In January, 1982, Hannah and I moved from Arizona to New England with our two young daughters. With no jobs, Hannah flew East with Molly (2.5 years) and Robyn (4 months) while I drove cross country in a 24’ Ryder Truck with my teaching buddy, Ralph Bethancourt. Hannah and I were floating on a cloud, propelled by the romantic notion of raising a family in a small town in New England – you know, really knowing our neighbors, being vital strands in the fabric of the community, all at a slower pace.
By March, Hannah and I had rented one side of a duplex in Portsmouth, NH. Having found a three-month “maternity leave” teaching job at Oyster River Middle School in Durham, NH, I then scored a full-time position in Somersworth (NH) Middle School for the following year.
With a family of five on our minds, we chose the family health insurance. You may remember that we paid just $800 for Molly’s prenatal and birthing expenses in 1979 and $1000 for Robyn in 1981. By 1983, Will’s expenses around his birth would have been $2500 without insurance. We weren’t in Kansas (or Arizona) anymore!
Going old school (i.e., not knowing the gender), we soon learned that child #3” s due date of October 8 was just an educated guess, not higher mathematics. Awaking on the morning of the 12th, Hannah knew things were stirring. And when at 7A her water broke right there in our kitchen, we knew our Columbus Day baby was on the way.
Fortunately, my sister Patty had spent the night and could watch Molly and Robyn while I drove Hannah to the Portsmouth (NH) Hospital (at the time York Hospital didn’t have a birthing unit). Unlike her first two pregnancies where Hannah was expected to lie in bed as soon as she arrived at the hospital, this time her gynecologist wanted her to walk around as much as was comfortable to let gravity work its magic.
And did gravity ever do its thing! Just hours later at 10A, Jaye Will Rothermel, whom we forever called Will, came bouncing into the world. By the way, the Jaye was for Hannah’s father John.
Hannah’s favorite moment of the entire day was once Will appeared, her doctor, rather than saying you have a boy, said, you have a son. Not just a male, but already a part of the family. Hannah cried.
As with his sisters, we bought and saved newspapers from the day Will was born.
Looking through the papers over the last month, I noticed that the New York Times for that Wednesday was $0.50 in Maine (today’s weekday NYT costs $2.50 here). Disappointedly, the newspaper gave us very little earth shaking news. The lead story was US Says Moscow Threatens to Quit Talks on Missiles (Mikhail Gorbachev was still six years from being the leader of the Soviet Union). The lead picture above the fold (as you see to the left), was of Korean widows whose husbands died in the recent bombings in Rangoon, Burma (Burma became Myanmar in 1989).
Next, I perused the Boston Globe to see if New England had something eye popping to offer. I did learn that the Phillies beat the Orioles 2-1 in the first game of the World Series. That turned out to be the only game the Phillies would win as the Baltimore Orioles swept the next four games to win the World Series. The picture to the right is future Hall of Famer (2007), Cal Ripken, Jr. Nicknamed “The Iron Man,” Cal is known for holding the baseball record for the most consecutive games played (2,632). I imagine that is a big whup if you like baseball and think it is more than just a three-to-four hour ordeal of tedium. (Lighten up Red Sox fans, I do love you!)
Shaking my head that the traditional newspapers were not delivering ground-breaking news, I turned to the MacDonald’s of newspapers, USA Today, for something memorable. By the way, the USA Today began publishing just 13 months before Will was born (September 15, 1982). Known for its one sentence paragraphs, adding color to the black and white world of print journalism, and a country-wide focus on events and the weather (see to the left), the USA Today did offer up that the predicted high was going to be a balmy 61F on that momentous day. I guess that’s a positive.
All I have left is the local York Weekly, published that Wednesday. The lead was the town fathers of Ogunquit (the neighboring town north of York) are unhappy with the Maine Supreme Court overturning a town ordinance over loud music. I told you we live in small town Maine.
In 1983, gas was $1.23 per gallon ($2.92 adjusted for inflation), the average car cost $6000, average family income was $12,100, and the average house cost $105,000.
Flashdance – What a Feeling was the #3 song in 1983 (A personal favorite of Will’s father). Click here to listen this rockin’ classic! Few care that Every Breath You Take by the Police was #1.
Return of the Jedi was the runaway, top grossing film at $252M. Terms of Endearment, which won the Academy Award for Best Picture, was second at $108M. For you fellow Flashdance fans, Flashdance was #3 that year.
Dallas was the top rated television show, followed in order by 60 Minutes, Dynasty, and The A Team.
Given this examination of the print media, it’s quite clear the magic of that fall day in 1983 was the birth of Will Rothermel, now 33 years old.
PS The preview picture of four year old Will at a boat was taken at Ocean Point, Maine.