“Yesterday, When I Was a Child”: My 70s Childhood Pinned to a Pinterest Board
I started a new board on Pinterest last weekend that I called, “Yesterday, when I was a child . . .”, because I’m wry like that, and now I’ve become addicted to finding groovy 70s and 80s memorabilia.
I apologize to those of you who follow me on Pinterest since you, too, are being dragged down memory lane with me as I pin endless reflections of my childhood.
One thing leads to another and then to another as the memories come flooding back to me.
I found the twisty wrist “Toot-A-Loop” radios of the late 70s; I had one in yellow, my sister, Heather, had one in blue. How much did we love those? And how cool did we mistakenly think we were with those bad boys looped around our wrists?
How about fashion trends best left in the past like elephant pants, smock tops, Earth Shoes, gauchos, and painter’s pants?
We used to actually drive miles to a paint supply store to buy the painter’s pants: Siegel’s on Milwaukee and Austin. (Why I recall the name of a store as well as specific cross streets that I haven’t visited in more than three decades, yet have no recollection of a person’s name who just told it to me 15 seconds ago is a mystery.) We’d attempt to stealthily enter the paint store, forever betrayed by the string of jingling bells hanging from a frayed rope nailed to the wall above the door, and then we’d make a beeline back to the tiny section where the painter’s wear was stashed. Although we weren’t doing anything wrong, there was always a feeling that we were in foreign territory and could be exiled at any moment. Sometimes the store offered denim painter’s pants, but more often than not, there were only white or off-white options available. Think about that notion for a second. Who decided that white would be a fine color for someone who slopped paint on themselves for a living? Perhaps the idea was for the painter to become living art: the white pants his walking canvas. I’m not sure. After purchasing the pants, we’d take them home, wash them several times to help lose the stiffness, and then we’d wear them to school the next day, proudly parading our hammer loops and mixing stick side pockets like albino peacocks.
We smelled like Jean Nate lemony body splash, “Blue Jeans” perfume, and gee, but didn’t our hair smell terrific?
There were mood rings and Shrinky Dinks, Farrah’s hair and Fonzie’s thumbs, card catalogs, clogs, and contraband Click Clacks.
We watched every episode of “The Brady Bunch”, and “The Partridge Family” without a DVR in sight, and laughed out loud over SNL’s “Land Shark”, “Jane, you ignorant slut”, and “Roseanne Roseannadanna” skits when we were uncool enough to be in on a Saturday night.
Yeah, come to think of it, we actually caught a lot of SNL episodes.
My husband only recalls hearing about the skits at school the next Monday, because, apparently, he was brimming over with “cool” as a teen. At least that’s his recollection. His high school photos defy his recollection.
Everybody jogged up public building stairs in these . . .
Because they thought they looked like this . . .
Then I came across “Vintage” Seventeen Magazine editions from 1976 and ’77 that I remember as if they were folded and shoved through the mail slot just yesterday. These were one of our first introductions to mainstream fashion and trends, so each edition was magical. I remember lying on my bed basking in the winter afternoon sunshine that streamed in through the window, as I poured over the “trends that will be springing up this spring.”
Mark Spitz won gold in men’s swimming, Nadia Comenici won a gold in women’s gymnastics, and Bruce Jenner won a gold in the decathlon. The men’s decathlon, that is.
Oh, and who can forget giant Bonne Belle Lip Smackers worn as a necklace in flavors like Dr. Pepper, Orange Crush, Watermelon, and Chocolate Mint? Quite a catchy accessory, no? Honestly, I’ve been addicted to lip balm ever since I began wearing the honking huge Bonne Belle Peppermint necklace. I wonder how many pounds of lip balm I’ve ingested over the last 30-odd years?
A photo of a pop-up trailer sends my memory into overdrive. How in the world did we fit 6, 8, or even occasionally 10 people in that little space: four lying on the pull-out beds, four in the bunk slings above, and two sleeping on the retracted table. And more importantly, why?
I remember when a tree frog decided to nest against my neck in the middle of the night, and got tangled in my mid-back-length hair as I screamed bloody murder while doing a some sort of crazy rain dance; when we camped in a vacant Wyoming campground and watched shooting stars rocket across the dark night sky; and when we swam out to an anchored raft in the middle of a swimming hole only to see water snakes circling the float once we had all climbed onboard. Our race back to shore would have impressed the likes of Michael Phelps.
Hamburger Helper cooked over a camp stove never tasted so good after swimming, diving, and hiking the day away. We trekked every which way across the country in our big old station wagon pulling that pop-up, until the day the trailer hitched busted, that is, releasing the trailer to travel on it’s merry way of choice, which apparently was into a ditch on the side of the road.
Imagine being the car behind us with a rogue trailer heading your way!
Then there are the vintage James Taylor albums, back when he was hot, back when he had hair, back when he crooned “Handy Man” privately just to me, I’m certain of it, and encouraged all of us to B.S.U.R.S.U.C.S.I.M.I.M. (Be as you are, as you see, as I am, I am. He was a cryptic one, that James.) And REO’s “Time For Me to Fly” blasting out of a friend’s little red Fiat convertible’s speakers as we headed over to Lake Michigan’s Gilson Beach, giddy with 17-year-old fresh-faced freedom. (Yeah, she was one of the “wealthy ones”, but we forgave her for that transgression.)
Do you remember any of these things? Do they open the memory floodgates like they do for me?
I have to say, I’m typically not an ultra sentimental person, and I seldom if ever place a lot of value in objects, but the surge of warm feelings and locked away memories that are surfacing as I move along on this treasure hunt of things from the past are some of the most valuable gems I’ve uncovered in eons.