For the first five years of our marriage, Hannah and I lived the sunshine life in Tempe, Arizona (part of Phoenix’s Valley of the Sun). While Hannah went to grad school in nursing and later in counseling at Arizona State University, I taught fourth, then sixth grade in the Tempe Elementary Schools. As we knocked on the door of our thirties, we decided that we were ready for kids of our own. It seems the universe had other plans.
After two years of trying, we came up empty. We were done trying. Bummed, we even thought of moving to Montana. True story. And then in January of 1979, we learned that Hannah was pregnant thanks to a carefree November weekend in California. Who knew? Though Hannah’s pregnancy had the usual first trimester fatigue, but no morning sickness, she kept up her five miles of daily running well into her ninth month. Our plan was that when our first child was born, we would buy newspapers from that day to commemorate it.
More than ready, nearly nine months into her pregnancy, Hannah had rumblings aplenty throughout the first Saturday morning in August. Driving her to Desert Samaritan Hospital in Mesa some five miles from home, I had no idea what the next twelve hours would bring. What first time parent does? Psyched for the action to begin in the early afternoon, we waited in an appropriately named “waiting room;” soon we learned that her uterus was not in a dilating mood. Hannah’s due date was three days away, so we were sent home; we decided to go by way of Phoenix – a major miscalculation.
Driving to Riazzi’s Italian Garden just over the Salt River Bridge into Phoenix that early evening, we ordered chicken parmigiana and lasagna. Such a rookie mistake. For literally half the meal, Hannah crouched under the table at our booth doubled over in pain. Even so, we both kept eating. Eight hours later, the error of our ways would come home to roost.
With contractions getting serious, we returned to the hospital early that evening; Hannah’s dilations were making progress toward the magic number of 10. Saturday Night Live with Ricky Nelson kept Hannah distracted as contractions got closer and closer; that coincided with every last bit of lasagna coming north as we approached the midnight hour. By 230A, Molly Melinda Rothermel came asinging into the world. Ready or not, and more not than ready, we set off on the adventure of our lives.
And by the way, funny story (in retrospect). We had no health insurance! Never gave a thought to the possibility of complications. As a teacher for the Tempe Elementary Schools making $15K, I would have to pay $100 per month to add Hannah to my health insurance.
Since all prenatal care and doctor visits, hospital costs around the delivery, and post birth care by the pediatrician would be just $800, we both agreed that to save the $400 we would not to put Hannah on my health insurance. The universe shook its head, smiled down, and let this Grand Oversight slide. A beautiful, happy, healthy Molly made us a family of three.
From the newspapers we bought on the day of Molly’s birth, The Arizona Republic reported these stories.
At the top of the front page, it had the weather predicted for the day (high of 105F and low of 68F). Headlines above the fold were not page turners – Debate renewed on sports arena for Civic Plaza and Gulf oil spill nears US coast.) Boring!
Turning to the Arizona Magazine section with the cover story about tubing down the Gila River, I noticed eight pages of ads for cigarettes (e.g., Camel Lights, Winston Filters)! Eight years before in 1971, Congress had banned the advertising of cigarettes on television and radio so print media reaped the rewards and did its best to seduce a generation of smokers.
In the entertainment section, movie ads included Escape from Alcatraz with Clint Eastwood, Sunburn with Farrah Fawcett, Rocky II with Sylvester Stallone, and Meatballs with a young Bill Murray.
Sydney Omarr in the Astrological Forecast said if August 5 is your birthday, you are attractive to the opposite sex; your ability to communicate leads you into the media and success in print. (Molly does write regularly as a math educator.) You have a lively curiosity – you often have more questions than answers. (She clearly passed that gene on to our grandsons, Owen and Max!)
In the Sun Living section, there were ads for houses in Knoll Gardens on Baseline Road in Tempe, where we lived. New homes were priced from the mid-$40s (i.e., $40,000). Six years earlier, Hannah and I had bought our first 3 bedroom house on a fenced-in quarter acre lot in Tempe for $21,000, that was fully-furnished.
That Sunday morning, I also bought the mammoth Sunday New York Times, which cost $0.85 cents in the New York Metropolitan area and $2.50 in Tempe, Arizona.
The lead was A New Government is Formed in Italy. Not quite, Man walks on the Moon. Within the first section, there was an article, Study Finds 10 States Will Afford the Best Life for Retirees. It turned out Arizona was one of the ten. With retirement nowhere on our radar, we would move two plus years later to New England. Our adopted state of Maine was not on the list, yet that is where we will retire, save for a few winter months somewhere warm. We are soft.
An ad titled It’s Better in the Bahamas. Starting at $82 a Week! On Nassau, you can get lovely accommodations for 7 nights and an island sightseeing tour for $82 to $303. Those were the days!
The Arts and Leisure section advertised $9 and $11 tickets for an upcoming Grateful Dead concert at Madison Square Garden.
The cost of a first class stamp was $0.15, a gallon of gas was $0.86, and a gallon of milk was $1.62.
60 Minutes was the top rated television show. #2 was Three’s Company, #5 was M.A.S.H., and #6 was Dallas.
Fact is, August 5, 1979 was pretty much like any other day that summer, except for the highlight – Molly Melinda Rothermel came into the world.
The preview picture of Molly for this blog was taken during her running of the Boston Marathon ten years ago.