I was just a little girl in the sixties, so my memories from the "groovy" era are sketchy at best. I have a vague recollection of black lights, station wagons, white GoGo boots and psychedelic Jimi Hendrix posters on the wall. There were only a handful of channels on the TV, and afternoons were spent playing kick the can or riding our Schwinn Sting-Rays until our mothers called us in for dinner once the street lights came on.
I do remember my older sister wearing bell bottom jeans, love beads and a peace sign necklace. Her bedroom was adorned in rock band and anti-war posters, the lingering scent of sandalwood incense permeating the air. Those were the flower power years, and although my memories are cloudy, it's pretty cool to say that I was alive when Apollo 11 landed on the moon.
By the time the seventies hit, I was happy to shed my adolescence to step into my teen years. It was the "far out" era of CB radios, waterbeds, muscle cars, 8 track tapes, lumpy bean bag chairs and STAR WARS. My biggest problems in life were wondering if the cute boy in B lunch would wave to me or how I was going to memorize all those formulas for my geometry test.
Here's a glimpse of what it was like growing up groovy in the 70s:
The median household income was $11,800; a gallon of gas was .57 cents; a dozen eggs cost .77 cents, and a gallon of milk was $1.57. The average home cost $22,000 in the early seventies and rose to $62,000 at decade's end. The U.S. population in 1975 was 216 million and the life expectancy was between 68-76 years of age.
POPULAR TV SHOWS: I loved racing home from school to watch reruns of oldies such as Twilight Zone, Outer Limits and Dark Shadows. But the popular shows of the decade included M*A*S*H, The Brady Bunch, All In The Family, Laugh-In, Happy Days, Three's Company, Marcus Welby M.D., Fantasy Island, The Love Boat, American Bandstand, The Carol Burnett Show, Johnny Carson, and Saturday Night Live.
BOX OFFICE HITS: I'll never forget catching a taxi to downtown Ft. Lauderdale with my boyfriend to attend the premiere of Jaws. Movies cost $2.00 back then, and the theatre was packed. Needless to say, our beaches were a little less crowded after Jaws made a splash on the screen. Other big hits included The Exorcist, Rocky, American Graffiti, Blazing Saddles, The Deer Hunter, Saturday Night Fever, Animal House, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Grease, The Godfather, Deliverance, and the mega hit STAR WARS.
FASHION: The early 70s clung to the hippie mindset of the 60s, so people were still rocking mini skirts, afros, flared bottom jeans, big belts, peasant blouses, smock tops, afghan coats, rock t-shirts and granny dresses. Women wore their tresses long and straight while men kept their sideburns thick and their hair well past their collar. Once disco was ushered into the mid 70s, polyester, platform shoes and shiny, metallic clothing became popular. Men wore leisure suits, wide lapels, and painter's pants while sporting mustaches the size of giant caterpillars above their lips. Women gravitated toward wedge shoes, halter tops, hip huggers, tube tops, satin pants and big hair.
IN THE NEWS: We started out the decade with Richard Nixon as our president until the Watergate scandal occurred, placing Gerald Ford in the oval office after Nixon's resignation. Next came Jimmy Carter, and we never looked at peanuts the same way again. As a family, we gathered each night around our Zenith TV and watched the news unfold. In the 70s, the U.S. pulled out of Vietnam, Roe v.s. Wade legalized abortion, terrorists attacked the Olympic games in Munich, Elvis died, Jimmy Hoffa went missing, Patty Hearst was kidnapped, Mikhail Baryshnikov defected, the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System was finished, Iran took American hostages in Tehran, the first test tube baby was born, Nadia Comaneci scored seven perfect tens, the Jonestown massacre shocked the nation and the Three Mile Island catastrophe left America in fear of a nuclear holocaust.
WHAT WE DROVE: The cool kids in school drove the Trans Ams, Corvettes or Mustangs. Dodge Chargers and Challengers were also popular, but most of the kids I knew drove explodable Ford Pintos. If those were out of their price range, they borrowed the family Pacer or Gremlin. Which makes me wonder what the people at AMC were smoking when they designed those cars.
CELEBRITIES: I kept up with celebrity news through a subscription to Tiger Beat and 16 Magazine. While sipping Tab soda, sucking on Blow Pops and making gum chains, my girlfriends and I poured over glossy photos of David Cassidy, Bobby Sherman, the Bee Gees, Andy Gibb and The Osmonds. Other celebs in the news that caught our attention were John Travolta, Farrah Fawcett, Mr.T, Burt Reynolds, Olivia Newton-John, Tom Selleck, Gilda Radner, Cybil Shepard, Clint Eastwood, Robert Redford, Meryl Streep, Chevy Chase, Cher, Jack Nicholson, Jodie Foster, Barbra Streisand, Woody Allen, Susan Sarandon, Jim Belushi, Robin Williams, Bill Murray, Henry Winkler, Raquel Welch, Al Pacino, Robert DeNiro, Jane Curtain, Sylvester Stallone, Marlin Brando, and Steve Martin.
PARTYING IN THE 70s: When I was a teenager, the drink of choice to smuggle into a party was Boones Farm Strawberry Hill Wine. We chugged it right out of the bottle in many a driveway before entering a house party. If we were lucky, someone would have a flask of Bacardi in their pocket that we could add to our colas before a rousing game of ping pong or pool. We snacked on deviled eggs, potato chips and onion dip, rumaki, Jiffy Pop, cocktail wieners and deviled ham on toast points. We lined up on the dance floor for The Hustle, The Bump, The Bus Stop, Pogo dancing and The Latin Hustle, while the adults sipped on Harvey Wallbangers, Manhattans and vodka screwdrivers.
BIG NAMES IN SPORTS: I was never one to follow sports, but I do remember being caught up in our town's frenzy after The Miami Dolphins went undefeated in 1972. Popular sports icons of that time period include John McEnroe, Larry Bird, Bobby Riggs, O.J. Simpson, Bruce Jenner, Billy Jean King, Muhammed Ali, Jack Nicholas, Hank Aaron, Joe Frazier, Bob Gibson, Dorothy Hamill, Arthur Ashe Jr., Mark Spitz, Roger Stauback and Pete Rose.
THE SOUNDS OF THE SEVENTIES: Music is what put the 70s on the map. I had a round transistor radio that hung from a chain in my bedroom, and I kept it playing for hours. When my friends came over, we brought out the vinyl records to spin on a portable turntable. I had hundreds of albums, which I'm convinced is where the majority of my allowance went when I was a teenager. I could never get enough of The Partridge Family, Abba, Donna Summers, Elton John, Michael Jackson, The Beatles, Fleetwood Mac, Rod Stewart, Gladys Knight, The Eagles, John Denver, Queen, Pink Floyd, The Beach Boys, Foreigner, James Taylor, Led Zepplin, The Bee Gees, Chicago, Frank Zappa, Linda Ronstadt, Harry Chapin, Creedance Clearwater Revival, The Rolling Stones, Peter Frampton, Simon & Garfunkle, Journey, The Grateful Dead, Genesis, Meatloaf, The Guess Who, KC & The Sunshine Band, Styx, Supertramp, Carole King, The Carpenters, Earth Wind & Fire, YES and Eric Clapton.
The seventies were a magical time to be a teenager; a decade of simplicity, change, and the freedom of expression. People were kinder, less self-absorbed, respectful of others and worked hard for what they earned. Families shared dinners around the table, watched g-rated TV programs together, and made each other a priority. We didn't have cell phones, iPods, computers or social media.
And we grew up just fine.
Want more Meno Mama? This week you can find me on The Huffington Post dishing on being "Over The Hill." You can read it here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/marcia-kester-doyle-/over-the-hill-and-away-we_b_5788378.html And you can also find another featured post of mine this week on BA50: http://betterafter50.com/2014/09/the-seven-deadly-sins-of-menopause/