A very big year. Still in 10th grade, armed with my selection from Seascape, I won first in the state in Humorous Interpretation, meaning I got to go to the National tournament. The state tournament was held on the Memphis State campus in "Big Red", where I would be spending a lot of time in just a couple of years.
Nationals were held in Cincinnati, and I went with T. Webb and Darryl Kendrick, who died just a couple of months ago. Competing against all the slick California kids in their stylish suits, I guess I didn't have much of a chance at the tournament. I was eliminated quickly, but still it was a great experience to get to go.
The young woman from Tennessee who won 1st in Dramatic Interpretation performed a selection from Our Town. This was my first exposure to the play, and it is probably my favorite.
We also did a one act play version of Seascape at speech tournaments, in which I played Charlie. And the CHS musical that year was You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown, in which I landed the coveted role of Snoopy.
The other big event for me is that I won in the Scholastic writing competition. In the category of "Humor" (I guess I was just a funny guy?), I either won third in the nation, or was one of three first place winners, I can't remember. But they did pick my story, Fairly Tall, for printing in the Scholastic Voice. I was thrilled.
By this point, I think it's safe to say I had discovered the Beatles, less than a decade after they broke up.
The Hilldale Kiwanis Summer Theatre production that summer was Bye Bye Birdie. I played one of the teenagers of Sweet Apple, Ohio. I was also a Shriner.
Then I turned 16, and entered my junior year of high school at CHS. I had heard The Goon Show on the radio, and T. Webb had a copy of The Goon Show Scripts, so I selected one script — The Canal — for my Humorous Interpretation selection this year. I had a lot of fun with it. T. Webb's classroom continued to be a font of creativity, and while it wasn't the healthiest atmosphere for tender young minds that I could possibly imagine, it was an overall positive experience.
Looking at the cultural scene, two of my most favorite things appeared in 1979. On March 1st, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street opened on Broadway. And on June 22nd, The Muppet Movie opened. I'll never forget the unbelievable, breathtaking moment when Kermit sang "Life's like a movie/Write your own ending..." and the camera started to pull back, and it kept pulling back farther and farther, revealing more and more Muppets, until there were literally hundreds onscreen. I wanted to be a part of that magic.