I experienced a life-changing moment in my life two score and 10 years ago

Published 7:02 pm Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Half century. Five decades. Two score and ten. Any way you cut it, 50 years is a significant amount of time.

In particular, August 1966 was a meaningful time in my life. In fact, the single most important event of my life happened that month. A fair warning: you have to read the entire article to discover what happened in 1966 that was so life changing for me.

A lot was going on back then. The Vietnam War was still ramping up. The Beatles played what would ultimately be their last live concert in Candlestick Park in San Francisco. At the same time, South Africa banned all Beatles records.

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The Dow Jones was hovering around 785 versus the 18,500 of today. Imagine what you would be worth if you had steadily invested over all those years.

The average cost of a home was $14,500, about one half the cost of the cheapest car today. Of course, the average income was only $6,900 at the time. A dollar went further since gas was only 32 cents per gallon and the average cost of a car was only $2,650.

The mini-skirt, which my grandfather once told me was the greatest invention of his lifetime, was all the rage in August of 1966. It was shortly followed by the appropriately named “Hot Pants”.

Politically, Ronald Reagan became the Governor of California. In a precursor of things to come, Charles Whitman climbed the clock tower at the University of Texas and killed 14 people.

A groundbreaking ceremony signified the beginning of construction of the World Trade Center, which would later be destroyed in the terrorist attack on September 11, 2001.

Lunar Orbiter 1, the first U.S. spacecraft to orbit the moon, was launched from Cape Kennedy at 2:26 p.m., with an objective of taking photographs of nine potential sites for a manned moon landing. These were some of the first steps of the amazing American engineering triumph of putting a man on the moon.

On a personal note, I was entering Girard Junior High School in Dothan that August. I had finished my Elementary School years in Cottonwood and was entering a school where I knew almost no one.

Most of the kids were from Dothan and I made friendships that year that endure to this day. In many ways, a Junior High System in that day was like a high school. You had Student Council, sports, Honor Society, and clubs all functioning just in the 7th, 8th and 9th grades. You were able to try out your social, athletic and competitive skills before you entered the pressure cooker known as high school.

But the one event that happened that August of 1966, at Girard Junior High School almost 50 years ago is that I met Mary Lou Ponder. For those that don’t know, I married a Ponder. I never had a cousin or even an acquaintance whose last name was Ponder. We heard about each other before we actually met. Then on the ramp leading to the gym we met. “Is your last name Ponder? “one of us asked. The answer was fortunately for me, yes.

It wasn’t love at first site. We were friends and then became great friends. We went off to college and had serious relationships, but retained our friendship. She went to England to school, we started writing letters, and the rest is history.

Fifty years ago I met the most amazing person. For five decades we have been friends. For 38 years we have been husband and wife.

To borrow from Abraham Lincoln and William Michael Morgan, “Two score and ten years ago, I met a girl”. Everything else in 1966 pales in comparison.