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Today I picked quarter up off the ground, and just happened to look at the year on the coin. It said 1980, and that made me smile.

That was a big year for me, a good year. The 70’s were over, and we were facing a brand new decade. The music and clothing styles were changing, and so were the attitudes of the younger generation.

I graduated from Lindenhurst High School, on June 20th, 1980. (Thirty years to the day, it was Father’s Day, the day I lost my older brother, but that’s another story)

That year I was finally done with high school. The summer was here and I was free!

I drove a blue 1965 Impala, and my friends and I went to the beach in it whenever we had the chance, and we had a lot of chances that summer. I had a job at a machine shop, but they were closed every Friday, so I took advantage of those three-day weekends to have as much fun as I could.

Back then the legal drinking age in New York was still 18, and we did drink. We bought beer and hung out at the shore, or a friend’s house. We bought beer at the ball games in Shea Stadium, or went to bars and ordered them.

The thought then was if we were old enough to be in the military, then we were old enough to drink. This thinking was reinforced by the fact that Selective Service was recently enacted. Young men everywhere thought the draft was going to come back and we’d ended up going to war with Iran, or Russia. Thankfully, none of that came about.

I attended Nassau Community College in the fall, and reinvented myself. Back in high school, I wasn’t popular at all. In college, no one knew me. There were no preconceived ideas or notions about me at all. I made a point of stepping out of my comfort zone and engaged lots of other kids.

I quickly found myself a popular member of a large clique of people my age – including girls. All of a sudden, girls were interested in me, wanted to be around me, and be with me. Life was good.

There were frat parties, there were beer hall parties, there were parties at Hofstra University up the street, and there were parties at clubs. Oh we did some school work, but we mostly socialized and partied that first semester.

I didn’t learn much academically that first semester, but I learned tons about myself. With the rich experiences I had, my confidence and self-esteem to soared, I gained a real sense of independence, and built tons of lasting memories.