As I countdown to my 60th birthday on Friday, here are 3 highlights of my life that stand out for these years.
10 – 19 years old (1967 – 1976)
GETTING MY LICENSE AND GRADUATING FROM HIGH SCHOOL. I learned to drive on a car with a stick shift, and I got my license as soon as I could at 16. One time, as a newly-licensed driver, I parked in the inclined driveway of a girl’s house, and after we’d kissed for about 30 seconds, I opened my eyes to see that we’d rolled down the driveway and into the street because I’d had my foot on the clutch instead of the brake. I graduated 4th in my high school class in 1975 to Pomp & Circumstance and our senior class song, which was Stairway to Heaven.
GOING TO COLLEGE AND THE FIRST TIME FEELING LIKE AN ADULT. I didn’t do very well on my SATs (verbal higher than math—no surprise there), but I did get accepted into East Carolina University. I initially planned to major in Music before switching to their Math with a Computer Science Option degree. This was before there was a separate, accredited Computer Science degree, and I “wrote” Assembly and Cobol programs on an IBM punched card machine and later learned to program a PDP-11 computer. The first time I felt like a bonafide adult was shortly after moving into a dorm, when someone asked me to play tennis at 10 o’clock on a “school night,” and I realized it wasn’t “too late to do that” if I wanted to, and I didn’t have to ask anyone permission anyway.
WORKING MY WAY THROUGH COLLEGE AND BUYING MY FIRST CAR. For the first two years of college, I rode a bicycle from my dorm to Burger King, where I worked 40 hours a week at $2.37/hour while carrying a full class schedule. I once got a ticket for riding my bike home from work with no light on it after dark, and I remembered being outraged that someone working as hard as I was “just to make it,” would be “penalized” in that way. Then, I bought a brand new 1977 Toyota Corolla, and my car payments were $79 a month.