What were The 70's really like?

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Fiesta Red

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I was born in 1970.

I remember hearing something about a Watergate in Washington, DC when I was ~4.

The only gate I knew about was the chain link fence on the side of our house. I thought, “That doesn’t make sense…water would just flow through it.”

I asked my mom what they were talking about, and she said, “It’s something where a bunch of people got caught doing something they weren’t supposed to do, and then they lied about it.”
“So did they open the watergate when they weren’t supposed to?”
“That is a better explanation than I have heard from anybody…”
“Well, that’s bad.”
“You’re right, that was bad! So don’t do stuff you aren’t supposed to and don’t lie and you won’t get into trouble.”
—————————
I grew up in a small town south of Fort Worth. A lot of things were blurry, not because it was so long ago but because I needed glasses but didn’t know it until 1983.

-Bad clothes for the most part.
-Good Outlaw Country
-I knew several old people who were born in the 19th century.
-We rode our bikes or roller skated constantly.
-We “chopped” our bikes to make them look like chopper motorcycles. Dad could weld, so he made us really cool-looking long forks and high handle bars for our Schwinns.
-Willie and Waylon and the Boys.
-People were afraid of my dad because he had a very neatly trimmed beard and rode a Harley, even though his hair was short and he wasn’t in a gang.
-We all had BB guns. By the time you were twelve to thirteen, you graduated to a 410 shotgun or a 22 rifle—usually single-shot. It never crossed our mind to shoot another person, but we were Hades on cans and crude homemade paper targets. Kenny, who lived around the corner, shot birds constantly until my dad told him to stop, psyching him out that he was breaking some kind of hunting law. Dad wasn’t against hunting, but he was against indiscriminate killing of animals for no reason.
-We rode in the backs of trucks (that went on until the 90’s!)
-Charlie’s Angels and Fantasy Island and All In The Family and Sanford & Son
-My Beagle (Lady) was my best friend, but was never allowed in the house unless there was snow or ice on the ground. We had a lot of adventures in the back yard.
-Peter Seller in the Pink Panther movies
-The original cast of SNL. I didn’t get half the jokes then.
-My aunt gave me a cheap little pocket knife when I was 4 or 5. My dad’s best friend gave me a good knife when I was 9. I still have both of them. We all carried pocket knives or fixed-blade knives to school, even when I was in high school in the 1980’s. Nobody thought about using it as a weapon.
-The high school had a smoking area for students—it wasn’t closed until the end of 1984, (halfway through my freshman year)
-Poorly edited/censored highly inappropriate movies (violence, sex) shown at 9:00 on the local independent TV station (channel 11). I got sent to bed pretty often less than ten minutes into these films.
-Walked to school or rode my bike to school from second grade. It was about a mile.
-KISS and Alice Cooper were the weirdest thing we’d ever seen on TV. I thought that *had* to be the most hardcore music, like death metal or something…then I heard them and thought, “That’s not nearly as wild as I thought it would be!”
-Roger Moore (the worst Bond) Bond movies on ABC two or three times a year.
-The Dallas Cowboys, especially Too Tall Jones, Roger Staubach and Tony Dorsett. Randy White was the most fearsome man I’d ever seen on TV, but one of the nicest guys I ever met in person. Of course, we hated the Steelers.
-Joe Walsh was the coolest guy I ever heard on the radio.
-I saw my first in-person punk rocker in Dallas in 1978/9. Green Mohawk hair and a studded leather jacket. He literally stopped traffic just walking down the sidewalk, because nobody had ever seen such a thing in person.
-Steve Martin was a wild and crazy guy.
-Mom and Dad let my older brother and I walk to the Homecoming Football game by ourselves—about a mile and an half away. We walked home alone in the dark. We were seven and thirteen.
-Dad often had a beer between his legs while driving.
-Tom T. Hall
-People who smoked did it everywhere.
-The Von Erichs!
-The Armadillo World Headquarters was talked about a lot, but it seemed like a mythical place because my parents weren’t gonna drive halfway across the state to take us to a Honky Tonk.
-No seatbelts.
-Iranian Hostage Crisis and people putting signs in the back of their car/truck window with Mickey Mouse flipping the bird and the caption, “Hey, Iran!”
-I vaguely remember Nixon, remember Ford better and definitely remember Carter (first-hand memories).
 
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fender4life

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What we had then that I couldn't give my kids was the freedom to roam and be out on our bikes and go wherever, from the streets to the creeks to the sewer lines that ran under the street (I was too chicken to do that, fortunately).

The music was better then and, shockingly, the country was less divided, even when you factor in Vietnam, but culture was a lot more backwards then in regards to marginalized groups -- although we all got along in my neighborhood -- and the cigarette smoke was yucky. Thankfully, my parents didn't smoke.

I certainly wouldn't want to go back and give up all the technology. I've got a recording studio in my garage, thousands of movies and TV shows at my fingertips and, you know, the internet.

Remember when once a movie had left the theaters and you had to wait, often years, to see it again on TV? I was lucky that there was a junior college within walking distance (Diablo Valley College in Pleasant Hill, Ca.) that had a free film program, so I got see things like... well, I just showed my daughter the 1972 big screen adaptation of Kurt Vonnegut Jr.'s "Slaughterhouse-Five," which I probably saw there as an unaccompanied minor at the age of ten, with Valerine Perrine's boobs 'n' everything. There was also a second run movie theater within walking distance that would let kids into R-rated movies, so as a 10-year-old I saw things like "Lenny," with Valerie Perrine's boobs again (in a lesbian scene!) and "Marathon Man," with Marthe Keller's boobs!
Oh yeah ! Freedom actually. Thats something we no longer have. I loved shooting guns when i was a kid and i could drive 15 minutes and shoot. Then they closed that area to shooting and now the nearest one was another 20 minutes. Then that closed and another 20, and so on and son on. Then the closest was 1.5 hours and the rangers give you the 3rd degree even tho u r legally shooting. I gave up shooting completely because i could no longer do it w/o driving forever and being treated like a criminal. I used to put my rifle case on the back of my motorcycle and drive to shooting areas and cops never bothered me. This isn't a free country anymore. It's somewhat free but nothing like it was. I loved the 70s because of the freedom i had.
 

Twofingerlou

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Per my mom and uncle that grew up through the 70’s and it was brought up last week at thanksgiving….. the coolest cars and best music.
 

Recalcitrant

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One- and Two-word recollections: Watergate. Nam. Gas lines. Big Muff. Big hair (for men). Alcohol for 18-year-olds. Leisure suits. Fusion. Jimmah. Handheld calculators. Princess phones. Nylon clothes. Tequila sunrises. Moonies. Mu-Tron. Disco. Locker Room. Cars you could fix. Smoking. Half-tint shades. Real Country.
 

O- Fender

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There was good and bad.

Avocado green or Harvest gold kitchen appliances. Living rooms that had wall paneling or all white and chrome. Big, clunky wood furniture. Loud patterned wall paper.
The fear that nuclear war would break out at any time.
The oil crisis.
Good and bad music. For every "Bohemian Rhapsody" and "Stairway To Heaven", there was a "Run Joey Run" and "Afternoon Delight ". And no, the good didn't necessarily outnumber the bad. (Your mileage, etc).
 

StoneH

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Ten years in three pictures . . . 1970 to 1975 to 1979 (ages 14, 19, 24). The '70s were great.

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Flip G

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Roller rinks, Bruce Lee and samurai movies like the Lone Wolf and Cub series, made for TV movies about teens ruining their lives with drugs and alcohol, variety shows and battles of the network stars, and shows like "In Search Of Noah's Ark" or stuntmen or everyday people with weird jobs like on "Real People" or "That's Incredible". "Jaws" and "Carrie" and "Deliverance" ... every kid had an older cousin who'd seen them in the theater and reveled in recounting all the gore. Steve Martin, George Carlin, and Robin Williams comedy albums.
 

stxrus

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Hey, Fiesta Red. KTVT played risqué movies? I moved back to N Texas (Mid-Cities) in ‘73. I must have missed this. But I didn’t watch much tv back then even though I worked for KERA-TV.
You learn something new every day
 

burntfrijoles

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The best thing about the 70s was album oriented rock FM radio so that says something if that was the highlight of the decade. Take from that what you will. It's best left unsaid.

To top it off, the leisure suit gained unprecedented popularity in the United States. 🤮
 

ChicknPickn

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Anyone who thinks back fondly on the 70’s must have done a lot of drugs. An awful lot
Great decade. I was born in '63, so it really kicked in for me around '76 or so. Graduated high school in '81.

My parents divorced around '73. My mom was socially conservative but my dad ended up going through all the fads - love beads & hippy stuff, puka shells, leisure suits, disco.

First of all, I remember the Vietnam War seemed to last forever and it was weird when it was finally over.

The thing I miss is it was the decade of true freedom - the old saying about sex, drugs, and rock and roll was pretty much true. Unlike most of the decades afterwards, good music ruled on FM radio. It was normal to drive with a beer in your lap (I know, socially reprehensible now), and cops were old neighborhood guys that gave you warnings instead of busting you. At least for me it was pretty much a constant party for the latter half of the decade. It was also the last time I didn't have any real responsibilities, so I'm sure that was a big chunk of it. Oh, and almost everyone had at least one parent who smoked.

The '80s brought on a wave of religious conservatism (The Moral Majority), cops started seeing their jobs as an "us vs. them" thing rather than being part of the community, AIDS and herpes ruined the free loving thing and started the decline of the bar scene, the rich started getting richer and the poor started getting poorer, and crappy pop music started replacing the old rock stations. The government started getting more into your life in the '80s with seatbelt laws, child seat laws, helmet laws, fun fireworks became illegal, they started making people smoke outside (I know, reprehensible to smoke inside now), and the War on Drugs sent a lot of people to jail and gave them criminal records due to zero tolerance policies. Some or all of this may seem good common sense now, but at the time it felt like people were getting all up in your business.

'63 hipster here. Class of '81. Was expelled for extreme substance-related naughtiness, but allowed under a first offender program to complete high school. I was surly and had a circle of cynical and surly accomplices I called friends.

I remember Cronkite on our B&W television in the late sixties, giving us the scary news every day. I asked my mom once, when I was maybe 5, if I would have to go to Viet Nam. I don't remember her answer. She probably couldn't be sure herself. It seemed to go on forever.

When I was in my early teens, I was hanging out with 60's burnouts, flower children, people who weren't really doing anything, but considered themselves activists. My official uniform was faded jeans, military surplus boots and jackets, T-shirts. Pack of Camels at all times.

I was a blues head, was in a band (of course). I turned my nose up at anything that was current or contemporary. Zeppelin were gods. I had had talent with the saxophone, but when the high school said I had to play in the marching band, that was a non-starter. That's when I got a guitar.

I was an Eagle Scout. Yep. Turns out a lot of Eagles were like me. Go figure. We liked getting rowdy outside, and camping under the tutelage of a bunch of war vets was a blast.

As a 20th-century sage wrote, we wish neither to live in the past, nor shut the door on it. Glad I survived. Grateful to have somehow broken away from the culture I was part of in that era. Many couldn't pull up in time to avoid crashing.
 

Knows3Chords

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I was born in 1965. I was the youngest. My Dad was a hard working blue collar son of a immigrant coal miner. My mom worked at K-Mart. We got our clothes at Sears. Anybody remember Sears Tough Skin corduroys? My parents had a olive drab 1972 Ford Grand Torino station wagon. It was like an aircraft carrier. No one had central air or cable TV. Everyone played outside from early morning to street lights coming on. We all had banana seat bikes with sissy bars. Everyone smoked cigarettes. Inflation and interest rates were insane. You had only three sources of television news. It was WAY more factual than biased editorial like today. People actually read newspapers. The Sunday paper was filled with good, informative articles and there were huge comic sections for the kids. People actually read books. I kid you not. Crime was pretty bad in the big cities. Many social programs to make urban life better were just getting started. Still, nowhere near the hate and suspicion of the "other" that we have today. That was because, as I said, the news was more factual than editorial. Big box mega stores and gaudy shopping malls were not everywhere. There was a sense that America was in decline, much like today. Then came the booming 80's with the dawn of the information age.
 

Skully

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Per my mom and uncle that grew up through the 70’s and it was brought up last week at thanksgiving….. the coolest cars and best music.

The music was great, but I hate to break it to you about the cars: the were cool for the first year or three of the '70s, then they went to poop with the gas crisis and emissions controls and they stayed bad through the '80s. And, if we're being honest, those cool muscle cars from back in the day are tin can death traps compared to what we have now.

There was good and bad.

Avocado green or Harvest gold kitchen appliances. Living rooms that had wall paneling or all white and chrome. Big, clunky wood furniture. Loud patterned wall paper.
The fear that nuclear war would break out at any time.
The oil crisis.
Good and bad music. For every "Bohemian Rhapsody" and "Stairway To Heaven", there was a "Run Joey Run" and "Afternoon Delight ". And no, the good didn't necessarily outnumber the bad. (Your mileage, etc).

"Run, Joey Run" is abomination, but"Afternoon Delight" is pleasant enough fluff with nice harmonies and, heck, it was big enough and good enough to get those John Denver proteges their own short-lived variety show.



How bad can it be if it had David Letterman, right?



No worse than the short-lived Mary Tyler-Moore variety show that featured Letterman, Michael Keaton, Dick Shawn, Swoosie Kurtz and Jim Hampton.

 

teleman1

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THe media in the 70's? ABC,CBS, NBC, a local station and a few UHF stations. And they came in bad. This was Los Angeles, smaller towns fared worse You used maps and learned the hundred block of Major streets. No way to record off a TV except for tape recorder for the voices
 
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