JULY 1, 1982
My Point Of Rear-View
I remember 1982.
Graduating the previous December from SUNY@Fredonia, earning a B.M. in Music Education, I would spend January and February in a reactive depression – sleeping all day, and watching Letterman at night. In March, I would travel to Orlando, FLA to visit Disneyworld with my aunt, uncle and cousin. Soon after my return, I would be hired in April to wait tables at Panos’ Greek Dinor on Pine Avenue in Erie, PA. Working there, I would learn about a walk of life which smoked in the break room and dropped the “g”s at the ends of all verbs with the suffix “-ing.” The day manager would revile me, calling me “College Girl” whenever I struggled to make change at the register. I would move to the 3rd shift and, as the bar across the street emptied its contents into the booths and tables for their enormous “breakfasts”, serve some of the most indulgent and pathetic people I’d never before seen in my life.
Many of those who frequented our establishment remain vividly in my recall, both by name and face. The costumed square dancers, led by Mr. and Mrs. Babo; the transvestites, in black lace and lavender, from Buffalo; the young rock band, led by Brian and Steve. Later, dark Renee and svelte Tony, always arriving about 4:30 am; Rich and his young girlfriend, playing PacMan along the back wall, she in her bare feet; the “counter culture” of lone men, mostly silent; the disturbed, muttering quietly over fries and tartar sauce; the police officers – Ed, who was tall; Chris, with the twinkling eyes; and, Dennis, who chuckled. The early morning businessmen, led by happy Harvey, at their table round. No; the summer of 1982 will never be forgotten. Not by me.
Scientific research tells us, every new day, something more about our magnificent brain’s ability to record and save both all that we do and everything which happens to us.
But sometimes we create our own, hand made testaments.
In my case, as an early teen I took to the daily, floral pink bound diary, with its tiny lock and key, and that with fervor. Less focused on events, however, I was wont to write of what (and, whom) I’d thought about, and exchanges I’d had with others from within my small realm. I used a pen with red ink, too. My handwriting back then had a marked right slant, and long, slender lower loops. I remember writing “Timmy”, repeatedly.
Being an artist, by the time I’d reached high school these daily journals were replaced by poetry. I’d come to prefer rendering encapsulations of momentous emotional events, rather than the sundry and social acts common to the larger society. Many of those poems survived, a couple even making it to my blog.
Now, in adult life, essays have provided the broader template for both observation and rumination. And, email is the perfect place to create, label and contain all correspondence worth saving for later reference in a folder. Personal email, on my own laptop, that is. Wink; smile.
But, my memory, like everyone’s, is fed by all the senses; from somewhere within the nervous system – what I recall hearing, seeing, tasting, smelling, and touching.
Perhaps Dr. Christine Blasey-Ford can relate.
Possibly the most fascinating aspect of Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee was the presentation of his monthly calendars, a virtually lifelong record of his nearly every day activity.
Of particular note, to me, on those calendars was this date: July 1, 1982.
In spite of Kavanaugh’s insistence before the committee that “weekends” were when any gatherings and parties occurred, I could not ignore that singular reference in July on his calendar. And so, I Googled the day of the week; sure enough, July 1, 1982 was a Thursday.
Though I cannot speak for anyone else, it seems to me that a Thursday in any July would feel, look, sound, and even smell like an ordinary summer weekend — especially to high school and college students. Furthermore, Thursday being right on the cusp of Friday one could easily imagine that those intent on partying through Sunday evening would be getting an early start.
Of most curious note was that Justice Kavanaugh had written on his calendar the identities of several friends who’d attended a gathering on that Thursday. Among those listed were at least two young men who, by name, had been cited by Dr. Ford in her testimony as she referenced the evening wherein she alleged Kavanaugh had physically assaulted her while one of them looked on.
Dr. Ford, and Judge Kavanaugh. Separated by 36 years, and brought together by the memory of the presence of two, mutually identified men attending a gathering at which she claimed her encounter with him took place.
Many of us had hoped to hear in more detail from the so named two who had attended that gathering, when the FBI agreed to do their final investigation.
Instead, President Trump stood before the nation, and apologized to Justice Kavanaugh. The media headline beneath read: “Proved Innocent.”
Most of us know this much: until Justice Kavanaugh is brought before his own Judge, after all the evidence has been both sought out, obtained, recorded, and presented, none of us will ever know if he is innocent.
Until that day, I will always wonder what really happened – at that gathering, in that house – on July 1, 1982.
Maybe you will, too.