Chamblee54

July 3, 1981

Posted in GSU photo archive, History, Undogegorized by chamblee54 on July 3, 2022

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July 3, 1981, was another day before a holiday. The new President, Ronald Reagan, was recovering from gunshot wounds. There was talk of an era of conservatism, with possibly severe repression.

There was an article in the New York Times. RARE CANCER SEEN IN 41 HOMOSEXUALS. “Doctors in New York and California have diagnosed among homosexual men 41 cases of a rare and often rapidly fatal form of cancer. Eight of the victims died less than 24 months after the diagnosis…”

This was the media debut of AIDS. It would not have that name for a while. Almost nobody thought, on that summer day, just how bad AIDS would be. In five years it was obvious how serious AIDS was.

article-02 PG was on another trip to the west coast. It was becoming obvious that this would be a vacation, rather than a relocation. He was riding a bicycle, with a milk carton overloaded with camping gear. Some kids told him to get saddle bags, and carry the weight lower. If you have the weight on top, you would lose control coming down a big hill. PG did not listen to the kids.

On July 4, PG left Patrick’s Point state park, about 300 miles north of San Francisco. Coming down the first hill on highway 101, the bike shook, shook harder, and flipped on its side. PG was thrown off. The front wheel was bent beyond repair. PG gathered his gear, left the bike behind, and got a ride into the nearest town.

PG got a bus ticket to Seattle. That city was in an economic downturn, with less than half a page of help wanted ads. PG found a auto delivery service, and got a VW bug going to Oak Ridge, TN. In a few days he was in Atlanta. A few days later, a temp agency came up with a job as a driver for a blueprint company. PG worked for that company, in one form or another, for the next 24 years.

As for the gay men with Kaposi’s Sarcoma … in all probability, the patients mentioned in that article were all dead within a year. AIDS has become a dominating story in our time. At its worst, it was claiming 50,000 lives a year. With the advent of wonder drugs, the death toll has been greatly reduced. The impact of AIDS on American life cannot be adequately described. This is a repost.

Pictures today are from “The Special Collections and Archives, Georgia State University Library”. Lawrence K. Altman, M.D. is still writing articles for the New York Times.

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