50 New Years Ago – Under the Scope January 2024

Channing Candies Photography
Ageless Adventure – Point of Vue January 2024
January 3, 2024
Together We Serve, Together We Thrive! – Point of Vue January 2024
January 3, 2024
Channing Candies Photography
Ageless Adventure – Point of Vue January 2024
January 3, 2024
Together We Serve, Together We Thrive! – Point of Vue January 2024
January 3, 2024

“January” was named after “Janus,” the ancient Roman god of beginnings and transitions. Ancient statues show Janus with two faces on his head, representing the talent to see both backwards and forwards and thus know the past as well as the future. For centuries, the month of Janus marked the end of winter harvest, when, in the warmth of home and family, a farmer could also look back and forward–on profits, on debts, on accounts with neighbors, and on returning borrowed farming tools. He might also enjoy a little fermented beverage made from his own crops and vow for the future year to improve his lot in life. Centuries later, we still do the same sort of auld lang syne at the beginning of January. Like Janus, well look back and also look forward, making resolutions to “return borrowed farm tools” and “improve our lot in life.” But in the new year of 2024, I challenge you to look farther back—like 50 years back. And, if youve not yet lived 50 years, then this will help you win trivia contests. So pay attention!

On New Years Day 1974, gas stations were closed—not for the holiday but rather because of fuel shortages. This was the middle of the OPEC Oil Embargo, which was in the middle of rising energy demand, increased dependency on imports, decline in domestic production, and, of course, skyrocketing gas prices—which after 50 years have never come back down. Production decline was also suffered locally, as small drilling companies, like the one my dad worked for, were continually sold and consolidated to improve profits, forcing many men and women who could be home in PoV Country after their hitches to work farther and farther away. As only Janus could see, the embargo ended three months later, but oil and gas would never be the same.

On the day after New Years, Richard Nixon signed a law establishing a national maximum speed limit of 55 mph. Some states converted to the metric system because 88.5 km/hr sounded much better to voters. This speed limit, as only Janus could foresee, lasted another 13 years. The law was really of little consequence where I was living at the time—in that infamous, radar-enforced town on LA 1 south of Galliano and north of Leeville that shall remain nameless to protect the innocent. Having known 30 mph all my life, I didnt even know cars could go 55.


In sports, Charlie McClendons 9-3 LSU Tigers lost to Penn State in the Orange Bowl on New Years Day 1974. To lessen our disappointment here in PoV Country, Janus saw to it that Alabama lost in the Sugar Bowl the night before. More relief would be realized, as 1973s 2-9 Colonels and 5-9 Saints would see new coaches in 1974. The New Orleans Jazz debuted, having traded a future of draft picks to get Pete Maravich back to Louisiana. Only Janus could foresee the team leaving for Utah only a few years later. While I liked listening to modern jazz, the thought of “Utah jazz” made me to start listening to opera. Janus is god of transitions, after all.

Elsewhere in music and the New Year of 1974, Lynyrd Skynyrd would invade Stopher Gymnasium at Nicholls, providing in addition to “Sweet Home Alabama” and “Free Bird” extracurricular instruction to all English students on how to spell words using only the part-time vowel. Only Janus could see that just three years later, on a flight to Baton Rouge, the band would lose several members in a plane crash. And Nicholls in 1974, despite my sister’s petition to his manager and record company, would not see singer-songwriter Jim Croce and hear his “Bad, Bad Leroy Brown,” sung live, as he died in different plane crash just up the road in Natchitoches after playing at Northwestern on a tour of college towns in the south in late 1973.

In government, Edwin Edwards was in the second year of his first of four terms. The state was under a new constitution–the 11th constitution since 1812–which made PoV Country happy for two reasons. First, there was no mention of “French,” effectively revoking the previous constitution’s edict from the 1920s that schools should operate only in English and not people’s native language. Second, Article 1, Section 27, was titled “Freedom to Hunt, Trap, and Fish.”


In business, Edison Chouest Rentals of Galliano became Edison Chouest Offshore en route to becoming one of the largest employers in PoV Country. In New Orleans, Jax Brewing Company was sold, much to the dismay of my grandpa as well as the character named Steve from Scene One of Tennessee William’s play A Streetcar Named Desire who asked for a Jax beer. And the New Orleans Superdome remained under construction and over budget.

In 1974, Janus would foresee the Nixon Resignation, the Vietnam War, Watergate. Skylab 4, the triplecrowned Secretariat, The Exorcist, and Billie Jean King defeating Bobby Riggs. Despite interruption by Hurricane Carmen, Janus also foresaw my transition from elementary school to junior high school, having not yet enjoyed a little fermented beverage from my crop