In December 1978, we packed up and moved to Miami (I’ve moved in one big circle over the course of my life…from Miami to Seattle to San Diego to Miami to Virginia back to San Diego, with a four year stint in Missouri somewhere in there). On the way, we spent Christmas with my mother’s aunt, cousin, and their family in San Antonio, TX. I’d only visited their home in San Antonio only once before, about three years beforehand. My mom’s cousin had a son a year or two older than I was and he was way into science fiction. I recalled on our last visit, we talked a lot about Star Trek. This time, it was all about the Wars.
He was a HUGE fan. Not only did he have loads of toys, he had tons of magazines and comics. And of course he had posters. I’d never seen the Marvel Star Wars comics until that visit. He also had audio recordings of t.v. interviews and a special I’d apparently missed, “The Making of Star Wars.” Seriously, he was really surprised I hadn’t seen it. He was the first person who told me that Darth Vader had fought Obi-Wan in the past and got real burned on a volcano. He must’ve read it in one of his mags.
So I guess because of that his mother and grandmother knew exactly what to get my brother and I for Christmas. I went with my mother’s aunt to the PX (her husband had been in the Army) and there she picked up for me the 12″ Leia doll and got for my brother Luke. Then she threw in the Chewbacca too. I guess she was feeling generous. On Christmas Day, we also got the Escape From The Death Star board game. It was a pretty sweet haul.
Then before we headed out for Florida, the son of my mom’s cousin gave my brother and I a stack of his Star Wars Marvel comics, ones he’d already read. I’m sure it’s a move he regrets until this day. Ha! So on the road to Miami, I read through them all at least once or twice.
When the new year rolled into 1979, I was in a new house and a new school, and it seemed like Star Wars fever was dying down. After all, it couldn’t last forever. But there was the sequel to look forward to!
The first major news I’d ever heard about this sequel was sometime in early 1979. I was eating breakfast prior to going to school and “Good Morning America” was on. There was a Hollywood gossip segment with Rona Barrett. For the benefit of my younger readers, Rona Barrett was sort of the Perez Hilton of her time, only a lot nicer. She dished news on Tinseltown but wasn’t snarky or malicious about it. Anyway, when uttered the words “Star Wars,” she immediately got my attention. She announced that the new Star Wars movie would be called (drumroll please)…”The Empire Strikes Back.”
What the…? What kind of a title was that??
Not only was I puzzled by the title, I was saddened to be reminded by Rona that the film wouldn’t come out for another year. To a nine-year-old, a year is a lifetime! How was I going to get through a whole year??
Somehow, I managed to survive the rest of 1979. I’m not sure how, but I did. I managed to make new friends, finished the fourth grade, and over the summer visited Walt Disney World with members of my mom’s family. The second I turned 10 that summer, I suddenly started to become interested in tween stuff back before there was a term for it. I wanted to carry a purse all of a sudden and sort of started to care about clothes. I started having boy crushes. Eeek!
I got into the Japanese proto-anime show “Starblazers,” which aired at 6:30 a.m. weekdays. I’d get up earlier than necessary just to watch the show. I’m not kidding. We didn’t have a VCR then, so if you missed it, you missed it. While the show, originally called “Battleship Yamamoto,” pre-dates Star Wars, it was a space opera of sorts in its own right. It was while watching the show I discovered my first One True Pairing…the leads Nova and Derek. Long before fangirls invented the term “shipper,” not only did I watch “Starblazers” for the cool action, I also watched to see what would happen to Nova and Derek. Well, I liked the bad guy Deslok too. Deslok was sort of this tragic figure, which I guess predicated my eventual crush on Anakin Skywalker more than 20 years later!
also started to get interested in pop music. Not the soft contemporary stuff my parents liked but the stuff I’d hear at the roller skate rink. Lordy, I loved the roller rink. Never got injured but I was a scaredy-cat skater, not really taking any chances out there on the floor.
As for the movies, well, I have to say 1979 was a dry spell for me. I didn’t see “The Black Hole,” Disney’s attempt to cash in on SW mania until I visited Panama in 1980. There was “Star Trek The Motion Picture,” but I was shocked at how dull it was. To this day, I haven’t forgotten the long trip around the Enterprise or the even longer journey into that cloud where “V’ger” was located.
Somewhere in that time period, Star Wars became “Episode IV: A New Hope.” I hadn’t seen the film during its 1979 re-release and to be honest, I don’t really remember when I started thinking of the film as “A New Hope,” or just “ANH.” It just kind of happened. Because I didn’t see the re-release, I missed the first trailer for TESB. Yes, that real corny one with Harrison Ford narrating.
Nope, things were quiet on my end until early 1980….
To be continued…