LARRY PENKAVA COLUMN: It may take me another 56 years

I resolve to do better in 2023 than I did in 1967.

Larry Penkava

Fifty-six years ago when the new year began, I was in my second year of college. I entered the university in the fall of 1965 having no clue what the world was about.

After three semesters I was beginning to learn, but I had a long way to go. A really rough first year was telling me what a sheltered life I’d lived up to then.

During the year of 1967, I heard about Christiaan Barnard’s first heart transplant, listened faithfully to the Beatles, idolized Paul Newman in “Cool Hand Luke” and celebrated my 20th birthday.

If I bothered to make a New Year’s resolution, it was probably to do better in school. That was a no-brainer since my grades could have used a rocket booster to lift my GPA.

I finally achieved that goal more than 30 years later.

Fifty-six years ago the U.S. was bogged down in Vietnam, Muhammad Ali lost his boxing crown for refusing to be a part of Vietnam, the Israelis kicked butt in the Six Day War, the Packers kicked the Chiefs’ butt in Super Bowl I and “The Fugitive” on TV garnered a cult following among us college students.

In 1967, gas was 33 cents a gallon, the minimum wage was increased to $1.40 an hour, the average annual income was $7,300, the average new home cost $14,250, a new car was $2,750 and it cost me $1.25 to watch Paul Newman on the silver screen.

The first ATM was put into service in London, the Boeing 737 took its maiden voyage and pulsars were discovered (don’t ask). In addition (pardon the pun), Texas Instruments introduced the pocket calculator.

Household names in 1967 included Evel Knievel, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Simon & Garfunkel and a made-for-TV band called The Monkees. The Beatles released “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,” Elvis married Priscilla and Otis Redding died in a plane crash.

In 1967, Mustangs were hot as well as color TVs and the summer of love. Nowhere on the radar were the internet, blogs, selfies, cyberspace and email.

We used maps to find out how to get to the beach and searched for pay phones at gas stations to call home while traveling. AM radio played rock ’n roll music while FM stations were for classical.

Back then, people marched in the streets to protest war, discrimination and inequality. Not much has changed on that front.

Oh, and that summer I worked in a textile mill. Try finding a temporary job in a weave room these days.

New Year’s resolutions in 1967 included improving physical and mental health, getting out of debt, getting a better job, becoming more educated, working on self-improvement, improving social skills, spending more time with family and helping others.

Some things never change, I guess.

A University of Bristol study involving 3,000 people found that 88% of those making resolutions wind up failing. Unrealistic goals, not keeping track and forgetfulness were the main excuses for failure.

Those who set measurable goals or who received support from friends were more likely to succeed, according to the study.
Which leads me back to my resolution to do better than I did in 1967. That’s pretty nonspecific so my chances of success are subject to interpretation, I suppose.

I will say that in 1967 I took Dr. Joseph Morrison’s class in feature writing. At the end of the semester, he gave me a C and advised me that with hard work I could become an average writer.

As a result, I eventually began writing for newspapers, including this column.

Sorry about that.

Maybe my New Year’s resolution should be to become a writer.

Would one of those writer’s eye shade visors help?

Larry Penkava is a writer for Randolph Hub. Contact: 336-302-2189, larrypenkava@gmail.com.