Saturday, July 24, 2010

My Life On A Plate


Once again Ohio continued to ask the question about seat belts in 1974. This plate marked a first — the plate was reflectorized — and a last; it was the last time Ohio issued new plates every year, joining the growing trend of renewing with stickers in 1975.

I had the TRUCK version on my F-100. I graduated from college in May 1974 and drove back to Ohio, dumped my belongings in my parents’ attic, and drove to Newport, Rhode Island to pick up my brother who was graduating from boarding school. We packed up his stuff, drove back to Ohio, dumped his stuff in the attic, and then I was off to Lander, Wyoming, to embark on my graduation present: a wilderness course with the National Outdoor Leadership School. I spent six weeks in the Uintah Mountains of Utah learning all about how to survive in the wild, climb mountains, and discovering a lot about myself. The experience also became the germ of The Hunter, the play that was my Masters thesis at the University of Minnesota in 1977.

When I returned home in mid-July, I was starving for news. This, after all, was the summer of the climax of Watergate, and for someone who was hooked on the minutiae of the scandal and who could name the members of the Senate Watergate panel as easily as the starting line-up of the Detroit Tigers, quitting cold turkey and going six weeks without a newspaper, magazine, or the hourly news on CBS Radio was excruciating. Fortunately my timing was perfect: I arrived home just in time for the House Judiciary Committee to release their evidence against President Nixon. The impeachment hearings were in full swing, and on the night of August 8 the nation gathered, much like they had five years before to watch Apollo 11, to witness another moment of history as President Nixon announced he was resigning.

So now that I was a college graduate with a degree in theatre, it was time to get a job. But what did all those years of studying acting, directing, playwriting, and scene design prepare me for? House painting, of course. I got a job working with the man who had painted our house over the years, and I made a pretty decent income until winter set in and the jobs dried up. I then got a part-time job working at the local public TV station as an office assistant. Neither jobs were what you would call careers, and grad school beckoned… at least it meant putting off finding a real job for a couple of years. In June 1975 I was accepted at the University of Minnesota, and in September — after another summer of house painting — I collected my stuff out of the attic and headed off to the Land of 10,000 Lakes.

Photo by David Nicholson.

The rest of the series is here.