Reminiscences: The 1970s

 

1970sI 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.

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  1. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    carcat74:

    Randy Weivoda:Although there was a lot of schlock, there was also a lot of good music made in the 1970’s. Eagles, Fleetwood Mac, Linda Ronstadt, Electric Light Orchestra, Waylon Jennings, Rod Stewart, England Dan & John Ford Coley, Willie Nelson, Charley Pride, Carole King, and yes I’ll say it, the BeeGees. It’s been hip to dump on the BeeGees for decades, but I think their music really holds up.

    KANSAS! STYX!

    Kansas

    • #61
  2. RightAngles Member
    RightAngles
    @RightAngles

    I was once using a dressing room that Minnie Riperton had been in not 20 minute earlier. But I didn’t meet her. Does anyone even remember her?

    • #62
  3. blank generation member Inactive
    blank generation member
    @blankgenerationmember

    Fischer whupped Spassky.  I followed that closely.  Not that I got any good at chess though.

    • #63
  4. Kate Braestrup Member
    Kate Braestrup
    @GrannyDude

    EThompson:I miss:

    OMG!!!!!!!

    • #64
  5. Kate Braestrup Member
    Kate Braestrup
    @GrannyDude

    When my friends and I played Partridge Family, I always insisted on being Keith. Even though I was the only one who could play the opening notes of “Point Me In The Direction of Albuquerque” on the piano, which technically should’ve made me be Laurie.  But dammit, I was Keith (and yes, I used the Boy’s Room, too!).

    • #65
  6. Douglas Inactive
    Douglas
    @Douglas

    Mike LaRoche:Don’t remember much about the ’70s, myself.

    I do. I was a kid in Pasadena, CA in the late 70’s. I romanticized it when growing up because that was the height of CA’s popularity nationally, when everyone’s dream was still to go to California. Star Wars was out, we had palm trees on our block, and we were at the center of the world. I thought it was magical.

    We moved two years later and I was heartbroken. Blamed my dad. I didn’t wanna go to stupid ‘ole Texas. We had California. Doesn’t everyone want California?

    Years later, I realized I owed my dad a huge apology. Charles Murray’s Belmont vs Fishtown had already began to manifest itself even then, and we left because we simply couldn’t afford the California Dream anymore (that small lower-middle class house we had in Pasadena with three bedrooms and sparse luxuries? $880 K today. I checked). Normal people began to find it impossible to afford the place. Texas was affordable. And for the rest of the era? Now I realize the 70’s are when the nanny state we all hate was truly born. And Richard Nixon sped it along. We lost more liberty at any time since the New Deal. And Americans were fine with it. The dying SoCal dream simply heralded what was to come for the rest of the nation. The whole decade was an ill omen for the future.

    • #66
  7. Douglas Inactive
    Douglas
    @Douglas

    BrentB67:

    Mike LaRoche:I do, however, remember this:

    I think that is a 24-hour suspension of your Ricochet Man Card. You are banned from the tree house until Monday.

    You get a pass for hot Swedish chicks.

    • #67
  8. Mike LaRoche Inactive
    Mike LaRoche
    @MikeLaRoche

    Douglas:

    BrentB67:

    Mike LaRoche:I do, however, remember this:

    I think that is a 24-hour suspension of your Ricochet Man Card. You are banned from the tree house until Monday.

    You get a pass for hot Swedish chicks.

    Heh, thanks.

    Regarding ABBA, my dad owned a 1979 Chrsyler LeBaron with a built-in 8-track player, and it came with a complimentary cassette with late ’70s hits, “Dancing Queen” among them.

    • #68
  9. J. D. Fitzpatrick Member
    J. D. Fitzpatrick
    @JDFitzpatrick

    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.

    [Applause] I can’t believe what people wear to early morning flights these days.

    • #69
  10. Whiskey Sam Inactive
    Whiskey Sam
    @WhiskeySam

    melsuit77

    We had style in the 70s

    • #70
  11. Douglas Inactive
    Douglas
    @Douglas

    Whiskey Sam:melsuit77

    We had style in the 70s

    Back when we put our kids out in the sun, sitting on unprocessed grass and dirt without some schmuck lecturing us that we were abusing our kids.

    • #71
  12. TeamAmerica Member
    TeamAmerica
    @TeamAmerica

    carcat74:

    Randy Weivoda:Although there was a lot of schlock, there was also a lot of good music made in the 1970’s. Eagles, Fleetwood Mac, Linda Ronstadt, Electric Light Orchestra, Waylon Jennings, Rod Stewart, England Dan & John Ford Coley, Willie Nelson, Charley Pride, Carole King, and yes I’ll say it, the BeeGees. It’s been hip to dump on the BeeGees for decades, but I think their music really holds up.

    KANSAS! STYX!

    Steely Dan, The Cars! Also REM and R.E.O Speedwagon

    • #72
  13. TeamAmerica Member
    TeamAmerica
    @TeamAmerica

    Posted with cell phone, missing quote, deleted. See comment 76

    • #73
  14. Mike LaRoche Inactive
    Mike LaRoche
    @MikeLaRoche

    Speaking of the ’70s, this was the #1 song on Billboard’s country, pop, and adult contemporary charts 41 years ago on April 25, 1975 – the day of my birth.

    • #74
  15. David Deeble Member
    David Deeble
    @DavidDeeble

    Whiskey Sam:The 70s were awesome. My mother made me a cream and brown plaid leisure suit for Easter. And there was great TV like Barney Miller, The Six Million Dollar Man, and Kojak. Star Wars! Midget airplane spotters. Sid & Marty Krofft productions. Things like this happening at random:

    And these guys:

    Kiss_alive_album_cover

    Hey! Am I right to think Paul Williams *played that character* in the movie?! If so, I had no idea.

    • #75
  16. TeamAmerica Member
    TeamAmerica
    @TeamAmerica

    RightAngles:I was once using a dressing room that Minnie Riperton had been in not 20 minute earlier. But I didn’t meet her. Does anyone even remember her?

    RA- Was she the country entertainer with the price tag permanently hanging from her hat?

    • #76
  17. Hypatia Inactive
    Hypatia
    @Hypatia

    You bring to mind a thought I’ve been trying not to entertain for a while now.

    Yes, I do remember Nixon’s price controls.  Now, that was a major-league radical move, and certainly the most drastic governmental intervention into our economic lives we’ve ever experienced.  Why?  As I remember, it was just because he thought prices of everything were going up too fast.  (They WERE going up noticeably rapidly, especially meat, as I recall, but still…)

    And it was Nixon who created the EPA.  The E-effing-P. A.!!!! The scourge of the existence of each and every landowner in this country.

    Ford, well, he kept the chair warm–and socially, I yield to Updike’s great but lesser known novel “Memories of the Ford Administration”.

    Reagan (the Divine) and Bush 1 both raised taxes, as I recall.

    Bush 2 can hardly be called a fiscal conservative. His admin appears to have been collusive in the Fanny-Freddy mortgage debacle.  He flew Bin Laden’s relatives home first class on 9/11, and ordered the famous 28 pages of the 9/11 Report suppressed.

    Do we REALLY have two parties in this country?  And, if so–and I hate to even entertain this thought–am I in the right one?

    • #77
  18. OldDan Member
    OldDan
    @OldDanRhody

    Mike LaRoche:Speaking of the ’70s, this was the #1 song on Billboard’s country, pop, and adult contemporary charts 41 years ago on April 25, 1975 – the day of my birth.

    Happy Birthday, Mike!  Today’s my wife’s birthday as well!

    • #78
  19. Robert E. Lee Member
    Robert E. Lee
    @RobertELee

    TKC1101: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.

    Makes me think we need another outsider.

    • #79
  20. Robert E. Lee Member
    Robert E. Lee
    @RobertELee

    J. D. Fitzpatrick:

    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.

    [Applause] I can’t believe what people wear to early morning flights these days.

    What they should be wearing is orange jumpsuits.  Makes the pat down easier and gives the occasional delays jammed in a long metal tube with unpleasant company the appropriate atmosphere.

    • #80
  21. Robert E. Lee Member
    Robert E. Lee
    @RobertELee

    TeamAmerica:

    RightAngles:I was once using a dressing room that Minnie Riperton had been in not 20 minute earlier. But I didn’t meet her. Does anyone even remember her?

    RA- Was she the country entertainer with the price tag permanently hanging from her hat?

    That was Minnie Pearl, bless yer heart.

    • #81
  22. danok1 Member
    danok1
    @danok1

    TeamAmerica: RA- Was she the country entertainer with the price tag permanently hanging from her hat?

    You’re thinking of Minnie Pearl. Minnie Riperton is best known for the ’75 single “Lovin’ You” and for being the mother of Maya Rudolph.

    • #82
  23. Kate Braestrup Member
    Kate Braestrup
    @GrannyDude

    TeamAmerica:

    RightAngles:I was once using a dressing room that Minnie Riperton had been in not 20 minute earlier. But I didn’t meet her. Does anyone even remember her?

    RA- Was she the country entertainer with the price tag permanently hanging from her hat?

    Minnie Pearl! When my first (late) husband told me that, as a kid,  he’d once played tennis with Minnie Pearl, all I could think about was one of those white tennis visors with a tag hanging off it…this irritated my first (late) husband, who just wanted me to be impressed; brush with celebrity and all that.

    • #83
  24. Whiskey Sam Inactive
    Whiskey Sam
    @WhiskeySam

    David Deeble:

    Whiskey Sam:The 70s were awesome. My mother made me a cream and brown plaid leisure suit for Easter. And there was great TV like Barney Miller, The Six Million Dollar Man, and Kojak. Star Wars! Midget airplane spotters. Sid & Marty Krofft productions. Things like this happening at random:

    And these guys:

    Kiss_alive_album_cover

    Hey! Am I right to think Paul Williams *played that character* in the movie?! If so, I had no idea.

    He played Virgil in the barely remembered final movie Battle for the Planet of the Apes.  This was right before his acting career peaked with his brilliant work as Little Enos in Smokey and the Bandit.

    • #84
  25. Front Seat Cat Member
    Front Seat Cat
    @FrontSeatCat

    RightAngles:awkward-funny-hair-1970s-ginger-afro-nerf-ball

    Did she invent the Chia Pet? They have one of Obama along with other celebrities – too much!

    • #85
  26. Front Seat Cat Member
    Front Seat Cat
    @FrontSeatCat

    I thought working class white people were the backbone of the Democratic party back then?  It was in my neighborhood, back when the Democratic party was for “regular” folk; The elites of society were Republican – the progressives and radicals back then usually went to someone like Lyndon LaRouche or didn’t bother to vote.

    • #86
  27. RyanFalcone Member
    RyanFalcone
    @RyanFalcone

    I was born in 74′ but have so many wonderful memories of the 70’s. We lived in Cleveland but were HUGE Steeler fans so that was special and of course all those Croft, kid’s programs were fun (and explains why most of us are deranged today). My vivid memories are of Star Wars and being terrified that Sky Lab was going to fall out of space and land on me! My mom was (is) a hippie that refused to buy me toy guns but that is pretty much the only games we played! I used to steal my mom’s clothes pins and clip them together in the shape of a gun to “fit in” with predictable results. One day all the kids were running around with squirt guns and I had none. So, I grabbed the dishwashing detergent bottle (with the Mr. Yuk sticker on it) out from under the sink, squirted it all into a cereal bowl, filled it with water and ran outside with my new found WMD! My mom went ballistic and had my dad buy me my first toy gun that night!

    • #87
  28. RightAngles Member
    RightAngles
    @RightAngles

    RyanFalcone:I was born in 74′ but have so many wonderful memories of the 70’s.

    I mostly have memories of ugly clothes and all the men having mustaches and looking like porn actors.

    • #88
  29. Mike LaRoche Inactive
    Mike LaRoche
    @MikeLaRoche

    OldDan:

    Mike LaRoche:Speaking of the ’70s, this was the #1 song on Billboard’s country, pop, and adult contemporary charts 41 years ago on April 25, 1975 – the day of my birth.

    Happy Birthday, Mike! Today’s my wife’s birthday as well!

    Thanks, OldDan!

    • #89
  30. EThompson Inactive
    EThompson
    @EThompson

    You might have given me some advanced notice here, Mikey.

    Best of birthdays to you!!!

    • #90
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