Thursday, December 3, 2015

Where were you in 1977?

You know what December 18 is, don’t you? The day Episode VII of Star Wars hits theaters? How could you not?

How about this: where were you when you saw the first Star Wars? (Is this on the same level as where were you when President Kennedy was assassinated?) Star Wars was a phenomenon for us Third Thirders. Sort of like Harry Potter is for our kids (and us), but even more so. We were the children of the space race, the fans of the original Mercury astronauts. We watched Star Trek, and we were primed for the release of Episode IV.

I still remember: it was 1977, and my assignment was to wait on line at the Coronet Theater in San Francisco. [Yikes! I just Googled “Coronet Theater,” and found LOTS of people writing about seeing Star Wars there. Photos were taken of the line and they’re asking people to look at enlarged images and find themselves. This is like Woodstock!]

I was living with my boyfriend around the corner at the time. To this day, I have no memory of why we knew we had to see the movie. Maybe it was the trailers, but my job was to get on line early and hold space. I don’t think lines really formed for movies back then. The whole thing was very out-of-this-world … and so was the movie!

From the opening sequence, we were enthralled. It was spectacular on so many levels. I remember walking home, pumped with adrenalin, enthusiasm, appreciation for a job so well done.
I’m not a nut-case Star Wars fan. I never bought a light saber, never wanted to be Princess Leia, would never wear a costume to a movie theater. Nevertheless, I remain a permanent devotee of the Force and believe absolutely in a Force that our instinct and gut can access, but I think I may have believed that beforehand anyway (what with all my high school science projects on ESP). I still recall the image of Luke finally trusting in the Force.

So I excitedly turned to Tim, told him about my theory that Star Wars is to us like Harry Potter is to Sophie’s age range. His eyes sort of rolled, and he said, “Maybe for you.” What?? “But you were into the Mercury 7 astronauts exhibit when we went to the NASA Space Center.” “Yeah, but that’s not Star Wars.” It’s not??

So I guess this isn’t universal; I won’t even tell you about the friend of mine who turned to me at a Star Trek movie and said, “Wasn’t there supposed to be an R2D2 in it?”
Oh, but for me, it was all about space, the final frontier. I still have my scrapbook of John Glenn newspaper clippings. As kids, when we got a giant cardboard box from an appliance, one we could fit inside, we’d shout out instructions to roll, yaw, or pitch. Before I moved to Alaska, I went to hear Sally Ride speak. Afterwards, Jean-Luc Picard, Data, and Deanna Troi entered my life. Asimov’s Foundation series. And yes, there’s even Galaxy Quest.
I am scared of heights and have no wish to ever, ever, ever go into space. I don’t even like flying in planes. It was never about actually DOING it. It was about IMAGINING it. Even vicariously.

So now, I’m imagining the treat in store for me after December 18, and in preparation, I’m watching episodes I-VI over again. (Okay, this is maybe sounding a little over-the-top. I would roll my eyes at me if I weren’t me.) I’m checking DVDs out one-by-one from the library – and getting a whole lot more out of them thanks to pause and rewind. With subtitles, I can even figure out what that wretched Jar Jar Binks is saying.

I’m ready for the Big Screen. Are you? 


  1. I was in Anchorage in 1977. I do remember the movie. I don't remember a big line. Maybe there wasn't a big line in Anchorage. Or maybe I didn't go until Star Wars had been out for a week or two.

  2. Here is my memory of Star Wars: Watched the preview with a date and I leaned over to him and said. "Ugh, no one will go to that movie.". He replied, "I think you are wrong."

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