This was part two of Steve Rushin’s memoir of his childhood. The first one Sting-Ray Afternoons was about 1969-1980 and this one follows him from 1980 to the end of the decade. High School, College, and then a job at Sports Illustrated.
I probably should have combined this review with Stingray Afternoons but this one is in a totally different decade and a different period of his life. As much as I could relate to the first one…I am Steve’s age so this really hits home with my teenage years. He mentions all of the 1980s milestones and disasters such as The Challenger explosion and John Lennon’s murder.
Like the first book…it brings back a lot of insecurities and fun I had in the 1980s with high school and college. I was able to relate to Rushin because he was just an ordinary guy in the 80s…living a normal life like most of the rest of us. His humor and witty observations keep this book moving. He rarely sticks in one place…he keeps his story moving.
Just to be clear…this book touches on pop culture like music, sports, movies, events, and the teen years. It doesn’t really dwell on anything in particular but his life. It’s not a fact book, music book, or a sports book…he mostly uses them for a time reference point. He does mention how as time went on…Sting-Rays when out of favor for dirt bikes like Huffy. Then the car soon replaced all of that when you turned 16.
His father stands out in these books. He is hilarious…a very good dad and he would tell things like they were. They had 5 kids…4 boys and 1 red-headed girl. His dad would tell people when asked about his kids…yea we have 4 sh*theads and 1 red-head.
If you get Stingray Afternoons you almost have to get this one…it’s pretty much the sequel and it lives up to the original…just a different era and time of a person’s life.
I saw the cover of this book and I knew I would be interested. Steve Rushin is a writer and was hired by Sports Illustrated when he was 22 in 1988. He describes growing up in Minnesota during the seventies…but you could have lived anywhere to get the references. He is witty with a good sense of humor. He writes it like he is actually living it real time and that makes it enjoyable.
If you are looking for action this is not for you. He didn’t fall into addiction, turn to crime, or become a sports or music star. His family was not rich but middle class. It’s just what life was like during the 1970s in an American nuclear family. I just read his sequel “A Night At White Castle” about him leaving home in the 1980s and going to college. That one is great as well…a more teenage look at the 1980s.
The title draws inspiration from the Sting-Ray bicycle that was popular at the time. Banana seat luxury as I remember. I usually got Huffy bikes but I did have one Sting-Ray. It was a banana yellow 3-speed. I loved that bike and it represented freedom and a way to get 2-5 miles away from home at the time. It worked until a little later and my first car took its place.
Steve brings up things that you are sure to remember. Romper Room, Sesame Street, board games, toys, music, sports, and about everything seventies connected. He also will tell the history of some things like Boeing 747s and how other things came about. He talks about his family vacations and the places they go and the trouble that happens. His Dad was an 8-Track 3m tape salesman…he travels all over the world selling 3m tape. When 8-tracks go out of style he switches to videotape.
The Rushin family could be any family in America at that time or in most other countries. If you are that age…this will bring back a lot of memories. All of his siblings grow up to be successful. Two of them went to college on full hockey scholarships and one sister…became a doctor.
The book reminded me of my fears and insecurities growing up that I had completely forgotten about with school situations, family arguments, and everyday life. If you grew up in the seventies or would like to know how it was…this is the book to read. I will say this is not a fact book about the 70s but an eyewitness who lived it telling us the human side.