40 years ago, today

My parents divorced in 1975. I was in seventh grade and twelve years old. After the divorce, my dad moved to Saudi Arabia, remarried, and started over. My dad had visitation rights each weekend and half the summer – 45 days. The weekends were a moot point – a weekend commute of almost 8,000 miles one-way was not practical. Especially in 1975. My communication with dad was limited: letters took weeks to traverse back and forth with a reply. I have most of the letters saved in a box in the basement. Phone calls were too expensive and the connection was shaky, too.


Forty years later a much has changed, but a weekly commute still is not practical. There is the internet with e-mail, blogs, Skype, and more. Even a phone call is made easier, too.

the four of us – Warren, dad, me, David – taken before the trip in front of the garage

That first summer, my dad got us for 45 days, the summer of ’75. I think it was more my mom sent us to dad. All three of us, at the same time. I have memories, my passport, getting shots, a few slide pictures from the trip, but not much else. Memories come back in bits and pieces, jogged by an anniversary or a probing conversation with my brothers or mom. Sometimes those conversations are painful and the memories are not there and have been lost.

What I DO REMEMBER is clear. Crystal clear. We traveled from Houston to Miami on National Airways and caught a British Airways flight to London. We had to stay in London for a few days so my dad could get visas for the three of us. I remember the daily trek to Saudi Embassy until my dad was able to get permission from the Saudi government for us to travel. While we were in London, we took in the city. We stayed in a Holiday Inn near the Swiss Cottage London Underground station and a short walk to Regent’s Park. We had adjoining rooms – I slept in dad’s room and Warren and David shared a room.

When we were not walking around London with dad or out exploring with him, we watched TV. There were three stations – BBC1, BBC2, and ITV; and there wasn’t much to watch during the day – it was either cricket or tennis, and we were discouraged (banned) from watching TV after lights out. None of us had never heard of cricket before and I found it interesting. It’s similar to baseball, but very different. As it turns out both sporting events were big: bigger than I knew at the time.

This morning, I noticed that today is the 40th anniversary of Arthur Ashe’s Wimbledon championship. It is also the anniversary of the debut of the bikini, but that is distraction, in more ways than one. I remember watching the Wimbledon final with my dad – he was rooting for Ashe and me, Connors. He got the last laugh. It was a momentous occasion, which was lost on a bright 13 year-old from Sugar Land, Texas.

A few days later, we got our visas and we were on our way to Saudi Arabia and another story.

It is interesting how the mind works, how memories are intertwined and connected. I now realize what a momentous occasion Ashe’s victory was. I try to remember that when I see my own children – W and O.

A lot has changed since 1975 and the world is richer for it.  Yet, sometimes it would be pleasant to have just three channels and letter writing as the main form of communication.

I wrote my mom a letter yesterday while the B and the kids were boating. It goes in the post tomorrow – with a real stamp. I have a few more letters and postcards to write before W and I had home tomorrow. The lake is calm and water adventures beckon, so I had better jump up jump in, and seize the day. Today is gonna be a great day. Making the Days Count, one day at a time, one memory of days gone by, jogged gently and brought to the surface.

What were you doing 40 years ago today? Can you recall?

my view this morning - the lake is calm and sky is clear - it's perfect for boating
my view this morning – the lake is calm and sky is clear – it’s perfect for boating



12 thoughts on “40 years ago, today

  1. I was spending the summer in Alpena at the lake. I resented never being able to go to camp when I was a kid. How silly now in retrospect — I was privledged to have a break from the Texas heat each summer, to explore nature, to have fun growing up with my cousins, swimming, bonfires, putt putt golf, comic books, Vernors, Made-rite cheese popcorn etc. cheers Clay, thank you for taking me back to those wonderful days today! Xo, Lisa

    1. Lisa – thank you for stopping in and reading. I have another post about the trip and that I need to finish writing (and polishing). You were in Alpena in the summer of ’75? WOW! I was in Grayling, MI last week and I’ll be back up there, again in late July and early August. I can’t wait, it is beautiful up there. How fortunate you were to go to have a place to go with family. My kids have so many memories of grandma and grandpa and their older cousins spent by the lake – as well as the many families we have become friends with from the lake. It is one of life’s blessings.

      My son has been to Scout camp in Rhinelander, WI and my daughter is going to church camp with a friend later this week in Newaygo. She’s excited. At the end of the month he’s headed to Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico for a 12 day hike in the mountains. He’s excited, too. Mom’s a little worried, but I’m not – he’ll have a blast. Thank you again for stopping in and leaving a note – this year marks the 40th anniversary of our last year in middle school and the opening of Sugar Land Junior High – my how time flies. Everyone keeps getting older except me and my friends – we stay the same age! Take care.

    1. Phil – their divorce was a challenge and at the time I didn’t think much of it – the age 6th to 8th grade was pretty much a blur and an ugly spot of growing up. It is for most people – mine was made more complicated by my parent’s circumstances. Who knows what would have happened if they remained married – I am who I am because of what I experienced and for that I am grateful. For this reason I chose to teach middle school and I enjoy what I do – making a difference in the life of a child, one day at a time and making the days count. here’s to wishing you that have a wonderful week.

  2. I remember that Arthur Ashe victory. We’d been out all day so caught up with it when it was shown in the evening, in genuine ignorance of the result. Jumping up and down encouraging Ashe on, when the outcome was already determined wasn’t all that helpful to him, but still……. Loved your memories of the 70’s. But maybe not such a happy decade for you? Enjoy your summer break from routine!

    1. Thank you Margaret – it’s funny how the memories come back with a little reminder….. my parent’s divorce had its affect on me and in a way shaped me into who i am in and how I see the world. I have many memories of the 70s – it’s the decade of my coming of age – some were unpleasant, but overall – most were pleasant memories – growing and learnign and becoming who I am. I am still learning and growing, at least I hope I am! have a wonderful week.

  3. Wow, memories truly are a fascinating thing! I was too young to remember, but my mom would have been alive and so, in remembering that alone brings a smile to my face. Thank you for that!

    Reminding me of Arthur Ashe — brilliant. Especially since Misty Copeland just became the first Principal Dancer this week of the American Ballet Theatre. It’s amazing for her — she’s quite the talent. But when you realize Tennis broke those barriers so early on, it does make you wonder what took the ABT so long? Hmm…

    1. Thank you for stopping by… memories are indeed powerful and our past influences our present and our present dictates our future. I noted the mention of Misty Copeland’s story this past week – there needs to be more seconds and thirds and more commonplace than there is in sport and society. Ironically the next day 7/6/1957 was the anniversary of Althea Gibson’s win at Wimbledon – she’s been succeeded by Serena and Venus Williams in the contemporary era. Have a wonderful week.

  4. Riding my bike to Rouse’s drug store for a cherry coke ($0.26) then looking at the records. Then riding over to the creek to see if there were any turtles for me to catch. Good memories.

    Doug Kent

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