I don’t have a whole lot of distinct memories of the Summer of ’76. At the age of four, my mind was just beginning to retain some of the events going on around me. I had been granted a little sister in April and was surely enjoying watching her grow and become a bit more sturdy so that I could handle her more frequently. My life on Echo Hill was a happy one – an existence where I could walk across the street and play with my best friend Andrea Ferrenberg, scurry back through the woods behind her house, traipse through our huge outdoor garden, watch my favorite shows like Gilligan’s Island on TV, play records and reel-to-reel tapes at will, and spend time with my Grandparents and extended family. Soon I would be attending pre-school and the unbridled freedom would come to a screeching halt.
Early in the Summer, Andrea’s Mom Brenda and my Mom held a join garage sale at our house where we all unloaded some junk including some old Playboy Magazines. These were fun for me to nonchalantly browse, until I was told not to. Andrea’s older brother Jimmy was permitted to look at them, but my Mom said that I had to be seventeen. I asked Brenda how old Jimmy was and she told me that he was seventeen. Andrea told me the truth though, that he was actually seven.
I can’t recall our country turning 200, but I do have some recollection of the hooplah surrounding our own summer celebration which may or may not have actually fallen on July 4, 1976. We had a huge (at least by my standards at the time) picnic at our place, complete with a cookout and homemade ice-cream. We had both family and neighbors over for the event – or possibly this is one memory of two separate events. You can never be sure with memories that are more than thirty years old! What I can remember is that we had to park cars in our yard to make room for everyone. Mom recalls that some neighbor lady who came to the proceedings kept calling her Babs for some unknown reason. Dad doesn’t remember the party, but does recall going up to the Beavercreek High School that evening to watch fireworks from the football field. My memory is simply reduced to the excitement of having a party for what I referred to merely as a holiday. In fact, I was out playing in the street when a neighbor walked by and asked me what was going on at our place. I told him simply “holiday!”
I was so excited about the holiday that I stood inside a lawn indentation caused by the garbage can and talked to myself
The company begins to arrive. Note that Dad’s blue Hudson was now for sale
People dig into the garage food. Grandpa Murphy is on the right
Denise poses with Grandma and Grandpa at our place on July 4, 1976
Denise and Great-Grandma Murphy
Four geneartions: Babs, Denise, Great-Grandma Murphy, Grandpa Murphy
Dad, who already had the blue 1949 Hudson Super-Six discussed here, purchased a new, different, and better black ’49 Hudson Commodore 6 (discussed here) during the Summer of 1976. And thus began our involvement with the local Dayton chapter of the Hudson-Essex-Terraplane (HET) club. This was my first exposure to car clubs, shows, and national conventions – and this association with such clubs would drag on for the next fifteen years or so. Honestly, they really bored me at the time, but as I look back, I have lots of wonderful memories of attending these events. With the purchase of the black Hudson, the blue one went up for sale that Summer.
Mom and Dad attened a Regional Car Show in Indianapolis early in the Summer, but left Denise and (probably) me with my Aunt Diana. In the second half of July, our whole family attended the 17th Annual National Meet which was held in Reading, Pennsylvania. I can’t recall much about this, but I’m sure that after the previous year’s Florida and Disney trip, I had been initiated into being excited for and loving any sort of vacation.
Mom browsing what would become a familiar site. Car junk for sale, laid out on blankets at the HET National in Reading
Denise, being the baby of the family, predictably garnered a bit more attention than I did during her first several months – as we rolled from the Summer into the early Fall. Hence, most of the photos are of her and deservedly so. While she was doing exciting things like lifting her head and rolling over, I was busy doing less photogenic activities like playing with the figures from my favorite Nativity set, hiding them in a basin full of potatoes in the garage.
Happy Denise in her high chair at five months
Denise ready to consume a batch of goop
In the family room, September ’76
Denise and Dad flanked by the infamous clock which now resides in my photo room
I wasn’t kidding
We probably stayed clear of Kings Island this Summer since Denise was still an infant, instead opting for a southbound excursion to the Cincinnati Zoo. Dad snapped lots of photos of the animals, but the only one I’m sharing is the one of the hippo. I always liked this shot because Dad had it blown-up, mounted to cardboard, and for years it hung in my bedroom.
The hippopotamus that hung in my room
I had a very normal and nearly-perfect childhood, filled with flavorful memories and recollections. The Summer of ’76 was surely a huge contribution to the overall sensory feel of this era of my life.
Check out the black ’49 Hudson here…