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10 Things I Loved About Growing Up in the 70's

By Edited Jul 13, 2016 7 39

Growing up in the 1970’s was a wonderful experience for me.  I was born in 1964, which is considered the tail end of the Baby Boom years in American history.  Life was so much simpler then.  As a child growing up in Queens, New York, I was free to leave my apartment every day and roam with my friends.  My parents never worried about possible abduction or predators ready to pounce at a moment’s notice, the way modern parents do.

10 Things I Loved About Growing Up in the 70's

Photo from Pixabay

Each day I would knock on my friends’ doors to see who was available to play. We got on our bikes and went unsupervised for hours, until our Teeter Totter watches said it was time to go home.  We walked to school, were allowed to walk home for lunch, and had a relatively carefree existence.

As I reminisce about my Wonder Years childhood, there are ten things that stand out in my mind that were really great about growing up in the 1970s.

Dynamite Magazine

When I was in the fourth grade, I remember getting the Scholastic News flyer at school and seeing this magazine offered for the first time.  The covers always had the hottest stars, like Jimmie “J. J. “ Walker, John Travolta, Farrah Fawcett Majors and Sylvester Stallone. Inside each issue there was a poster-a real selling point for kids.  One favorite feature was “Bummers”, where kids could send in a statement that started, “Don’t you hate it when…“ and it would be illustrated by Jared Lee, who later went on to fame as the illustrator of the “Black Lagoon” series with Mike Thaler.  I ordered it every month for years.

Wacky Packages Stickers

Wacky Packages Stickers were produced by Topps Chewing Gum Company, who is more famous for their baseball cards.  They originally came out in 1967, but really hit the peak of their popularity in the mid 1970’s.  The stickers, which parodied popular items you would find at the supermarket, came with a stick of gum.  Kids traded the stickers and stuck them to everything!

Read All About Them! A Trip Down Memory Lane

Wacky Packages (Topps)
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Frito Bandito Pencil Erasers

Everyone had Frito Banditio erasers!   They came in assorted colors and you tried to collect them all.  Frito Lay put them in bags of Frito’s Corn Chips in the 1960’s and 1970’s as an incentive for kids to bug their moms to buy it for them.

Prime Time Television Programs

Ah, 1970’s television shows.  Family comedies like The Brady Bunch and The Partridge Family ruled ABC’s Friday night lineup long before their TGIF series of the 1990’s.  Controversial programs like Maude and All in the Family were made for adults, but my parents let me watch them.  They are innocuous compared to what is aired in prime time today.

Another favorite genre of television programming that is missed is the variety hour.   Carol Burnett, Sonny and Cher, and Donny and Marie were all a part of my childhood.  Special guest stars, comical skits, and elaborate musical numbers featuring Bob Mackie costumes were something to look forward to each week.

The Sonny & Cher Ultimate Collection
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The ABC After School Special

The ABC After School Special aired for twenty-five years, from 1972-1997.  As the first generation of viewers, I used to look forward to these dramas, targeted to children.  Starring popular television stars, the ABC After School Special would touch on controversial topics, such as child abuse, alcoholism, and special needs.  Many were based on popular books for tweens and teens.

School House Rock

Who can sing the Preamble to the Constitution?  If you grew up in the 1970’s you can, thanks to ABC’s School House Rock series.  Sponsored by Nabisco (remember the dancing Fig Newton?), General Mills and other large corporations, it taught children math, history, science, and grammar using music and cartoons.  It ran from 1973-1985, and was revived again in the late 1990's.

Metal Lunch Boxes

If you are a Baby Boomer, then you remember metal lunch boxes featuring your favorite television personality or comic strip character.  You had to be very careful and not drop it, or your thermos would shatter!  Too bad many of us didn’t save them for today, as they are very collectible.

Teen Idol Bubble Gum Pop

Can you hear the sound of a heartbeat?  It’s a love beat?  (Sorry for putting that tune in your head) If you grew up in the 1970’s you were serenaded by the sounds of Tony DeFranco and the DeFranco family, The Brady Bunch Kids, The Partridge Family, as well as Shaun Cassidy and Leif Garrett.  Sure, today’s kids have their own pop idols, but I think ours were better.  We didn’t have to know about every detail of their lives via Twitter or Facebook.  We could simply adore the music!

Super Hits of the '70s: Have a Nice Day, Vol. 2
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Toys and Games

Growing up in the 1970’s, there were toys and games that remember playing.  Clackers were two balls that you hit together.  They were banned from school because they were so dangerous, be we loved them!

I loved my Lucy’s Tea Party Game, since I was a huge Peanuts fan.  I always wanted the Snoopy Snow Cone Machine, but had to use the ones my friends had.  

My favorite board games were The Game of Life, Clue and Operation.  These games are still around today.

My doll collection included Dawn and all of her friends as well as their deluxe wardrobe.  Of course, I had tons of Barbie dolls, and spent hours playing with my Barbie Fashion Show stage and set.  That was a big deal for me to have, because my brother and I shared a room, and there was little space for big toys.  But since he had the Action Jackson Jungle House, I could have a Barbie stage!

Everyone had a banana seat on their bicycle, and in the bike’s basket, you kept your roller skates and key.


Candy was cheap and plentiful for those growing up in the 1970's.  Many of the treats I enjoyed as a child are now sold in retro candy boxes.  Some of my favorite retro candy is…

Razzle Dazzle

Bit O’Honey

Wax bottles

Pop Rocks

Sugar Daddies

Bottle Caps

Flavored Tootsie Rolls

For me, growing up in the 1970’s made a wonderful childhood for me.  I wonder if my own children will feel the same about their growing up years.



Apr 18, 2012 3:58pm
wow! You have given a great taste of the 1970s - a decade to remember!
Apr 18, 2012 6:36pm
Thanks! It was fun!
Apr 18, 2012 7:23pm
I also loved the 70s and I still listen to music from the 70s. Great article, it brings back lots of memories. Good job MMM! "Thumbs-UP!"
Apr 19, 2012 7:02am
Thanks, Introspective! While we have come a long way since then, I wish my kids could have some of the fun I did.
Apr 18, 2012 8:09pm
Look at you get all loosened up! This was pretty good -- I'd forgotten about Dynamite mag -- I used to read that! And being sarcastic you can imagine that Wacky Packages was right up my alley -- me and my little brother stuck those on everything (and I can STILL remember my hysterics when I opened one that had a "Gurgle's Barely Edible Baby Food" in it with the Gerber baby all cross-eyed and stuff coming out of its mouth!) Big nostalgic thumb!
Apr 19, 2012 7:03am
Yeah, Vic, you have been inspirational! My brother stuck his to his garbage can and if I remember correctly, some furniture! I would love to walk to the stationary store with my friends, plunk down my seven cents, and buy a pack!
Apr 20, 2012 2:35am
Those unopened packs are worth a small fortune if you stumble across them as collectibles. Garbaga cans are better than waht my brother and iI did -- we stuck them to the furniture (dressers, my mom's vanity mirror, several doors, and walls, and beds).
Apr 20, 2012 12:42am
Wonderful article! There were so many fun things about the 1970's. Our family especially enjoyed "The Brady Bunch!"
Apr 20, 2012 6:38am
Even though it is corny, I still will watch a Brady Bunch rerun if I catch it on TV!
Apr 20, 2012 5:01am
ah the old days . . . i miss them! i used to set our after school play time according to when gilligan's island would come on tv. and schoolhouse rock was responsible for my rote memorization of the preamble as well as most parts of a sentence. good times . . . fun article!
Apr 20, 2012 6:40am
Moanasaves, my two friends and I would fight over who got to be Ginger and Mary Ann, because no one wanted to be Mrs. Howell! Loved that show!
May 4, 2012 5:14am
Congrats on the feature mommy-cubed!
May 4, 2012 6:44am
Thank you, Vic! It was nice to wake up to! I also want to thank you for helping me branch out of my comfort zone.
May 4, 2012 8:02am
I faithfully watched sonny and cher, and on saturday nights our whole family would watch the Jackie Gleason show at the end of the 60s and reruns into the 70s.. but now that is really dating me! great article!
May 4, 2012 10:05pm
Thank you, Sookie!
May 4, 2012 11:52am
Congratulations on this great featured article!
May 4, 2012 10:05pm
Thanks for reading!
May 4, 2012 2:35pm
Nice trip down memory lane - great feature!
May 4, 2012 10:05pm
Thank you! I have been enjoying watching those YouTube videos!
May 4, 2012 3:17pm
First time I came to the States was in the early 80's so I grew up with different things that were crazy popular in Germany. But I do remember
Sonny & Cher .... as time goes by :)

Great featured article!

May 4, 2012 10:06pm
Thank you for reading!
May 4, 2012 7:36pm
Kids just played with each other. We'd go to their houses, maybe try to enlist a bunch of us for a sport game... Rivalries/animosities usually never lasted 24 hours! Remember the Scholastic catalogs, and how cheap their books were? everything was usually way under a dollar. And Legos... they used to just be blocks, so you had to do your own creating. Nowadays, the constructing is the means to an end, and there are so specialized pieces. A Harry Potter kit can't be used with a Star Wars kit! I'm glad I was a kid in the 70s too!
May 4, 2012 10:07pm
My kids get Scholastic catalogs...and the books are not cheap! Don't get me started on cheaply made Legos! Thanks for reading!
May 4, 2012 10:23pm
Congrats on your feature! I still love 70s music :)
May 23, 2012 7:52am
Me, too! Disco was fun!
May 5, 2012 5:30am
I love this article. Nothing beats a bit of nostalgia. I'm more of an 80s child myself - perhaps I'll take inspiration from this article and do something similar. Well done
May 23, 2012 7:52am
Thank you! The 80's were my the second half of my teen years. Lots of fun, but in a different way!
May 6, 2012 1:21pm
Great article that brought back lots of memories. Congratulations on being featured.
May 23, 2012 7:52am
Thank you! It was fun to write!
Jun 11, 2012 11:15am
Love this article as a kid of the 70's!! I wore my roller skates with the pom pom's on them with bells, and my rainbow sweaters. I also remember kissing the Leif Garrett poster on my door everytime I walked out of my room. And I had a Six Million Dollar Man/Bionic Woman metal lunchbox! Ahh, memories! :)
Jun 11, 2012 12:41pm
Thank you for going down my memory lane! I never had pom poms on my roller skates!
Feb 24, 2013 2:57pm
I remember all of these things except for the Dynamite Magazine. Maybe they didn't have it where I was. I also remember when they made metal lunchboxes illegal in my town in the 80s or 90s because kids were hitting each other on the head with them. What's wrong with those kids?!?
Feb 24, 2013 2:57pm
I remember all of these things except for the Dynamite Magazine. Maybe they didn't have it where I was. I also remember when they made metal lunchboxes illegal in my town in the 80s or 90s because kids were hitting each other on the head with them. What's wrong with those kids?!?
Mar 8, 2013 11:51am
LOL! We never had a lunchbox problem! I loved Dynamite Magazine and the cool poster they had inside. I wished I had saved them!
Jul 9, 2014 6:54pm
Lovely article.
Oct 31, 2014 7:20am
We saw Sonny and Cher in one of their last concerts ever. They had great chemistry!
Oct 31, 2014 12:46pm
You could feel it through the TV screen. I just loved their program!
Oct 31, 2014 3:55pm
Its quite funny stumbling across this article after dressing up as a kid from the 70s for a school event. I remember while growing that we could get candy for as low as 5cents depending on the type and as high as 25 cents.

I grew up in the 90s and remember some of those show specials. Those candies you mentioned can still be found in stores but probably in a toned down quantity as a somewhat manageable price. The wax bottles were me and my sibs favorite candy while growing up along with the pop rocks, bit o' honey and sugar daddies. I'm a late 80s kid but enjoyed the dwindling simplicity of things while they lasted; including the price of gas.

Wonder if anyone wrote about the 80s yet? Thanks for sharing M3!
Nov 21, 2014 3:49am
I have one 80's hair band article, but it is worth a search to see if there are any that might interest you!
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