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Reminiscences: The 1970s
I confessed to my seven-year-old son recently that when I was his age I was usually out in the street playing with toy guns and eating a pack of candy cigarettes a day. “Where were your mom and dad?” he asked. I told him the truth: “Entertaining in the den with real guns and real cigarettes.”
Couples with children were seen as blessed, surrounded as they were by forgivable versions of themselves. Children weren’t coddled but cherished and I still remember the pleasure my dad took casually cracking hard-boiled eggs on my head. The term role model did not then exist nor, for that matter, did solar subsidies, the prevailing belief in those days being that Americans could never be cowed into paying for the sun.
Heh, good times.
Government, like everything else, seemed more expensive than today though it was actually cheaper, politicians not yet having discovered that their special brand of magic, like everything else, seems cheaper when paid for with borrowed dollars. Today, of course, Congress’ motto might as well be “We tax your children and pass the savings onto you.”
For conservatives the political landscape was indisputably worse than today, the current Trump-Clinton-Sanders unpleasantness notwithstanding. Gridlock, the next-best thing to freedom, was in scant supply. There were two political parties: the Democrats (liberal) and the Republicans (liberal). Working-class whites were the backbone of the GOP, though then the party still understood this. The explosion of regulations that accompanied Nixon’s presidency notwithstanding, government somehow seemed smaller. Banks were deemed too big to bail.
Nixon was not just in the GOP but of it, launching the absurdly ambitious war on drugs and instituting price controls. Price controls. The term white privilege did not then exist, nor did its attendant warnings about everything from gluten to peanuts. Privacy did not then rank as high among our list of concerns as it does today. And understandably so, given that an innocent online purchase now results in my browser filling up with countless ads for inflatable women.
Down the street from us was Disneyland which, though world famous and immensely popular, had not yet achieved the marketing gold standard of appealing to both Mormons and gays. The end of the Cold War seemed nowhere in sight and it was understood that if some naif chose to go hiking in North Korea that that was his problem, not that of the American taxpayer, who is now expected to facilitate to his return home.
Then as now, a large percentage of people believed that Elvis was still alive but only because they just saw him at the Vegas Hilton. Though hands-down the worst-dressed decade ever, the notion that one dressed up for air travel still existed to a certain extent, unlike today when being bumped up to first class means donning your “fancy” tank top.
Bill Clinton’s presidency was two decades away and Obama’s more than three, so the notion that a haircut and a shoeshine could only get you so far was still widely believed. Middle-class families like the one I grew up in weren’t threatened with bankruptcy by merely living a middle-class lifestyle. NASA was sending men to the moon and back, not issuing press-releases about finding signs of water. On Earth.
But between between inflation, long gas lines, obstacles to trade, Watergate, Vietnam and men like Rockefeller the face of the Republican party, I’m sanguine about my children’s prospects.Published in General
Those were dark days in the 70s – of course I was in junior high for a good chunk of them…
I get that too! What is that?
How could you say such a thing?
Is that Shepard Smith in the white pants?
Do you recall the names of the people selling them? Asking for a friend….
Not that current fashion is so wonderful. This is the 70’s without the candy cigarettes and the grownup parents, although since I was raising children in the 70’s, I gotta tell you, there were some terrible examples of parenthood in those days, too. The problem is geometric multiplication. You need to be preparing your son for Armageddon.
Love ya, David. Keep reminding us.
Nice shot of the Village People in drag.
It is simply impossible for me to live up to that standard of beauty.
Great post, David! Thank you!
You bet, Addiction.
There were two political parties: the Democrats (liberal) and the Republicans (liberal).
This is an excellent piece.
Years ago on C-Span, Nick Gillespie noted that for those of us raised in the seventies, we remember riding our bicycles barefoot at night in the rain.
It was also common in my neighborhood for kids to go to 7-11 to buy cigarettes for our dads.
What I remember most about the 70’s is the nationwide imposition of the 55 mph speed limit, which is only being somewhat relaxed on interstate highways in recent years.
It’s actually been 20 years since the national speed limit was repealed, as pointed out in this article.
Ugh…the past is so disgusting. Now the 90’s that was a great time. Internet, Supper Nintendo, PCs, normal looking clothes, no cold war, you could still ride your bike where ever you wanted, and most importantly that’s when I was a kid. So it must be the best time.
The end of the Cold War was a particularly hopeful time, some even labeled it The End of History. Such grandiose notions seem absurdly naive now yet there was such hope, finally it was over and we had won. People all over the world could simply go on and live their lives.
But the truth of course is that it never ends, never. Each generation must pick up the torch from the last and then run the next lap, just as all those before them did.
In the 70’s we had a real life Superman. Doctor J standing 6’7, 6’10 with the afro was flying through both the ABA and NBA dunking on anybody who got in his way. Maybe the last athlete whose history was as much mythology as it was recorded.
Thanks, Randy. What really gripes me is that the federal government uses its power of taxation to impose its will on the various states, and the national speed limit is just one example of how.this is done.
The 70s also had that great spy TV show, Lancelot Link, Secret Chimp.
Yeah, even though they have given up on the speed limit, they still hold the threat of withholding highway funds from any state that doesn’t toe the line on mandatory seatbelt laws and the drinking age. Even the BAC standard for defining drunk driving. And I don’t expect it to get better any time soon, as Ted Cruz strikes me as the only presidential candidate from either of the two major parties who talks much about states’ rights. Clearly the American people like big government.
That may be the most hideous hair I’ve ever seen. I’m not even sure it’s hair. Could it be brown styrofoam? It is definitely chemically damaged. And the hair, too.
I sure hope that isn’t Right Angles Mom.
I can see it now. Deeble’s kid goes back to school:
Friend,”So, did Yer Dad get You that iPhone?!”
Debble’s kid,”Um, no. He just said,’Son, when I was Yer age I had a pet rock.’ So, He gave Me this…. rock.”
Oh, geeze. You know RA is in Texas, right? I know it’s a big place, but I bet she could find you.
Gutsy. Or, is this where I should say, “Bless yer little heart…”
You have to look at it as the decade where the social explosion of the late 1960s went bang and the most poisonous fallout occurred over the next immediate ten years.
Polyester was like radiation shielding. It made hair frizz and people see in strange colors .
Eventually disco came along and everyone agreed it was worse and needed to go.
Then we got tired of lousy economics, lousy cars, lousy unemployment, shoddy goods, humiliation on the international stage and commies kicking sand in our face.
We elected a crazy cowboy movie actor who was supposed to be Hitler and start a nuclear war instead of one of those nice normal politicians like we were supposed to.
The literati all declared they would leave the country. Unfortunately, they lie a lot and stayed and now we are stuck with their snotty descendants.
I am not the one making fun of her hair and chemical damage…
Hahaha you guys!