Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The View from Grading Jail

I really need to get these papers done, but they're irritating me. I think I'm going to put this assignment on hold for a couple years and use a different one; it's that sort of thing.

Do you know what was the most important event of 1980?

Several of my students have assured me that a given event was it, and even though I was 20 in 1980, I have no memory of the event at all.

1980 started for me with a wonderful "end of the decade" costume party. One of my friends went as Indira Gandhi. Another went as the missing Idi Amin. I went as Diane Feinstein. One of my friends was going to go as Karen Ann Quinlan and have a really good time for the first half of the party, and then just sit there the rest of the time. Instead, she went as Kermit. We also had someone come as Rising Inflation (the most creative approach) and a random terrorist or two. And someone came as Cutter John. (Remember that?)

Oscar Romero (Archibishop of San Salvador) was murdered. I remember long discussions trying to understand the problems in El Salvador.

The US army had a terrible accident killing US soldiers in a messed up attempt to rescue the hostages held at the US Embassy in Iran.

Mt. St. Helens erupted.

I went to see The Empire Strikes Back when it opened in my college town with my friends.

I sat with my friend as he filled out his draft registration, covering it with "conscientious objector."

The Solidarity movement in Poland was all over the papers. (Remember those, papers?)

Voyager! (I was the only person who didn't get the whole "V-ger" thing in the Star Trek movie until the end. I suck.)

I went to a local memorial for John Lennon. We all stood outside and held little candle things, sang, and some of us cried.

These things I remember, but the big event my students name, not a bit of it.

Have you guessed it?


  1. The presidential election?

  2. Anonymous3:04 PM

    Wasn't Mt. St Helen's eruption in 1980??? (all I know is it was before I was born 1982, but still ALL OVER the elementary school literature)

  3. Anonymous3:13 PM

    The death of Jimmy Durante?

  4. Oh, I should have put in the election! It was the first time I voted! But no, my students don't mention that.

    Yes, Mt. St. Helens blew in 1980. I checked the dates to make sure I wasn't misremembering what I thought I remembered.

    Nope, not even Durante's death.

    I have to admit to feeling a little better that it doesn't come first to your minds, either.

  5. The boycott of the Olympics?

  6. So many guesses, but I think my students would say the release of Pac-Man. Groan.

    Other candidates:
    * Andrei Sakharov's arrest
    * Tito died
    * Mariel boatlift ended
    * CNN launched
    * Who shot JR nonsense

    And -- for most obscure, and I can only mention it because it popped up in a conversation yesterday -- Rosie Ruiz cheated in the Boston marathon.

    But I'd still put money on Pac-Man.

  7. Rebecca for the win! Yes, evidently the 1980 Olympic hockey gold medal saved the US from a fate worse than whatever.

    That's what several of my students seem to think. Why? Because there's a movie, and it's all yay testosterone and sports!

  8. Not sure if I should be happy about guessing it - Considering the number of comp papers on the Big Game theme I've graded over the years I'm not surprised though.

  9. Wow. Just wow.
    OK, I'm glad I teach an earlier period. That's all.

  10. The Big Game is one of the reasons that we don't do personal narratives in comp anymore.

    Life is marginally better now.

  11. hockey? well, of course, if it's in a movie, it must be true, but i don't remember anybody being that worked up about hockey back then.

  12. hundfantast11:50 AM

    I'm not sure that it's all that flabbergasting that this was what they picked. It's sports, it's a "hero" story, it's the Olympics, it's "Communism vanquished," etc. The story was splashed all over the front page of the New York Times on February 23. I personally don't remember it all that well, but then again, I don't remember a lot from 1980 other than the 53 hostages in Tehran and the murder of John Lennon.

  13. Reagan? That's my guess. That's my gestalt reaction to "1980"