June 20, 1976, is a Sunday. An Associated Press story appearing in papers around the country discusses the potential development of an electronic mail system by the Postal Service. The system could involve either computer printouts delivered by the mailman or electronic messages delivered directly to a user’s computer, possibly for about as much as a current first-class stamp, which is 15 cents. President Ford, National Security Advisor Scowcroft, and other top officials meet in the Oval Office from about 2AM until dawn to monitor the situation in the Middle East. American ambassador to Lebanon Francis Meloy, another diplomat, and their driver were assassinated in Beirut just days before; later today, Ford orders the evacuation of Americans from Lebanon, goes to church, and plays a round of golf. It is Father’s Day, but Ford’s daughter is not at home; Susan Ford is in Florida for the opening of Disney’s River Country, the world’s first water-centric theme park. Caril Fugate, accomplice of serial killer Charles Starkweather, is paroled from prison in Nebraska after serving 17 years. Future major-league baseball player Carlos Lee is born.
For the light-hitting outfielder and team statistician of the Monroe United Methodist softball team, the weekend did not get off to a very good start; after winning their first two games, the team lost to Juda 11-5 in the Friday-night church league. The outfielder spends part of his Sunday watching his beloved Chicago Cubs lose to the Atlanta Braves 5-0. Elsewhere, the Detroit Tigers beat the Minnesota Twins 7-3. Rookie pitching sensation Mark Fidrych gets the win to extend his record to 6-and-1.
In Pennsylvania, Warren Zevon plays Bryn Mawr and the New Riders of the Purple Sage play Reading. Fleetwood Mac plays the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines, and the Electric Light Orchestra plays London. AC/DC, Bob Marley, and ZZ Top continue their ongoing tours. Jerry Samuels, better known as Napoleon XIV, is the guest on this weekend’s edition of The Dr. Demento Show, where Abbott and Costello’s “Who’s on First” routine tops the weekly Funny Five countdown. “Silly Love Songs” is still Number One on the latest survey at WLS, for the fourth week in a row. New in the Top 10 is “Love in the Shadows” by Neil Sedaka. The biggest mover on the WLS survey is the Beach Boys’ “Rock and Roll Music,” up to 16 from 31; oddly enough, their great 60s rivals, the Beatles, are also hot, as “Got to Get You Into My Life,” their first single to chart since 1970, moves from 39 to 29. The highest-debuting song on the survey this week (at Number 40) is by an unknown group, the Starland Vocal Band. It’s called “Afternoon Delight.”
Perspective From the Present: I have my doubts about whether Fleetwood Mac really played the Iowa State Fair on this date, mostly because another source mentions that the Eagles headlined the 1976 fair. Fleetwood Mac and the Eagles played at least one show together that summer, so perhaps both of them played the fair. But if they did, why doesn’t my second source mention the Mac?
And finally: “Love in the Shadows” remains surprisingly evocative of the early summer of 1976. Every time I hear it, I’m transported to one of those first warm, humid evenings in June. As the sun sinks in the west, sounds from the barn are audible across the driveway and the dooryard. I will not be sticking around to listen to them long, however. I slide behind the wheel of the Hornet, start her up, turn on the radio, and fly off to seek adventure, somewhere. Probably not on Sunday, June 20th, but surely within a day or two of it.