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.
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.
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
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 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!
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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…
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.