Each generation has had their hardships to endure, and I know my mother, who lived through the Great Depression, has deeply ingrained habits from her childhood as a result of those hardships. She saves a half inch nub of a cucumber for a potential salad and rescues a burnt piece of toast by scraping off the black part, for example.
You might think my generation had a pretty cushy upbringing, and by comparison to past generations we did, but we had our hardships too, especially compared to the youth of today. Granted, we didn't have to milk five cows then walk two miles to school every day, but I think when you read the list I've compiled you might have some sympathy for those of us who grew up in the 1960's and 70's.
Music: Well, we were exposed the the music of Bobby Goldsboro, whose hit "Honey" included the most ridiculous line in a song I've ever heard: "She was always young at heart, kind of dumb and kind of smart". The suffering that song caused us was incalculable!
Photo Credit: Kool Cat Jazz
And the first runner up for song with the dumbest lyrics goes to "MacArthur Park", with the classic lines:
"Someone left the cake out in the rain. I don't know if I can take it, cause it took so long to bake it, and I'll never have that recipe again...oh no!"
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There was a period in the sixties when talking during songs, or sometimes pretty much throughout the song, was in vogue. I guess this came in handy for stars that wanted to record a song but really couldn't carry a tune, like Eddie Albert and Leonard Nimoy. If you want proof of their lack of musical talent, sample some of their recordings on Golden Throats, a compilation of embarrassing attempts by popular actors to spread their wings a little too far:
Photo Credit: Discography CD
Family music groups with a squeaky voiced pre-pubescent boy lead singer who would chirp about falling in and out of love were foisted upon us. Everyone agrees that Michael Jackson and the Jackson Five had some real talent, and the wholesome Osmonds, but talents of the DeFrancos and the Cowsills were questionable at best. And why weren't there ever any female family groups with a tiny girl lead singer? Just asking....
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Then we had the female country singer with a story. Vicki Lawrence singing "That's the Night that the Lights Went Out in Georgia", Bobbi Gentry's "Ode to Billie Joe" the womens' lib inspired "Harper Valley PTA" by Jeannie C. Riley, and Helen Reddy's "Angie Baby". Maybe I can sneak one more in there, even though it's not country: Cher with "Dark Lady". Once you heard how the story ended you really didn't want to hear it over and over.
Photo Credit: Soul Spectrum
Leisure Activities: Love-Ins, which were popular hippie gatherings in the 1960's, should have been all about peace and good-will but actually became weirdo magnets, which I discovered when our small town hosted a Love-In. Plus, there was a shocking lack of personal hygiene amongst the attendees.....
Photo Credit: Woodstock 1969
The CB radio craze spawned a slew of gawdawful songs in the seventies. "Teddy Bear" by Red Sovine is just one example. The image of a group of unfamiliar truckers taking a "little crippled boy" for rides in their rigs while his mother was at work is not exactly a warm and fuzzy one, is it? Nowadays we'd expect Chris Hanson from "To Catch A Predator" to be sitting at the kitchen table with a slew of questions when the last trucker dropped the boy off, and the inevitable tackling of the trucker by cops hiding in the bushes when Hanson was finished with the interrogation.
Photo Credit: Houseplant Picture Studio
Food: The space race influenced many things, including food, and I persuaded my mom to buy Tang and Pillsbury Food Sticks because if these foods were good enough for the astronauts, by golly, they were good enough for me! After a couple sips of the flat tasting Tang and one bite of a plastic-textured Food Stick, I gave up and went back to Coke and potato chips for snacks.
Photo Credit: Krypton Radio
Beverages: The first diet drinks arrived on the scene, and included some dangerous chemical called "cyclamates". I think cyclamates actually gave Fresca its flavor. Then we had Tab, which was horrible, and Diet Rite, which was even worse.
We even had problems with candy, believe it or not! A new candy called Zotz was introduced, and vicious rumours swirled that the boy in the Oscar Mayer ad died when he ate too many of the fizzy confections. Bubble Yum was an exciting improvement for bubble blowing fans until we heard that it was full of spider eggs.
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Movies: Please take pity on us. We had to sit through the awful Billy Jack movies. I still want my money back, at least for the ticket, maybe not for the popcorn and Junior Mints.
Photo Credit: The Movie Gourmet
Then there was the movie "Deliverance", in which the "Dueling Banjos" scene was responsible for a new psychiatric diagnosis called "post traumatic exposure to a string instrument stress disorder", just because it was associated with the scene that came several minutes after. This caused many young people to avoid string instruments altogether for many years to come.
TV shows: The Flying Nun, Love, American Style, Room 222. Those were some of the lame night time choices. But things really got bad on Sunday mornings, with the clay-mation Davy and Goliath. Sunday afternoons got a little better, with the educational "Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom" and its ample footage of wildebeests.
Photo Credit: The Lake County Fiscal Rangers
A popular genre for kids was the boy-with-an animal show. Gentle Ben, Lassie, and Flipper were three examples. Why weren't there any girl-with-an-animal shows? Just asking. And I don't know about you, but that incessant barking and dolphin chatter got on my nerves after a while.
Weekend afternoon movies could be dicey. I think I saw "Two Mules for Sister Sara" nine times. Whilst viewing T.V. we were tortured with frequent ads for K-Tel Records, Milton Bradley games, and Whisk detergent, whose slogan "ring around the collar!" is still ringing in my ears.
Clothing: Many of us purchased Earth Shoes. These shoes were so unattractive, they looked like you were wearing bricks on your feet. Mine were dark brown, my friend Carrie's were tan. We wore knee socks with them, which made the whole look even worse.
Photo Credit: Dress That Man
Then there was the lack of clothing choices, especially in our small town. Often jeans were too short, so modifications were needed. We would sew braided trim around the bottom, or slit the seam at the bottom and insert some fabric to make them more flared.
Men were singled out for particular humiliation in the 1970's. They were expected to wear big chunky platform heeled boots or shoes, and highly flammable polyester leisure suits with a Quiana knit shirt underneath when they had their school pictures taken. They now have to look at these framed pictures above the TV every time they gather at Mom and Dad's for Thanksgiving or Christmas, or when a fiendish friend decides to put one on Facebook.
Photo Credit: Barry Smith
Photo Credit: Some Like It Vintage
I suppose women didn't fare much better, at least in the shoe department:
Photo Credit: Some Like It Vintage
Jewelry: Puka shell necklaces, peace sign pendants, owl pendants, and mood rings. Do those sound familiar?
Now there's nothing wrong with a puka shell necklace, in fact they look rather nice with a tan, but you know darn well if you wear one nowadays, your friend is going to hand you their cell phone and say "it's David Cassidy calling. He wants his necklace back".
Photo Credit: Skool Days
Speaking of teen idols, we had limited media sources to view our faves. Tiger Beat Magazine, the occasional movie, and TV shows were pretty much it. I remember being quite impressed by the movie "Jeremy", starring the unlikely semi-geeky teen idol Robby Benson, and gathering with my girlfriends to watch the more reasonable California teen dream Vince Van Patten who starred in the show "Apple's Way", which was a lame show except for Vince's appearance here and there.
Bad Crafts: See Stitchy McYarnpants: Horror on the Slopes. Can you imagine showing up at a chic ski resort wearing something like this?
In many families there was a well-meaning aunt or granny that made a crocheted hat from Budweiser cans:
Photo Credit: Teesforall.com
Grooming: Hot Combs, the precursor to the blow dryer, became a must-have. We got my brother one for Christmas one year, and it really didn't do much of anything, which was a big let-down for everyone involved.
There was an anti-persperant called "Tickle". The name didn't exactly convey the confidence one would want when trying to keep ones underarms dry.
"Pssst" dry shampoo was introduced. I tried this once and it made my hair a dull mess, plus it had an icky overpowering scent. As you will read in the ad below, the woman gets "very depressed" over her dirty hair between shampoos. Wait a minute. I take a shower and shampoo my hair every day, sometimes twice in the summer. How long does she wait between shampoos if clinical depression is setting in?
Then there was Bonne Bell Ten-O-Six lotion, for the acne prone. Little did we know it was simply scented jet fuel that NASA was using to launch their rockets into space!
Toys: Instead of the Wii, X-Box and such, we had Duncan Yoyos, Chinese jumpropes, and the clacker toys that were popular for a brief time until we realized that our front teeth were more important than mindless fun:
Silly Putty, Slinky, and Spirograph: these toys were fun for approximately five minutes, max. Eventually your Silly Putty got smashed into the shag carpet, your Slinky got hopelessly twisted by your younger brother, and the Spirograph got so frustrating that it ended up at the bottom of the stack of game boxes in the closet.
Schooling: We lived with the constant threat of switching to the metric system. This caused uneccessary stress on school kids nationwide, year after year! And every time we saw a movie or film strip about nature, we were scolded about man's ruination of the ecosystem, and there were the frequent TV ads with the weeping native American viewing the polluted countryside. Was this same fellow crying when the wetlands were filled in for the massive but lucrative casinos? I'm just sayin'....
Photo Credit: Greenblue
And somewhere in between education and public service advertising, we had the Smokey the Bear ads that repeatedly reminded us that only we could prevent forest fires. That's a lot of responsibility to put on an elementary school kid! I felt a terrible burden on my shoulders, especially because I lived in town. There was the obvious transportation issue, and I constantly felt the need to be out patrolling the forests instead of sitting in class. How very stressful it was!
TV Game Show Prizes: Nowadays top prizes may exceed one million dollars. But when I was a kid, the Newlywed Game humiliated couples in front of millions of viewers just for a chance to win a new refrigerator. Consolation prizes on other shows frequently consisted of his and hers watch bands by Speidel, or a brooch from Sarah Coventry Jewelry.
The "Generation Gap": This was huge, was mentioned often, and ended up as the punchline of so many jokes. The older generation just couldn't comprehend "hipsters" or "hippies". Remember how "hippies" were depicted on the show "Dragnet"? They were always whacked out weirdos on some acid trip, a sharp contrast to Sargeant Friday's straight laced poker face and deadpan delivery.
Ugly Rumors: Because communication was so slow, once a rumor got started it was hard to squelch it. For quite some time we thought Paul McCartney was dead, and since he was the cutest Beatle it was devastating to Beatle fans. Someone started a rumor that Beaver Cleaver had grown up to be Alice Cooper, then later it was changed to Eddie Haskell although it was still incorrect. Or was it?
Well, I think I've illustrated enough hardships to generate sympathy for us post-baby boomers. If there are those of you readers that have additional hardships to add, please use my comment section to add to the list. A few more couldn't hurt! And if for some reason you were offended by this post, please do not throw your Pet Rock through my window.