Greetings and salutations, Dear Reader. It’s early afternoon here in Lithia, Florida on Saturday, January 1, 2022. It is a warm winter day in west-central Florida. Currently, the temperature is 81˚F (27˚C) under partly sunny skies. With humidity at 68% and the wind blowing from the south-southwest at 11 MPH (17 KM/H), the feels-like temperature is 83˚F (28˚C). Today’s forecast calls for sunny skies and a high of 85˚F (30˚C). Tonight, we can expect clear skies and a low of 68˚F (20˚C).
Well, the first day of 2022 is more than half over here in my corner of Florida, and I am reminded – once again – that this year marks the half-century mark since my fateful return to the United States from Bogota, Colombia after a six-year stay in that South American metropolis.
Moving back to the States in the spring of 1972 was not something planned; 50 years ago today Mom, my older half-sister Vicky, and I thought of Bogota as our “forever” hometown and Miami as a nice place to visit on occasion. But Fate – in the shape of a cerebral hemorrhage that sent me to the hospital not long after my ninth birthday – intervened, and for the past 50 years, I’ve lived in the United States.
Here are some of the other things that will mark their Golden Anniversary in 1972:
- Mark Rydell’s The Cowboys, a Western starring John Wayne, Bruce Dern, Robert Carradine, Colleen Dewhurst, and Roscoe Lee Browne (Premiered on January 13, 1972)
- Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather, an adaptation of Mario Puzo’s 1969 novel about a Mafia boss (Marlon Brando) and his family (Premiered on March 24, 1972)
- M*A*S*H (TV version), a hybrid of situation comedy/drama (or, if you prefer, “dramedy”) developed by Larry Gelbart from the 1968 novel by “Richard Hooker” and the 1970 film by Robert Altman (Premiered on September 17, 1972)
Other red-letter events that will have 50th anniversaries include:
- The “Easter Offensive” of the late Vietnam War, which saw some of the last battles in which American forces were involved against North Vietnam and its Viet Cong allies (March 30-October 22, 1972)
- Apollo 16 lunar mission (April 16-27, 1972)
- The May 5, 1972 assassination attempt on George Wallace
- Hurricane Agnes (June 14-23, 1972): This is one of the news events I remember most vividly from my first months back in the States, even it was a Gulf Coast event and not a South Florida one. I find it strange that I now live near the Gulf of Mexico and not in my hometown of Miami
- The Watergate break-in (June 17, 1972)
- The Munich Massacre (September 4-5, 1972) at the 1972 Summer Olympic Games, in which 11 Israeli athletes were murdered by Palestinian terrorists
- The successful rollout of Atari’s Pong, the world’s first successful video game (November 29, 1972)
- Apollo 17, the last (for the moment, anyway) manned lunar mission (December 7-19, 1972)
- My first Christmas – of 42 – spent in Miami before my move to the Gulf Coast in 2016. I lived in Westchester from the summer of ’72 to late August of 1977, spent the balance of 1977 in a rinky-dinky apartment in Sweetwater while our townhouse was built, then lived in East Wind Lake Village from late February of 1978 till early April of 2016 (38 years and a few weeks)
Well, it’s been one strange 50-year trip, and I will probably delve into my memories about many of these events in future blog posts. But, for now, anyway, this is where you and I must part company, Dear Reader.
So, my friend, Happy Neujahr 2022, and I’ll catch you on the sunny side of things.
 As a matter of fact, on this day in 1972, we were vacationing in Miami – and I was coping with a serious bout of bronchitis which put a dampener on our vacation in South Florida. As I recall, we were staying at the Danker’s Inn motel, which was located on SW 8th Street and 58th Avenue. I remember feeling fine until just after Christmas of 1971, then suffering from congested lungs, coughing up phlegm, and confined to bed until I got well enough to travel.