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[Posted 4/22/08]

We were in the midst of an energy crisis, sports fans. Plus by mid-January us kids already had three snow days, which was wreaking havoc on the school calendar. I had forgotten that we also had an extended Christmas vacation that year, mandated by the government to help with the energy crisis, so the board of education was trying to figure out what to do with the upcoming spring break. Already, the last day of school was slated for June 25.

Marco Polo was beginning its major expansion during this time, adding the upstairs dining room.

The cost of a ticket for an overtime parking meter was rising from $1 to $2. It’s at least $12 today.

The Board of Recreation set the fees for the Summit Muni golf course for 1974, with a weekday round costing 50 cents (25 cents for a second round) and $1.50 on weekends. Boy, that was the best deal around growing up.

Two local boys, age 17, were charged in a series of 13 home burglaries during the month of December. Did we know them?

With the energy crisis, the Summit Herald noted most local gas stations were receiving only 50% of their usual daily allotment of fuel. And the Herald was running editorials making fun of the federally mandated 50 mph speed limit because on roads like the Parkway, no one was following it.

Inflation and interest rates were sky high, so you could get a 5-year CD at local banks for 7 1/2 percent. We’d kill for such a deal today.

The Board of Education cited Willie Wilson for his “outstanding accomplishments.” I didn’t realize that Time magazine had a piece on him in its Jan. 14 edition.

“Walking Tall” was the big movie at the Strand then, with Rolling Stone calling it the “Best American Movie of the Year.” I’m guessing I’m the only classmate to have actually been in Sherrif Buford Pusser’s home in Adamsville, TN. I was there about three years ago. A real trip. [Adamsville is near the Civil War battlefield of Shiloh, which I was also visiting at the time.]

And turning to the world of sports, the snowstorms were doing a number on schedules. By Jan. 24, the swim team was 4-0, led by our classmates Mark Herman and Bill Specht. Other key contributors were Tim Herman, Dave Sehnert, Pat Hayes, John Lyle, Mike Closs and Chuck Wiebe.

There wasn’t much to report on the wrestling team as yet, so on to Summit basketball.

After starting out 2-0, Summit lost its two games in the Christmas tourney, 68-55 to a strong Essex Catholic team (led by Ron Cowan, who would attend Villanova, if I recall) and 66-64 to Westfield.

In the Essex Catholic contest, Willie Wilson scored 17, George Gross 15, John Foushee 13, and Tony Zackery 10.

Against Westfield, Wilson had 22, Gross 15, Tim Mahoney 12 and Zackery 11.

Coach Ed Lyons said “We’re going to be alright. It’s just that the kids play too much football.”

That was certainly true when looking at the team’s makeup. Also recall that our Hilltoppers were 21-2 and 24-2 the two previous seasons and we had graduated some key performers.

Next up, Caldwell, and a surprisingly tough 45-40 victory. Lyons was getting miffed. “We rely too much on Willie,” he told the Herald. Wilson was moved to the backcourt and scored 18, with Mahoney adding 12 and Zackery 10.

Then Summit lost to Springfield, 73-59, as Lyons bemoaned the “football-like play.” Springfield outscored Summit 25-7 at the line. Wilson hit for 16, Gross 12 and Zackery 10. Summit was now 3-3 and 1-1 in the Suburban Conference.

But the Hilltoppers began to get their act together with two conference wins, 65-50 over Millburn and 55-35 over New Providence.

George Gross led the way with a career-high 20 against Millburn, with Wilson adding 19 points and 17 rebounds, while Zackery had 16. In the NP contest, Wilson had 15 points and 16 rebounds, and Zackery 12 points.

So now we’re back to 5-3, 3-1 in conference. Which is where we end our story for today. How will we do the rest of the way? Stay tuned.

Next installment, May 29.

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