Forty-five years ago today as I write, Labor Day weekend had commenced in the United States – the last gasp for unfettered summer fun for most kids, as school started the following week. The front-page stories on the Daily Intelligencer, which served parts of Pennsylvania’s Bucks and Montgomery counties, were related to mostly that. The “Day of Reckoning,” aka the first day of school, was Wednesday throughout the Bux-Mont region – though a few were expected to be delayed due to teacher strikes.
Dr. Cynthia Larimer, the president of the Hatboro-Horsham teachers union quoted in the article about the union’s request for a fact-finder in their contract negotiations, taught English at my high school. I’m jumping ahead a few years now, as I was just about to start 6th grade, but she taught me much about Shakespeare, literature and poetry – and, as importantly, helped me find my voice – once I reached 11th grade.
The Intelligencer wasn’t a newspaper my family regularly read, I should mention. By then, a little more than a year after returning from overseas, we lived in the quaint town of Hatboro, which had its own newspaper – the Today’s Spirit. (It’s not available via Newspapers.com, unfortunately, which is where my clips hail from.) We subscribed to it for the local news and, for a more regional perspective, the Philadelphia Inquirer; and, if that wasn’t enough news ink to wash off your hands, on early Saturday evenings we usually strolled to the local newsstand, Burdick’s, and brought home the Sunday editions of both the Inquirer and its main rival, the Philadelphia Bulletin.
One can easily see the difference between a city paper that considered itself a national and a podunk paper by scanning their front pages. While both fed the people what they needed to know, the local gave people what they couldn’t learn from city broadsheets (and vice versa, for that matter). Opinions were generally held in check everywhere but the op-ed pages. The death of small-town newspapers in the decades since has left the bulk of America in news deserts and increased the likelihood of misinformation running amok. That’s a rant for another day, I suppose, so I’ll leave it there.
In any event, I was 11. The music bug had yet to bite. So, this night, I likely scanned those sections of the 429-page Sunday Inquirer that interested me, aka the comics, sports and entertainment, while watching TV and/or devouring a magazine I picked up during the earlier jaunt to Burdick’s – a wrestling rag, no doubt. Which means I missed this front page story of the borough cracking down on teens who cruised main street most weekends:
I wouldn’t be surprised if, while those teens were cruising the night away, they had their radios tuned to stations that were playing these hits…
And with that, here’s today’s Top 5: Nothing but the Hits, 9/4/1976. The songs sum up the year quite well, I think, ranging from disco to pop to smooth soul.
1) The Bee Gees – “You Should Be Dancing.”
2) Lou Rawls – “You’ll Never Find Another Love Like Mine.”
3) Wings – “Let ‘Em In.”
4) England Dan & John Ford Coley – “I’d Really Love to See You Tonight.”
5) K.C. & the Sunshine Band – “(Shake, Shake, Shake) Shake Your Booty.”