If we are honest with ourselves, our psyches become stuck in a period within our lives that we have found to be most pleasing, or most formative. For me, that period was the 1970s.
I suppose it’s that time of year when I see that familiar look of excited anticipation on the faces of new graduates that I allow my thoughts to wander back and reminisce about those glory days. However, I have found that it has become more and more difficult to imagine why I harbor such an affinity for a decade that in many ways was not all that terrific to me, or me to it. Let us review.
First, the 1970s was a decade in which my siblings and I lost our father. Not a great start to the 10-year stretch, but it was a period of rapid change. I graduated high school, began a career in broadcasting, began playing music semi-professionally, and thought I was much more important than I really was and took myself much more seriously than I should have.
It seems the country was looking to forget the woeful ways of the ’60s. Fashions changed, and somehow, at lest for a while, I found myself trapped with one foot in the ’60s and one in the ’70s. Beatle-mania of the ’60s had men dressing in straight-legged pants and Beatle boots. The ‘70s dressed guys in hip-hugging trousers with huge bell-bottoms and platform shoes that would remind you of a stilt-walker at the circus.
Let me paint this disgusting picture for you. Trying desperately to establish my “style,” I tried to combine the fashions of the two decades with a pair of hip-hugging skin-tight purple bell-bottoms with Beatle boots! The resounding laughter everywhere I traveled left me with the initial impression that I had missed the joke. Unfortunately, I was the joke!
As if all that were not enough, I discovered, as many guys did in the day, that curls were the rage as the latest manly hair style. For years, I would march into Miss Linda’s hair salon and enjoy a day in curlers with the girls. I found this to only be uncomfortable the first time. After that, I was just one of the girls. I thought I looked cool back then, but when I recently uncovered some of my old photos from back then, my first impression was, “Why did I take a picture of a peacock? OMG! That’s me!” Sometimes the kindest thing your mind can do for you is to forget.
Can anyone who survived the ’70s forget polyester? Everything was made of polyester. One night I was traveling to a music engagement wearing my polyester shirt with huge flower designs on it. Let me tell you, I was styling, or so I thought. Anyway, it was summertime, and rather than running the air-conditioning in my 1972 Ford Ranchero, I opted to roll down my window and enjoy the wind blowing through my curly locks. Back in those days, I was a smoker, and the wind blew the fire from my lit cigarette back in the window and onto a sleeve of my gorgeous, flowered, polyester shirt. For those who don’t know, or don’t remember, polyester and fire do not mix. My shirt melted instantly and took with it my upper layer of skin. I almost drove off the highway trying to beat my chest out.
Not having a change of clothing with me, I had to buy a new shirt on the way to my gig. You should have seen the stares and heard the snickers as I marched down the isle of that Kmart in my half-melted plastic shirt, chest hair still smoldering and smoking while looking for a blue-light special on another (yes, I’m not that smart) polyester shirt.
All night long the guys in the band kept asking one another if they smelled burning hair. I remained silent.
Fortunately, I escaped the ’70s alive, and managed to make some brand-new adventures and mistakes in the ’80s, some of which I shall hold in secrecy until my dying day.
Sometimes the times and memories we hold dearest are the very ones we need to release, forget and just move on. Great advice… not likely I will take it though.
Herb Day is a longtime local radio personality and singer-musician. You can email him at HEKAMedia@yahoo.com and follow his work at www.HerbDayVoices.com.