NOTE: The following article originally ran in "The Future: 1999????," a special section in the Friday, March 30, 1979 edition of the Albany Democrat-Herald.

Youthful eyes gaze forward in time . . . into the mystery of 1999

What will life be like in the year 1999?

Fairmount Grade School second- and third-graders agreed to share their ideas.

For instance, one student said there won't be any electricity. Another said everything will be powered by electricity. One mentioned how people will live in small houses; another thinks houses will be big — like castles.

According to Eric Briggs, the future would be good: "There will be lots of robots working for us." Yet Tonya Bond believes, "The fuel will be gone ... so we may have a bad future."

"We are going to have things flying around like UFOs and little motor scooters," said Jeff Goby. But on the other hand, according to Mark Bonnlander, by 1999, people will revert and travel by horse and wagon.

Actually, said Candice Clark, "Nobody knows what's going to happen, but we can imagine what it's going to be like."

The students wrote down their ideas about the future in short essays. Candice calls hers "The Mystery of 1999." And here's what Candice and some of her schoolmates at Fairmount School imagine like will be like 20 years from now:

"One morning I woke up and it was 1999. My mom's robot was laying out my clothes. I went to the kitchen and typed in my breakfast. My family lives underground in a small home to conserve energy and space. I turned on my television set. It is as big as a wall. We went to the car dealer and bought an aircar. I saw Mike. He was getting into an airbus. I got home and I played with my dog."

— Sean Miller, third grade, son of Linda and Bob Miller

"There will be no houses, or schools. We will have to live in tents. Food stores will not exist. We will have to plant corn, vegetables, apples, wheat, beans and peas."

— Heath Loney, third grade, son of Diane and Ron Loney

"There will be lots of robots working for us. There will lots of space ships flying in the air. The cities will be big. There will be lots of stores and restaurants. There might even be wars with tanks and machine guns and bombs. The world might blow up and we might have to live on Mars ... or in a spaceship."

— Eric Briggs, third grade, son of Jean and Charles Briggs

"Star Date 1999: We have computered cars now. The cars are more like spaceships. Everything costs more. The houses are as big as castles. Bikes are automatic. Almost everything is electric."

— Lauren Brown, third grade, daughter of Kathy and Larry Brown

"It all began in 1999 when cars are now horses and wagons. All of the energy is gone. Now we have to use wood. There are so many houses that there isn't enough wood left. All of the houses are so small they are only a few feet bigger than dog houses. Things like steel, metal and copper are disappearing. People are not working so all of the plants are turning into a jungle. In games like baseball, the people are so fast you can't even get an out. In basketball, players are so tall they had to put the baskets 20 feet high and the foul mark up to 10."

— Mark Bonnlander, third grade, son of Heinke and Dr. Benjamin Bonnlander

"It will be different in 1999. That will be 20 years from 1979. We might have to travel in Woomy Zoomys because the gas price is going up. We might even have to grow our own food because that price is going up. We might even have to use candles to heat our homes because the fuel price is going up. A lot of things might be different in 20 years. I hope not!"

— Kerri Sue Hughson, third grade, daughter of Linda and Denny Hughson

"Because of the fuel shortage, we will probably start to use solar and thermal energy and drive electric cars. We will probably have space farms. All kids will have their own pet computers. Doctors will use lasers to make very clean cuts. We will use space shuttles to get to a space laboratory with big telescopes. Jeans will probably come into style and almost everybody will play computer games. Computers will take over many jobs and everything will cost more. Animals will start to die off. Kids will ride motorized bicycles and skateboards."

— James Magruder III, third grade, son of Anne and James Magruder II

"The fuel will probably be gone in 1999. If this is true, we will have to go back to horse-drawn wagons. Riding horses to work may sound strange, but if someone invents rockets with wheels, we may use them, but if the fuel is gone, we couldn't. So we may have a bad future."

— Tonya Bond, third grade, daughter of Sharon and Paul Bond

"I think there will be a lot of changes by 1999 because of our shortages. For instance, clothes. They might go back to the olden days. Clothes might be fancy with lace, ruffles and long sleeves! Men and boys might be wearing suits, all of the time! Maybe even the flag will have some more stars. Instead of 50, there might be 70. Now, just think about that. The flag might be bigger because of the extra stars. Transportation might be a tragedy because of the gas shortage. But maybe there will be horses and carriages. Nobody knows what's going to happen, but we can imagine what it's going to be like."

— Candice Clark, second grade, daughter of Sheryl and Dr. Rdean Clark

"In the year 1999 there will be no heat for our furnace. There will be no televisions because we will have no electricity. There will be no food. Breakfast, lunch and dinner will be pellets. You will take three pellets a day."

— Brett Stephenson, second grade, son of Judy Jacobs

"We are going to have things flying around like UFOs and little motor scooters. We will have lots of robots to serve our food in restaurants. There will be electric building sets to make our own toys. People will take pictures with their eyes. Houses are going to be shaped like bugs."

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— Jeff Goby, second grade, son of Jan and Dr. Gary Goby

" ... with electric record players, just push a button and the player will do the rest. With electric chairs, just push a button and the chair will move. With electric tables, just push a button and a table comes up from the floor. We will have electric doors, just push a button and the door will open."

— San Jacob, second grade, son of Marge and Reed Jacob

"In 1999, Pluto will be closer to the sun than Neptune. There will be another eclipse (of the sun) in the northern part of Africa. People will discover that there is pink dust on Venus. Jimmy Carter will still be president."

— Jamey Linn Boyd, third grade, daughter of Nancy and James Boyd

 What the future holds for Albany citizens . . . is a matter of faith

Afraid of the future?

"No," say a sample of people interviewed in downtown Albany.

Despite some reservations over changes of lifestyles, a random interview of of seven persons shows a great optimism about their personal fortunes 20 years from now.

The seven see a greater need for mass transit and more efficient automobiles; they worry about rapid population growth, but see a very rosy future for themselves.

"I know things are going to get better," said Gordon Strode, 51, an electrician for Linnco Electric. "Every time I get a new job it's a better one than the last one. Every time I get a new car it's better than the last one. Every time I get a new house, it's better."

Strode believes downtown Albany "will be pretty dead" in 20 years because of shopping centers he's sure will be built. He expects more mass transit even though he believes will continue to drive gasoline-powered automobiles.

If what Strode hopes for comes true, Terry Parker, 21, of Lebanon, may have a hand in it. Parker hopes he'll still be a truck driver in 1999. He'd like to be driving that truck in Alaska where he hopes there will be another oil discovery and a second pipeline.

In 20 years, Bob LaRoche, 33, owner of The Hair barbershop, plans on managing a string of barber shops instead of cutting hair himself.

"That's the direction I'm going in now," LaRoche said. "The way things are going now, I think things will get better. And I intend to make sure they do.

"And I think this town will be too crowded for me, so I'll be gone," he said.

He believes downtown Albany will eventually transform itself into a mall, a transition forced principally by nearby shopping centers. Much of the area's growth, he said, will depend on Teledyne Wah Chang Albany Corp. and Albany's success in getting new industries to locate here.

Today's youth will be the difference 20 years from now, "particularly with the environment," said Vivian Province, 46.

Discovery of oil reserves, a move away from the the internal combustion engine and more mass transit will wash away the energy worries of Americans, she believes.

Since she will be 66 in 1999, Mrs. Province plans a "busy" retirement.

"I have a positive attitude toward the next 20 years, other than the little (economic) depression we're into now," she said. "People bounce back from these kinds of things."

Ruth Black, 71, co-owner of Oldie Antiques, also has a positive outlook, despite the fact she will probably die in the next two decades.

"I won't be around," she said. "But if Albany builds up in the next 20 years as it has the past 20 years, it'll be a good place to live."

She believes improvements will be necessary for survival of downtown Albany but hopes any older buildings involved in improvements will be spared by the wrecking ball.

Twenty years will transform them from students to businesspeople, said Randy Davenport, 18, and Anastasia Chiasson, 18.

Davenport, a student at Linn-Benton Community College, hopes to be working in finance or banking while Miss Chiasson hopes to own her own clothing shop "in downtown Albany, if I'm in this area."

Both agree that the mid-valley will be "one city from Portland to Eugene."

"Cars I don't think will be in existence," Davenport said. "They'll come up with something else. I don't think people will continue to put up with paying those prices."

Both have a very positive outlook for their personal futures.

"It's what you make of it," said Miss Chiasson. "And if you have a positive outlook and work hard toward your goals, you can make it."

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