Saturday, October 24, 2015

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: What Were You Doing in 1985?

This week for Saturday Night Genealogy Fun Randy Seaver is jumping on the Back to the Future bandwagon, which had lots of coverage in the news in my area:

1) Since this was Back to the Future week, I have a related challenge:  Do you recall what you were doing in 1985?  Family, school, work, hobbies, technology, genealogy, vacations, etc?

2)  Tell us in a blog post of your own, in a comment on this blog, or in a Facebook or Google+ post.

I'm always amazed at the amount of detail Randy remembers when he writes about stuff like this.  I'm a lot fuzzier, even though I'm younger.

In 1985 I was two years past my college graduation, but I was still at the University of Southern California.  After graduation I started working full time at USC.  My first job was in the School of Urban Planning (which now seems to be a department in the Sol Price School of Public Policy), where I learned how to use the WordStar word processing program.  By 1985 I was an administrative assistant in the Industrial and Systems Engineering Department (which also now carries an endowment name).  I remember several of the professors in the department:  Gerald Fleischer, Ali Kiran, Alex Loewenthal, Gerald Nadler, Barbaros Tansel, Marc <something>, Behrouz <something>.  The other admin I worked with was Deborah, and her maiden name was Cmehil, but I can't remember her married name.  One student I remember from the department is Joe Bok, the only football player I ever met who was also a graduate student in engineering.

1985 was my second year in the USC Trojan Marching Band (The Greatest Marching Band in the History of the Universe).  I didn't grow up playing any marching band instruments, so my first year, 1984, I was prop crew (kind of like roadies).  By the end of the academic year I had started playing cymbals, and in fall of 1985 I was a member of the percussion section.  Because you can find almost anything on the Web nowadays, the 1985 USC football schedule is available online, and I can see all the games I went to.  I remember the games at ASU, Berkeley, and Notre Dame.  I should have gone on the trip to Honolulu, but someone deliberately screwed me out of it.  (Hey, I am remembering things after all.)

My big hobby at the time was gaming.  I was president of the USC Wargaming Club.  We met once a week.  Mostly we played Dungeons & Dragons, but we got in some RuneQuest also.  We didn't play that many actual wargames.

I lived just on the edge of East Los Angeles, on East Adams Boulevard, in a three-story Victorian house next to a church.  The uncle of a friend of mine had bought the house with his partner, and they rented out several of the rooms.  For tenants they ended up with four Navy prior enlisted who were all in ROTC, and me.  I don't remember what Roy did for work, but Bill was in the financial aid department at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising.  They had a dachshund and a German shepherd.  The shepherd caught pigeons, and the dachshund caught rats.  They made a good team.

I rode a Suzuki GS550 motorcycle with the license plate "JANS GS."  I was a year past my knee surgery and couldn't ride a bicycle anymore.

I wasn't doing anything specific with genealogy at this time, but whenever I traveled out of town I tried to visit any relatives I could find nearby.

I was able to remember more than I thought I would.  So what were you doing in 1985?


  1. Word Star - oh my goodness....I remember using that program. What a memory you have! Great reading. Has Dungeons and Dragons really been around that long? We just got the 10th Anniversary special publication of the Twilight Book in the library yesterday where I work...I can't believe that's been out for 10 years!

    1. Oh, D&D has definitely been around that long. I started playing in 1977. My gaming group then was in Niceville, Florida. We met at the Armed Forces YMCA building. For Christmas in 1978 my mother bought me the hardcover books.


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