ca 2005. I grew up in Charlotte, the oldest of four children. From my birth through age 5, we lived near Southpark. We called it “the country.” Southpark was a dairy farm at that point, and downtown Charlotte didn’t look anything like it does now. We moved in town to Myers Park back when everyone else was moving out to Foxcroft.
By the time I reached elementary school, one of the popular debates among my friends was whether The Beatles or The Monkees was the better band. Our parents took us to see movies like Mary Poppins and The Sound of Music. Captain Kangaroo was a daily staple of our television diet. Winter basketball league at the Dowd YMCA and summer swim team at Charlotte Country Club figure prominently in my childhood years. At that point, the Dowd Y was simply called “the Y” because it was the only one in town.
Summertime was all about catching lightening bugs, the tire swing at the Millers’ house and pestering our parents to let us go barefooted. Rowan & Martin’s Laugh In would soon launch Goldie Hawn to superstardom. One of my favorite activities was horseback riding at Cedar Hill Farms on Providence Road, which is now a residential development. Back then, if you drove that far out Providence Road, you were pretty much leaving town.
My parents strictly enforced mandatory Church and Sunday School attendance at Christ Episcopal Church. I went to Eastover and Myers Park Elementary Schools; A.G. and Piedmont Junior High Schools and West Charlotte Open High School – class of 1977. It was an a time of social and political upheaval in America. My next-door-neighbor, Leslie, staged a sit-in for 6th graders at Myers Park Elementary because girls were not allowed to wear pants to school. Much more importantly, we were the children who desegregated the public schools in fulfillment of the hope and promise of Brown v. Board of Education and Swann v. Board of Education. We were also the children who watched, every day, as Walter Cronkite narrated America’s descent into the Vietnam experience. Meanwhile, Alan Alda parodied the establishment and its ridiculous war on M*A*S*H.
At age 10, I was too young for Woodstock – but my friends and I knew about it, we played the album, read the liner notes, and wished we’d been there. Around this time, Abbie Hoffman published Steal this Book, Jimi Hendrix died, Charles Manson was partying in California, The Beatles broke up, Patty Hearst was robbing banks, Jefferson Airplane became Jefferson Starship and everyone wore bell-bottom, hip-hugger jeans. Somehow, Saturday Night Live got away with bringing all this madness into our homes with a healthy dose of levity.
In my junior high school years, my friends and I were jammin’ to Led Zeppelin and The Who while we learned our social graces through weekly attendance at Teen Cotillion and Promenade programs. We went to see The Godfather over and over again while Vietnam began to wind down to the sound of American Pie on the now burgeoning FM band. Our awareness of the world outside America and Vietnam grew as George Harrison performed The Concert for Bangladesh. Then Neil Young cut the iconic Harvest album.
As America celebrated its 200th birthday, high schoolers were either instigating or running from race riots – desegregation wasn’t easy. And most of my friends mixed Pink Floyd with The Allman Brothers; The Doors with Yes; and Emerson Lake & Palmer with Little Feat. A popular debate was whether Rocky or Star Wars was the better motion picture. It was a crazy mixed up time, but we had great music, and we knew how to ask a lady to dance, which we would need to do when disco later swept America as a blissful salve after years of political and social lacerations and the sometimes salty music that followed. Disco might not have been serious music, but bands like Earth, Wind & Fire saved it from complete irrelevance.
At this point, life reached something of a turning point. We were becoming adults. The law would say, we had attained the age of majority. That’s a tough sell when The Rocky Horror Picture Show is becoming a phenomenon, a bridge between punk rock and disco. Yet the national post-Vietnam hangover wasn’t responding well to images of Americans being held hostage in the US Embassy in Tehran, and we knew our time had come.
Since then, a lot has happened in my life and in the world in which I live, some of which is reflected on this website in one way or another. So, I’ll just skip right to the present.
At the age of 46, I got married on June 10, 2005 at the Isle of Palms – near Charleston, South Carolina. My wife, Stephanie, is the second of five children and grew up at Myrtle Beach (but doesn’t know the official South Carolina State Dance, the Shag, thank goodness). She is a third-grade teacher at McAlpine Elementary School but transfers to Elizabeth Traditional School in the fall of 2007. She’s an avid runner and loves her dog – a pug named “Arthur” – more than life itself. Shortly before we got married, we cried together watching Million Dollar Baby, and The White Stripes were permeating the airwaves. A lot of people still get going with The Beastie Boys, and The Red Hot Chili Peppers are as hot as ever. But even as we embraced the future at our wedding, we were coddled by the past when Stephanie processed in to Morning Has Broken by Cat Stevens and we processed out groovin’ to Van Morrison’s Moondance.
So, where are things now? At this point, I’m a lawyer, the honeymoon is over, the Internet is old hat, Osama Bin Laden is still on the run, XM-and Sirius satellite radio are new, downtown Charlotte looks like a real city and Southpark is a bigger deal than downtown was when I was born. We recently saw the movie Crash, and we were both blown away.
And the funny thing is that I still think of myself as a “young person.”