Monday, July 29, 2013


1971. The year I turned 8. That summer, we went to Washington D.C. to visit the Russos. I remember the Smithsonian Institution, and the exhibit on Rube Goldberg they had. I found this fascinating.

I entered the third grade, where my teacher was Alice Atkins. (Or was it Adkins?) I remember her fondly. She NEVER made mistakes on the blackboard that needed correcting. It was in her class that I met Terry Fluker, who I have to count as my "oldest friend" that I still keep in touch with.

Culturally, 1971 was a big year for Disney. Disney World opened on October 1st. Oh, how I desperately wanted to go there as a child. Desperately. But we never did. I definitely made up for this deficiency, though, in later years.

July was a brutal month for Disney deaths. Ub Iwerks on the 7th, voice actor Bill Thompson on the 15th, and Cliff "Ukulele Ike" "Jiminy Cricket" Edwards on the 17th. Then we lost voice actor Billy Gilbert on September 23rd, and Roy Disney on December 20th. I remember my mother showing me the article on Edwards' death, which probably helped me realize there were actual people behind these beloved characters.

I'm guessing that it was in 1971 that our cat Smokey had kittens. There were four in all. I wanted to name them after the Aristocats, but it was felt I was monopolizing the naming process. We did at least have a "Toulouse", although we ended up giving him away to the Ross/Russo farm. We kept Gray and Calico, two very imaginative names indeed. Gray was my buddy. He was solid gray, except for one white tuft on his chest, exactly like his father "Gray Boy", who lived next door. (For the record, we also had a collie named Sean, but I don't remember any birth/death details on Sean.)

For my 8th birthday, I got a copy of the book Tom Tichenor's Puppets.

Henson's special The Frog Prince was broadcast. I loved that special, and especially the accompanying album. And oh, what did I get for Christmas? The entire first-run set of Sesame Street puppets, that's what. Ernie, Bert, Oscar, Cookie, and Big Bird.

That's 1971.

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