What’s your earliest political memory?

What’s your earliest memory of something political in nature? How old were you? What was your reaction?

Mine is the 1979 gas crisis. I was 4. I remember having an early breakfast while my mother packed up sack lunches and thermoses with water & milk, and there would be toys & games she’d put in the car the night before and we’d head to the gas station. Every day. And we would wait in line for HOURS. Every day. To get 5 gallons of gas. Every day. (Sometimes in my father’s car, sometimes in hers.) My mother wasn’t much on board games, but she would actually play board games with me then, just to pass the time. And I normally wasn’t allowed in the front seat of the car, but once we got to the gas station I was allowed to move up to the front seat which was a VERY.BIG.DEAL!

That’s only a few months prior to the Canadian Caper… which I just remember because my father was VERY excited reading about it in the paper. I didn’t understand what he was excited about… I just recall him saying “they got six of them out! They got six out!!!”

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I believe Ali being stripped of titles would first i can put a date to

i remember MLK & RFK assasinations. Apollo 7, watched on TV in school. I think i remember Nixon / Humphrey. Power symbol at 1968 Olympics. I remember air raid drills when i was young, not sure what grade. Not sure when I was first aware of Vietnam war.

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If this counts as “political”, air raid drills in 2nd grade. We’d go into the hallway to get away from the windows.

I’m old enough to remember the “Cuban missile crises”, with my folks watching TV news and not saying much.


Desert Shield/Storm in 5th and 6th grade.


I didn’t pay much attention. I remember when the Berlin Wall fell. That’s probably the first “event”.

I knew that Ronald Reagan was the president (I don’t remember the year an a half of my life when Carter was). I heard the words “contra”, “nicaragua”, & “noriega” on the news and figured they were important, but had no idea what they actually meant.

I knew there was an election in '88, and knew who the candidates were, but didn’t really care.

I was defintely aware of things when Desert Shield/Storm happened (my dad’s guard unit got called, but only had to go to Texas for it for a few months).

I was more aware of the '92 election. There was a “weekly reader” magazine at school that listed out the main positions of the candidates, and we had a discussion of which candidates we liked better. I remember prefering Clinton (I must not have realized that I lived in Utah).

I also remember Dana Carvey pleading “I don’t wanna be a one-termer” on SNL.

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I remember going to a Ford speech with my dad in St Louis, would have been during the 76 campaign. No idea what was said. It was at night, outside in a parking lot at a mall, iirc.

Was in elementary school during the 80 election. For a school project I represented the independent candidate Anderson. I later came across notes I had. My plan was to position Anderson between Reagan and Carter. Iirc, Anderson won in our class election. I find that pretty amusing. Of course it may not be true, but i still think it is funny.

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so did we, facing the lockers. Funny thing is, looking it up all i see are kids under desks, we never did that

I changed elementary schools several times, but we had some drill when I was in 6th grade (which was elementary school) where we went into a room labeled “fallout shelter” which the school was obviously using for storage. Never had another drill of that nature before or since. I’m not exactly sure what the point was.



I remember kids cheering for OJ’s not guilty verdict in middle school. Not sure if that counts.

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Yeah, I notice that too. Desks didn’t provide much protection from flying glass.

Also, I remember “fallout shelter” signs somewhere in the school.

Th first one that really stands out a the moment was going on a beach vacation the summer of 1987 and one of my uncle’s staying in the condo pretty much the entire trip to watch the Iran-Contra hearings on TV. Granted he lived in Orlando, and was a fairly heavy set guy, so I don’t think he cared too much about missing some beach time, but it definitely seemed weird as a kid. I guess it wasn’t the politics of it that I remember, but it is tied to politics.

The 1992 (Clinton/Bush/Perot) election. Our (private religious) school did a mock election, and I was 6. If you hated Jesus, you voted for Clinton, if you loved Jesus, you voted for Bush, and none of us had even heard of Ross Perot. Bush won like 95% of the vote, of course.


Remember the gas crisis in the 70’s but not sure I understood any of the politics around it.

I was in 7th grade when Reagan was shot. That was a pretty big deal. We watched the TV news for updates the rest of the day in class and didn’t get any school stuff done.

I remember those tragedies but, being a bit older, I also clearly remember the JFK assassination.

I first became interested in US politics during the Nixon-Kennedy Presidential Election: was quite happy to see JFK prevail. Followed JFK closely in the next few years so it was traumatic seeing him die so young.

I have several earlier memories involving Ike (opening the St. Lawrence Seaway with the Queen, sparring with Khrushchev over Francis Gary Powers incident) but Ike did not spark my interest the way JFK did.

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There were two: 1973, and 1979. I don’t know as much about the ‘73 crisis as the ‘79 crisis. But at a national level the 1973 one was the much bigger deal, and the impetus behind the national 55 mph speed limit as they needed to reduce the need for middle eastern oil.

The 1979 crisis was in the wake of the Iranian Revolution. It was much more localized than the 1973 crisis… I think it mainly affected New Jersey and eastern & central Pennsylvania and maybe Delaware. Essentially the Philadelphia area… taking a very liberal definition of “Philadelphia area”. But it certainly hit Philadelphia hard, and that’s where we lived. That just happened to be the part of the country where most of the gasoline was refined from Iranian oil, and suddenly there was no Iranian oil.

In the entire state of Pennsylvania, by law, you could only buy 5 gallons of gas at a time, and the gas stations were completely out of gas if you weren’t in line by about 8:45 AM or so. But they had to strictly monitor the 5 gallon thing (and if they were caught cheating the state shut them down, so they didn’t cheat) and it just took forever.

I think it only lasted a few weeks, but it was in the summer and my parents had planned a vacation / road trip to Ohio to visit family. And the deal was: my father had to go to work every day in the weeks leading up to the vacation, so it was on my mother to keep enough gas in both cars that he could drive one of them into the city every day. (He mentioned that the gas crisis hit single working adults really hard because they didn’t have SAH spouses who could just put their life on pause to deal with this) PLUS, she had to get the smaller car plus a spare can of gas completely full or we’d have to cancel the trip. He had to know that we could make it to the Ohio state line without stopping for gas. Once we hit Ohio we’d be fine … Ohio had no gas crisis… their gas came from Texas.

And in point of fact it turned out that western Pennsylvania was fine too because although they were subject to the same statewide rules as the Philly area… their gas also came from Texas and they weren’t really enforcing the rules in Western Pennsylvania. But my parents didn’t know that before they left… that wasn’t exactly advertised. And my father didn’t want to be stuck somewhere with no gas.

It only lasted a few weeks because the oil companies tweaked their supply chains and figured out how to get non-Iranian-sourced gasoline into eastern Pennsylvania & New Jersey. There existed plenty of oil from friendlier places… but no one had bothered to figure out how to make it work until there was a need.

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I remember when the gas pumps at a couple of gas stations switched over to liters because they couldn’t handle gas prices over $1/gallon during the second gas crisis.

I remember the news counting the number of days the hostages had been held in Iran.

I remember asking questions of my grandfather while watching the GOP convention in 1980, and his speaking highly of Reagan / denigratingly of Carter.

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Yeah I was thinking of the first one. I was only 4 or 5 at the time. Gas was still really cheap then - like 30¢ a gallon or something.

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Yeah, the earlier one was a much bigger deal… except I wasn’t around for it and I remember the second one so to ME the second one was a big deal, but nationally the first one was much worse.

This is awesome because 40 years later, I associate you with a fear of unreasonable petrol policies that potentially hamper your specific need to take unnecessary road trips.