I need to get three posts published by the end of the year or they won’t be timely. This one is especially important to me so it’s getting done first.
I suppose you’re wondering what in the world a post titled 1972 is about. Well, fifty years ago – 1972 – was a pivotal year in my life. I experienced several milestones that would shape my life.
1972 was the year I turned 16. I was a sophomore in high school and so excited to get my driver’s license. I was actually one of the younger people in my class, with an April birthday.
I had been driving for two years with my learner’s permit. And I’d had driver’s education the summer before so I was ready. Typically, you had a driving test as part of applying for a license. But this year, the rules were changed and if you’d passed driver’s ed, you didn’t have to drive. I did have to take the written test.
I lived in a rural area, so we didn’t have the opportunity to go to the DOT any day of the week. Fortunately, if my memory is accurate, they were in our town on my birthday.
Unlike a lot of kids today, I did not get a car of my own. In fact, I never had a car of my own until I was 22 and had started working after college.
I loved the freedom of driving myself. I didn’t mind running errands for my mom or taking my sister places. I loved driving then and I love it now.
First girls track team
In Webster City, we’d never had girls’ sports, other than intramurals. At that time, we were considered a “big” school, and only the smaller schools in Iowa had girls’ sports.
This was the year we had our first competitive sport – track. It was exciting being a part of history!!
We were a bunch of novices, with no uniforms and no experience. We had the nicest guy for a coach and he wasn’t used to dealing with a bunch of girls, so he had to have a lot of patience.
We had to take the meets we could find and ran in a lot of typical Iowa spring weather – cold and rainy. I don’t know if there was a state track meet for girls at that time, but my 4×100 relay ran at the state federation meet and we got third. This time, it was hot and humid.
Sadly, I would not run track again.
Shortly after my birthday, my dad told us we were moving because of his job. I remember him saying he’d been offered a job in his company’s home office before and he was afraid this might be his last chance to say yes. So, we were going to move to Ankeny, which is a suburb of Des Moines and the area where my parents grew up.
In that regard, we were moving closer to family, which was nice. But I’d been in Webster City since I was two years old and it was where I’d expected to graduate from high school.
I was heartbroken. I was leaving behind the friends I’d known my whole life and going someplace where I knew no one. While we were going to a place my parents knew well, I know my dad was not excited about moving either. We liked it where we were.
We moved on July 15, the middle of the summer, so we could have half the summer in Webster City and half in Ankeny. I spent the first half doing everything I could to experience my favorite things. My friends had a going away party for me.
The second half of the summer was getting acclimated to our new area. We moved to a new development so there weren’t a lot of houses around us. We started going to church and I met a few people there.
There was a group of kids in the neighborhood that hung out together. I went to a party at one of their houses as they got to know all of us new kids. I met a very nice boy there, who lived just a couple of streets away from us. We hit it off and he came to our house (with his friend, of course) several times over the summer. Unfortunately, he was two years younger than I was, which is a lot when you’re 16. (He moved away in the summer of 1973 so we were never at the same school together.)
Going to a new school
I was a junior in high school and knew no one. I’ve always said, however, that moving to Ankeny was easier than moving to Webster City would have been. Ankeny was (and still is) a growing town and there were lots of new kids moving in all the time. They were used to seeing new kids.
I had to adjust to the new faces and didn’t have the history the other kids did. In my old school, I was involved in the student council and chorus, one of only about six sophomores. At my new school, I was out of the loop and even had to sing in the sophomore chorus, even though I was a junior.
I did decide to go out for basketball. I’d always wanted to play and finally, we were at a school that had girls’ sports. It was also the first year for a new Ankeny coach, who would become one of their most successful. Since it was my first year to play competitively, I was on the JV team, with mostly sophomores. I can’t remember what kind of a record we had, but we had a nice coach and I really liked the girls I played with.
Just this year, I went to the visitation for that first-year coach and got a hug from my JV coach. Fifty years. Hard to believe.
I’m sure my memory is selective, but I swear 1972 was the best year for music. Maybe it was the time of my life or the people I was around. But I remember so many good songs. Here are a few examples and I know I’m missing some of my favorites:
- American Pie
- Precious and Few
- Oh Girl
- Betcha by Golly, Wow
- A Horse with No Name
- Go All the Way
- Day after Day
- Heart of Gold
- Black and White
- Doctor My Eyes
- I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing
I made friends with girls I played basketball with and also a couple of girls from my church. I was starting to make a new life. I know it wasn’t the life I would have had if we’d never moved, but I wasn’t unhappy. I adjusted.
When I look back on that year, I realize moving was probably the best thing that happened to me. While it was tough, in the end, I had more opportunities than I might have had otherwise. I found a good friend who was my freshman-year roommate at the University of Iowa. I had more choices of places to work and ultimately, two summers at a Des Moines company turned into a 38-year career.
Yes, 1972 was a pivotal year for me. Fifty years ago. It wasn’t easy but it made me grow into the person I am today.