1974 was the first year I considered myself an adult. I had graduated college at ISU, saved my money, paid off my 1972 Charger and was living on my own in an apartment near Indianapolis. I was employed in my first teaching job at a fairly large high school. While it had its many challenges, it did reinforce the decision I had made to pursue a teaching career.
The year was a whirlwind of activity. I couldn’t believe it was Thanksgiving break. I was so looking forward to coming home and sharing some time with Mom and Dad. My aunt and uncle from Illinois along with several cousins were joining us for the day. What a great time we always had together!
Before I headed home on Wednesday evening of the holiday weekend, my college friend, Steve, and his parents invited me to have dinner with them at their home. Steve’s parents lived in the town where I was teaching and I had become acquainted with them while in college. We had developed a close relationship and I considered them my “second” set of parents. We gathered at Steve’s family home and his mother had fixed a delicious meal of chili soup and several tasty side dishes. His mother always went above and beyond on anything she did- especially when entertaining. We had a great evening together. We ate in their dining room with real plates using real silver and laughed and talked for longer than I had planned. Steve’s family were always such gracious hosts it was easy to stay and visit longer than one intended.
As I left their home that evening, I noticed the temperature had changed and it was noticeably cooler than when I arrived. It was 1974- no cell phone alerts, weather channel or apps to inform us of immediate and upcoming weather changes. Steve’s dad worked for Public Service Indiana in those days and stated they had been notified that snow was predicted for the Thanksgiving weekend. Weather predictions in 1974 were usually best guesses and very general. We didn’t have tickers scrolling across the bottom of our TV screens warning of pending weather issues. As I left for the evening, I decided to stop at my apartment to pick up a few things before driving home. I called my Mom on my white, desk top, rotary dial, landline telephone to tell her I was heading her way. I descended the stairs from my apartment, and noticed the first few scattered snow flakes in the air. As I headed toward home, snow began to come down heavier as the wind also began to pick up a bit. The drive home was difficult at best. I had not yet put on my snow tires for the season- yet another ritual that seems confusing and humorous today- so my wheels were spinning at every stop. Slowly I drove home. An incline at an intersection nearly caused my demise as I could not get going after stopping for a light. Finally, after my third attempt, I had enough speed to power through. I had run a red light, but luckily no one was on the road except me. After what seemed to be an extremely long drive I did finally arrive safely. Of course, I had no cell phone to call or text for help should I have become stranded. I am sure Mom was a little worried since I was taking longer than expected, and there was no way to call her.
All our expected guests had to cancel the next day due to the unexpected snowstorm and impassable roads. At the time I recall being very disappointed as I had so looked forward to being with all of the family that day. As I look back today, it was one of our best ever family Thanksgivings. My mom, dad, sister and I enjoyed a wonderful Thanksgiving meal together in our quiet, snow-covered farmhouse in the country. Sometimes, I wish I could go back to that time just for a visit. But life moves forward and we grow, change and adapt.
Today is a new day full of new blessings and opportunities. I am thankful for past memories that helped to shape and make me the person I am today. Many years have passed and my life is in a much different place than 1974. It’s my job to make some good memories with my wife, sons and their families. So, while I miss the past, I am so very thankful for the present and the new memories we will make together today during this Thanksgiving season. I hope my grandchildren will look back in 40 years, recall their great memories and smile just as I am today. I do however wish I still had that 1972 Dodge Charger!