Let me start by apologizing. I know my posts this week have tended to be maudlin, and depressing, but I swear I really wasn’t trying to make Elly cry. I blame it on the weather. So before the week ends, I’m going to lighten things up and try to redeem myself.
As a child of the 70’s I have always winced at 70’s nostalgia. Shows like “That 70’s Show” repulse me, because I remember the 70’s, and the fact is they weren’t all that great. Perhaps that’s because my earliest awareness of the world beyond Prospect Avenue came at the age of 4 through the evening news.
During the ill fated Summer Olympics of 1972, my friends and I were busy yucking it up over the classic joke:
“Do you know how they fill the swimming pool at the Olympics?” “Mark Spitz!”
when the tragic hostage situation interrupted our regularly scheduled programming. As a child of 4, the events unfolding were way over my head. I can remember standing in Peter Carmichael’s front yard when his older brother Danny came running out to tell us that a Busload of Guerrilla’s had just taken the Israeli Olympic team hostage. Having recently watched Planet of the Apes on TV, a chill went down my spine as I imagined a school bus full of Gorilla’s carrying machine guns. What sort of effed up world was this?
Then there was the televised return of the first Vietnam War POW’s in February. I watched the scenes of servicemen walking down the steps from their airplane into the jubilant arms of their wives and children with my Mom, and was confused as to whether these soldiers fought for the North or the South in the civil war. Not the Vietnamese Civil War, the AMERICAN Civil War. (I was 4 1/2 people, cut me some slack!)
Things didn’t exactly improve when we took our summer vacation to Washington D.C. the following summer, in the midst of the Watergate hearings. It wasn’t just the first impression of our Nation’s Capital as the home of a crook that soured the mood. It was also the part of the drive where we got lost in downtown Baltimore in the middle of a garbage strike. Mountains of garbage were piled on the curbs, and as we drove through that sweltering city with the windows down, between canyons of fly infested trash, my Bratty Big Sis was leaning out the window of our Plymouth coughing up the Jim Dandy Sundae she’d had for lunch.
But there was more than criminal presidents, wars and terrorist massacres to bring down the mood. There were layoffs, gas shortages, the ubiquitous wrecking balls of our Urban Renewal, and finally the Iranian Hostage Crisis, and the Love Canal environmental disaster a mere 30 miles up the road in Niagara Falls. Is it any wonder that two of the most popular Sitcoms on TV were about life in 1950’s Milwaukee? Or that the musical hit of 1978 starred John Travolta as a 1950’s hoodlum, and Olivia Newton John wearing a poodle skirt? The 1950’s were the chosen nostalgic drug to help us forget the crappy 70’s we were living in.
So when I see hipsters, and kids who weren’t born until the 80’s, aping 1970’s fashion I just want to slap them. They have no idea what it was like to wear plaid polyester pants, and wide collared polyester shirts.
If I had to pick one word to describe the entire decade of the 1970’s it would be this:
So after weeks like this, where a dear friend informs me she has breast cancer, and another says goodbye to a father, and winter looks as if it’s never going to end, I like to remind myself it could always be worse. It could still be the 1970’s.
Here’s some rocking tunes, and radical fashions to remind you all just how much body hair, and polyester there really was. I get itchy just watching these.
The Sweet – Fox on the Run
Cher – Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves
Bo Donaldson – Billy Don’t be a Hero
Terry Jacks – Seasons in the Sun
Bay City Rollers – S-A-T-U-R-D-A-Y Night
ABBA – S.O.S.
Donny Osmond – Puppy Love
The Partridge Family – I Think I Love You