KING COLUMN: The golden anniversary of a special year

Published 11:34 am Monday, January 2, 2023

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By Bill King
Pastor of Lanier Baptist Church in Lanett

The year 2023 is here. The year is young and still new. To hear the date spoken has a strange sound to it, but that won’t last long. Within a few weeks, we’ll get used to hearing the new date, and within a few months, we won’t even think twice about. Recently, I told a young adult that I’m still writing last year’s date on my checks. He replied, “What’s a check?” My how things have changed. 

Fifty-years ago, the year was 1973. To a young person, that date sounds like ancient history. To someone my age or older, it seems like yesterday. To hear that date spoken brings back a flood of memories. It was in the year of 1973 that I graduated from high school. Mine was Plainview High School, in Rainsville, Alabama. About six years earlier, when I was in the 6th grade, I was given a gold pin that had the initials P.H.S. followed the words “Class of ’73.” I still remember thinking that date will never get here. Not only did it get there, but now I’m staring at it in the rearview mirror, and it is 50 years behind me!

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Life, and the world we live in, was much simpler back in 1973. It seems to me that it was about that time that things really began to change. I couldn’t remember a day in my young life when I had not heard or read about a war that my country was fighting in the jungles of a small country on the other side of the world. I registered but never had to go. In January of 1973, President Richard Nixon announced that a peace accord had been reached and our troops began to come home from Vietnam.  I believe that year was also the first time I heard the word “Watergate.” I didn’t fully understand what Watergate was or what had happened there, but it sure changed the landscape in our political front. Eventually, our Vice President and then our President would resign.

Although I knew nothing about it at the time, the first handheld cell phone call was made in 1973. I would have never believed back then that every member in a family would one day have their own phone and take it with them wherever they went.  We wore bell-bottom jeans with patches sewn on them, tie-dyed shirts, and shoes with bottoms that made short people look tall. The music we listened to, and I learned to play on my guitar, was some of the best. It was by John Denver, James Taylor, Jim Croce, CCR, and Bread, to name a few. The price of a new car was about $3000, but the one I drove was about $300. Gasoline to run it was 30-cents per gallon. 

I had not ventured terribly far from my beloved hometown, but I was ready to take on the world.  I was still young and probably much more naïve than I ever imagined. I was about to set out to conquer the world, to show them how it’s done. The truth is that I probably didn’t even know what “it” was, let alone how to get it done, but oh the bliss of youthful ignorance. I was fairly certain at that time that I knew exactly where I was going. God had plans for my life that I knew nothing about and could never have imagined. All any of us have to do is follow His plan. Fifty-years later, we may be surprised where He has taken us!