October 21, 1976, is a Thursday. President Gerald Ford issues a statement expressing pride in the fact that Americans have won all five Nobel prizes: medicine, economics, physics, chemistry, and literature. Ford meets with Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, who reports that former vice-president Hubert Humphrey wants Ford to defeat Jimmy Carter in the upcoming presidential election. Later in the day, both Ford and Carter will campaign in New York before tomorrow night’s final debate in Williamsburg, Virginia. Carter’s brother Billy speaks to an audience in Georgia, telling them that his brother drinks Scotch, and that “I’ve never trusted a Scotch drinker.” A new Gallup poll shows Carter’s lead over Ford down to six points. Also today, Ford signs a bill mandating the expansion of the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. With the nation preparing for the outbreak of swine flu, the Cass City Chronicle of Cass City, Michigan, publishes local residents’ memories of the 1918 flu epidemic. The Cincinnati Reds beat the New York Yankees 7-2 to sweep the World Series, winning back-to-back championships. On the night of their season-opening game, the NBA’s New York Knicks retire the number of longtime center Willis Reed. Future actor Jeremy Miller and future pop singer Josh Ritter are born.
On TV tonight: Barney Miller (an episode set on Election Day), The Waltons, and Barnaby Jones. Aerosmith plays Erlangen, Germany, and Elvis Presley plays Kalamazoo, Michigan. The Eagles play the second night of a stand at the Los Angeles Forum; their performance of “Desperado” will later appear on the album Eagles Live. The Who plays Toronto. In London, Paul McCartney and Wings wrap up their “Wings Over the World” tour at the Empire Pool, Wembley. In New York City, George Michael is rockin the evening shift at WABC, taking over from the legendary Cousin Brucie Morrow. “Disco Duck” by Rick Dees is Number One on the station’s latest survey, knocking “A Fifth of Beethoven” by Walter Murphy out of the top spot. “If You Leave Me Now” by Chicago is at Number Three. New in the Top 10 are “Rock’n Me” by the Steve Miller Band and “She’s Gone” by Hall and Oates. “Fernando” by ABBA is at Number 29 on the survey—today, they lip-synch it on the PBS series Wonderama:
Perspective From the Present: When it comes to this particular date, and this particular season, I’ve got no perspective. Everyone, if they’re lucky, has a single season in which they’d live forever, given the opportunity. The fall of 1976 is mine. If I could keep it in perspective, it wouldn’t be what it is.