If you haven’t already done so, check out Mark Kihn’s highly entertaining story on page 16 of the July 23 issue about what it was like to be 17 on the Prairies in the summer of 1977.
I too was 17 that summer, and Mark’s story brought back a lot of my own memories.
I still remember that summer between grades 11 and 12 as being a special time — almost an adult with a lot of the freedoms that go with it but still far enough away from the end of high school for it not to be too nerve wracking.
Like Mark, I also remember exactly where I was when the news of Elvis’s death came over the radio that day in August. In my case, I was sitting in my dad’s car, waiting for him to get off work. I would drop him off every morning before driving to my own job and then return to pick him up at the end of the day.
That particular afternoon I was listening to the radio like I always did while waiting for him when the breaking news was announced. I wasn’t a particularly big fan of Elvis Presley, but it still came as a shock.
Up to that point, my memories of major world events, such as the Robert Kennedy assassination, the end of the Vietnam War and the FLQ Crisis, are a bit fuzzy, although the moon landing in 1969 is a bit sharper. This, however, was my first crystal-clear introduction to the world of “I remember when.”
That summer also featured my first major road trip without adult supervision when I headed for the West Coast at the end of the summer with a buddy in his Toyota Celica.
It wasn’t the longest trip in the world — I don’t think we were gone for much more than a week — and we really didn’t do much, but getting away on our own sure was exhilarating.
We returned home on the southern Highway 3 route and decided that we would buy some fruit for our mothers.
However, we were obviously geographically illiterate and didn’t have an adequate understanding of where fruit was actually grown in British Columbia. As a result, we ignored the “last chance for fruit” sign at Osoyoos, B.C., figuring we wouldn’t be taken in by that marketing trickery.
Needless to say, our mothers didn’t get any fruit.
I put together a photo album of the trip, complete with captions, and the final one read, “The trip cost $120, but it was worth it!”