More of the Travails of the 1970s….
- Pants up to the Diapragm: House members will be stunned to realize that their belly-button piercings and tail-bone tattoos will never see the light of day. Though there was an energy shortage in the seventies, there certainly wasn’t a denim shortage. The universal waistline for pants? Almost up to the armpits, though the stoner chicks opted for dungarees, which looked pretty much what we see in high schools today.
- Rotary Phones: Those under 35 have never experienced the ritual of sticking their index finger into one of nine holes of a plastic dial, rolling the dial clockwise until it hits a metal comma, then letting go and watching it roll slowly back into its original position. Now imagine that happening continuously for three hours. That’s what my mother made me do in 1974 when she learned Elvis Presley was playing Tahoe. While she and her friends chatted in Japanese about which casino they were going to stay at, I dialed the ticket office number over and over (no automatic redial in those days) until my finger went numb. I never did get through. Mom understood, though–I didn’t have to strip leaves from carnations when I had to work in her flower shop the next day….
- Slide Rulers: I was part of possibly the last class ever to be taught how to use a slide ruler in high school. And I loved it. In a strange way it reminded me of an abacus, which I learned to use in junior high. I knew its days were numbered when the class overachiever strolled in with one of the first handheld electronic calculators from Hewlett Packard. Sure it looked like a Star Trek tricorder, weighed more than a brick and you couldn’t read the display in sunlight, but even I, who hadn’t a clue what cosine meant, knew the mathematical formula was on the wall.
- 8-Tracks: Yes, I know it’s one of the very first things people mention when they talk about the seventies, but you can’t truly appreciate those times unless you hear your favorite song on an 8-track. It went something like this:
But oh how it feels so real/Lying here with no one near/Only you and you can’t hear me/When I say softly, slow*KA-CHUNK!*…ly/Hold me closer, tiny dancer…
Why we actually bought those things, I have no idea, though I did truly love my yellow Panasonic 8-track player.
- Extended Solos: Along with 8-tracks, extended solos made the seventies truly special. And irritating. To have to listen to 30 minutes of Rick Wakeman’s squirrelly noodlings while standing on the sidelines during high school dances was enough to drive me to drink. (Actually it drove me to tole painting since I was way too timid to drink anything stronger than Tab.)
Next Time: the upsides of the seventies–really!
The Power of Luther: It’s truly a blow to lose Luther Vandross. In a time when we’re constantly bombarded by overdubbed singers with non-existent talent, Luther was the real thing. Now I’ll never be able to listen to Young Americans without feeling a little wistful…