Showing My Age: 70’s Style

24 02 2008

While I consider the 80’s an “important” decade in my formative years (and look back fondly on the music, movies, tv and styles, well SOME of the styles), I spent more of my formative years in the 70’s. My wife recently recounted her favorite 80’s memories. It has inspired me to write of the 70’s in the same manner. It is my sincere hope that this will be a cathartic experience and help me understand how I became the twisted individual that I did. Let’s delve:

I like to spend an unhealthy amount of time playing games (like Trivial Pursuit, Pictionary, etc). The root of this could be traced to one of these:

This was an addictive, let’s say “educational” game in which you had to quickly memorize patterns and repeat them on the game face. Though this game might look boring to a kid used to today’s standards, any blue-blooded 70’s kid found the flashing colors mesmerizing (and possible seizure-inducing).

Which Witch? was a really cool game in which little kiddies had to make their way through haunted rooms like the “spell cell” without having their game piece turned into a mouse. I know there was a whammy ball that did something bad to you (nothing to do with the Press Your Luck Whammies on tv). I’m thinking this one would not be for parents who ban things like Harry Potter books from their kids, but I remember thinking this game was really, really cool. As far as I can tell, this game is rare and was possibly never a big seller. I’d love to hear from anyone who remembers this game.

Oh yeah, hand held electronic football. This one was a savior when you had to go to bed. It was easy to hide this thing under your blanket and keep playing. I’m pretty sure you could even turn the sound down or off. Sweet. Of course, now the simple little red blips would have modern kids calling it lame, but it was electronic heaven for me.

I also long for some of the toys of my childhood. My favorites included these:

The seat sure doesn’t look especially comfortable now, but it was good enough back then as I tore around the driveway like a speed demon. Who didn’t love turning sharply and spinning out the back tires on one of these things? I thought I was tough on this, at least until I would screw up and skin something. That inevitably ended in my crybaby self running into the house in search of Mom with big crocodile tears on my wussy face. (Hmm, I may have issues.)

Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots! What better way to learn conflict resolution skills than to punch frantically until the blue robot (I was always the red one, as no really cool kid would ever choose the blue one) had his head punched off (or in this case, up). The head/neck thing made a really cool “zipping” sort of sound when you pushed it back down to reset it.)

This came with a booklet of several songs that guided you on what color (the colors shown above the keys) to play. Before long, any six-year-old could play something like “You Are My Sunshine” all day long. What parent would not enjoy that? I remember those little plastic faces as being rather vociferous.

Wiffle (or Whiffle, depending on your preference) Ball! Yes, I mercilessly pounded had friendly games with many of my younger nephews in the back yard. Dad would make us quit, sometimes, because we’d make a nasty bare spot in the back yard where home plate was. I was forever arguing about this, saying, “It’s our back yard; I’m supposed to be playing in it!” We also had to be careful not to plow through his garden so we had a special rule that if you hit into the garden, you were automatically out. It was like having one big outfielder out there. This prevented anyone from running quickly into the garden to retrieve the ball. You could slowly, carefully extract it since the hitter was already out. We also frequently dented the siding on the garage. I had no logical way to defend myself on this one when Dad got angry. The main problem with this toy? Kids in possession of hard plastic bats that somehow found other uses than playing wiffleball.

A kid can’t play all day long. Eventually, you just have to turn the television on! I remember mornings filled with cartoons like The Pink Panther, Hong Kong Phooey and my all-time favorite:

Speed of Lightning, Roar of Thunder! Fighting all who rob or plunder! Underdog! Underdog!

Underdog was the bomb. I really wanted him to beat his nemesis, Simon Bar Sinister. DRAT!

My least favorite kids’ morning show was this piece of crap:

Land of the Lost: It was cheap-looking (even by past standards), and it was just plain weird.

One can’t live by cartoons alone, and I remember really enjoying some tv shows with my mom and dad. There were the obvious ones, like Happy Days, but there were others as well:

Quincy revolved around the life of a medical examiner who had to unravel crimes through his science. Think of a much nicer House meets a much cheesier CSI. Anyone remember this one?

This game show, hosted by the very cool Bert Convy, pitted celebrity couples against each other. They would have to guess how their spouse would answer certain questions. I remember the giant headphone things half the spouses would wear so they couldn’t hear what their partners were saying. It was somewhat racy at times, at least for a little kid, and I enjoyed that whole-heartedly.

This was a classic! It seemed like the biggest money game of its time, and it was a great game. Dick Clark, of course, ruled on this show. (Check out the awesome 70’s moustache on that contestant!)

Oh yeah, The White Shadow. The coach, who was a pro basketball player forced to retire early due to injuries, goes against the advice of everyone he knows and becomes the head coach of the basketball team at a tough, poor school dealing with racial tensions. I thought Coolidge (one of the players) was the coolest. Anyone else out there miss this one?

The last tv items I’ll mention are two slogan/songs I remember from 70’s commercials. One was for Burger King: “Hold the pickles, hold the lettuce. Special orders don’t upset us. All we ask is that you let us have it your way!” The other was for perfume called Enjoli. The ad was trying to appeal to working super-women who were doing it all. It featured an attractive woman singing: “I can bring home the bacon, fry it up in a pan, and never ever let you forget you’re a man, cuz I’m a woman…Enjoli!” I don’t know if this ad was successful or not with their target audience, but it seems to have had a lasting effect on a 10-year-old boy.

Let’s move from tv to music. Records were fun (until they got a nasty scratch on them). Three of my favorites were these:

Now that I’ve posted the pictures, I’m thinking all three of these were double albums, which was a nice bonus. (Correct me if I’m wrong.) I had older brothers and sisters, and I think Frampton was a “hand-me-down” that was left behind for me. I loved how Frampton would “make his guitar talk” and say, “Do you feel like we do?” ELO mixed pop/rock with string instruments. The one pictured included the popular “Turn to Stone.” I loved both the soundtrack and the movie “St. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” by/with the Bee Gees and Peter Frampton, among others. I thought the movie was great, back then, but I have the feeling that I would realize it sucks if I saw it now.

When I had to leave home and go to school, I packed my trusty lunch box. Anyone remember the old metal lunch boxes that would actually rust at some point? I had some dorky ones, like some generic batman-like lunch box (can’t even remember the name of the cartoon), but here’s a cool one:

Which ones did any of you have?

Now is as good a time as any to mention one of the funniest style jokes God ever played on the U.S. when He convinced people to think Leisure Suits were cool. Here is an extremely embarrassing picture of myself and my parents. Wow, my mom and I are in matching suits that she made. That’s awful.

At least I never had to wear these:

Let’s just move on. I wasn’t yet driving in the 70’s, but I remember being a little kid wishing for one of these:

I thought Chevy Monte Carlos were very cool. I never ended up with one, but later on when I could drive in the 80’s, my first used car wasn’t that far off – a 1975 Olds Cutlass Supreme, similar to this one:

Mine was red and was a not-as-cool 4-door model. It ended up getting totaled when someone else’s car got hit and knocked over the center line into me. Ah well, it was a good car while it lasted.

Who remembers the Datsun cars of the 70’s? I remember my brother had a yellow one that I think was this type:

I need to wrap this blog up before I’m tempted to include even nerdier pictures of myself. However, I have saved the best 70’s memory for last. The two best creations of the 70’s were both born in 1975. One is my gorgeous wife. The other is this guy:

This Schoolhouse Rock character was the best! See the whole video here!

Thanks for stopping by, and please share any 70’s memories you have.

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20 responses

24 02 2008
Showing My Age: 80’s Style « That’s What She Blogged

[…] February 24, 2008 Showing My Age: 80’s Style Posted by Allison under 80’s, Books, Entertainment, Life, Nostalgia, Pop culture, TV | Tags: I read Taffy Sinclair books, I spent hours playing Swordquest Earthworld |   Veggie Macabre posted recently about cheesy intro songs for 80’s sitcoms (videos included).  As I watched an insane amount of television in my childhood, these videos were a fun walk down memory lane.  While on memory lane, I thought I would reflect on a few more things I enjoyed back in the 80’s.  [This inspired my husband to do the same thing for the 70’s.] […]

24 02 2008
Jeremy

Well, I wasn’t born until 81…but I did have a Simon Says! Cursed blinking lights!

24 02 2008
jenefur

Ooh, a Big Wheel! We lived at the bottom of a hill, so I remember lugging that thing to the top of our street and riding down with my feet in the air, because the pedals went too fast!

25 02 2008
Susie

I bought my husband Rock’em Sock’em Robots for Christmas a couple of years ago. Still fun, but the zipping sound is not nearly as impressive as it was back in the day.
And that mother-son suit is one of the worst cases of child abuse I’ve seen.

25 02 2008
bluesuit12

I didn’t come along until ’79 but I played Wiffle ball endlessly in the back yard with my dad and was convinced that I would play in the Major Leagues.

25 02 2008
Sherri Cornelius

Dude! I must defend Land of the Lost in all its badness. That was my favorite Saturday morning show. Another favorite show was Big John, Little John. I’ve never met a person who remembers it, but it was about a guy who drank from the fountain of youth and started turning into a kid at inopportune times. I think he pretended to be his own son.

I think I must have been born with a love for the weird.

25 02 2008
morethananelectrician

Oh…that football game! I had a baseball one to match. The football game did not have a sound “on/off switch”, but I opened mine and pulled of the speaker wire so i could play it at night. The baseball game had an earphone jack in the side.

You can buy both of them now, but they come with switches for the sound.

Underdog was the bomb. I seem to recall eating my lunch in the morning right after it went off…11:30 was lunch time.

25 02 2008
Catie

I had completely forgotten about Land of the Lost! Bleh! So terrible! I remember watching it in the nineties on the classic Sci-Fi channel …

25 02 2008
Stacey

I wasn’t born til ’80, but I definitely played wiffle ball and loved Schoolhouse Rock.

25 02 2008
mysticfey

Which Witch? I can’t believe somebody else remembers that game. My grandmother stumbled upon it during one of her garage sale excursions when my brother and I were little. We were recently cleaning out her attic and found it, so of course we couldn’t resist playing it one last time.

25 02 2008
Maggie, dammit

OHMYGOSHOHMYGOSHOHMYGOSH Land of the Lost!!!! Jaysus that show was like crack to me. I don’t know why, but it was. I’d forgotten! Wow.

P.S. My kids totally have Simon. They’re still manufacturing that bad boy.

26 02 2008
Taoist Biker

I used to hide from the Sleestacks. And I adored G-Force and the old Godzilla cartoon. I remember when Cartoon Network first cranked up in the ’90s when I was an undergrad and I was so excited to be able to see those things again – only to realize that, holy crap, that stuff sucks just as bad as the Power Rangers and associated kid crud does nowadays. Talk about having your bubble burst…

26 02 2008
stopbouncing

I would try to get those Big Mouth Singers to chomp down on my fingers so my Evil Grandma would take it away. You know, trying to keep her grandchild safe.. but alas.
Though, they do look like Canadians from South Park…

And I have a vague recollection of “Which Witch”, though it didn’t have directions and I never really understood how to play.

27 02 2008
feefour

My brother and I had SIMON and we played it on an airplane from Boston to Ft. Lauderdale in maybe ’77 or ’78 (this was before the “no electronics below 10K rule”) Apparently we set the airplane 15 miles off course. How this is possible, I am unclear. SIMON. Who’d a thunk it?

LOTL was kind of wacky, but I did like the theme song “…in the laaahaand of the loohost…” Also very much enjoyed Sigmund the Sea Monster.

27 02 2008
Kara

I came along in 76, but I have an older sister and brother(13 and 10 yeras older respectively and I remember alot from then!) I LOVED my big mouth singers toy! I can’t believe that you found a picture of that!! I also loved my big wheel. Mine was just like the one you pictured. I always peddled as fast as I could and spun out. I also loved my Simon and Pong as well. I have nephews that are into all of the new game systems and I can’t watch them. I loved my Pong. You’re right kids today would be mortified if they had to live a week with the technology we had.

9 03 2008
Pammy Girl

My sister and I each had a Hot Cycle… loved it! We lived on a college campus (dad was a professor) and would run either over the students’ feet or speed up next to them, flip the break, spin around and say, “You stink!”. My father was asked by the university president (!) to bar us from riding them on campus because we caused a “ruckus” and were offending a number of the students. My parents refused to buy us Simon because they thought it was annoying. Funny… they bought us Hot Cycles and we physically hurt people but running into their shins, but the Simon game was annoying. Hmmmm.

9 03 2008
Matt

Hi everyone. Thanks for sharing the memories on 70s toys and tv. I love reading the varying opinions on Land of the Lost! Pammy, that’s awesome that you said, “You stink” at the end of the peel-outs. Mystic, I’m extremely jealous that you recently played Which Witch! Did the Whammy ball get you? Kara, Pong ruled.

20 03 2008
Peter Parkour

Just came over from your wifes two 80s post. I loved all three. It’s always fun taking a look back. You can add another worshiper to the Land Of The Lost list. I can’t believe you didn’t like it. Dang.

This was my first trip to both of your blogs, and I enjoyed myself immensely. I’ll have to check out both more thoroughly when I have more time. For now I’ll have to settle for subscribing to them. Gotta run, later.

22 03 2008
Sanjay

And I have a vague recollection of Which Witch though it didn’t have directions and I never really understood how to play

30 07 2008
Some Things Our Kids Don’t Need to Know About Us « Licensed to Blog

[…] “Do you remember particularly special birthday gifts you received?” Hey, I got some cool stuff as a kid, like the Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots or the Miner 2049er game for my Atari system. I’ll probably put those down in the book. However, I can’t help but also remember some of the items of clothing that my mother, bless her heart, made for me. She was great at crafty things like that, and it helped out the family financially whenever she made clothes instead of buying them. The problem is; they weren’t always the coolest styles. You can see one of the outfits in a horrific picture buried deep in this post. […]

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