1977 versus 1978


When I noted that I could remember specific years in my past, someone wanted to know how. As it pertains to 1977 versus 1978, it was easy. The first year was terrible, and the second year was pretty great. Not that 1977 was ALL bad.

I should start with the autumn of 1976. Ostensibly, I had graduated from SUNY New Paltz. By that, I mean I had enough credits to graduate, but I still had a course I was supposed to finish.

The Financial Council, the student government entity, hired me to sell concert tickets. While it was fun, and I got to attend some concerts for free, it didn’t pay enough to live on.

So, I must have called my parents in Charlotte, NC, and asked if I could live with them for a bit. I don’t remember the conversation, but I ended up there. My father had only moved down there in the spring of 1974, and my mom and baby sister in the autumn of that year. In January 1975, my other sister and I kidnapped our maternal grandmother and brought her to Queen City as well. So, my family didn’t have a lot of history there.

I’d help my parents sell costume jewelry. For many reasons, I hated it, except for the Kansas incident.

The big hassle about the city was that it was extremely difficult to get around. Most of the buses routed through the intersection of Trade and Tryon. If you wanted to go from Miami to NYC or LA to Seattle, imagine going via St.Louis. I did go to the library and saw the movie Gaslight, which was a small highlight. My family also watched the miniseries Roots, except we missed the first half hour of the penultimate night.

Skyscrapers and everything

By May 1977, I’d made my way to the apartment of my sister Leslie and her then-husband Eric in Jackson Heights, Queens. At least I had a semblance of a job: selling renewals of TV Guide magazines and the annuals of the Encyclopedia Americana or Brittanica.

I knew how to get around the Big Apple. Five days a week, I took the #7 train to the E train to Manhattan and back.

It wasn’t all bad. I met my friend Deborah, whose wedding I attended in May 2023 in France.

But the place was a bit unsettling. It was the NYC of the Bronx Zoo and the Son of Sam. Right before I left, I voted for Mario Cuomo for mayor over Ed Koch in the Democratic primary. Of course, the incumbent Koch won.

Back to the Paltz

I left there to go to my old college town. Crashing on my friend Lynn’s sofa, I tutored freshmen taking political science courses. They didn’t understand the three parts of the federal government; their real shortcomings were that they didn’t bother to read the books.

While I  got to hang out with some old friends and met a new friend, Judy, I wasn’t getting enough hours.

The Capital District

I migrated up the Thruway to Schenectady, staying with Uthaclena and his then-wife. After Christmas,  she suggested I  apply for a job as a teller at Albany Savings Bank in downtown Albany. It seemed to be in my skill set, so I did. At the beginning of February, I got the job. However, I knew I would not love this career, even during the training process conducted by an excellent teller but a subpar instructor.

It turned out that Pam, the Innovative Studies coordinator at New Paltz, had also migrated north. Her beau, Paul, was in charge of a program operated by the Schenectady Arts Council, funded by federal grant money.  I would be the bookkeeper. Moreover, I would make $8,200 per year, far more than the six grand I would be making at ASB; I had more money in my drawer at the beginning of the day than I was making annually. It became an easy decision when I spent an hour trying (and failing) to find a nickel shortfall in my drawer.

I started working at the Schenectady Arts Council. Immediately, my primary task was to contact businesses to see if they’d like to advertise for an event designed to help renovate Proctors Theatre. This old vaudeville venue had seen better days.

I also ran a biweekly Artisans Arcade; sang with Susan, the secretary, at nursing homes; was a partner with Darlene, the choreographer, when she taught dance to school kids; and served as the acting director when Paul went on vacation. I generally loved the job.

Although the funding suddenly disappeared on January 23, 1979, and it was greatly disappointing, it got me to where I needed to be.

Author: Roger

I'm a librarian. I hear music, even when it's not being played. I used to work at a comic book store, and it still informs my life. I won once on JEOPARDY! - ditto.

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