Some years are identified for me by the celebrities who died that year. For instance, when I think of 1977, I think of the death of Elvis. 1979 reminds me of John Wayne. 1980 reminds me of John Lennon. 2009 reminds me of Michael Jackson.
I haven't figured out how to remember 2013 yet. There's plenty of time, of course. It's only March. Meanwhile, here's the current list of contenders who will one day help me remember 2013.
Patti Page - A bit before my time, but I know my grandfather was a big fan of her version of "The Tennessee Waltz".
Ned Wertimer - He was the doorman on "The Jeffersons".
Sammy Johns - He sang the song "Chevy Van", which I liked a lot when I was about 10.
Fred Talbot - My favorite book is "Ball Four" by Jim Bouton. Fred is one of the main antagonists in the book. He and Jim didn't like each other.
Conrad Bain - He's best remembered as Mr. Drummond from "Diff'rent Strokes". I didn't watch that show, so I remember him best as Arthur, the next-door neighbor on "Maude".
George Gund III - He used to own the Cleveland Cavaliers. Gund Arena in Cleveland was named after him. It was also named by him.
Pauline Phillips - She was better known as Dear Abby.
Stan Musial - Maybe the greatest hitter in National League baseball history. He had an odd batting stance that sort of looked like a little kid peeking around the corner of a building. It was effective, though.
Earl Weaver - He was the longtime manager of the Baltimore Orioles. He was always the shortest person in the dugout, and usually the only one smoking.
Patty Andrews - In the Andrews Sisters, she was the one who stood in the middle.
Barney - He was George W. Bush's dog when they lived in the White House.
Ed Koch - Some guys with this last name pronounce it "Cook". Others pronounce it "Coke". In his family, they went with "Kotch". He was the mayor of New York when the city was going bankrupt in the 1970's.
Tony Sheridan - There are a bunch of rare vinyl 45's from the early 1960's featuring singer Tony Sheridan backed up by the Beatles. As far as I know, the Beatles never served as anyone else's backup band.
Mindy McCready - A sad story. She killed herself after drug problems, several arrests and the death of her significant other. I was working as a country music disc jockey when she had both of her hits.
Dr. Jerry Buss - The owner of the Los Angeles Lakers who helped usher in the "Showtime" era.
C. Everett Koop - He was the first U.S. surgeon general I ever heard of. In fact, before he started making TV commercials, I had no idea what the surgeon general was.
Van Cliburn - I took piano lessons as a child and tried to emulate the talent and success of Van Cliburn. I didn't. I get the feeling he practiced more than I did.
Bonnie Franklin - Ann Romano on "One Day at a Time", which was a sitcom I tolerated. I didn't really like it, but I tolerated it.
Hugo Chavez - The anti-American president of Venezuela. I don't think he made Venezuela a very nice place to live, but gas is only 14 cents a gallon there.
Alvin Lee - Lead guitarist of the group Ten Years After, who had a hit with "I'd Love to Change the World", another song I liked in the early 1970's.
I get the feeling from this list that 2013 has not yet distinguished itself in terms of celebrity passings. But I would like to mention just one more person. I didn't know who she was until I read her obituary, but she belongs in the hall of fame for people with embarrassing names. And that's the artist Phyllis Wiener.