“Do you know where you’re going to?” Mahogany theme
Memory is the diary we all carry with us. Oscar Wilde
I like men that have a future and women that have a past. Oscar Wilde
“Where shall I go now?” Alice “It depends on where you want to end up.” Cheshire Cat
In 1976, Jo 2.0 was determined to rid herself of the terrible 2 curse—2 marriages down (3 to go), 2 miscarriages (1 living child), addresses in 2 different states, too many mistakes made…It was a leap year, the 976th year of the 2nd millennium, America’s bicentennial, year of the dragon, and the 1500th anniversary of the Fall of Western Roman Empire. The US Treasury Department reissued the $2 bill. It was also the year my 2nd grandad died (4th of July).
It was a great year for resignations. Harold Wilson resigned as UK PM; Jacque Chirac relinquished his role as PM of France. Big Ben stopped keeping time, went offline. Prince Bernhard of Lippe-Biesterfeld, husband of Queen Juliana, Netherlands, resigned his post over a scandal involving alleged corrupt business dealings with Lockheed Corporation. Rep candidate Gerald Ford goofed during debate with Democratic Carter regarding Soviet Union East EU dominance. Economist/diplomat Orlando Letelier was assassinated in DC by Chilean Dictator Pinochet henchmen. Cearbhall Ó Dálaigh, Ireland’s 5th President, resigned after being publicly insulted by the Defense Minister.
And so the pattern continued, I temporarily resigned from college and wangled a promotion to importer/exporter at the company that built the receivers used to bug Watergate. The job was an eye opener regarding how business was done. One country was sold radar jamming devices while another was sold devices to disrupt the radar jamming devices… On the chessboard of life, I was still a pawn, the least powerful piece. However, with all the jumping around I was doing, sometimes I felt like a knight (or two). I heedlessly hummed one hit wonder songs Afternoon Delight and Wings Silly Love Songs often. I should have been singing my grandads favorite The Parting Glass.
Billy Joel’s We Didn’t Start the Fire mentions several 1976 events, like Ronnie Reagan’s campaigning for Pres; escalation of Israeli-Palestine conflict; & multiple aircraft hijackings, including raid on Entebbe. Actor Sal Mineo (Rebel Without a Cause & Tonka) was fatally stabbed February 12th in his carport in W Hollyweird. (the case was solved in 2017.) Hit movies had one word titles: Rocky, Carrie, Network, Bugsy, Midway… The Eagles Hotel California was released in December as well as a Greatest Hits album. The song and album cover made a lasting impression, especially the words ‘you can check out any time you like, but….’ The cover was atypical of the era; it cleverly conveyed a sinister sense of decadence, of lost innocence.
The Wizard of Oz began a 25 year run on CBS and I wondered where my Wiz loving friend Jinn was. Dean Martin & Jerry Lewis united briefly at a Muscular Dystrophy Telethon, and in San Francisco’s CA’s sodomy law was repealed. Dorothy Hamil won a gold medal for ladies figure skating at the 76 Winter Olympics in Austria; 14 year old Romanian gymnast Nadia Comaneci earned 7 perfect scores at summer Olympics, Quebec, Canada. Bruce Jenner won the gold medal in men’s decathlon (Montreal).
UK biologist Richard Dawkins’ book The Selfish Gene was published, introducing the term memetics. Agatha Christie died in England. Man Ray, Philly born artist, Dadaist/Surrealist died in Paris (sample pic below). He was Kiki de Montparnasses’ lover. She was the model for some of his most famous photos. Their life was briefly mentioned in made for TV mini series Minstral’s Daughter. His pals included Picasso, James Joyce, Gertrude Stein, Jean Cocteau, and Antonin Artaud. They all posed for his clever camera. During WWII, he left Paris for Hollywood, where he met and married Juliet Browner, a Martha Graham dancer. Ray returned to Paris in 51, bringing Juliet with him. In 1963, he wrote and published Self Portrait. His epitaph, which sums up his life, says ‘unconcerned, but not indifferent.’
Many thought Bradford Bishop was both unconcerned & indifferent after he (allegedly) murdered 5 family members in Bethesda, MD. Bishop, born on Lughnasadh got a two page spread (which grew to 5 pages) in my Murders to Solve album. He had a BS from Yale and dual MA’s in International & African Studies. In the Army he worked counterintelligence. Bishop spoke 5 languages fluently.
On March 1, 1976, after learning he didn’t get an expected promotion, he told his secretary he was ill and going home. He stopped by a bank and withdrew cash, bought a sledgehammer & gas can at a local mall, and at a hardware store, bought a shovel & pitchfork. It’s presumed he killed his wife, mother, & 3 sons, loaded them into his station wagon, drove 275 miles to the Smokies, near Columbia, NC, threw the bodies in a shallow grave, and set them ablaze. The family dog survived. In mid March, his car was found in Elkmont, TN, near the Appalachian Trail. In the car was a bloody blanket, his medication (for depression/insomnia) and shaving kit. The tire wheel well had pooled blood. Motive for the crime is still unknown, no known infidelity, though he was allegedly spotted with a dark skinned woman later in 1976. He had no big financial issues, although his wife had been to a job interview the day she died and his mom had tried to sell her fur coat. His wife’s major complaint was his long work hours.
Bishop was an avid outdoorsman, motorcyclist, smoker, dog lover, and had a pilot’s license. He had about a week’s head start as family wasn’t reported missing until March 10. There’ve been Bishop sightings in Italy, Switzerland, Germany, Greece, and Sweden. In 2010 a body was exhumed in Alabama, presumed to be Bishop’s. It wasn’t him. Agencies made age progression photos, and made handwriting samples and physical feature info available to the public—to no avail. In 2021 a NC woman proved she was the biological daughter of Bishop; DNA tests confirmed it. Was she the result of an affair he had in college? If he’s still alive, he’d be 87. He was removed from FBI’s Top 10 list in 2018.
Alas, a busy calendar, meetings with lawyers, and reading about other killers and catastrophes distracted me. Dime store detective magazines and TV sleuths like Quincy, Cannon, Mannix, and Barnaby Jones were of no help. In 1976, Jack the Ripper also got two pages in my album. A bloody awful German Jack the Ripper film debuted, as did a controversial book by Stephen Knight, The Final Solution, in which the killer was a close relative of Queen Victoria. Years later, it was the basis for graphic novel From Hell (and film with same title) and inspiration for film Murder by Decree.
Jo 2.0, who comes from a long line of weavers, was fascinated by the curious web of coincidences journalist Stephen Knight wrote about in his book: both the killer’s mum & Alice Crook were deaf; both the killer’s mum and Walter Sickert were Danish; Sickert was obsessed by Jack; Annie Crook was institutionalized; Dr Gull was fond of grapes, and grapes were found near one of the victims; Gull matches the description of an unnamed physician accused by clairvoyant Robert James Lees of being Jack or his henchman. Knight was diagnosed with a brain tumor and died in 1985. Fellow Ripperologists ripped apart his theories; author Colin Wilson thought Knight had written the book hastily, tongue in cheek.
Son of Sam stuck in NYC, garnering just one page in my album, as did sexual assault murder of Righteous Brother’s ex (that murder would be solved 41 years later via DNA). There was an outbreak of Legionnaire’s Disease Bellevue Stratford Hotel, Philly PA (29 die) and the first case of Ebola Virus was reported in Yambuku, Zaire. In December, volcano/cinder cone Murana erupted in E Zaire, killing 1000s. A Guatemala earthquake left 23,000 dead and 76,000 injured. Stuff blew up in N Ireland and at a KY coal mine, cable cars crashed in Italy, and a cartridge factory in Finland exploded. Seven people were shot and killed during Fullerton Massacre, CA State University, and 7 women lost their lives to the San Mateo (CA) Gypsy Hill Slasher. The Çaldıran–Muradiye earthquake killed 4,000-5,000 (E Turkey).
The earth moved for me as well in 1976. It was the second time something splintered internally (metaphorically). It was the year of my Yehudhi. He was an Israeli engineer in the US for a few months, completing advanced training and helping our company write a complex proposal. I was a proposal admin/exporter. In those days, proposals were created by hand in storybook form; writing and images were typed/drawn and pasted into a master doc. With my encouragement, he broke a few commandments, and I became his willing show and tell apprentice. He related 3000 years of Judaic history and delighted me with stories from his Romani Slavic heritage. We barely bothered with cover our ass stories. For me, the end played out like that year’s hit song by the Manhattans Kiss and Say Goodbye—almost. It was also kiss and don’t tell and stop what you’re doing and kiss me again when I return for a quick visit. And for another 10 years, I did—covertly.
The 70s was the heyday for serial killers. Their eventual decrease in later decades was due to heightened surveillance and security awareness; cell phones and car/tracking; DNA evidence; fingerprint and VICAP advances; less trust of strangers; rise of profilers/ understanding of criminal mind and getting info to public via mug shots, amber alerts; and weaponizing victims via mace, Tasers, whistles, bull horns, and guns. In 1976, amid numerous protests, the US Supreme Court ruled the death penalty in not inherently cruel or unusual, but an acceptable form of punishment. And perhaps a bit ironically, the Supremes ruled Karen Ann Quinlin, in a vegetative state, could be taken off life support. She was and survived for another 9 years.
Night of the Pencils began in September with the kidnapping and mass killing of students under Argentine dictatorship. Other students, protesting the return of dictator Thanom Kittikachorn were greeted by a coalition of right-wing paramilitary and government forces at Thammasat Uni, Bangkok, Thailand. They too were massacred, triggering the return of military to government. Joni Mitchell released her 7th album Hejira (running away honorably). She sings about women—seen & assessed through men’s eyes—how they rank as mothers, as sexual beings. These were songs penned during cross country treks across the US. She got ‘drunk on alcohol & love—the strongest poison & medicine of all.’The Band played on—until it didn’t. Canada’s The Band held its farewell concert (The Last Waltz) November 25th.
Amid moves from MD to DC/Northern VA, and a new apartment with a direct sightline of the flag planting Iwo Jima statue and ultimate phallic symbol, the Washington Monument, I felt far removed from South Mountain and its humble bee-hivish stone monument to George. My library had expanded from one sturdy bookcase and piles on bedroom night stands to three bookcases, multiple magazine racks, and more book piles. There was no Ladies Home Journal, Best Housekeeping, or McCall’s in the racks. Instead, they were filled with copies of Saturday Evening Post, Cosmo, True Crime, New Yorker, and an occasional, overpriced Harper’s Bazaar or MAD magazine. My favorite read that year was Tom Robbins Even Cowgirls Get the Blues about mega thumbed hitchhiking Sissy Hankshaw.
The quote may you live in interesting times is based on a Chinese curse. It felt like I was living a cursed year with a soon to be ex, aka mad scientist who wanted to throttle, if not murder me. The feeling was mutual. Amid accusations of affairs and abuse, fireworks not related to bicentennial celebrations erupted. He shook me and I wriggled free. He threw a vase and missed. I’d had family training in ducking flying objects. I threw a can of soup, which connected with the side of his head. He exited. I picked my precocious child up from daycare and splurged on Chinese food because she was complaining again. My four year old wanted a dog, a house (white picket fence optional), and a round the clock, beck and call mom. Her fortune cookie made as much sense as mine did. Hers said the fortune you seek is in another cookie. Mine said man like parachute. If he not there lst time you need him, you not ever need him again.
What I did need was to cover all the bases. I was wearing (and juggling) many hats: bread earner, gal Friday, mom, armchair sleuth, home wrecker… There were many times that year I wanted to escape. The Concorde began flying from Washington National airport and I daydreamed of hitching a swift ride across the pond. In my diary, I noted that female dragonflies will fake their own death to avoid mating with unwanted males.
1976 was the year Jo 2.0 should have run for cover, instead of covering up what was really going on, topics still painful to write about. America celebrated 200 years of semi-independence. How long would Jo have to wait to be truly free and independent? Or should she just roll the dice and hope she didn’t roll snake eyes? NJ Legislature approved legalizing of casinos in/around Atlantic City in 1976. NJ Governor Byrne, however, issued a caveat ‘the mob’s not welcome here (stay in Nevada).’
Jo 2.0 wasn’t going to duck for cover. She was going to reacquaint herself with the 68 square mile district she abandoned in 1970 (que in Eagles song New Kid in Town). Though her ex exited and the Jewish Romani had returned to the Middle East, a charming Frenchman volunteered to educate and enlighten her. If only she known then what she’d uncover, if only she’d known that the Hotel California album cover was a preview of what was to come.
Next dirty dozen year: 1991 and more chapters of Remains to be Seen, Grave Goddess, and Acts of Ambition