The boomer mind of a professional rememberer

Some baby boomers remember the past better than others. We figure the very best is retired Evansville, Indiana columnist and still-producing-books author Garret Mathews, because that’s what he has done for a living. In fact Garret calls himself a “professional rememberer.” BoomerCafé is now running a series of installments of some of Garret’s remembrances which, as you’ll see, are no different than the things we remember … or wish we did. Here, he gives us a tease of what’s to come. Maybe you’ll see yourself in some of this.

Not once did I make the straight-A honor roll. I was decidedly mid-range on the college SATs, not cracking 1,000. It took constant studying to maintain a B average at Virginia Tech.

Veteran newspaperman Garret Mathews.

Veteran newspaperman Garret Mathews.

A plugger, in other words.

But when it comes to recalling things that happened in my life – especially growing up – I am book-worthy.

I know. I can’t explain it either.

Need more proof?

Can I quote chapter and verse on the only home run I ever hit in organized baseball? Verily, I say unto you. The drive came off Jason Harris in Little League. My coach, Mr. Crigger, met me with a giant hug. Despite my heroics, the Jaycees lost to the Mattie Roundtree Garden Club, 4-1.

Can I recall the telephone numbers of my best childhood friends? Naturally. Bill S. could be reached at 628-3025. Bill W. answered to 628-3369.

My only paddling came in fifth grade after I put a woolly worm down Johnny L.’s pants.

The first .45 record I bought with my own money was “Tom Dooley” by the Kingston Trio. The purchase was at Moore Music Store. I was 9 years old.

The Kingston Trio in a studio in the 1950s.

The Kingston Trio in a studio in the late 1950s.

The worst grade I got in school was the “D” in Math 214 at Virginia Tech.

When I was a student there, Abingdon High School called it quits for the day at 3:12. p.m.

The first McDonald’s came to Bluefield in 1975.

mcdonalds-oldWCYB, the television station in Bristol, Virginia, hosted a program called Classroom Quiz. Teams of three high school students answered questions. I was a member of the Episcopal Church Senior Youth Group that was selected to appear. We won in consecutive weeks before losing. Questions I answered correctly were about the statue of Admiral Lord Nelson in Trafalgar Square, the catapult as an ancient weapon and the dingo dogs of Australia. I whiffed on the one about the Rockettes at New York City Music Hall.

In high school, I sold greeting cards door-to-door for $1.25 a box. My take was 45 cents.

In 1975, I paid $7.50 to see the Rolling Stones in Greensboro, N.C.

The first time I danced cheek-to-cheek was with Barbara P. at a dance party in Roger P.’s basement. I was in the sixth grade.

The only time I farted loud enough for everyone in the room to hear was in Mr. Elton’s ninth-grade algebra class. He stopped in the middle of the simultaneous linear equation he was solving at the chalkboard and said, “Thar she blows.”

Enough already. Suffice to say, my grey matter will engage your grey matter and, if you’re reading this on an airplane, you’ll have crossed the country on a wing, a prayer, and a bunch of blasts from your past.


  1. Garret, we are kindred spirits.

    For some reason I remember the license plates of my parents’ cars in the 60s & 70s.
    (LGX 482 was the used white Ford Galaxie. NFB 166 was the used blue VW bug.
    WJJ 969 was the used blue Ford Galaxie with the white top.

    Milk was 7 cents a day in first grade, tuition, $15 a month, the bus, 15 cents. A McDonald’s burger was 20 cents, fries or a Coke 15 cents each (the price of a loaf of bread.)

    I still know my high school locker combination. And what it was changed to.

    First album: The Beach Boys “Endless Summer,” for $4.24. (I was earning $2.65 per hour.)

    (Why, then, was math such a struggle?!)

    Like you, I do love remembering people and events!

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