One Day in Your Life: December 23, 1976

Once more, my friends, once more . . . .

December 23, 1976, is a Thursday. It’s a cold day in the Midwest, with temperatures in the single digits above zero in many places and strong winds driving wind-chills near 40 below. The forecast for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day contains a slight chance for snow. Newspapers report 36 new cases of paralysis linked to the swine-flu vaccine. Yesterday, Monty Hall taped his last episode of Let’s Make a Deal. Today, president-elect Jimmy Carter completes his cabinet selections by naming Joseph Califano to be Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare. While appointing a special energy adviser, Carter says he may consider creating a cabinet-level Department of Energy. Also working on a transition is Dane County, Wisconsin, district attorney-elect Jim Doyle, who defeated the incumbent DA in the September primary and then won office in November.

Future major league pitcher Brad Lidge, future NHL star Scott Gomez, and future NFL kicker Kris Brown are born. Five games are scheduled in the National Hockey League; the Chicago Black Hawks have the night off after losing to Buffalo 4-to-2 last night. Before the game, the team fired Billy Reay, who had coached the Hawks since 1963. Hit movies in theaters include King Kong, Clint Eastwood’s The Enforcer, The Pink Panther Strikes Again, Silver Streak, and Andy Warhol’s Frankenstein. Car buyers in Madison, Wisconsin, can get an Oldsmobile Omega Brougham, loaded, for $5188, then drive it to Fuzzy Thurston’s Left Guard restaurant for the Thursday night filet special, which costs $3.95. On ABC tonight, the Sweathogs get the Christmas spirit on Welcome Back, Kotter, and it’s Christmas Eve in the 12th Precinct on Barney Miller. The CBS lineup includes The Waltons, Hawaii Five-O, and Barnaby Jones. On Tomorrow, Tom Snyder welcomes musician Van McCoy and DJ Norm N. Nite to discuss disco music.

The Beach Boys play Portland, Oregon, Blondie plays CBGB and Barry Manilow plays the Uris Theater, both in New York City, and AC/DC plays at a high school in Australia. At WLS in Chicago, “Tonight’s the Night” by Rod Stewart is #1 for a fifth straight week. “Nadia’s Theme” by Barry DeVorzon and Perry Botkin Jr. makes a strong move from #8 to #3, as does “Blinded by the Light” by Manfred Mann’s Earth Band, which goes from #20 to #13. The two biggest movers on the chart are both up 12: a live and edited version of “Free Bird” by Lynryd Skynryd (#30 to #18) and “Weekend in New England” by Barry Manilow (#42 to #30). The new #1 album in Chicago is the debut album by Boston, taking over the top spot from Frampton Comes Alive!  A young radio geek in southern Wisconsin listens to all these songs and more, sometimes on WLS but more often on FM stations from Madison, Dubuque, Iowa, or Freeport, Illinois, and looks forward to what promises to be a most memorable Christmas.

Perspective From the Present: Newly minted District Attorney Jim Doyle would become Wisconsin’s attorney general and eventually serve two terms as governor (2003-2011). The Mrs. used to work in the same office with Billy Reay’s son. I would one day work for the Dubuque radio station I listened to. And I am still listening to a lot of the songs that were on the radio that December. In my head, and in my heart, I’m still there.

This blog is now going on hiatus for a while. We’ll be back when we’re back, and not a moment before.

I wish you a hopeful Christmas
I wish you a brave new year
All anguish, pain, and sadness
Leave your heart and let your road be clear

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8 responses

  1. “On Tomorrow, Tom Snyder welcomes musician Van McCoy and DJ Norm N. Nite to discuss disco music.”—bet that tape contains some yucks.

    Maybe just my over-active imagination, but this hints of a ‘finalty’ aspect to it beyond standard end-of-the-year hiatus stuff. Hope I’m wrong. Would enjoy reading fleshed-out details of your ‘memorable’ Christmas of ’76.

    Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and may 2013 be kind to us all.

  2. Thanks for sharing all these thoughts and memories with us.

    Enjoy the hiatus and may your holidays be restful, safe, and happy!

  3. Year-end 1976, remember it well. Our local top 40 giant, WIFE in Indianapolis, opts to play its own top 100 of 1976 instead of Casey’s countdown. In fact, they repeated their own countdown several times over. Shades of “Fooled Around and Fell In Love” still dance in my head to this day.

  4. Happy holidays and hiatuses to you and the Missus.

  5. “Fuzzy Thurston’s Left Guard restaurant” … that’s awesome.

    Happy holidays to you and those dear to you, Mr. Bartlett, sir.

  6. I also read a “finality” into the post. I surely hope not. I enjoy reading your reflections!

  7. “It’s a cold day in the Midwest…”

    Yes, those of us in high school at the time remember their entire HS career as one cold, snow-filled adventure, especially in driver’s ed. The next Ice Age was coming, remember? Both Heart and The Clash mentioned it in song (“Dog and Butterfly” and “London Calling” respectively).

  8. I fondly recall Christmastime 1976 as well. I listened to the WLS Big 89 year-end countdown on New Year’s Eve. “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart” from Elton John & Kiki Dee was the #1 song of the year. Hope you and the Mrs. have the best Holiday season, ever!

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