Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Why 1973 Is Special To Me: Herbie J At Almost 13

1973: The year of living happily and fully - at 11-years-old (and then 12 for a few months).

We were still living on Erie Street - and my best friend Gary Sanfilippo was up the corner (at Warehouse and Brown). I had just started eighth grade at a new school, St. Anthony's of Padua, where I met a truck load of wonderful friends - many with whom I remain in contact today.

It was the year that inspired my new book, The Nine Best Secrets of Christmas (due Christmas 2009), the year that my Dad was still driving all of us around in his 1969 dark green Pontiac Catalina (that I used to read as Cadillac to make us feel rich)...it was the year that everyone in my family (including both my parents, and their combined twenty brothers and sisters - and their wives and husbands and children) were still alive.

Every night was a party, and every minute was a joy.

I would shush my Uncle Tony (Fort) every time he talked during The Brady Bunch on Friday night - but he always came back with Aunt Anna on Saturday night for The Lawernce Welk Show.

Aunt Anna would start the pop-corn (with real kernels) on the big heavy-metal pan on the stove, and we would also sometimes get a pizza (from Petrillo's on Lylle Avenue).

It was the year before I started high school, and four years before we moved to Greenleaf.

It was the year when everything seemed simple - and was.

It was the year I met Carmella Bovenzi, and bought her a ring (for 15 cents at Trobia's), and the year I first ran in slow-motion (like The Six Million Dollar Man) - while still in my seat in Miss Ganzini's class.

Years later, Miss Ganzini showed up at one of my book signings for Bewitched Forever, and I cherised the moment.

I reminded her then how, in 1973, she gave each of us in eighth grade a graduation gift accompanied by an individual quote that was specifically geared toward our particular quote personality. Mine was by Emerson, and it said,

"No man is an island...no man goes his way alone. Whatever we send into the lives of ours, comes right back into our own."

I always remembered that...and it didn't take me a long time to realize what a true gift Miss Ganzini had given me. She knew I was a smart ass - and in her own way, she was trying to tell me about karma. As a result, she "saved" me much heartache over the years - and I wish I would have adhered more to what she was revealing to me (then and now).

In the fall of 1973, The Six Million Dollar Man and Kung Fu had just debuted on ABC (my favorite TV network) as monthly shows in something called The ABC Suspense Movie wheel on Saturday nights. It was the last year for one of the best Friday night line-ups in TV history: The Brady Bunch, The Partridge Family, Room 222, The Odd Couple and Love, American Style...all on ABC).

It was also the year of one of the best Saturday night line-ups in TV history: All in the Family, M*A*S*H (quickly replacing the controversial Bridget Loves Bernie; he was Jewish, she was Catholic), The Mary Tyler Moore Show, The Bob Newhart Show, and The Carol Burnett Show (all on CBS) - and life didn't get much better than that (certainly not at 11 and 12 and even later, 13).

Dark Shadows on daytime had been off the air for two years, but I somehow made my way to the mysterious adventures of Nichole on The Edge of Night, and also soon became obsessed with Match Game and The Merv Griffin Show.

It was the year when everyone was still delivered both a morning newspaper (The Democrat and Chronicle) and an evening edition (The Time Union).

It was the year when my voice changed (like Peter Brady), and my hair started to grow tall (and not long).

It was the year that my Aunt Rita took me and my cousin Jimmy Christmas shopping at Woolworth's, where Jimmy and I bought each of our girl cousins panties (three for a dollar), and our aunts one coffee mug a piece, and are uncles each a beer mug.

It was the year when we still lived next door to Uncle Carl, Aunt Elva and my cousin Evie - and our beautiful dog Boo Boo - shared in the love of two homes.

It was the year that Evie brought The Who (including Roger Daltry) home from a concert at the War Memorial facility. There was one of the greatest rock bands of all time - having pasta - in our kitchen on Erie Street.

It was the year of Erie Street, which was clearly not so much a location as much as it was an era.

To hear more about the significance of 1973, please join me tonight on TV Confidential radio (see the blog link below for more details).


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