Barring an unseen bump in the road, I will reach a milestone birthday next year, crossing the half century mark, and the thought has made me realize parts of my life are now significant history. This hit home this weekend when watching basically a small part of my life play out right in front of my eyes on a channel specifically designated to tell stories of the past.
That’s right, I am getting to the point I don’t have to read about history in a book, I can recite it in my mind. What I thought were ordinary events in my past now aren’t so ordinary.
This occurred to me while watching a documentary on the History Channel on Evel Knievel. It was fascinating to me because I watched many of the things they talked about on live television.
I even tried to copy a few of his tricks on my red banana-seat Vista bicycle. I watched his botched attempt to jump the Snake River Canyon with my own eyes on a black and white television.
I watched him flip over handlebars or slide to a crashing halt, several times. I’ve read he holds the world record for the most broken bones. It would certainly be understandable if he did.
The “classic” toy they spoke of on the History Channel program once laid under my Christmas tree as a prized gift. I wound that thing up and watched it jump rows of Hot Wheels cars many times. It occupied hours of my time in an era without internet, cable television and certainly no smart phones. The smart phone to us was one with push buttons that you didn’t have to physically dial.
If only I had enough sense not to throw that wind-up motorcycle away, I would be able to cash it in today. It sells for several hundred dollars on Ebay.
It wasn’t the only valuable piece of history from my childhood that disappeared. Like many of the same generation, thousands of dollars worth of baseball cards went away to a dump in a series of shoe boxes. It was the era of Johnny Bench, Hank Aaron and an assortment of others who now have plaques on the walls of the National Baseball Hall Of Fame making their cards very valuable. If I had a few of those cards back now I would be able to line my pockets a little better.
I also recently watched another History Channel series on the 1980s. It is hard for me to call that history. When I was in high school we called that history current events.
I could tell some of the stories as well as the commentator on the program. President Reagan, who led the country during most of that decade, isn’t exactly old history, he was in office while I was in college.
Due to my lack of motivation and a desire to stay at East Carolina University as long as I could, he was one of three who held that distinction. I also studied, and did a few other things in Greenville that will stay there to protect the innocent, during the administrations of George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton. Before you laugh too hard at my academic ineptitude it should be noted that I obtained two degrees during that period and there was a short period where I didn’t attend classes.
These observations make me realize I should have been more observant as I grew up. I wouldn’t call Evel Knievel significant history but the work of President Reagan was more important than I realized at the time. Those in their formative years will one day watch the rise of President Donald Trump and Barack Obama on History Channel documentaries.
Even dramas playing out in front of us this week will once again be replayed in future history classes. Those who grew up when I did watched the rescue of Baby Jessica from a Texas well like the world watches now as the miracle in Thailand where 12 young children are being saved from a network of caves unfolds in front of us. Perhaps we should all slow down once in a while and notice the history happening all around us.
Tom Woerner is a reporter with
The Daily Record. Reach him
at 910-230-2038 or