Category Archives: 19 Somethin’

*Throwback Thursday* – Space Shuttle Challenger

It’s time for a little Throwback Thursday. Today marks 30 years since the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster. This is an article I originally posted on October 22, 2010, as part of the 19 Somethin’ series. In that series, broke down the Mark Wills hit “19 Somethin’” line by line. If you are unfamiliar with that country tune, Mark Wills makes ’70s and ’80s pop culture references throughout the whole song. He had a line about the disaster, so here is the whole article dedicated to it. It even features a “Very Special Episode” of Punky Brewster at the end.


challenger_flight_51-l_crewThe 19 Somethin’ series continues. If you missed the previous articles, you can get caught up here.

Here is the next line in the song:

Space shuttle fell out of the sky
and the whole world cried

In the ’80s, there were some events that were shown over and over again. The assassination attempt on President Reagan. Joe Theisman’s leg snapping in half (Nasty. And we had to relive that in the first minute of last year’s movie, The Blind Side). The ball going between Bill Buckner’s legs (Tragic for Red Sox fans, glorious for Met fans). And of course, the space shuttle disaster.

The Space Shuttle Challenger disaster occurred on January 28, 1986. 73 seconds after takeoff, the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded and broke into pieces over the Atlantic Ocean. Up to that point in the space program’s history, the flights were becoming a casual thing. For a long time, it was a major event when a rocket, or the new space shuttles took off. But, after a few years of the space shuttles taking off and landing, you may not have known when a shuttle was being sent up.

However, this flight of the Space Shuttle Challenger was an exception. One of the members of this crew was to be the first schoolteacher to go up in space – Christa McAuliffe. Not only was there general interest in this, but many public schools across the nation showed the launch live. Here is the launch, that many of us have seen many times, but may not have seen it in a while:

On the night of the disaster, President Ronald Reagan had been scheduled to give his annual State of the Union Address. He initially announced that the address would go on as scheduled, but then postponed the State of the Union Address for a week and instead gave a national address on the Challenger disaster from the Oval Office of the White House. He finished the address with the line from the poem “High Flight” by John Gillespie Magee, Jr.:
“We will never forget them, nor the last time we saw them, this morning, as they prepared for their journey and waved goodbye and ‘slipped the surly bonds of Earth’ to ‘touch the face of God.'”

Here is the whole address:

The days and weeks following the disaster, we learned more about O-rings than we ever wanted to. The disaster occurred because a rubber O-ring froze, and failed to seal the tanks from the hot high-pressure gases, and the rest is history.

The following were the crew members:


Captain Dick Scobee

Michael J. Smith

Judith Resnick


Ronald McNair

Ellison Onizuka

Gregory Jarvis

Christa McAuliffe

After a 32-month hiatus, the next shuttle mission was launched on September 29, 1988. That shuttle was the Discovery, which was also the first shuttle launched after the 2003 Columbia disaster.

In March 1986, NBC aired the second season finale of Punky Brewster, which saw Punky, who was dreaming to be an astronaut, and her class, trying to deal with the Challenger tragedy, after watching the launch in school. The episode was immediately scripted soon after the crash, as NBC executives knew a lot of children would be devastated by the loss of Christa McAuliffe, a teacher, as the launch was shown in many schools.

Here is the episode. Part 2 gives an idea of the initial reaction of the disaster:

Part 1:

Part 2:

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19 Somethin’ – Big Hair and Parachute Pants

We have now reached the conclusion of the 19 Somethin’ series. If you missed the previous articles, you can get caught up here.

Here are the next lines in the song:

big hair and Parachute pants
and lookin’ back now I can see me
oh man did I look cheesy
I wouldn’t trade those days for nothin’
ah, it was 1980 somethin’

There is nothing else new in the song related to the ’70s or ’80s. Did you enjoy this series? Let me know your thoughts.

In the meantime, we will talk about Big hair and Parachute Pants:

There used to be the Beehive, and then the Beatles haircut. Then in the late ’60s early ’70s, there were Afros and men started growing their hair long. But nobody’s hair gets mentioned more than the ’80s. Both men and women had hair that could reach to the stars. And it can be argued that the hairspray, required to hold all that hair in place, burned a huge hole in the ozone layer. In general the hair could be feathered. This was probably started by Farah Fawcett in the late-’70s. The hair could be long or short in the back, but the top and sides would still be feathered. There were other hairdos that could (and should) only be seen in the ’80s. The Feathered hair could lead to the Mullet! Oh yeah, business in the front and party in the back! And don’t forget the Jheri Curl! This was started by Michael Jackson. But Eric LaSalle probably had the best Jheri curls of the ’80s in the movie Coming to America.
And finally, there was the New Wave style. The hair very short at the sides and back and extra long in the front so the hair is worn over one eye.
So, long or short, the ’80s probably had the most memorable hair of any decade!

And finally, we’ll wrap up with the Parachute Pants. I mean, what else are you suppose to break dance in?!? The parachute pants were made of nylon, and usually had a bunch of zippers. They could also be called Zipper pants. The nylon made it easy to move and slide around while break dancing. I don’t know what exactly the zippers were for though. It’s not like you could fit anything in the pockets. The ’70s can keep their ugly bell-bottoms. We’ll take the parachute pants any day!

19 Somethin’ – Trans Am

The 19 Somethin’ series continues. If you missed the previous articles, you can get caught up here.

We will continue on the line in the song, focusing on the Trans Am:

Skatin’ rinks and black Trans Ams

The ’80s had some great cars. One of the most popular was the Pontiac Firebird Trans Am.

Here is a commercial:

Here are some other cool cars from the ’80s:

This is the Ferrari 308 GTB. This was the car from Magnum P.I.:

This is the Lamborghini Countach. The doors opened by tilting up:

The Camaro Iroc-Z:
The Delorean. Everybody knows this as the car from Back to the Future:

The Corvette:

19 Somethin’ – Skating rinks

The 19 Somethin’ series continues. If you missed the previous articles, you can get caught up here.

Here is the next line in the song:

It was 1980 somethin’
in the world that I grew up in
Skatin’ rinks and black Trans Ams

Today, we will talk about skating rinks.

Remember when skates had 2 wheels under the front toe, and 2 wheels under the heel instead of the inline skates where the “roller skate” resembles an ice skate? In the late ’70s throughout the ’80s, going to a roller skating rink was a popular recreation. You would go in and get your rental skates. It could be a pain trying to put them on. You would sit down, grab the skate, and try to slide your foot in. But the back heel of the skate would keep rolling out and away from you. Maybe that was just me. Anyway, you would then go out on to the wooden oval rink and join the rest of the skaters, and try to not to get in anybody’s way. And you would hope that somebody else wouldn’t lose control and crash into you. At least in the latter case, you wouldn’t feel as much as a fool since it would be the other person’s fault!
So, you would be skating around to music and socializing. I remember that there were a lot of disco songs playing, such as “Y.M.C.A”, “I Will Survive”, and anything from Saturday Night Fever. There would also be Hall & Oates, “Another One Bites the Dust” by Queen, and Michael Jackson songs. And then uh-oh, Ladies Choice! A slow song would come on, such as “Cherish” by Kool and the Gang, “How Deep is Your Love” by the Bee Gees, or “Babe” or “The Best of Times” by Styx. Then the D.J. would announce that it was Ladies Choice, and the girls would try to find a boy to hold hands and skate with.
There were some good times. You would go with a group of people on the weekend. Some kids may have had birthday parties there too.

Does anybody have any good or funny memories of roller skating in the 80s? Are there any favorite songs that you remember playing there? Let us know!

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19 Somethin’ – Daisy Duke

The 19 Somethin’ series continues after a hiatus. If you missed the previous articles, you can get caught up here.

Here is the next line in the song:

My first love was Daisy Duke
in them cut-off jeans

It was appointment TV on Friday nights in the late ’70s and early ’80s. Ah, The Dukes of Hazzard. It had comedy (Rosco P. Coltrane comes to mind) and tons of action with fights and car chases. It had the greatest car at the time – The General Lee, had the coolest theme song performed by the legendary Waylon Jennings, who also narrated the show. And of course, it had the woman – Catherine Bach as Daisy Duke.

Daisy worked as a waitress at the Boar’s Nest, the local bar owned by Boss Hogg, as part of an agreement with Boss Hogg so that he would give Uncle Jesse and Bo and Luke a loan for a lower interest rate so the boys could purchase the entry fee for a race that they wished to race General Lee in. The arrangement was supposed to be for an indefinite time, but there were several times throughout the series that Hogg fired her. However, he always ended up rehiring her at the end of each episode because of various circumstances.

Daisy was known for her high-cut jean shorts, which became known as Daisy Dukes. At one time Catherine Bach’s legs were insured for $1,000,000.

Jessica Simpson went on to play Daisy Duke in the most recent Dukes of Hazzard movie, but nobody can beat the original!

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19 Somethin’ – MTV

The 19 Somethin’ series continues. If you missed the previous articles, you can get caught up here.

Here is the next line in the song:

Watched MTV all afternoon

What an exciting time! Cable television was brand new to most of us. Not only could you watch movies without using a VCR, or get sports news from somewhere other then the last 3 minutes of the local news, but now we could watch music videos 24/7!

On August 1, 1981, at 12:01 a.m., MTV launched with the words “Ladies and gentlemen, rock and roll,” spoken by John Lack.

Yeah, yeah, everybody knows The Buggles had the first video ever shown on MTV. But do you know who had the second? Here is a video of the first 10 minutes of MTV:

“I Want My MTV!!!”

We didn’t get cable in our area until a year or 2 after the launch. So, by the time we got cable, we had already heard all about MTV, and were foaming at the mouth waiting to get it. And it did not disappoint. There were all kinds of fun videos, and we were introduced to new music that we may not have listened to if we only heard it on the radio.

The VJ’s

And the VJ’s were also really cool. The original 5 were Nina Blackwood, Mark Goodman, Alan Hunter, J.J. Jackson and the iconic Martha Quinn. Unfortunately, J.J. Jackson died on March 17, 2004 at the age of 62 from a heart attack. However, if you have XM or Sirius Radio, you can listen to the rest of the VJ’s on the channel 80’s on 8. They each DJ in about 4 or 5 hour blocks, and they all host the weekly show Big 40 Countdown where they count down the 40 biggest hits of this week during a certain year in the ’80s. Last week’s episode was the biggest hits of the week in 1988.

The Beginning of the End

By the late ’80s, the format started to slowly change. First there was the news show, The Week in Rock. And then there was the cool game show Remote Control. Then in the ’90s, the cartoon show Liquid Television premiered on MTV, which featured the cultural phenomenon, Beavis and Butthead:

Old: MTV = Music Television; New: MTV = Moron Television

And then The Real World premiered. With all of these various types of shows being added to MTV, music was slowly being phased out. Now, it is kind of a sad joke about how MTV doesn’t show videos anymore. Now it is known more for Jersey Shore and The Hills than it is for being a music pioneer. There used to be Michael Jackson, Madonna, ZZ Top, and Def Leppard on MTV. Now it has been “Speidi”, “Snooki”, and “The Situation”.

Time has moved on. But at least we had our MTV for a little while.

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19 Somethin’ – Rubik’s Cube

The 19 Somethin’ series continues. If you missed the previous articles, you can get caught up here.

Here is the next line in the song:

I took the stickers off my Rubik’s cube

Ahh, Remember the days when there would be a craze about something that wasn’t electronic? The Rubik’s Cube is an iconic symbol of the ’80s. The Rubik’s Cube had six sides, with each side covered with nine stickers. The colors were white, red, blue, orange, green, and yellow. You would twist and turn all the rows until the colors were scattered all over the place. In order to solve the puzzle, you had to get each side all the same color.
Without cheating, I could usually get 2 sides. But, that was about it. I think I got 3 sides once by accident. But the easiest way to get all the colors to match would be to peel the stickers off, then stick them back on where you wanted them to be.
However, you could tell that the person cheated because you could see the stickers bent up a little. Here is how I could solve the puzzle:

Yes, you could pull the blocks apart, and then piece them back together. The downside to that was that the blocks would be a little loose after you did that, and they would wiggle a little. But, you could show your friends that you solved the puzzle, and not let them touch it.

In 1982, there was a World’s Fair in Knoxville, Tennessee. There were pavilions that represented each country (similar to the World Showcase at Disney’s Epcot). The inventor of the Rubik’s cube was Erno Rubik, who was from Hungary. Outside the Hungarian pavilion was this giant Rubik’s Cube that turned by itself:

The craze was huge in the early to mid 80’s. Everybody had one. If they didn’t have the actual cube, they had the keychain version. And there are also many kinds of competions on who can slove it the fastest. Here are some other different competitions:
– Blindfolded solving
– Solving the Cube with one person blindfolded and the other person saying what moves to do, known as “Team Blindfold”
– Solving the Cube underwater in a single breath
– Solving the Cube using a single hand
– Solving the Cube with one’s feet

There was also the spinoff Rubik’s Snake:

If you get a Rubik’s Cube nowadays, there probably wouldn’t be a challenge in solving it. All you would need to do is look online, and get the steps there. I guess that beats peeling the stickers off.

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19 Somethin’ – Sideburns

The 19 Somethin’ series continues. If you missed the previous articles, you can get caught up here.

Here is the next line in the song:

Dad broke down and finally shaved those sideburns off

By the ’80s, sideburns went the way of disco, bell-bottoms and leisure suits.
But, the moustache remained intact through at least the early to mid ’80s. John Oates pulled it off, along with Burt Reynolds, Freddie Mercury, and the king of the moustache – Tom Selleck.

But then, tragically, the side burns came back with a vengeance in the ’90s with the arrival of Luke Perry and Jason Priestly in Beverly Hills 90210.

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19 Somethin’ – Microwave Ovens

The 19 Somethin’ series continues. If you missed the previous articles, you can get caught up here.

Here are the next lines in the song:

It was the dawning of a new decade
we got our first microwave

It’s hard to imagine a world without microwave ovens now. But, I remember getting our first microwave oven in the early ’80s. It may be surprising, but the microwave oven was not an ’80s invention.
The first home microwave was launched in 1952 in the US. But, it did not catch on due to its hefty price tag, and due to the fact that it probably freaked people out. In the ’60s, several companies started producing the microwaves. But, nobody could still afford them. The prices started to drop in the ’70s, but it was still not worth it unless your name was Rockefeller. By the ’80s, normal people could afford to buy them – and soon, everybody was.

There was a learning curve though. Have any of you put something metal or aluminum in a microwave? it looks awesome, but probably not good for the microwave! And it became known that you shouldn’t stand near the microwave if you had a heart pacemaker. I wonder how they found that out! Well, if you wanted to knock off somebody with a pacemaker, the microwave would be very handy. It was also handy if you needed to get rid of a gremlin.

But, the microwave did make our lives easier. You could cook a lot faster.

The earlier microwaves usually had 2 dials, one for the cooking time, and one for the cooking power. Things are even easier today. The microwaves are mainly digital, and they usually have pre-programmed cooking options.

Now we just need something to automatically clean the microwave if you forget to cover something that explodes all over the place when you cook it.

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19 Somethin’ – Bell-Bottoms and 8-Track Tapes


The 19 Somethin’ series continues. If you missed the previous articles, you can get caught up here.

Here are the next lines in the song:

Bell bottoms and eight track tapes
lookin’ back now I can see me
oh man did I look cheesy
I wouldn’t trade those days for nothin’
ah, it was 1970 somethin’

I know that people make fun of ’80s fashion, BUT C’MON NOW!! Those bell bottoms were pretty ugly. The bell bottoms came into fashion with the hippie movement in the late ’60s. Now, I’m beginning to understand. And it got out of control in the late ’70s with disco. And when disco died, so did the bell bottoms. That is until they made a minor comeback in the ’90s. Nowadays, jeans seem to be in fashion if you can see ass-crack. Maybe we are better off with the bell-bottoms!

8 Tracks had about the same life line as the bell bottoms. They started in the ’60s. They became popular when automobile factories started installing eight-track tape players in their cars. The 8-track was convenient an more portable than a vinyl album. And you could record on the 8-tracks.
But 8-tracks started to go out when cassettes started coming out. The cassettes were much smaller, and you could fast forward and rewind more efficiently. And the sound quality was better on cassettes. In the U.S., eight-track cartridges were phased out of retail stores by late 1982.

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