January 1, 2010 was our anniversary. Sally and I eloped to Elko, Nevada on New Year's Eve, 1968, and got married the next day in the Elko County Courthouse.
As is our custom, we went to dinner on our anniversary. We talked about the changes we've seen in our 41 years together. Seven months after we were married we watched the first moon landing on an old black and white television. It's been a steady climb for technology since then.
We talked about the things we never dreamed would exist in that year of 1969. The internet. Cell phones. GPS. Home computers the size of paperback books.
We also talked about costs. The first year we were married we were billed for electricity every two months, and it cost us $7.00. Even in those days that was pretty cheap. Our apartment was $70.00 a month. Top floor, no air conditioning and it was hot.
Gasoline was 32.9¢ a gallon. Someone tried to tell me that in 2010 dollars gas was more expensive at 32.9¢ a gallon than the $2.49.9 I pay per gallon now. It doesn't matter. The 1969 price sounds cheaper to me.
Another thing we mentioned was there aren't a whole lot of places to loiter now. We could always go to a record store and flip through the bins, looking at album covers. They were big, 12" x 12". I have to get out my strongest reading glasses to see the artwork on a modern CD. You can't go to Walmart and loiter.
About the only place I can loiter nowadays is in the public library or in a bookstore, both good places to kill time without spending any money.
In 1969 Sally and I walked about 12 blocks from our apartment to Liberty Park where we fed the ducks, strolled around the park and looked at the hippies lounging on the lawn, stoned. There were other guys in cut-off t-shirts and sideburns who were parked in shady spots, waxing their cherry rides, a 1957 Chevy or '65 Ford Mustang. They'd have the door open and the radio blasting out Santana or the Doors, whatever was on the 8-track tape.
Nineteen Sixty-nine was the year of Manson and the Tate-LoBianca murders, big news everywhere. Woodstock was huge.
In some ways 1969 seems so near to me, like a year I can reach out and touch. The first year we were married everything we did seems memorable. Our first joint bank account, started when I cashed in some savings bonds. The single bed my mom gave us with the mattress sprung in the center, so that we rolled together all night. Good for keeping that honeymoon feeling, terrible for sleeping. Our utensils were all hand-me-downs. We shopped in a discount food center where we entered the store and picked up a grease pencil so we could write the prices on the cans. Everything was set up like a warehouse, and we used old flat trundle carts with cardboard boxes for the groceries. If a can of peas was 19¢ we marked that on the can. I never dared mark it down to something like 15¢ for fear of the cashier calling me on it and publicly embarassing me. I'm sure other people did it all the time.
During our New Year's Day anniversary dinner we both marveled at how fast things have gone in 41 years. We both asked, "Where did all that time go?"
It reminded me of this great song by Sandy Denny and Fairport Convention, which is from 1969. This should be the theme song of the Baby Boomer generation, as we all look back and wonder where it all went.