Ah yes, 1979. I remember it all too well.
A gallon of gas ran you 90 cents. Saddam Hussein became the president of Iraq (he’d show up again a couple decades later.) Ex-Playboy bunny Blondie scored a hit with “Heart of Glass.” But there were no cell phones. No texting. No WiFi. No digital crap existed. People didn’t jab a hand to their ear. They didn’t gawk into a tiny screen. No, 1979 had the slick marvel of 8-track tapes. G-r-r-r. I can’t tell you how many of those mothers I bought, chewed through, and cursed like a rap star about. The good, old days—yeah, right.
Also in 1979, I graduated from a state university with a B.A. in History, worthless except I could write a decipherable English sentence, so I got hired on as a tech writer in President Reagan’s defense industry buildup. Actually, I’d worked in a gun factory (we made .357 and .44 Mags) for a few years, so I wasn’t a total rookie. The point is my salad days came in 1979. Everybody recalls (or will recall someday) their salad days, hopefully, with a fond regard. I do.
When I set out to write my new Appalachian noir Lake Charles, I wanted to place my young protagonist Brendan Fishback at near the same age I was in 1979. Write what you know, see? But that’s where the parallels end since Brendan and I are little alike. I think he’d make for a solid pal if I ever faced the same jams he runs up against while knocking around Lake Charles. Plus I like him fine.