5 thoughts on “Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about 1970-1978…

  1. tjbeitelman August 23, 2011 / 8:22 pm

    Some Important Events:

    The Beatles break up for good. (1970)

    Disneyworld opens for business. (Also: Mr. Beitelman is born. On the very same day as Disneyworld!) (1971)

    Richard Nixon is re-elected president. (1972)

    Title IX enacted: “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance…” (1972)

    Home Box Office (HBO) launches. (1972)

    The Munich Massacre: A group of Palestinian gunmen take 11 members of the Israeli Olympic team hostage at the Summer Games in Munich. All 11 Israelis are subsequently killed. (1972)

    Oil crisis! (1973)

    Roe vs. Wade: abortion legalized in the U.S. (1973)

    Richard Nixon resigns as president in response to the Watergate scandal. (1974)

    Saigon falls; the Vietnam War officially ends. (1975)

    NBC’s Saturday Night Live airs for the first time. (1975)

    Jimmy Carter, a relatively unknown Southern governor, is elected president, telling voters, “I’ll never lie to you.” (1976)

    America turns 200! (1976)

    Star Wars! (1977)

    Carter’s “Sweater Speech”: President Carter gives a prime time speech about energy policy, in which he lays out a plan to address the on-going energy crisis. He wears a cardigan sweater, a la Mr. Rogers — the idea being that, if the president can turn down the thermostat in the White House and wear a sweater to keep warm, so can everybody else. He was roundly ridiculed at the time, though the speech itself has turned out to be rather prophetic. Click here to read it. (1977)

    Israel and Egypt (the largest Arab country in the Middle East) sign a peace treaty called the Camp David Accords. Largely brokered by President Carter, this deal (which was actually a pretty big deal because it seemed like it might bring some stability to a very unstable region that played a major role in the energy crisis), is seen as the biggest achievement of Carter’s presidency. (1978)


  2. tjbeitelman August 23, 2011 / 8:26 pm


    The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) opened for business in 1970.

    The Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution — “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.” — passed both houses of Congress but failed to be fully ratified. (1972)

  3. tjbeitelman August 23, 2011 / 9:43 pm

    The 70s were a pretty rocky time, quite frankly. The economy was in the tank, inflation (basically how stuff gets more expensive over time) was high, and instability in the Middle East led to fuel shortages and, ultimately, a full-blown (so-called) energy crisis.

    There was also a lot of social upheaval in the U.S., most of which got its start in the 1960s.

    Gender roles were shifting in a very big way. Title IX (which was enacted as law) and the Equal Rights Amendment (which was not) sought to legislate gender equity in schools, the workplace, etc.

    Changes in reproductive rights (the Pill and Roe vs. Wade) helped further alter already shifting gender relations and family dynamics.

    Divorce rates went way up. A lot more moms of all kinds (but especially, now, single moms) went to work, which would fundamentally change how a lot of kids were raised. Also, the concept of dual custody wasn’t in fashion then. Single moms still had the expectation of being the primary caregiver (and legal custodian) of the kids but now they had to manage another full-time job along with it. And a lot of dads were relegated to fairly limited visitation schedules (one evening a week and every other weekend was sort of the norm).

    It’s dangerous to make sweeping generalizations, but I do think it’s fair to say that, as a result of all that stuff, what it meant to be a kid changed. By, like, a lot. Very quickly. Autonomy, independence, self-sufficiency, and a “maturity beyond your years” — these qualities were, by default, at a premium for a lot of kids of the era. I also think it’s fair to say that many of the kids who were directly affected by these issues came to feel like they had to grow up a little faster than they would’ve liked.

    Also: trust in government was way down. The Nixon Administration was caught red-handed using the FBI and CIA to basically spy on its political opposition — or really anyone it deemed a threat.

    The Vietnam War finally ended with an anticlimactic thud — Saigon fell, the side the U.S. had propped up for twenty years had lost, and even people who had supported the war at first were disillusioned. Returning soldiers were often treated as pariahs and their profound difficulties in reacclimating into society were largely ignored.

    This distrust (and apathy) ushered in the one-term Carter era. Carter was a smart, high-minded centrist Democrat who sought to address the widespread uncertainty of the moment with pragmatic analysis and common sense appeals. He was, almost from the very beginning of his presidency, criticized for being indecisive, ineffectual, and out of his league.

    In short, most of the cultural forces that had shaped society since WWII were coming into question. Big time. All bets were off and no one really knew what was next.

  4. tjbeitelman August 23, 2011 / 9:44 pm

    Oh: forgot — Microsoft and Apple opened their “doors” (in 1975 and 1977 respectively) to absolutely no fanfare whatsoever, but obviously there were tons of game-changing technological advancements that were happening under the radar of the culture at large.

    Environmentalism also came into the cultural mainstream during this period (hence the EPA); it wasn’t just for hippies anymore.

    Also NASA and space exploration were still a pretty big deal.

    So while there was a great deal of upheaval and uncertainty from 1970-1978, there was also a great deal of possibility for growth and positive change.

    Then came 1979…

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