Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Memories, Music and Movies – 1984 – A Year of Two Halves – Tring and USA Opportunity by Sally Cronin

I cannot remember a time when music and movies where not a part of my life.

A Year of Two Halves – Tring and USA Opportunity

1984 turned out to be a year of two halves. As we headed into 1984 we both were settled into our jobs. I was doing more travelling with responsibility for two more shops in York and Nottingham as well as the retail marketing side of the crystal company in Ulverston. I was away a fair bit of the time but so was David as his career began to move towards the new entertainment possibilities of cable television. However we did manage to head off to Wales from time to time and headed up some of the amazing tracks on Snowdon.

One of David’s previous bosses took over the cable TV division and asked him to move with him. This meant a house move as well and we put our house in Southport on the market. With little equity and higher house prices further south in Tring, Hertfordshire we needed to downsize and bought a small three-bedroomed semi-detached house.

We were closer to my family in Portsmouth and so visits home were more frequent. I found myself a part-time job locally with the editor and owner of the Friesian Breeder’s Handbook. A farmer’s ‘must have’ if he kept a dairy herd of these beautiful black and white cows.

As you can imagine quite a change from retail marketing manager for cut class crystal but I soon settled into selling advertising, editing copy and on occasion accompanying my boss to the large agricultural shows around the country.

I really enjoyed these shows but this is where my retail experience took a slight change of direction. As well as running the handbook, my boss was also a broker for bull semen. Whilst he would be around the show taking photographs for the next edition and drumming up advertising, I as set up with a table in a stall between two of the exhibition Friesian dairy cows.

I had a front row seat and insight into the grooming required to prepare a supersized momma ready for the show ring, including liberal baby powdering of already creamy coloured udders. Pristine and pampered they would await their turn to be led away by the proud owner. Unfortunately, from time to time I also had a front row seat when nature took its course and the udders became less than creamy white!

If that was not educational enough; I also was expected to sell a certain number of straws of bull semen to the farmers that drifted in and out of this fragrant bower. I had some very interesting discussions with prospective buyers as we perused the stud book and discussed the attributes of each of the macho looking specimens pictured. I actually could be quite persuasive and I like to think that 30 odd years later there are some fine herds of Friesians who are the result of my matchmaking!

As you can imagine this led to some very interesting dinner party conversations and included one with my father who asked if I collected the samples myself! Thankfully that was done by more experienced hands than me and the straws were safely frozen and stored in a laboratory awaiting my order to send onto to the new owner. Not sure how impressed the cows were at this rather truncated mating ritual but they probably dreaded seeing he vet arrive with his cool bag and rolling up his sleeves.

As you can imagine I loved my job! However, fate was to take another hand in our lives and the new unit that my husband had moved to join was suddenly closed by the parent company leaving David redundant. With a large mortgage and not much coming in from my part-time job, we were facing a bleak run up to Christmas. One night the phone rang whilst I was in the bath. I heard mumbled talking and David was on the phone for several minutes. He then shouted up the stairs. ‘Do you want to go to Texas?’

His previous boss had offered him two years in Houston selling optical fibre to the telecommunications industry. Of course we said ‘Yes’ in a nanosecond.

We hurriedly put the house on the market, arranged to put our furniture in store for two years, piled both David’s parents, his uncle, my parents, and my brother in to our little house for a last snowy Christmas. We had a ball with two barrels of homemade beer, good wine and a cramped turkey dinner followed by charades. Not everyone got into the spirit of playing charades… especially when my mother tried to convey the film The Kiss…

The first week in January we packed two suitcases each and boarded a flight to Houston.

Of course throughout 1984 there was some great music that I listened to in the car on my travels around the country and this included Frankie Goes To Hollywood with a couple of songs in the chart with Relax and Two Tribes, Stevie Wonder I just Called To Say I Loved You, George Michael and Careless Whisper, Wham Freedom and Wake Me Up Before You Go Go, Queen – I Want To Break Free, Nik Kershaw I Won’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me, Cyndi Lauper with Girls Just Want To Have Fun. A film that year had also produced a hit for Phil Collins – from Against All Odds, which is a great film if you have not watched, and the track Take A Look At Me Now.

The other stand out films of the year included Indiana Jones, The Terminator, The Karate Kid, Amadeus, Romancing the Stone, The Bounty, This is Spinal Tap,The Killing Fields, Places in the Heart, A Passage to India and that music classic Footloose. Since I still have Footloose on my play list 31 years later.. here is the Kenny Loggins original courtesy of theTwinCitiesWeddingDJs


Thanks for dropping in and I hope you enjoyed this trip down Memory Lane.. I have shared all the letters I wrote from Houston, Texas over the two years we lived there, but I have summarised 1985 and 1986 for this series.. I hope you will join me next time.

48 thoughts on “Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Memories, Music and Movies – 1984 – A Year of Two Halves – Tring and USA Opportunity by Sally Cronin

  1. Great tunes Sal. And I had to laugh at you and the bull semen. I love these elaborations from your stories in Just an Odd Job Girl. Odd jobs indeed! You are fascinating! ❤

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  2. When I had a farm the vet would visit once a year to “freshen,” our Jersey cow. (yes we had our own milk) One time I showed the catalog to the cow and let her pick from the bulls. Her choice was the prettiest calf ever. Loved the memories, Sally..

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  3. I love this episode. My dad would have been impressed with your knowledge of eligible mates for the cows! I´m sure the folks in Texas would have been impressed as well. Love, love Footloose and agree Against all Odds was a great movie and song.

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  5. Just listened to another Phil Collins song on Geoff Lepard’s blog. He’s popular today! And I got to see him in concert in Chapel Hill – the place was rocking, especially after his drum solo. I have seen Footloose maybe five times – the original version with Kevin Bacon.

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  6. Sally, these stories absolutely fascinate me! You have done it all, but never in a million years would I have pegged this job with the cows and bulls. 🙂 Can’t wait to see what adventures await you and David next. Footloose had me bouncing in my chair.

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  8. All the moves, all the jobs, and you just grin and get on with it! Some great music here and some stand-out films such as Amadeus, The Killing Fields and A Passage to India. What I don’t remember is Footloose. I’ve just watched the clip and somehow the film and music have passed me by – thanks for filling in the gap! xx

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  9. Footloose!?
    Is it tuesday?
    Well we dance to this at Zumba, but I didn’t join in today.
    Lots of glitter flying !
    Every school cleaners nightmare . But pretty.

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  10. Your stint of selling bull semen cracked me up, Sally. I guess someone has to do it, and at least you got some great stories and memories and laughs out of it. Ha ha ha. Now, that was an odd job! And how fun to find yourselves in Texas. I’ve read many of your posts about your adventures there. 🙂

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