On December 7th, 1972, the United States launched the final Apollo mission to the moon, Apollo 17. The question was then asked -- What's next? President Nixon answered the question; he ordered the development of a space shuttle program. (It was 1981, before the Shuttle took its first orbital flight.) It was in 1972, too, when the interplanetary, unmanned spaceship, Mariner 9, sent back pictures of Mars.
Whatever might be said about President Nixon, we might praise him for his international reach. He held his hand out to the leader of China and of Russia, visiting both the capitals of both countries in 1972. However, it was in this year that Nixon's unraveling had begun. On June 17th, five men were arrested for burglarizing the offices of the Democratic National Committee at the Watergate complex at Washington. Thereafter, "The Watergate scandal" unfolded. I quote Wikipedia:
"The Watergate scandal was a political scandal during the 1970s in the United States resulting from the break-in of the Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate office complex in Washington, D.C. Effects of the scandal ultimately led to the resignation of the President of the United States, Richard Nixon, on August 9, 1974, the first and only resignation of any U.S. President. It also resulted in the indictment, trial, conviction and incarceration of several Nixon administration officials. The affair began with the arrest of five men for breaking and entering into the Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate complex on June 17, 1972. The FBI connected the payments to the burglars to a slush fund used by the 1972 Committee to Re-elect the President [To become known as, CREEP]. As evidence mounted against the president's staff, which included former staff members testifying against them in an investigation conducted by the Senate Watergate Committee, it was revealed that President Nixon had a tape recording system in his offices and that he had recorded many conversations. Recordings from these tapes implicated the president, revealing that he had attempted to cover up the break-in. After a series of court battles, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the president had to hand over the tapes; he ultimately complied. Facing near-certain impeachment in the House of Representatives and a strong possibility of a conviction in the Senate, Nixon resigned the office of the presidency on August 9, 1974. His successor, Gerald Ford, issued a pardon to President Nixon after his resignation."Nixon's fall is all the more surprising given his landslide victory in the 1972 Election. Just as surprising, is, that just that October, he had signed legislation which was to increase Social Security spending by $5.3 billion.
In November of 1972, a couple of scientists, Herbert Boyer and Stanley N. Cohen, were writing about something called, recombinant DNA. Boyer and Cohen were not the only ones exploring and producing in test-tubes, DNA. "Recombinant DNA technology has dramatically changed the field of biological sciences, especially biotechnology, and opened the door to genetically modified organisms." (Wikipedia.) In medicine, the use of computer axial tomography, to become commonly known as CAT, was used to produce two-dimensional images of the insides of persons. In February of that year, that U.S. airlines began mandatory inspection of passengers and baggage; before that, one just presented his ticket and was shown a seat (Oh! -- For the good old days.)
I think it was to be a couple of years later before I brought home an apparatus so that I and the kids could play a game on our TV set. It was Pong. It was introduced by its developer, Atari, at the end of November in 1972, though it had not developed the home version until around 1975. It was a two dimensional game in black and white. It was like a table-top tennis where one player could pit herself up against another (maybe Dad). One had to return the ball (a white dot) back over the line to the other player before it got in the net.
I have already told of my impressions on going into the first year of law (Chapter 22). During the first year, at least at the first of it, one was concerned that law was not a subject that could possibly be mastered; in the law library, where I spent a considerable amount of time, all about, one could see the vast sea of law represented by the law books -- shelf after shelf, row after row. At some point it clicks in: the student does not have to know the law in the sense of being able to recite it, at least not beyond the basic principles. What any student of the law gets to know, is that, one may not have too many details of a particular legal point; what is critical, and what one learns at law school, is how to look it up in a reasonably efficient manner.
As the student enters into the second year, the worries of that first year are diminished. The second year is usually one of hard work as you went about developing a better understanding of the various departments of the law. As for the third year: well, you were simple anxious to get out of the place and to move on with your career. One wag expressed the experience of law school in this way: the first year they frighten you to death, the send year they work you to death, and the third year they bore you to death.
FROM WINDSOR JUNCTION TO FALL RIVER
Have you ever heard the song, The Railroad Runs Through The Middle Of The House. Well, in these years we lived in a house in Windsor Junction, which, while the railroad did not run through the middle of the house, it did run right along side of it. It will be remembered that it was in 1969 (when we first moved back to Nova Scotia from Ontario) we moved into a house located at Windsor Junction. The rent was low and one had to get use to trains running by a couple of times a day; but, and this was a big plus, Windsor Junction was a community of a remarkably well connected people; we made many friends there, including the Frizzels and the Clarkes.
(I should mention, what with a railroad and a busy highway near by, the kids had to be taught some sharp lessons. One I remembered teaching the kids, is this: walk on the right side of the road and be perfectly alert to traffic. "Why, if you were hit by a motor vehicle, there would be nothing left of you; what was once you, would look like so much hamburger and ketchup strewn about the road." As for the railway: the kids had a real graphical example of what would happen if you got tangled up with a train. We had an orange coloured cat, Pussy Willow; one morning we discovered Pussy Willow, quartered in four pieces and spread along the train tracks. I was the one who found Pussy Willow's pieces and was therefore able to spare the kids the shock of it all; but a very valuable lesson was learned.)
One day in the winter of 1971/2 we were visiting Russell and Eileen Clarke, who lived on the same lane that we did at Windsor Junction. Russell was a grade school teacher and Eileen a nurse. They had gotten together with a small group of young couples who each were going to build a house under a provincial government housing programme: co-op housing. It was expected that the building would start in the summer of 1972. There was time for Louise and I to join in. We made arrangements to buy a lot from the Bishop family: Lake Thomas Crescent, just off of Bluehill Road in the community of Fall River not far from Windsor Junction. We looked forward to a new house away from the busy road and the train tracks, and one that has a lake just across the street, Lake Thomas. The co-op that I and my friends incorporated, with the help of the people at the Nova Scotia Housing Commission, was known as Project Three (the three part grew into four or five families). That summer was a busy one, as I went about swinging a hammer and dealing with contractors for the various aspects of the building. We built a home with the money coming from a mortgage of $23,000. That autumn, we were in our new home.
On July 21, 1972, comedian, George Carlin was arrested by Milwaukee police for public obscenity, for reciting his Seven Words You Can Never Say On Television. On September 4th of that year, the first episode of "The Price Is Right" was hosted on CBS by Bob Barker. The movies: Cabaret, Deliverance and The Godfather. The songs: First Time Ever I Saw Your Face, by Roberta Flack; Alone Again (Naturally) by Gilbert O'Sullivan; and, American Pie by Don McLean.
[Pictures: The House That Peter Built, 1972]
NEXT: [Chapter Twenty-Four, Startling World Events, 1973]