Ask someone who lived in the 70s what was memorable about the time and you might be surprised at the answers. The 70s was more than a time of short shorts and harvest gold kitchens, it was a decade that trained its youth to see the rainbow at the end of the storm and stand up for what you believe in. Although every 70s kid remembers things differently, it’s certain there are some shared segments in their memory montage. With a decade so enriched by progress in the arts, sciences, and historical political movements like civil rights and women’s issues, there’s no doubt that a child of the 70s is a deeply connected witness (and probably has a few momentos to share if you ask).
The 1970s launched with a new chapter in space exploration and inspired movies and television shows about astronomy. Skylab, an aeronautical research station, penetrated the biosphere to deliver new data to scientists on the ground. After the first Skylab mission, several more were executed over the decade, garnering attention and accolades around the world. The missions were so newsworthy they warranted an official United States postage stamp.
70s kids got dropped off at the roller skating rink for hours of freedom and fun. As the disco ball glittered above, they skated and roller-danced to iconic songs by the Bee Gees, Rick James, Donna Summer, and other legends. The most stylish roller skates came in bicentennial colors or sizzling hot tones like bright red or green. Wobbling out of the rink and back into the car, it was easy to wonder where mom and dad had been. Especially if there were lots of cigarettes piled up in the ashtray!
Kids from the 1970s grew up knowing hair was important, so it was crucial to carry a comb at all times. The most popular was the Afro comb, shaped in a groovy swirl, or the Afro pick. An outfit wasn’t complete without one or the other tucked into the pocket of your jeans (preferably a pair of Levis 501s). And while Afros weren’t for everyone, they were admired by nearly all.
Turning the channel
The 70s was the beginning of technological advances like video games and mobile phones, but the poor television set took a while to get into the groove. Kids from the 70s didn’t have remote controls for channel surfing and many family quarrels took place over who would get up to change the channel. Sometimes, no one would offer to do it, meaning that an episode of Mary Tyler Moore or The Waltons would just run its course.
One of the most famous stars in the 1970s was Farrah Fawcett Majors, one of the lead actresses of the hit show Charlie’s Angels. America was so fascinated with Farrah that her hairstyle caught on faster than disco lightning. People of all ages wanted the new style known as “feathered hair,” and salons were soon chopping and sweeping up the side locks of millions. Plenty of hairspray helped keep the face frame in place!
Judy Blume novels
The 70s was the dawning age of best-selling young adult literature, and Judy Blume was the queen of the publishing industry. Her books marked life passages for many 70s kids, some of whom read every title they could find. Growing into their teen years, the same kids turned in titles like “Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret” and “Tales of a Fourth-Grade Nothing” for more mature Blume books like “Forever” and “Deenie.”
The 1970s were a time when many kids saw their moms experiment with feminist activities like marching for the Equal Rights Amendment. Many women took on goals that weren’t as common back then — kids in the 70s watched their moms finish college, rally for equal rights, get full-time jobs, and experiment with new fashions and social behaviors. Books like “Fear of Flying” and “The Feminine Mystique” might be lying around the house, luring in young readers who got a taste of gender equity early on.
Saturday Night Live
The popularity of Saturday Night Live today makes it easy to forget that the show started in the 1970s. Kids back then grew up with unforgettable characters like “The Coneheads” and laughed into the late-night hours at then-young performers like Jane Curtin, Steve Martin, Bill Murray, and more. “Weekend Update” with Chevy Chase was the news parody of the time. The show was so popular that a poster of the original cast has sold millions of copies and is still for sale online.
Music on vinyl
Music from the 1970s broke ground in several genres, including rock, hip hop, punk, and disco, of course. Kids from the 70s didn’t have digital formats to download and store in clouds, so they went to the record store and flicked through the vinyl, breathing in the smell of fresh ink and cardboard. Even today, you can find a few grown-up 70s kids who secretly hoard vinyl collections in the attic. The good news is that turntables (with Bluetooth) are still being sold!
A sad loss for folks from the 70s is the absence of AMC cars on today’s roadways. Back then, the American Motor Company was a popular maker of now-discontinued cars like the Gremlin and the Pacer. Many families owned sporty models like the Javelin and the Rambler because it felt cool to ride around in a car with stripes and a stick shift! Only one AMC make, the Jeep, is still being produced, but it’s now owned by Chrysler.