You will be seeing a lot of news items this year reminding you of all the news items of 1968 – it was 50 years ago that all kinds of stuff hit the fan.

           Bruce Wallace

For me, 1968 was full of personal “tragedy” – it was the year I realized my baby brother, now two years old, was going to get special treatment – and I would merely be a middle child – the rest of my life.

Basically, if you think we live in troubled times today, 1968 was a real mess.

• Dr. Martin Luther King was assassinated, as was Bobby Kennedy

• Political conventions were marred by rioting by anti-war protestors.

• The environment was trashed by corporate emissions, trash and… gunk with no oversight that would come later by Pres. Nixon’s EPA movement.

• The Civil Rights Act created unrest across the South, as well as violence and rioting in Detroit, Atlanta, Los Angeles, etc.

Personally, none of that meant too much as I was only eight years old.

But, aside from my baby brother debacle, 1968 provided me some personal truths which were difficult to overcome:

As a born lefty, that year, my first year in Little League, taught me I would never, ever play second base for the St. Louis Cardinals. My coach of the Derryberry Jewelers wouldn’t even let me play second base. “Left-handed? How about center field?

Being left-handed also meant my Big Chief tablet would be permanently smeared by No. 2 pencil smudges. I thought I would leave that behind in the first grade.

And no matter how long my dad made me sit at the dinner table and stare at them, I would never, ever eat those peas. Battle lines between me and my parents were set that would last a decade.

But the worst “tragedy” of 1968 was that horrific day when the St. Louis Cardinals lost Game 7 of the World Series to the Detroit Tigers. Having just won the World Series the year before, I was pretty certain MY Cardinals would win the World Series every year.

A few years back, I had the opportunity to meet Cardinals Hall of Famer Bob Gibson at a fund-raising dinner and I told him of my 8-year old hysterics after the Cardinals lost – a story that became sort of famous in my family.

“You see, I was only 8-years old and the Cardinals were the only team. My grandmother and I listened to them on the radio constantly. I took a transistor radio to school to listen to the World Series. When the Cardinals lost, I was so upset,” I told Gibson and a few others listening.

“I understand,” Gibson said with a smile.

“No, I mean, really upset. As in, I threw a tantrum. I cried, I screamed. I threw things. I was ANGRY,” I told the now-snickering crowd. Gibson sighed. “Uh-huh,” he said, with no explanation.

“You realize, you were supposed to win that game. That World Series. You had Detroit down 3 games to 1 and they were entirely beatable. But you lost Game 7. I cried for hours. Even my grandmother’s promise of her special ice cream sundae couldn’t get me to stop throwing a fit.”

Having heard about enough of Game 7, 1968, Gibson ended the conversation:

“You realize, we weren’t too happy with the result either – right?” Gibson asked, this time glaring at me.

We all had a big laugh at my expense. It was pretty funny – but I’m not sure I will ever really get past the 1968 World Series loss to the Tigers.

Lucky for us, our nation is more resilient than 8-year-old me. You will see news reminders this year about 1968. It’s best to remember how much better off we are now than 50 years ago.