THE 1970S ARE ENDING. It was the decade of Woodstock and drugs and Vietnam and Richard Nixon and Spiro Agnew and swine flu and Jonestown and my Uncle Joe's death.
It was in 1975 that Uncle Joe died. He had been an accountant by trade, an immigrant from Finland. He was Glenn Miller's accountant and Variety's accountant and Jimmy Durante's, too. Once when Durante called him at home, Joe put me on the phone and Durante said my name. I was eight or nine and thrilled to death. In the 1970s, Joe died. This is what happened in the 1970s.
My son was born in 1972. He came into the world very early on a very cold morning, born in Washington, of a mother from Ohio and a father from New York. He was named Alexander and he was born in 1972. This is what happened in the 1970s.
The decade is ending and everyone is writing about what it means. Things that mean something, though, don't keep time. Movements and ideas don't start and end in 10-year cycles and even the things we think are important -- Woodstock, for instance -- are really nothing but color pictures for news magazines. Uncle Joe was not there. And Alex and was too young.
I got gray in the 1970s. First the gray came out in my hair and then in my beard. It started slowly and then it came rapidly and now people ask me if I was once a redhead. Yes, I was a redhead once before the 1970s. Then I turned gray. This also happened in the 1970s.
Lillian came to America in the 1970s. She was born in India -- a street orphan. She was picked up and saved by Mother Teresa, the Nobel laureate of peace, and my sister in Newton, Mass., adopted her, named her after an aunt who died young of cancer and brought her to this country. She is a little gem and she flew across the oceans in the 1970s.
Sometime during the 1970s, I started to watch my diet. All my life I had been thin, but then all of a sudden, I was fat. This happened around 1976, I could eat something weighing two ounces and gain half a pound from it. It was a miracle -- a miracle in reverse. I had to cut out bread and butter and cookies and ice cream and tuna fish sandwiches on toast with lots of mayo and a glass of white wine. I have not had a tuna fish on toast with mayo since 1978. Someday, if I ever get a terminal disease, I'm going to have a tuna on toast. I'm also going to have a cigarette.
I quit smoking in the 1970s. You might have read about it. I sure as hell wrote about it. It was the hardest thing I've ever done. I found out I had will power. It was an amazing discovery. I suddenly felt very rich. This is what happened in the 1970s. Along with a lot of others, I quit smoking.
Very important things happened I know. It's just hard to figure out what they were. I, for one, think a decade of inflation is important. Vietnam was important, too. But during the 1800s, did they write that Marx was at work at the British Museum? In the 1890s, did they write that Freud was thinking in Vienna and Einstein was coming of age in Germany? Someone must be thinking now. It will be important. But who? No matter, it will not be on television. You cannot take a picture of someone thinking.
My dog Duke died in the 1970s. He had been with me for 14 years. He had lived in lots of places with me and gone across the country with me. He had chased buffalo in the Dakotas and stalked elk in Wyoming and he just couldn't believe his eyes. Up to then, all he had seen were squirrels in Central Park. One night, while I was out of town, he came and lay down next to the bed and died. My wife found him that way in the morning. Duke died in the 1970s. I thought you might want to know.
I bought two houses in the 1970s. I bought three cars and I had teeth pulled.My mouth is worth more than my cars. I got affluent somehow and my son is terrific and my marriage works, but the cars, sometimes, do not. We have a new dog. This is what happened to me in the 1970s.
I got married right before the 1970s -- 1969, to be exact. I'm still married and this is no mean trick nowadays. During the 1970s, I fell in love with my wife many times and I saw others fall in love too. This is what happened in the 1970s.
This happened and so much more happened but somehow nothing happened. People still clung to each other and searched for love and mourned their dead and bought their houses and raised their children . . . This is what happened in the 1970s. It was a miracle. t
Life went on.