I would give 2011 an A-minus. It’s been a fantastic year, but I don’t think there’s anything such as a perfect year. Is there? This is my first full year as a married man to my fantastic wife, Debbie. My son, Jeff, has had a good year, which always makes my year better. I’ve done some pretty good work and maintained some great friendships throughout the year.
So, yes, this has been one of those really good years.
The only really bad year I can remember is 1986. My father, Ray, died that year. I got a divorce that year. My job sucked – I was covering the crime beat for The Wichita Eagle. You talk about a fish out of water. Let’s put it this way: It was a better year for criminals than it was for me covering the crime beat.
I like to rank years. I wish I was like Marilu Henner and could recall, with precision, every moment of my past life. I’m not anywhere close to Henner. Remembering yesterday is a challenge.
But I know some years have been better than others.
Let’s focus on 1955, the year I was born. That had to be a good year, right? It was a much simpler time. I was born in Winfield and lived on College Street, near Southwestern University, for the first two years of my life. Then my father decided he wanted to be closer to his work at Beechcraft, in Wichita, and we – my father, mother, half sister and myself – moved to Derby.
There are pictures of me playing on the sidewalk near our house in Winfield, but I have no recollection of living there. I still drive to Winfield occasionally just to see that house. I look at it and I say to myself: “Wow, I used to live there.” Then I move along before people start to ask questions.
That was nearly 57 years ago. I looked up some interesting facts about the year 1955 and because I’m a swell guy (“swell” was a popular term of approval in 1955) I’m going to share some of them with you here.
How Much things cost in 1955
Yearly Inflation Rate USA 0.28%
Average Cost of new house $10.950.00
Average Monthly Rent $87.00
Average Yearly Wages $4.130.00
Minimum Hourly Rate $1.00
Average Cost of a new car $1,900.00
Cost of a gallon of Gas 23 cents
Ladies Swim Suits $12.95
Black and White TV $99.95
I told you they were interesting.
Now, here’s some of what was going on at home and around the world in 1955:
- U.S. military intervention in Iran.
- Hurricane Diane hits the northeast United States, killing 200 and causing over $ 1 billion in damage.
- Disneyland opens in California on July 17.
- ‘In God We Trust’ is added to all U.S. paper currency.
- United Airlines Flight 629 is blown up shortly after takeoff over Longmont, Colo.
- Ruth Ellis, the last woman in England to be executed, is hung at Holloway Prison.
- 77 die in a disaster at the 24-Hour of Le Mans Race in France.
- Rosa Parks’ arrest in Montgomery, Ala., sets the American Civil Rights Movement in motion.
- Emmett Till, a black 14-year-old teenager, is murdered for not showing respect to a white woman in Money, Miss.
- West Germany joins NATO
- The first pocket transistor radios are available.
- Fish fingers are marketed by Bird’s Eye.
- The first atomically generated power is used in the U.S.
- Ray Kroc starts the McDonald’s fast-food restaurant chain.
- The first riot at an Elvis Presley concert takes place in Jacksonville, Fla.
-”The $64,000 Question” the popular US television game show starts.
- James Dean starts in the movie “East of Eden.”
- Dean is killed in a car accident near Cholame, Calif.
- The first “Guinness Book of World Records” is published.
- “The Mickey Mouse Club” debuts on ABC.
That’s a look back at 1955, the year in which Steve Jobs and Bill Gates also were born. Of all the millions of people born in 1955, those two share 86.6 percent of the wealth. I just made that number up, but it wouldn’t surprise me.
What is ahead for 2012? If only we knew, right? Or perhaps it’s better that we don’t.
I know this, at my age you stop taking years for granted. I’m just thrilled to get to 2012 and hope to get to many more. One of the highlights of my 2011 was the St. Louis Cardinals and their World Series win. But more than that, it was the Cardinals’ late-season run through the final month of the regular season and the playoffs. The Cardinals, as so many of you know, are the one sports team that I am still passionate about. So this was a good year for them and for me.
Thanks for reading. I’ll check back before the New Year with a few predictions. I appreciate all of you who take the time to read the things I write and listen to the radio show I’m on. It’s very kind of you to do so and I won’t forget you in my will. But don’t hold your breath – I don’t have Jobs or Gates money.