Those who lived through the 70s remember it largely as a wonderful celebration of peace following a decade of chaos and turmoil.
It was – for many – the era of funky clothes and happy sitcoms.
It was a chance to hit the dance floor and boogie oogie oogie ‘til you just couldn’t boogie any more.
It was 10 years full of changing fashion trends, from brightly-colored flared trousers and tie-dyed tees to leisure suits and peasant blouses.
It was a time when Americans looked back and celebrated 200 years of freedom and looked forward to a future filled with the excitement of space exploration and new inventions that would make life easier and more interesting.
At the beginning of the decade, gasoline cost 35 cents per gallon. By the end, it was nearly 90 cents.
Homes, on an average, cost $24,000 at the start of the 1970s and about $58,000 in 1979. Americans made $10,000 a year in 1970 and, ten years later, boasted an average annual income of $17,500.
They were spending about $4,000 for one of those new Datsuns from Japan and a bit more for their American economy car. And, of course, many of those cars sported an 8 track player, just right for listening to the latest offerings by Pink Floyd, AC/DC, Queen, and Aerosmith.
Of course, when they weren’t singing along with their favorite tunes, drivers were chatting with their “good buddy” on a CB radio, just one of the many fleeting trends of the 70s era.
For women in the 70s, it was indeed a decade of change. Their place was no longer solely “in the home”. More and better jobs became available for those of the female persuasion and the sexual revolution allowed them to let their hair down without fear of gaining a “reputation”.
Families were thrilled with the latest The Jetsons-like technological inventions. Color TVs became the norm and were cheaper than ever. Parents and kids gathered around the tv set to enjoy The Brady Bunch, The Waltons, Little House on the Prairie, Happy Days, Sanford and Son, Starsky and Hutch, and Kojak, just to name a few.
The video game was making its appearance for the first time with systems like Atari and, later, Intellivision.
The den wasn’t the only place that changed with the technology of the 70s. In the kitchens, microwave ovens started to appear, designed to make cooking dinner easier for the mom who was no longer staying home all day cleaning house and tending the children.
Calculators also came on the scene and the earliest of home computers started to make an appearance as well. Barcodes made it easier to check out at the grocery store and a different kind of scanner, the MRI machine, guaranteed quicker and more accurate diagnosis of a variety of diseases and disorders.
Influenced by funk and soul, this style of music introduced a number of new artists to the listening audience of the 70s era, including the Bee Gees, KC and the Sunshine Band, Gloria Gaynor, Van McCoy, and Donna Summer. Movies like “Saturday Night Fever” brought the style mainstream popularity.
The fashions of the 70s were – umm – different. What woman of the 70s didn’t have a pair of mile-wild bell bottoms; a closet full of mini, midi, and maxi skirts; plenty of “hot pants”; jeans with decorative patches and metal studs; a short rabbit fur jacket; and numerous pairs of platform shoes?
Men wore three piece suits in a number of strange colors, bold neckties, pointed-collar shirts in solids and prints, and even the occasional neckerchief.
Both sexes dressed up for a night on the town in unflattering, often skin-tight, zippered jumpsuits, reminiscent of space-age cartoons and sci-fi flicks. It was a trend that left nothing to the imagination!
But for those who grew up in this era of change, the 70s were unforgettable. It was still largely a time of innocence, when kids could roam the streets with their friends without fear, when teachers sang politically incorrect songs in the classroom, and families gathered together each night to enjoy a meal and talk about their day.
It was a decade that turns one’s thoughts to simpler times, when all we cared about was what time The Partridge Family aired, what to wear to the Black Sabbath concert, and who to take to the premiere of “Love Story.” It was a time to smile.