Dad turned 70 years-old January 29th and for all the hype that milestone birthdays bring, it’s no wonder that people plan parties, reflect on decades of living, achievement and the legacy that life brings when you have a portfolio 7 decades long.
My dad, AKA 'Pop-Pop' was born in New Jersey 7 innings ago, as Robert Howard Maher (yeah, with the same surname as yours truly). During that month, Franklin Delano Roosevelt established the March of Dimes. Benny Goodman performed in Carnegie Hall in New York City and the first ski tow opened in Vermont. So much has happened in the world since then; some were milestones and others are black marks on history.
For instance, the year 1938 was marked by several important historical events pertaining to the Nazi holocaust. German troops entered Austria, the Mauthausen and other concentration camps opened, Winston Churchill condemned Hitler in response to the Munich agreement, which allowed for German occupation of Czechoslovakia, and November’s Kristallnacht occurred (being the first night of large-scale violence against Jews by the Nazi regime). These dark spots on the year 1938 were only precursors to the darker years ahead marking the economic hardships of the Great Depression and the sorrows plaguing the emergence of World War II.
On the lighter side of history, in entertainment, 1938 saw the debut of Porky Pig, Daffy Duck & Bugs Bunny. Disney’s version of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs premiered. BBC’s production of the first science fiction program for television aired and RCA & NBC were born. Baseball introduced helmets for all batters at the plate, Pearl S. Buck won the Nobel prize for Literature, and Orson Welles’ version of H.G. Wells’ “War of the Worlds” was broadcast on the radio, creating a national state of chaos and panic. 1938 also marked the first time that Kate Smith sang her infamous “God Bless America” live on the radio.
Invention and innovation entered the world stage in 1938 with the discovery of oil in Saudi Arabia, DuPont's marketing of the first nylon toothbrush, Douglas’ test flight of the DC-4 airplane, and the maiden voyage of the Queen Elizabeth out of Glasgow. The Thousand Islands Bridge, connecting the US and Canada over the St. Lawrence River was dedicated by thenPresident Roosevelt.
It was also the year that a 450 metric ton meteorite struke an empty field in Chicora, Pennsylvania, Howard Hughes achieved a world record by completing a 91 hour airplane flight around the world and the Mallard steam train broke a record speed of 126 mph. Transportation changed all around the world in 1938. My... how things have changed throughout the world in 70 years' time!
At the age of seventy, one has lived to see many things both personally and historically. Like a consecutive tri-marathon, or a very long baseball game, Pop has endured being a child of the Great Depression who was the oldest of seven children. He survived a two-year stint in the US Army, a 30+ year career with the same employer, the tedious raising of three precocious daughters and marriage to the same woman for 42 years. As a result of the endurance, his legacy boasts eight grandchildren and a treasure chest of friends. He has enjoyed tenure as a high school tennis coach, a hobbyist who loves working with his hands, and a resume of rebuilding vintage sports cars and fixing a lot of stuff. His landmarks in the community include being a volunteer all his adult life. He is a member of the Knights of Columbus and the Elks. He is a Catholic who prays everyday and loves his family. For all that and so much more; Pop, you owe yourself a couple victory laps.
Congratulations on batting a 1000 and Happy 7th inning stretch. Let's party...woo hoo!