The following Back in the Day column originally appeared in the Fairfield Daily Republic on April 6, 2018
By Tony Wade
I can’t remember which class I was in at Grange Intermediate when I first heard the rumor. It may have been Ms. Sorenson’s Social Studies or Mr. Powers’ algebra course, but it hit like a bolt of lightning.
Farrah Fawcett-Majors was coming to Fairfield.
It was Friday, March 18, 1977, and I was 13 years old.
Now, why a celebrity who was then supernova hot would visit a city of less than 58,000 people who didn’t even have a regional mall yet to put them on the map was a question easily dismissed.
Hope mixed with hormones beats the snot outta logic.
Farrah Fawcett-Majors exploded onto the pop culture scene when the TV show “Charlies Angels” debuted in September of the previous year. It was about three attractive private detectives (Farrah along with Kate Jackson and Jaclyn Smith) who solved crimes for a boss named Charlie who was always unseen and only heard on a speakerphone.
Then there was Farrah’s poster.
The iconic shot of beaming blonde-maned Farrah in a red swimsuit sold more than 20 million copies including one that my 10-year old brother Kelvin somehow got away with hanging on his bedroom wall and not having my mom take it down.
Farrah was a sex symbol, TV star and to top it off, was married to bionic Lee Majors, “The Six Million Dollar Man.”
The rumor was that Farrah would be at the Kmart parking lot at 1 p.m. I wasn’t one to cut school, but my last two classes of the day after lunch were Ms. Murray’s photography class which I did not like and Mr. Boitano’s woodworking one which I was terrible at.
My friend Mike and I floated the idea of writing notes “from our parents” similar to the ones we’d used successfully to purchase cigarettes at EZ Mart. The sudden appearance of notes for doctor’s appointments that we didn’t present in first period might seem suspicious though so we decided just to make a break for it at lunchtime.
There were no fences around the campus then, so it wasn’t that hard to sneak off. Our original plan was simply to walk west down East Tabor Avenue, take a right on North Texas Street when it deadended and take the straight shot to Kmart.
But Fairfield Police might see us and wonder what two kids who should be in school were doing. In fact, our plan was almost derailed at the beginning when we had to hide from a FPD cruiser by quickly scrambling down the embankment of the creek by Sunset Avenue where we had caught insects in jars for Mr. Gaut’s biology class.
We then decided to take a more circuitous route through the residential neighborhoods. Our 40-minute trek was not exactly filled with the same kind of adventures as the friends in “Stand By Me” encountered on their excursion to see a dead body, but we did get chased by a German Shepherd that had gotten loose and found a Kennedy half dollar which we used to buy fries at McDonald’s.
Before we even arrived at the Kmart parking lot, we could see the huge crowd of people who’d gathered there. As we drew closer, Mike and I saw numerous Grange students present and breathed a little easier about our decision to cut.
Cheers welled up to our left and we strained to see over the throng. The crowd noise came progressively closer as if they were doing the wave and we finally saw what everyone was cheering about.
It was a team of Budweiser Clydesdales. They were there to celebrate the opening of the new Budweiser brewery located near Interstate 80.
Farrah Fawcett-Majors was not there.
How had such a rumor in the days before social media and hashtags spread so quickly all over Fairfield?
Could it have been someone innocently overhearing someone else talk about the elegant feathered hair that the Clydesdales famously have covering their hooves and thought they heard something about Farrah’s trademark feathered hairdo?
Not likely. I suspected it was a stunt dreamed up and executed by Budweiser Public Relations folks.
I felt duped, used and angry.
Not angry enough to not tune into “Charlie’s Angels” the following Wednesday night though.
Reach Fairfield writer Tony Wade at firstname.lastname@example.org