The Chicago Bears blew out the New England Patriots that weekend by a lopsided 46-10 score. I watched the game, but my mind was more on the pressures of the job I had started the previous week as editor of the Roswell Neighbor newspaper, published by Times Journal Inc., the same company that publishes the Marietta Daily Journal.
I lived in the old Treetop Apartments overlooking I-285 at the Galleria. If I'd had some rocks out on my second-floor hilltop balcony, I could have hit some of the C-130s that were constantly lumbering low over our rooftops as they headed in and out of Dobbins. And if my arm had been a little stronger, I could have plunked some of those rocks into the Chattahoochee, which flowed by the property.
I had just moved down from Toccoa in northeast Georgia, where I had edited a newspaper for a couple years and worked in radio for a few years prior to that. All those years living in a small town had whetted my appetite for Big City Life, and when I got here, I jumped in with both feet. As a newspaper editor, I was on the receiving end of a slew of invitations to events high and low - from the Atlanta Steeplechase and balls at the Piedmont Driving Club to some of downtown's more notorious nightspots. It was a rare week that I didn't wind up at a reception marking the opening of this business or that restaurant. I think I ate enough free cocktail shrimp at receptions my first year here to fill the Gulf of Mexico.
I was dazzled by the infinite number of interesting eateries and great nightclubs, with beautiful women at every turn - one of whom I later married. Metro Atlanta was, and is, a great place to be young and single.
And I'm finding out that it's a great place to be older and married. It's also one of the greatest places in the world - maybe the greatest place - to raise a family.
Cobb has changed tremendously since 1986. Once you were west of the Waffle House on Whitlock Avenue and Dallas Highway you might as well have been in Alabama. There wasn't much to west Cobb in those days but trees, fields and Lost Mountain.
Town Center mall hadn't quite opened yet. The Four Seasons Mall and Belmont Hills Shopping Center in Smyrna were still going strong. Cumberland Mall's site had been a Boy Scout camp barely a decade before. Vinings was picturesque but puny, it's high-rises yet to arrive.
Downtown Marietta, which had been Cobb's shopping Mecca for a century prior to the 1960s, was running on fumes. Most of its retailers had left. The Strand Theatre was a decaying hulk. The block facing the Square's east side was an ugly parking lot where the impressive State Court Building now stands. A homeless shelter was just a block off the Square, and its denizens tended to spend the day hanging around Glover Park.
Fortunately, the Square's fortunes were starting to turn, thanks to the $1 million makeover launched by Mayor Bob Flournoy Jr. a couple years earlier. Marietta's top elected official was its first female mayor, Vicky Chastain.
A handful of us still remain at the MDJ from those days - associate editor Bill Kinney, salesman extraordinaire Jay Whorton, vice president Harris Kettles, secretary Michele Bramlett, salespeople Kathleen Gray, Nat Long and Wade Shoaf, production crewmen Chuck Hicks and Mike Thompson, and of course publisher Otis A. Brumby Jr. Unfortunately, none of us look quite as young as we used to. I've got more than a bit of gray in my hair - some of it put there, no doubt, by a couple of the aforementioned names in this paragraph. But I suspect I've given them as much gray as they've given me, so we're even.
That 1986 Bears-Patriot game turned out to be one of the most boring Super Bowls ever. But the past 25 years have been anything but. And I hope the next 25 here are just as good.
Joe Kirby is Editorial Page Editor of the Marietta Daily Journal and co-author of the new 'Then & Now: Marietta Revisited.'