In honor of her 30th wedding anniversary – which is TODAY! Happy Anniversary, Karen and John! – Karen has invited us to take a trip back in time:
Extra Credit: What, in your opinion, was the best thing about the 1970s, if anything?
30 years ago this week, I lived in St. Petersburg, Florida with my parents and younger sister, and I was nearing the end of my freshman year of high school. The fact that I still remember my class schedule from back then may have something to do with my inability now to remember what I walked into the room intending to do – I have an extreme case of Brain Clutter. So let me share some of that clutter with you:
2nd period: Algebra I
3rd period: P.E.
4th period: Religion (it was a Catholic high school)
5th period: English (I placed out of freshman English and was taking the sophomore-level class. The second-semester unit was Media and Communications, which dovetailed nicely with my WKRP-inspired career ambitions at the time.)
6th period: World History (My four years of foreign language could have replaced this class, but since I wasn’t sure that I would want to take four years of Spanish at the time, I figured I’d just get it out of the way. The seniors in the class were the ones who bailed – or were forced by bad third-year grades – out of fourth-year foreign language classes and had to get this credit with the ninth-graders.)
My extra-curricular was Chorus (until I got kicked out after a disagreement with the director, who was also my Spanish teacher, so…awkward! Next year I switched to the other Spanish teacher and was asked to return to Chorus, though, so…bygones!). My school didn’t offer visual-arts classes, but I had a sketchbook with me at all times, along with whatever book I was currently reading (that’s a very old habit of mine).
I was the only one of my girlfriends at the time who didn’t wear braces. When they professed their jealousy, I reminded them that they’d be done with braces in a year or two, but I’d be wearing glasses forever. (They’ve been contact lenses since I was 18, but since I’m not a good candidate for LASIK, it’s technically still true.) As always, I was the shortest girl in the class, but I had a crush on one of the tallest boys. (I still do, but it’s a different one now – and he was a high-school junior in California at the time.) Despite the fact we saw each other in two classes and talked on the phone often after school, my best friend Donna and I also became pen pals; long letters gave us the chance to talk about things that were harder to discuss in person, for various reasons. (My higher comfort level with expressing myself in writing, as opposed to speaking, goes way back.)
Wikipedia can tell you all kinds of things that were happening in the world during 1979. Being fifteen years old, I wasn’t paying all that much attention to most of them. I was reading a lot of young-adult (and some not-so-young – I think I read The Thorn Birds for the first time that year) fiction, and keeping up with my favorite TV shows. (However, TV was last week’s Assignment, so I’m not going to get back into it today.) I also listened to the radio a lot. Those were the days when I was glued to “American Top 40 with CaseyKasem ” on Sunday mornings, and faithfully recorded lists of each week’s top songs in spiral notebooks – someday, they might have historical significance! Disco was still huge in ’79, but I turned my back on it and tried to purge it from my record collection; I even gave my copy of the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack to Donna, who wasn’t sick of disco yet. My tastes were shifting toward mainstream rock, as well as emerging punk and New Wave, encouraged by the area progressive-rock station,WQSR -FM in Sarasota, during its last few months in existence – thank you for introducing me to Elvis Costello, among so many others who remain favorites today.
Since I was a kid during most of the ’70’s, it’s hard for me to answer the extra-credit part of the question, other than to say that it wasn’t really a bad time to be a kid. I’ve never missed much about the decade, though – and since it seems that it’s influenced a lot of the fashions of the last few years, I feel like I’m still not missing it. Looking at some of the clothes and hairstyles my 14-year-old and her classmates wear, sometimes it’s like I’m right back in 1979 myself.
What was going on in your life 30 years ago?
***This has nothing to do with 30 years ago – there’s a favor I’d like to ask you right now: please go to A Novel Menagerie and vote for my dog Gypsy in the “Beautiful Baby Contest!” Both of us would really appreciate it!***