Thursday, January 3, 2008

Looking Back At the 70s

Recently, I read an article on Alternet that was a review of the book, The Great Funk: Falling Apart and Coming Together (on a Shag Rug) in the Seventies (Farrar Straus Giroux, 2007). In this book, the author, Thomas Hine, blames the culture of the 1970s for most of the woes facing America today. He refers to the 70s as "slum of a decade" in which "the country was running out of promise." In his view, the 70s falls short of the standards set by the world-changing 60s. "The politicians were awful. The economy was awful. The insipid harvest gold and avocado kitchens were awful," Hines says. "Finding your identity was extremely important," he wrote, when "each family member dressed to express" -- with enormous clashing checks and plaids, with star-studded lace-up boots and "fun fur" skirts and factory-embroidered faux batiks."

Most of the commenters disagreed, including me. I said, in part,

I came of age in the late 70s, graduating from HS in 1976.

The 70s were a great time to grow up. When I was in high school, there were no metal detectors nor cops roaming the halls. There were no moronic zero tolerance policies -- teachers still used good old common sense back then. "Helicopter parenting" was almost unknown.

I remember reading that in 1973, one person working full time for the minimum wage could keep three people above the poverty line. Now, the minimum wage won't even keep one person above it.

I remember being able to fill my first car up from dead empty to full on just five dollars. Nowadays, that five dollars won't even bump the gas hand up a notch.

Student loans didn't leave you in six figure debt for decades back then. And you didn't need 15 years of experience and a college degree to get any sort of a decent paying job in those days, either.

No one had ever heard of AIDS in those days -- the worst STD you could get back then could be cleared up by a prompt trip to the doctor.

People were less politically cynical back then. At that time, the ERA seemed like a lead-pipe cinch to pass. The right to choose had been established, with women and minorities making gains everywhere and the gay rights movement was beginning to gather steam.

Up until the late 70s, religious people practiced their religion privately and didn't think they had the right to take over the country to replace our democratic republic with a theocracy. Everyone said "Happy Holidays" and "Season's Greetings" without any Christian whining about being a discriminated-against victim.

And not everyone wore those loud double-knit polyester plaid and checked leisure suits in flourescent bug-guts green. It was mainly older guys with a midlife crisis who tried that crap back then. Most guys my age wore jeans, with t shirts in summer, flannel shirts in winter, with sneakers or engineer boots.

I remember the 70s with much fondness. If I could have my cell phone, computer and internet back then, I might even want to go back there to live.

Those of you old enough to remember, how do you view the 70's?

1 comment:

oldmanlincoln said...

I came over to thank you for the visits to my blog. Appreciate seeing you there. I am still at it doing the photo thing and not much else. Too fat. Need to lose some weight. I had two pieces of peanut brittle earlier today and then told Patty I was thinking about going on a diet. Damn Christmas candy everywhere. I can't eat it up fast enough. Diet begins today.

The 70s here were about like the 60s. Working my ass off trying to make enough money to retire on early. Kids were good. They didn't demand much. Patty was excellent.

I don't remember much else about it.