League of Extraordinary Bloggers assignment that I skipped in order to catch up this week: Grab Rufus and head to the phone booth, because this week, we’re going back in time! Dial up the year you turned 12, and revisit the last official year of your “childhood.”
I never thought of 12 as the last year of childhood. I always thought that was 17, which of course is ridiculous because teenage-years and childhood are in no way the same thing. This is a cool exercise, because it lets me go back and re-evaluate that year the way I always should have thought of it.
I have a few strong memories of 12, most of which have to do with starting a new school and making new friends. My best pals were the McLanahan twins, who introduced me to a life-long passion for New Wave music (they hooked me with Talking Heads and Adam Ant) and a shorter-lived infatuation with 18-wheelers. We all had our dream rigs picked out; mine was a black, conventional Kenworth with chrome highlights.
I'd already discovered girls a year or four before, but they were of course still vitally important to 12-year-old me. Not that I totally knew how to talk to them yet, but I started making friends with girls around that time and felt more comfortable around them than I had up to that point. So it was a milestone.
I remember that the Florida State Seminoles football team was undefeated that year (but had forgotten until researching this that they lost to Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl).
Because of all of that, for years after I thought back on 12 as a Perfect Year; the benchmark to measure all other years by. That makes me happy, realizing now that it was my last year of childhood and that I enjoyed the heck out of it. It also makes me happy that I turned 12 in 1979, so my childhood ended at the same time as the '70s. That got me ready for the '80s as a teenager, which was awesome.
I did some research to remind me of other things that happened that year. This is from May 29 (my birthday), 1979 to May 29, 1980; not the calendar year. It's a long list, so I'm putting it behind a break.
- Mother Theresa won the Nobel Peace Prize.
- McDonalds introduced the Happy Meal.
- The Sony Walkman debuted in Japan.
- Los Angeles passed a gay and lesbian civil rights bill.
- Though it wouldn't become significant until later, Saddam Hussein became president of Iraq.
- Pioneer 11 passed Saturn.
- ESPN began broadcasting.
- The Iran Hostage Crisis began.
- 11 fans were trampled to death at a Who concert.
- Smallpox was officially eradicated.
- The Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan.
- The US hockey team beat the USSR at the Lake Placid Winter Olympics.
- The US announced a boycott of the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow.
- Mount Saint Helens erupted.
- Pac-Man debuted.
- Telly Monster debuted on Sesame Street.
- Several TV shows debuted, including The Facts of Life, Hart to Hart, Fred and Barney Meet the Thing, Jason of Star Command, Benson, Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, Trapper John MD, 3-2-1-Contact, and the PBS show Mystery!.
- A few TV shows had their finales, including the live-action Amazing Spider-Man, Good Times, Wonder Woman, and Hawaii Five-O.
- Several future TV stars were born, including Busy Phillips (Cougar Town), Felicia Day (Buffy the Vampire Slayer), Evangeline Lilly (Lost), John Krasinski (The Office), Zooey Deschanel (New Girl), Jason Segal (How I Met Your Mother), Jason Ritter (Parenthood), Stana Katic (Castle), and Ellie Kemper (The Office).
- Jay Silverheels (Tonto on The Lone Ranger) died.
- Ron Howard and Donny Most left Happy Days.
- JR Ewing was shot in the season finale of Dallas.
- Other shows that were on that year that I watched:
- American Bandstand
- Disney's Wonderful World
- Captain Kangaroo
- The Lawrence Welk Show
- Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom
- Days of Our Lives
- Mister Roger's Neighborhood
- Hee Haw
- Masterpiece Theatre
- Soul Train
- The Price is Right
- The Waltons
- Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids
- Schoolhouse Rock!
- Barney Miller
- One Day at a Time
- The Jeffersons
- Charlie's Angels
- Family Feud
- Laverne and Shirley
- Quincy ME
- Fantasy Island
- Lou Grant
- The Love Boat
- Three's Company
- Diff'rent Strokes
- Mork and Mindy
- WKRP in Cincinnati
- The Muppet Movie, The In-Laws, Moonraker, Frank Langella's Dracula, The Amityville Horror, 10, The Black Stallion, Jesus, Star Trek: The Motion Picture, 1941, The Jerk, Kramer vs Kramer, The Black Hole, Little Darlings, The Private Eyes, and The Empire Strikes Back were released.
- The fictional events of Super 8 took place.
- Don Bluth resigned from Disney, took a bunch of animators with him, and formed Don Bluth Productions.
- John Wayne, Carl Laemmle Jr, Zeppo Marx, Jimmy Durante, and Alfred Hitchcock died.
- Rachel Leigh Cook, Brandon Routh, Olga Kurylenko. Christina Ricci, and Channing Tatum were all born.
- I liked Anita Ward's "Ring My Bell", Michael Jackson's "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough", Pink Floyd's "Another Brick in the Wall", The Romantics' "What I Like About You", J Geils Band's "Love Stinks", Lipps Inc's "Funky Town", and Blondie's "Call Me".
- The Eagle's "Heartache Tonight" became the theme song of bullies everywhere.
- Willie Nelson released the Pretty Paper Christmas album, a staple in our house for years after.
- Though it wouldn't be important to me until later, U2 released their Three EP and the Cure released their first two albums: Boys Don't Cry and Seventeen Seconds.
- Montovani, an Italian conductor whose music we had in the house growing up, died.
- For Better or Worse debuted.
- Al Capp died.
- Kitty Pryde and the Hellfire Club made their first appearances in X-Men #129. I wasn't interested in the X-Men at the time and didn't notice.
- Savage She-Hulk #1 was published. I totally noticed this.
- Marvel launched Epic Illustrated, their somewhat successful attempt to compete with Heavy Metal.
- I was a casual comics reader in those days and don't remember any specific issues I picked up (other than Savage She-Hulk), but - based on specific issues that I remember from other years - comics I was likely reading were odd issues of:
- Action Comics
- Brave and the Bold
- Detective Comics
- Justice League of America
- Sgt. Rock
- Unknown Soldier
- Weird Western Tales
- Amazing Spider-Man
- Battlestar Galactica
- Incredible Hulk
- Machine Man
- Star Wars
- The Pink Panther
- Woody Woodpecker
- Hot Stuff
- Devil Kids (a Hot Stuff spin-off)
- Any of the 4 Casper-related titles that came out that year (Casper the Friendly Ghost, Casper's Ghostland, Casper: TV Showtime, and Spooky)
- Any of the 7 different Looney Tunes titles that came out that year.
- Any of the 10 different Walt Disney titles that came out that year (except Winnie the Pooh, but almost definitely Super Goof).
- Any of the 23 different Archie titles (not counting digests) that came out that year.
- Any of the - no lie - 27 different Richie Rich titles (not counting digests) that came out that year. Richie Rich was crazy popular.
You can read the rest of the League's responses via Cool and Collected. I'm the old man of the group: their 12th years span from 1982-1993.
How about you? What's your fondest memory of when you were 12?
How about you? What's your fondest memory of when you were 12?