His Life


Ronnie’s Story

I want to know what Love is

By Kevin Payne


Part One

1978; London, England is two thousand years old and in Italy Rome is more than six thousand years old in some areas. Other sections of Rome are more than fourteen thousand years old. In the United States there are more Italians living in New York City than in Rome.

Jimmy Carter is one year into becoming the worst President in modern history. Americans begin hearing the name Ronald Reagan. Most Americans only know that he is a former movie star and current California governor. And that he wants to be our next President.

It was the Year of Three Popes. Pope Paul VI died August 6, 1978. He was succeeded by Pope John Paul I but he died 33 days later. He was succeeded by Pope John Paul II who remained as Pope until his death in 2005. This was actually the twelfth time in 1151 years this had happened. There were four Popes in the year 1276.

The Vietnam War ended after the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975. It lasted just short of twenty years. With the war over, Hippie Culture had all but faded by 1978. There were still some left over hippies that didn’t get the message.

American made cars were manufactured poorly, most were junk on wheels. It was a time of Ford Pinto's, Chevy Vega's, Dodge Diplomat's and AMC Pacers. This was a perfect opening for the Japanese to sell their cars here. Made in America didn't mean much in the car business.

Henry Ford II the son of Edsel Ford and grandson of Henry Ford, fires Lee Iacocca who then immediately became, President of Chrysler. Among many achievements at Chrysler he re-invented the minivan and made some great looking cars for the time. Iacocca was the most famous businessman in the entire world. He saved the faltering Chrysler. Things surely didn't turn out the way Ford had planned.

1978; was a bad year to go on strike. Especially if you were already making more than twenty something dollars an hour and great benefits, many plants simply fired the employees, locked the doors and moved overseas. Greed usually does turn around and bite you in the ass.

If you were used to making that kind of money it might have taken you awhile to accept the realization that you don't and you won’t any longer. Not even close to it, minimum wage was just raised January 1st from $2.30 to $2.65 an hour. Which meant if you worked 40 hours a week and never took a day off, you would have made $5,512.00 yearly before taxes?

Saturday Night Fever became a cultural phenomenon. The Bee Gees dominate the single and album charts. The band at one point was selling a million albums a week. The Sex Pistols play their final show. They did a reunion show in 1996. Rick Allen joins Def Leppard as permanent drummer at the age of 15.

The Eagles "Hotel California" is nominated for a Grammy. Steve Martin performs King Tut on Saturday Night Live. The Blues Brothers (John Belushi & Dan Aykroyd) make their first appearance on SNL.

The chairs that All in the Family's, Archie and Edith Bunker sat in for eight seasons on television are placed in the Smithsonian.

Boys and young men have long hair. Most just have long wild hair but many have hair half way down their back and some to their butt. Some had hair that made girls envious. Bell bottoms and platform shoes are fading out by now.

In middle and high schools across America marijuana and other drug use is rampant and authorities have no idea what to do about it, so they basically ignore the problem and hope for the best. Indoor rock concerts were so filled with thick marijuana smoke it was hard to see. Many schools are busing students.

Smoking allowed everywhere. People smoked cigarettes pretty much everywhere including court rooms, grocery stores, airplanes, office buildings and hospitals.

People are still Streaking Butt Naked in public. No one knows for sure why they do, but they do. (Mostly young white males)

The mega hit television show DALLAS an hour long prime time soap opera premiers.  A few other shows that premiered this year were 20/20, Mork & Mindy, Taxi, The All New Jeopardy & World News Tonight on ABC. We never did find out who shot J.R. And as far as we know Gilligan is still stranded on a deserted island.

New York's Studio 54 just opened. Disco Fever is in and so are, clothes that move for dancing. Colorful polyester leisure suits are still fashionable for men, but won’t last much longer. Pet Rocks. Yellow or green refrigerators and all other appliances are stylish. Shag real shaggy carpet was in style. Many people still have 8 track players in their car. Some have a hard time giving up the 8 track players.

Ted Bundy is captured for the final time February 15, 1978. He had escaped custody not once but twice before. He killed for the last time on February 9, 1978. It's not certain how many were killed by Bundy the estimate is 26-35+. The state of Florida electrocuted Bundy at 7:06 am on January 24, 1989. People across America chanted. Burn Bundy Burn!!!

The Vampire of Sacramento, Richard Chase was arrested January 28, 1978. Chase killed six people over a one month period. As sick as it sounds he drank their blood and ate their flesh. The Hillside Strangler of Los Angeles, Was actually two men. Cousins Kenneth Bianchi & Angelo Buono kill their tenth and final victim February 16, 1978. They killed ten girls and young women 12-28 years old over a four month period. Jeffrey Dahmer began his killing spree in 1978. We now know there are at least 60 serial killers on the loose at any given time in the United States. Only a few make national news.

The Dallas Cowboys win the Super Bowl, which for the first time both aired on CBS and was played at night. The New York Yankees win the World Series. Al Unser the Indy 500. And Affirmed wins the Kentucky Derby. Then five weeks later after also winning the Belmont and Preakness Stakes the magnificent champion becomes the last Triple Crown taker in history to date. His rider Steve Cauthen had just turned 18 years old five days before the Derby. Cauthen was also the first jockey to win more than six million dollars in a single season. He accomplished the latter at age 17.

There were three Triple Crown winners in the 1970s; Secretariat 1973 and Seattle Slew 1977 including Affirmed the three champions were all alive at the same time. It had been since 1948 when Citation took the Triple Crown. In 1978 this was huge news around the world.

Between the three legendary champions they would earn more than a Quarter of a Billion Dollars in stud fees alone before their deaths on three different Kentucky Horse Farms. 

The 1970's; also produced three Super Bowl wins for the Pittsburgh Steelers between 1974-1979 with head coach Chuck Noll the team won Super Bowls IX, X, XIII. The Cowboy’s & Miami Dolphins both won two games. The Minnesota Vikings played in four 1970s; Super Bowl’s but lost them all. The Steelers have the most wins of any team with six to date.

February 15, 1978, Muhammad Ali (The Greatest, The Champ, The-Louisville-Lip) lost the heavyweight title to Leon Spinks. It was the biggest upset in boxing history. On September 15, 1978 the two fought a rematch for the WBA version of the title at the Louisiana Superdome. Ali won this fight and the title for a record three times. This was Ali's final victory in the ring. He retired after this fight. Then came out of retirement for two more fights he lost both. 

Muhammad Ali at that time was the most recognized person in the world. That would remain true for many years. In 1999 he was crowned "Sportsman of the Century" by Sports Illustrated and "Sports Personality of the Century" by the BBC. That same year Ali was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease.

Howard Cossell could usually get Ali to say something memorable. Here are just a few quotes. 

"Frazier is so ugly he should donate his face to the U.S. Bureau of Wildlife."

"I am the astronaut of boxing. Joe Lewis and Dempsey were just jet pilots. I'm in a world of my own."

"I am the greatest. I said that even before I knew I was."

"I figured if I said it enough. I would convince the world that I really was the greatest."

"I never thought of losing, but now that it's happened, the only thing is to do it right. That's my obligation to all the people who believe in me. We all have to take defeats in life."

"I float like a butterfly and sting like a bee."

"I'll be floatin like a butterfly and stingin like a bee." 

"I wish people would love everybody else the way they love me. It would be a better world."

"Hating people because of their color is wrong. And it doesn't matter which color does the hating. It's just plain wrong."

"Its lack of faith that makes people afraid of meeting challenges, and I believe in myself."

"I'll beat him so bad he'll need a shoehorn to put his hat on."

Muhammad Ali

In Chicago, the first cellular phone is introduced though no one really knows what they are. The microwave oven for home use is unveiled, they were huge and bulky machines, but they worked. A high percentage of Americans that could afford one bought them. VCR's are available though quite expensive and people don't know for sure if they should buy Beta or VHS.

Americans average income was seventeen thousand dollars a year. An average home costs fifty eight thousand. Gasoline is sixty three cents per gallon. A gallon of gas may one day cost a dollar someone said. But this seems so farfetched. It would never be Americans think.

Interest rates are a whopping 11.75%. Gold reaches two hundred dollars per ounce for the first time in history; Postage stamps cost thirteen cents but will be fifteen cents before summer. The craze for computer video games begins.

Marc Bolan (T. Rex lead singer, guitarist, poet and song writer.) was killed in London three months before. September 16, 1977 his drunken girlfriend was driving a Mini 1275GT. She lost control and hit a tree. Bolan died instantly at age 29. Londoner's immediately made the accident site a temporary shrine. The government quickly got right to work and after only thirty years viola! The shrine was officially made permanent in 2007. 

December 21, 1970; Elvis Presley showed up in a limousine uninvited and unexpected at the White House. Presley bizarrely requested a meeting with President Nixon which was granted. He then requested from Nixon a Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs badge. Equally bizarre Nixon granted that request also. No one on earth other than Elvis himself could have pulled that off.

Presley's divorce was final October 9, 1973. From that day his health deteriorated rapidly. He overdosed twice on barbiturates before the years end. By early 1977 he was unrecognizable. 42 year old Elvis Aaron Presley (The King of Rock and Roll or simply The King.) died from a drug overdose at his Memphis home Graceland August 16, 1977. In 1978 America and the world for that matter wanted to know who was responsible.

Graceland is a United States National Historic Landmark. The home is also on the National Register of Historic Places. Open to the public for a fee. Graceland has over six hundred thousand visitors a year. Only the White House has more visitors.

1978 was a year of historic blizzards. Two well known ones were The Great Blizzard of 1978 & the North Eastern United States blizzard of 1978. On a single day January 30, 1978 ninety Americans were killed in blizzards. There was more snow that year than many Americans had ever seen before. Or have seen since. 

Entire book volumes could and I'm sure were written about 1978. It was definitely an interesting period of history. However for me and perhaps you the hands down most important event occurred January 7, 1978.

It was the first Saturday of the New Year with snow falling during a very cold evening a baby boy was born. His name would be Ronald Allen Doll Jr.


Iwant to know what Love is

 Part Two