October 1, 1976: That’ll Be the Day

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(Pictured: Linda Ronstadt with Jackson Browne and the Eagles, 1976.)

You had to know this was coming.

October 1, 1976, was a Friday. In the Midwest, it’s sunny today with warmer-than-normal temperatures. The East is chilly with rain. Some places on the Great Plains reach near-record highs. Headlines in the morning papers include California governor Pat Jerry Brown’s signing of a right-to-die bill. The Census Bureau is trying to explain, as the Associated Press describes it, “an alleged multi-billion-dollar error in a vital statistical indicator of economic strength” that might have hastened the 1973-1974 recession by causing factories to cut orders and lay off workers unnecessarily. The error also may mean that the current economy is weaker than believed. Today, President Ford has a long day of meetings. One of them is with Secretary of Agriculture Earl Butz, who is reprimanded for racist comments recently reported in Rolling Stone. Ford also has a late-afternoon session with a Soviet delegation headed by Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko and U.S. Ambassador Anatoly Dobrynin. After a 90-minute break for a swim and dinner, Ford is back in the Oval Office from 9:00 until 11:30PM. Tonight, it’s announced that he will be cleared in an investigation of improper use of campaign funds during a run for Congress in 1972. Also tonight, Republicans in the U.S. Senate use the filibuster to kill a clean-air bill at the behest of the auto industry, which is opposed to tougher emissions standards. Congress will adjourn tomorrow, as members go home to campaign. Ford will spend the weekend preparing for his upcoming second debate with challenger Jimmy Carter, which is next Wednesday. Carter celebrates his 52nd birthday today.

In the majors tonight, the Kansas City Royals lose at home to Minnesota 4-3. Many Royals fans stay after the game to watch the California Angels beat Oakland 2-0 in 12 innings to eliminate the A’s and give the American League Western Division championship to the Royals. It’s the last race to be decided. The Yankees, Phillies, and Reds have already qualified for the postseason, which won’t begin for a week. Among the high-school football games around Wisconsin tonight, the Monroe Cheesemakers lose their homecoming game, 28-6. It’s the team’s third straight blowout loss. (A Monroe fan recording the score for posterity neglects to mention the opponent.)

On TV tonight, ABC presents Donny and Marie followed by Wanted: The Sundance Woman, a made-for TV sequel to Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid starring Katharine Ross. On NBC, Sanford and Son and Chico and the Man are followed by The Rockford Files and the second episode of Serpico, starring David Birney. CBS airs the adventure series Spencer’s Pilots and the 1965 theatrical movie The Cincinnati Kid starring Steve McQueen.

The Grateful Dead plays Indianapolis and Rush plays Sydney, Nova Scotia. Harry Chapin plays at Bucknell University in Pennsylvania. Talking Heads play at an art gallery in Providence, Rhode Island. At WSAI in Cincinnati, there’s not much action on the station’s new survey. “Play That Funky Music” by Wild Cherry, “If You Leave Me Now” by Chicago, and “Disco Duck” by Rick Dees hold at 1-2-3. The only new entry in the Top 10 is “That’ll Be the Day” by Linda Ronstadt at #9; it replaces “Baby I Love Your Way” by Peter Frampton, which is down to #11. “Magic Man” by Heart is the hottest record on the chart by a lot, up to #15 from #26; “Lowdown” by Boz Scaggs is up to #21 from #27.

Perspective From the Present: The Cincinnati Reds and Philadelphia Phillies ended the baseball season with 102 and 101 wins respectively, but the Reds swept both the Phillies and Yankees to win their second straight World Series. The Cheesemakers’ losing streak would reach six before they avoided last place in the league by winning a 12-6 tussle over equally wobegone Edgerton, a game played in a driving rainstorm. It was the first year that postseason high school football playoffs were held in Wisconsin, not that it had anything do to with us.

Sixteen-year-old me knows most of the news headlines, but all of the sports scores and all of the songs on the radio. If you had asked him then, he’d have told you that he also knew exactly who he was and precisely where he was going. But if he really knew these things, it was only relative to other kids who maybe didn’t. In fact, there was a lot that he didn’t know. Some of it he would be learning very soon; much more of it would take many years to learn. Some of it he’d be better off not knowing. Some of it he will never forget.

But that’s everyone’s life, isn’t it?

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