flynt was shot. San Francisco Mayor George Moscone and City-County Board member Harvey Milk were assassinated (their killer put forward the famous “Twinkie Defense”).

Deaths included Hubert Humphrey, Norman Rockwell, and Margaret Mead. Oh, and Keith Moon.

The New International Version of the Bible was published. Pope John Paul I succeeded Pope Paul VI as the 263rd Pope, to die only 33 days later. Then came Pope John Paul II, making it the first “Three Pope Year” since 1605. The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy was produced and signed by 300 conservative evangelical leaders. More than 900 people died in Jonestown Guyana in a mass suicide under former Indianapolis pastor turned cult leader Jim Jones.

Sony introduced the Walkman, the first portable stereo. Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours won album of the year. It was a big year for the Bee Gees, with several big hits and Andy Gibbs’s Shadow Dancing topping the Billboard chart. One of the greatest rock concert films of all time, Martin Scorcese’s The Last Waltz, was released.

CCM Magazine began covering “Contemporary Christian Music” artists, and that’s who I was listening to then: folks like Don Francisco, Amy Grant, Kelly Willard, Phil Keaggy (1978’s The Master and the Musician is one of the finest instrumental guitar records ever), Keith Green, The 2nd Chapter of Acts, Lamb, John Fischer, Dallas Holm, and others.

• • •

Was 1978 the happiest year ever?

The data in this study ends in 2003, but it still points out that 1978 was pretty darn good.

From “Why 1978 was the year the world never had it so good”

Modern life and its trappings – financial crisis, war, the threat of terrorism and global warming – leaves many hankering after the good old days. And, according to new research, with good reason.

Scientists have discovered that despite an overabundance of polyester flares and bouffant hair, 1978 was the year that the world’s quality of life peaked, after which it has gradually deteriorated ever since.

Australian experts used a novel method to track the social and economic progress of the world, taking into account various economic, lifestyle-related and ecological factors to come to their conclusion.

Until recently the standard method of measuring progress in a society was by assessing its Gross Domestic product (GDP) – basically a measure of all the money spent and earned in a given society.

But, as the new study explained, this has its limits, and can in fact give an inaccurate perspective on the happiness of the planet.

…One alternative measure – and the one they used – is called the Genuine Progress Indicator. (GPI).

GPI starts by using the same figures as GDP, but uses 24 other factors including crime rates, pollution levels, loss of wetland, car accident rates and even the amount of people who volunteer and enjoy housework to give a country its rating.

The study analysed data collected between 1950 and 2003 and followed 17 countries – equating to half the world’s population – to come to their conclusion.

They found that on average, where GDP steadily increased without interruption, GDI peaked in 1978 and has tapered off ever since.

…The only country to break ranks and experience a perpetual rise until the data ends in 2003 is Japan.

• • •








Well, at any rate, it was a doggone good year for me — the beginning of my adult life, my marriage and family, my vocation, this whole blessed and broken journey.

Happy anniversary, honey! I’m up for forty more!

40 thoughts on “The IM Saturday Monks Brunch: December 15, 2018 — A nostalgia feast

  1. Met my husband in the summer of ’78. We were both counselors at Bible camp. It was a very good life-changing year. Seems like a long time ago as our children are older than we were then.


  2. Aw, shucks. Bob, can’t we interpret this as a celebration of marriage in general? Mike and Gail’s marriage is one good example, glory be to God.

    Jeri and I are coming up on 39. Again, glory.


  3. As a six year old in Virginia Beach, Virginia – a locale not known for its snowfall – there was enough that I successfully pestered my dad to help me build a snow R2-D2. There may be photographic evidence somewhere …


  4. Congratulations CM. 1978 was a great year for this 22 year old kid too. Valerie and I celebrated 40 years back in April. I am so thankful that beautiful young lady said yes. I know you feel the same. Amazing how quickly 40 years can pass!


  5. CM, Congratulations and thanks for sharing some good news. A lot of friends have been married for 40 years or more, just to 4 different women. I use to wonder why my wife married me, 41 years later I think she is beginning to ask why did she marry me.

    Appreciate the trip down the Super Beetle memory lane highway. My first new car was a 1974 Super Beetle color orange. It had a slight dashboard and a radio. I kept it for years and really was a reverse snob about my “peoples” car. I use to drive it often in spite of having no air conditioning. Finally a big gush of wind lifted me and the big orange into an expressway concrete divider. Loved my super beetle.

    Your wife had a beautiful, classic wedding dress, your tuxedo only enhanced the beauty of the dress and the bride. I am sure the people at your wedding really are not surprised that you and your wife have kept your marriage vows. I keep thinking of the Judds song, “Tell Me About the Good Ole Days” when I hear a wedding story from a long time marriage and see the old photos that capture the moment.; Nice flashback to 1978.


  6. Happy Anniversary, Chaplain Mike! We’re at 51.

    Let’s see–in 1978 we had been married eleven years, and I was wrangling a six-year-old, a five year old, and a bad case of sleep deprivation. On bad days, my husband had a two hour commute, each way. I don’t think either of us remembers a whole lot about that year; good thing we have photos.

    I remember some of the highlights: Animal House, Louise Brown, the Camp David Accords, John Paul I, and Jonestown–but a lot of the year is a blur. Ah, well–we survived, and we’re still here. Ready for the next round?


  7. 1978 was my last year of grad school at good ole UVA. Attended a concert in April featuring Al Dimeola and the prog rock group Renaissance. Later that evening watched Saturday Night Live where Steve Martin sings Kind Tut and later plays the part of Theodoric of York. Best episode ever. My wife was not there because she was in Memphis helping her folks move into a new home. It was the first time in our 3 year marriage that we had been apart. Our older son and his family live in it now. Our apartment lease was up in August, so we borrowed my inlaws camper trailer and lived in a campground till Dec. Did all my writing in longhand. Dec 15 was a Friday and I had completed my first week of work at Oak Ridge. We had just moved but were still living in the camper in the drive way of our rental house waiting for the movers to bring our things.


  8. That entire period is a bit of a blur for me; I think I was basically trying to survive at that point. Star Wars does serve in my memory as a lone marker for the time. Congratulations on your fortieth, Chaplain.


  9. Chaplain Mike, congratulations on your 40th wedding anniversary!

    About this time 40 years ago I was finishing fall exams during my second year at the University of Virginia and also packing my dorm room. My living situation that fall proved impossible to deal with and the RA strongly suggested I relocate at the end of the semester. Thankfully things went more smoothly the following semester in a different dorm.

    It’s hard to believe Barry Gibb is the only Gibb brother left alive. The others died far too soon.

    1978 was also the year I attended my first CCM concert. I saw Scott Wesley Brown that fall in Charlottesville. In early 1979 I joined some friends to see Larry Norman in Blacksburg. He’s another musician who died far too soon.


  10. Latecomer.

    In January of 1976 I was visiting a guy I’d met at my first SF con (his first, too) the previous Labor Day. He handed me 3D6 and told me to “start rolling up a character”. That night two of his dorm buds and their characters took mine through the guy’s dungeon. THAT is how It Began…

    REAL Old School. Three Little Books plus Greyhawk in a brown box, with garage band-level editing and typesetting.


  11. Congratulations, Mike and Gail!

    I so remember 1978, and all those names you noted, CM, esp of the Christian musicians…. I graduated from college in March. My husband and I got married in May.

    For our anniversary this year, we went to dinner at a restaurant in a wine country hamlet, where I had eaten a couple of times as a child when it was operated by an Italian family who had been in the community for decades. After being sold, then lying closed for a few years, the members of the same family that owned it when I was a child bought it, and the restaurant is again known for its fine Italian menu. When we arrived and the server came to the table, he asked if this was a special occasion, and we said yes, it’s our 40th wedding anniversary. Evidently, the party of adults (looked like parents and adult children) at a neighboring table overheard… When the check came to us, we were told that the people at the neighboring table gave the restaurant $40 toward our dinner. Of course, by then they had left, so we didn’t have an opportunity to thank them in person…. It was a special day, and that kindness made it more so.



  12. In 1978 I was 6. It was an amazing winter for a six year old.

    There were these three tall chimneys were we lived. And with all the snow storms there was this ginormous two story tall ice cycle. I was going to have the MOST AWESOME ICE SWORD EVER!!!!. So I grabbed the bottom of it an pulled. Yes, I split my skull open and still have the dent to this day. I remember having a hard time seeing through the curtain of blood as a staggered through the snow. No long term damage . . . maybe, but I will never forget the blizzards of 1928.


  13. In terms of data I’d be careful about things like: “one of the highest suicide rates in the world”. The thing is that I, and nearly everyone else, trust the reporting of the Japanese government. I do not trust the reporting on such issues from most places – and certainly not the United States, with all those “gun accidents”, yeah, sure. There are many ways cultures can fudge their numbers.


  14. Maybe all the sad people are so overwhelmed by the sheer happiness of everyone else that they can’t take it? [or couldn’t take it – in 2003 – 15 years ago].


  15. Musically my 1978 was little different-

    Rumor has it that the glint from the Bee Gees’ teeth could be seen from orbit.


  16. Yep, with not much work I could come up with 100 such lists, and their QoL analysis. Dig into the math and almost all of them are an arbitrary basket of variables assigned weights based on the cultural biases of the analysts.

    My favorite was a QoL analysis of where to live . . . where 30%+ of the score was based on proximity to water. Sure, maybe that’s a factor – but 1/3 of your happiness being contingent on proximity to water? Nearly everyone in the plains states should be miserable.


  17. 1978 was the year my dad moved us from a tiny, idyllic mountain village to a dirty industrial town – the place where I grew up in. They used to say back then that the sparrows coughed you awake. I have mixed memories…


  18. I was 37 in 1978. It was the year of my mid-life crisis. I kicked a whole in my office wall. I quit my job. I moved our family of 5 back to Florida and started working ot a church. One year later we moved back in Atlanta. I was no longer working at a church. I returned to the corporate world. Life went on. I retired in 2000. I don’t like to think about 1978.

    I do congratulate you and the missus on your 40 years (we have 55, by the way), but this site isn’t supposed to be about you. Or me.

    I shouldn’t go online before I have had my morning coffee.


  19. So Japan had a constantly increasing Genuine Progress Index until the data ends in 2003. Doesn’t Japan also have one of the highest suicide rates in the world? That would seem to suggest that the GPI, even if it is an accurate measure, does not = happiness. But we all knew that, didn’t we, that “progress” and happiness are not the same thing?


  20. Wonderful year for us, 1978 . . . . . we welcomed our ten pound plus baby boy who is now 40 and a Coast Guard officer.

    Congrats on your 40th anniversary, Chaplain Mike. Forty years married means celebration time!


  21. Leon Spinks may have been the first man to beat Ali while Ali held the title, but wasn’t the first Frazier-Ali fight a title match, as Frazier was the champ and won the fight? However, when Ali beat Spinks in the rematch, he became the first man to win the heavyweight title three times.


  22. Congratulations to you and your wife CM. In 1978 I was sent to Ger.many by the Army for a 2 year tour. As a lifelong Yankee fan I remember well the mighty Bucky Dent’s shining moment.


  23. In 1978, I was 10 years old. I was starting to hear rumors about this very weird game where people sat around, rolled strange shaped dice, and pretended to kill monsters and use magic soells… and there were RULES for doing so, and a referee.

    Next year, I would be given a copy of the Red Box rules, and my life would NEVER be the same.


  24. Re: Was 1978 the happiest year ever?: Getting a good, reliable measure of global human happiness — the highly imperfect human science of sociology is not up to that task…


  25. At the beginning of 1978, I was not yet 19 years old, and I was in the middle of my freshman year at Michigan State University. That was not a good time for me. But I survived.

    Happy 40th anniversary to you and your wife, CM.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: