The 70s


Ah...the decade of the 70s. With wide-legged pants, polyester wide-collared shirts, and platform shoes, we were certainly the toast of the disco circuit.

The 70s were a transitional decade. I graduated from high school, started college, and bought my first car. I also lost two men I loved within a month of one another to tragic events. That same year, my father left his wife, drove back to Texas, convinced my mother that he'd made a mistake by leaving her 10 years prior, and then swept her away to the San Francisco bay area, leaving me alone in Texas with few resources. He left her again two weeks later. At the end of 1976 I married, and by 1979 had two children and had moved three times to three different states, lost a baby, and developed melanoma. Disco music and polyester weren't the worst of the 70s.

There were good memories too. Concerts: the Beach Boys, Gordon Lightfoot, the Rolling Stones, the Willie Nelson Picnic, Chicago, Black Sabbath, Eric Clapton, BB King, Kansas, and Journey topped my list. I learned to fly a single-engine aircraft, earned my Red Cross sailing certificate, and found that although I can't snow ski worth beans, I ice skate fairly well. I met wonderful friends who became my family: Pam who gave me the gift of travel and a love of adventure; Judy who taught me to sing and love theater; Mona who reminds me every day that joy comes from giving, not getting; and Tom who listened, and who took me on long trips on the back of his bike...and who lent me the money he'd saved for college to fix the transmission in my car when the clutch gave out in the New Mexico desert. I learned that computer engineering came naturally and that mental problem solving quieted the noises in my head. I discovered that I love my own company.

For those of us in the States, the 70s were a dangerous time to be black, female, gay, or a veteran. Three of my kids are veterans: two were in the Navy, and my son-in-law is in the Air Force Reserves. It's hard to reconcile the difference between the way young men and women were treated in 1970 versus how they're revered today. It's not like they started the Vietnam conflict. In fact, many left for Canada or Mexico to avoid the draft...I'm not sure who was treated more poorly, those who served or those who didn't.

And then there was Nixon. Today we find ourselves polarized between Trump and anyone but Trump camps. That's nothing new...Nixon did as much to dismantle Johnson's war on poverty programs as he could in three and a half years.  Right-wing conservatives did what they always do: fight against high taxes, environmental regulations, national park policies, and affirmative action plans. In the 70s, they even fought against speed limits on interstate highways. And then in 1972, police found five men from Nixon's camp in the office of the Democratic National Committee located in the Watergate office building. When Nixon was implicated, he ordered the FBI to stop the investigation and had his aides try to cover up the scandal. Unfortunately, we see history repeating yet another version of itself in the White House today. 

On the high side, women were granted the ability to establish their own credit without having a male cosigner. In 1972, the Equal Rights Amendment was put to the vote, but it took five years...five years for it to be ratified, with Indiana casting the final nod in 1977. When I bought my first car in 1971, my girlfriend's father had to sign for the loan. When that car died and I traded it in in 1972, my boss at the Dallas Morning News signed for the loan. The Equal Credit Opportunity Act of 1974 made it unlawful for any creditor to discriminate based on race, color, religion, sex, or marital status and so it was possible for me to get a credit card or loan...if I could find a financial institution willing to do so. Credit Unions were typically the first to grant women credit cards. 

I'll wrap up the 70s with a final high note: in 1979 NASA hired the first female applicants to train as astronauts. On June 18th 1983, Sally Ride became the first American woman in space on the Space Shuttle Challenger--but that's for another decade.

Some of my favorite songs of 1970:

Bridge Over Troubled Water (Simon & Garfunkel, 1970)

Lala (Derek and the Dominos, 1970)

Your Song (Elton John, 1970)

Fire and Rain (James Taylor, 1970)

My Sweet Lord (George Harrison, 1970)

Maybe I'm Amazed (Paul McCartney, 1970)

Black Magic Woman (Santana, 1970)

Paranoid (Black Sabbath, 1970) 


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