1970 – Where were you?

In 1970, I was seven years old.

Wisconsin Historical Society, Wisconsin Architecture and History Inventory, Mazomanie, Dane, County, Wisconsin, 5474

“I live at 215 Bridge Street, Mazomanie, Wisconsin. 53560,” said the second-grade girl whose assignment was to memorize the address in case she got lost and needed to inform the police. There was a lot of memorization in school back then. I skipped on the sidewalk reciting, “Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto.” I was proud of my neat penmanship. I read books and climbed trees. I had rollerskates with metal pinchers that grabbed my tennis shoes. The key to tightening them hung around my neck.

SPRING I rode a bike with a banana seat. My brother Jeff followed behind me. We rode miles, it felt like, all the way to the end of Bridge Street when it became a hill. At the top of the lane, we turned around and faced the prospect of sailing down the hill. How fast could we go? The wind rushed past my blonde hair. Jeff had a crew cut. He could not control the turn. Wipe out! He had a huge raspberry on his knee and his elbow was a mix of blood and pebbles. He cried all the way home. I thought he was a baby for doing so. But he was a year younger and my best friend, so I helped him home feeling bad I forced him to ride down the hill.

On April 1 the U.S. Department of Commerce reports the 1970 census at 203,392,031 residents, up 14 percent from 1960. (April 2023 population: 334,565,848)

On April 10 Paul McCartney announces the break up of The Beatles

On April 17 Apollo 13 aircraft was sent to the moon. A fire extinguisher explodes. They return safely to the surface.

On May 1 President Richard Nixon orders U.S. forces into Cambodia.

On May 4 four students at Kent State University in Ohio are killed by National Guard for protesting the Vietnam War.

WINTER The snow was deep, but I dragged my new wooden red racer sled to the school yard where older kids had poured water down the hill to create an ice ramp. I used the aluminum flying saucer sled while Jeff tried out my racer. He went face-first, gripping the steering handle, and crashed into a pillow of ice. He was knocked out. I carried him back home using the racer as a stretcher. He grew a black ball on his forehead. The doctor made a house call. Jeff slept for days.

SUMMER Jeff and I played in the creek behind the house. We would follow the bank and crisscross the shallow rocky parts to another world. The roots of trees formed a bowl and little fish would get trapped. I would lay and watch them swim while listening to the leaves rustling above me. It was cool and damp.

Jeff and I made a tree fort in the big tree in the backyard. We found a stack of screen windows propped out behind the shed. We grabbed one and used it to sharpen sticks to make spears. Once we had our spears, we would go on a hunt. A few houses away the neighborhood kids wanted to play war. “Sure!” Thus began a new adventure of fort building and capturing the enemy. Escapes. Recapture. The excitement of the hunt kept us roaring and stalking the summer days away.

In 1970, my thirty-year-old mother had four children. My stepfather had a cast on his foot. He had returned from the Vietnam War physically broken. It was my job to sit at the end of the couch and rub his toes which stuck up from the top of his cast. I did not know my real father. He went to Vietnam, too, and returned mentally broken. I was told he was an addict in Chicago migrating from one halfway house to another for the rest of his life. I never met him.

I prefer to remember him in a different way. He was an adventurer and painter.

When I was older, I learned he inherited money from his father and went to Greece, and lived in a cave for a year. While he was there, he made this charcoal drawing of a fisherman which I have hanging in my living room.

The average U.S. house cost $23,500.
Today it’s approximately $375,000.
Gasoline per gallon: 36 cents Today it’s approximately $3.46 a gallon.
Yearly Inflation Rate USA 5.84%
Yearly Inflation Rate UK 5.9%
US today 6%
UK today 10%

From https://www.thepeoplehistory.com/1970.html

My mother worked as a waitress. I did not see her much. The Department of Labor cites the hourly wage in 1970 as $1.45 an hour. Her life entailed cleaning, cooking, and working. I never saw her cry. She was not affectionate, but I knew she loved us. I was in charge of my younger three siblings. I did not like it much and avoided them as much as I could by riding away on my bike or roller skating away down Bridge Street.

What were you listening to in 1970?

The Billboard Top 100 from 1970 included the following:

1. “Bridge Over Troubled Waters” Simon and Garfunkel
2. “Close to You”The Carpenters
3. “American Woman” The Guess Who
4. “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head” B.J. Thomas
5. “War” Edwin Starr
6. “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” Diana Ross
7. “I’ll Be There”Jackson 5
8. “Get Ready” Rare Earth
9. “Let It Be” The Beatles

What did you eat? We had “commodities” which was food the government gave poor families. Eggs, flour, sugar, dry milk. Four loaves of bread cost $1.00. If you wanted vegetables, you grew a garden.

My hippy uncle came to visit. He was 15 years younger than my Mom. He was kicked out of his house and stayed briefly with us while he figured out his next plan. He took my brother and me to the local grocery store and taught us how to steal.

I was enamored with his record collection. I loved looking at the album covers. That’s when the 27 Club began. Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, and Jim Morrison died in 1970.

1968 release. I admired the artwork even at age seven.

What to watch on television?

Feb 1971, I was mesmerized by The Point, a television animation film narrated by Ringo Starr. Harry Nilsson’s voice lulled me.

What were the top 25 movies in 1970?

At seven, I can’t say I appreciated the films from 1970, but there are a few I remember because my Mother liked them. I would have to wait a decade before I came to appreciate them. If you want the list of 25 top films of 1970, check it out here: https://www.imdb.com/list/ls076327759/

Our lives are marked by what we saw and felt in our youth. How old were you in 1970 and what do you remember?

87 thoughts on “1970 – Where were you?

Add yours

  1. Wow! What a way to learn things about your older siblings. I liked that sailor picture and knowing the story is so great. Sorry I was an inconvenience at 3 years old, but not so much in our older years. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I was 18, and living at home with my parents in a nice suburb 14 miles from Central London. I had already been working for a year, commuting by train to an office in London. I was on the verge of leaving that job, to work as a salesman for a small record company.

    I had a car, and a girlfriend I had been seeing regularly since I was 15. I would drive into London at weekends to take her out, usually with a small group of friends.

    I remember suffering badly from Hay Fever in a warm summer, followed by a winter of unusually deep early snow that saw us having to almost dig out our cars.

    After Christmas, I started working for the record company. I had a company car, and had to travel around all over southern England. So I learned to use maps!

    Best wishes, Pete. x

    Liked by 1 person

      1. It was a ‘low rent’ record company that mainly produced LP covers of pop hits of the day that sold for less than one pound. But it gave me the chance to see a lot of England on expenses, and I had a great time. I didn’t become an EMT until I was 27. X

        Liked by 1 person

      1. She worked as a nurses’ aide and then worked for years making mother boards for various computer companys. We have ten grandchildren. The three girls are the youngest.
        And I was surprised that you grew up in WI.


        1. Your wife sounds amazing. How blessed you are! We have that many grandchildren, too. I lived for 7 years in Wisconsin. After that, it was quite different. A future post for that chapter of my childhood. 😉

          Liked by 1 person

          1. My wife is amazing, Cindy. And the way she interacts with our family is something to behold. She’s not a mom or grandmother, she is their best friend and their favorite playmate.
            Can’t wait for more adventures of you and Jeff.

            Liked by 1 person

  3. That was fascinating and I enjoyed it very much, except for the fact that it made me feel very, very old. In 1970 was in my last year at school before going to university and I can remember my Dad taking my brother amd myself to Derby, the nearest city, to watch the football (soccer) with all the stars of the day, now, alas, mostly dead of old age


    1. John, You are young at heart. I enjoy your posts about the lore of fairies and survivor magazines. 😉 Which university did you go to? Was it a good experience? What did you become?


      1. What a lot of questions! I went to Cambridge although I didn’t enjoy it particularly once the initial glamour wore off. I became a teacher of French at Nottingham High School, where I worked for almost forty years. I am now retired and live in Nottingham.


        1. Ha, ha. Well, you could have said, “Bugger, off!” but I’m glad you did not mind sharing yourself. I think you are interesting. Wow! Teacher of French! 40 years! You deserve a badge of honor. I remember your posts about your school. Somehow I did not make the connection you were a teacher there. Cambridge. It does sound impressive. That’s common. What seems desirable is often disappointing. And what seems like a bore ends up becoming memorable. Thank you, sir!


          1. My pleasure! I wasn’t very keen about Cambridge because there was nobody there like me. My background was too lacking in spare cash to fit in with people whose families were much more well-to-do than mine.

            Liked by 1 person

          1. No, it wasn’t, it didn’t wrinkle easily. I want to say a knit, but that’s not quite right either. The top had short sleeves and a few buttons down the front. The scarf – turquoise & white…with yellow daisies! 🙂

            Liked by 1 person

    1. I loved the charcoal drawing as well, and would definitely hang it in a place of honor! What an interesting adventure, to spend a year living in a cave… Did he ever explain what prompted that experiment? Why for a year? How did he survive during that year? Was he alone during that year?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hiya! Yes, it hanging in a place of honor. I’ve asked those questions about my father all my life. No is alive to help me understand. I was foolish as a youth and never asked. Now I imagine what he felt and what he did. I have been lured to Greece twice and love it there. I am sure it’s because it is part of my personal mythology. Living in a cave for year. Ha!


  4. I was 11. My mum married my stepdad George that year and we left my idyllic childhood land of Yorkshire and went to live on an RAF camp in Norfolk. A lot of change that year.


    1. Welcome, Lovely Panda Mom. Hey, that’s fine! I think looking at people’s lives and trying to fit in what remember with pop culture and historical events is a fun game. I plan to keep going. Hang in there for your year. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  5. In 1970, I was 9 years old.
    One day I remember playing a game we called “play dead”. As I think back, this was a terrible game. It might have started as a dare challenge.
    We lived on a moderately travelled country road. One of us would lay on the roads dirt shoulder and spread out like we had just been hit by a passing car. In short time a panicked car driver would stop and run over to render medical aid. Before the driver got to the faker, the dared boy jump up to his feet and ran away followed by his friends that were hiding in the ditch.
    We were such idiots.


    1. ha ha ha. What an authentic, stupid thing to do. How many times have we almost killed outselves in our youth, eh? This is something my brother and I would do. Well. No. I can’t say I would. I have cousins, however, who would do this! We got into a lot of trouble when we played together. Thanks for stopping by!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I love so much about this post. You tell a great story.

    I was also seven, in Navy Housing. Dad was on his last ship and got called home the year before when baby number four was premature. So that means my mother was also 30 with four kids.

    I had those roller skates that strapped onto my tennis shoes. I was number 2 of 4 and would tramp around the woods and creek with my big brother. I looked up to him and suppose now that my mother made him play with me, and take me out with his guy friends! I didn’t know any different, I just loved being around him


  7. A wonderful post Cindy. I finished high school in 1970, and went to College in Paris. I was 16… We listened to Led Zeppelin, the Doors, Joplin and Hendricks…
    I’m glad you have that portrait in your home… Part of you.
    And as one said then, but still is valid:
    Give peace a chance…


  8. 1970 was a memorable year. I was 19, just out of high school, and remember these as some of my favorite movies that came out and I saw in the theater that year.
    Five Easy Pieces
    The Conformist
    Beyond the Valley of the Dolls
    El Topo
    Zabriskie Point
    The Bird with the Crystal Plumage
    Ryan’s Daughter
    Le Cercle Rouge
    The Ballad of Cable Hogue
    Claire’s Knee
    The Boys in the Band
    Brewster McCloud
    Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion
    Diary of a Mad Housewife
    Donkey Skin
    Tropic of Cancer
    Monte Walsh
    Hatchet for the Honeymoon
    The Garden of the Finzi-Continis
    Le Boucher
    The Lickerish Quartet
    The Spider’s Strategem
    The Confession
    Puzzle of a Downfall Child
    End of the Road

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Your memory is pretty phenominal that you could remember every film from so far back!
      I’ll plead I was only seven so half of the films you listed I have no knowledge of.
      5 Easy Pieces I’d like to see.


    1. lets take five ey pieces, since yu have already expressed the desire to see it. How did you see Nightbirds? I didnt think it got much of a release outside of the grindhouses. Tropic of ‘Cancer and the spiders Strategem also received limited release.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I was in the UK and vagually remember a set of friends who liked unusual films. There was a trip to Soho once..but with alcohol playing a role, I should just accept the fact I remember little.
        YES, let’s go with Five Easy Pieces. I have a busy weekend ahead. Can you watch it tonight? Or next week?


    1. It was nice to see Jack act. There were so many scenes that had me truly relating to him. I loved the scene when he went to the car while Rayette was rambling away in the motel because she wanted to go with him to Washington. He silently explodes in the car. Magnificient.
      I don’t recall Karen Black in films. Her eyes distract me. But, she was fantastic in this film as was Sally Struthers. Hell, all the women actors were great. I got a kick out of Irene Dailey’s pompous erudite pontificating in the livingroom. “You’re all full of shit!”

      Bob Rafelson’s direction was good, don’t you think? There were a few scenes that were shot very very well–like when Robert pushes his silent father on a path on the horizon. The light was great.
      The ending I knew was coming. I’m glad he left her the wallet and the car.
      His running away made perfect sense to me. “Im not looking ro anything. Just getting away from things that get bad if I stay.”

      And, Catharine’s speech to him “Why should you ask for love when you don’t love yourself or your family or anything?” Awesome.

      I’m so glad I watched it. Thanks for that.


      1. Yours is an exceptionally astute assessment of Five Easy Pieces, especially considering it is your first viewing. Any serious study of Americna cinema in the seventies should begin with five Easy Pieces, as it marks a smooth transition from the unfocused late sixties anarchy of such films as Easy Rider and establishes a new, solid aesthetic that is sustained throughout thee decIt i not only the participation of both Nicholson and Karen Black that makes the transition form Easy Rider to Five Easy Pieces so smooth. Both are road movies featuring a new kind of anti-hero in search of an America relevant to his own idea of himself. And both are road pictures with their most significalnt scenes stops along the way. Director Rafelson had previously made a star of Arnold S. and gave the Zappa seal of hipness to the Monkees. This was his first real movie, and he seldom falters in his direction. There are some heavy handed touches, such as the symbolic turning off the highway during a traffic jam, and I couldnt quite believe in Robert’s attraction to Catherine, easily the most vile character in the film. I like how her slutty primness is contrasted with Rayette’s wholesome eroticism. Karen Black played a similar character across from Kris Kristofferson in the under-rated 1971 masterpiece, Cisco Pike. I like how you saw that final scene coming. In the scene with his sister in the recording studio, he mentions that he might go to Canada after his Washington visit, and the eco-crazy hitchiker’s idealized vision of alaska also prefigures Roberts decision to go further North, away from the emotional and intellectual wasteland that has frustrated his search for self identity. (Interesting that all the island scenes were shot in Canada ) I dont believe Catherine was right when she accused robert of self hatred. In fact,it was his self-esteem that he was trying to protect in his flight from all these pretentious vultures and sweet but stunted southerners. The scene you liked with the pretentious celibate was a steal from a very similar scene in the elvis movie, Jailhouse rock. The acting is perfect throughout, from the broadest exagerration to the subtlest tic. Glad you enjoyed the film, and I hope you check out Rafelsons follow upo, King of Marvin Garden, which showcases another of Nicholsons best performances. I can see why Antonioni choose him for the lead in The Passenger. He is the perfect existential anti-hero.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. Your description of Catherine as vile made me burrow my brows. Vile seems extreme. I do enjoy your label of slutty primness that is contrasted with Rayette’s wholesome eroticism. However, other than one sultry fliratious look when she first assesses Robert, Catharine kept him at bay. He was making moves on a women who was betrothed to another. That feels more vile to me.

          I do like the idea of him protecting his self-esteem even though outwardly he seems like an aimless rogue who can’t reciprocate Rayette’s love. The wild sex scene with Betty makes while Rayette is home carrying his child is an example of his vileness.

          I’d say all the characters embody contrasting qualities which make them interesting to watch. Rayette is simutanously submissive and proud; Robert is aimless and purposeful; Catherine is coy and candid.

          You say heavy handed when he gets off the turnpike– I say remarkably original for him to get on top of the truck to play the piano. That’s the first time we get a view of him with a skill other than hard labor. A sign he comes from a musical family and he partook and ran away from it all. It was shocking to see him get up there and play Rachmoninov. It was a great way to steer the plot away from the ugly Texas oil rig to a misty, ambiguuious family in Washington.

          Love your assessment of him getting out of America because he can’t make sense of it.
          Yes, a true anti-hero.

          I wondered about the title. 5 Easy Pieces. I confess I had to look it up because it made little sense. 5 pieces of ass? Is it a metaphor? No. A book one has to study when studying music. Be my guess and tell me what you think the title means to Robert.

          I have not seen King of Marvin Garden.


          1. i think the title refers to the five easy pieces of the piano book, but note that he is not playing anything from that book, he is playing from memory, also it refers to the five women…the two from the bowling alley, rayette, catherine, and his sister. robert’s affair with catherine was not vile as he was only following his nature, which he made no secrets or apologies for. catherine, on the other hand, pretended to be so high and virtuous, when all the while she was marrying a man she did not find attractive only so she could worm her way into the family and the society it represented, when all the time she was manuvering robert into the sack. what i dont undersatand is why he didnt take her for what she was..just another easy piece. yet i was in a similar situation once..with a harvard grad student who was who had a fiance and was also sleeping one of her professors. it wasnt the idea of his playing the piano on the truck that i objected to, but the overhead shot of all the cars in the traffic jam representing mainstream society and the truck taking an exit onto a road nobody else was on.


          2. Ahhh, well I see your point, but I did not mind the heavy handedness there of him exiting while mainstream America was stuck blowing horns at each other. I thought it was great.
            Both Robert and Catherine manipulated those around them for their gratification. I see them as equally intelligent sparring partners. They each followed their nature to look out for number one. She for security and place in society, he for instant gratification. – However, I will admit he wanted the intellectual compatability she offered than the urge to fornicate. She was his hope for ultimate satisfaction and she rejected him. What could he offer her? Nothing.


  9. 1970, Miles had released Bitches Brew, which I listened to while writing freestyle poetry. I got to see that band on a bill that included sets by Herbie Hancock and Bill Evans, and on the afternoon of the concert, I attended piano workshops with Chick Corea, Joe Zawinal, and Herbie Hancock, I played a lot of piano in those days, inspired mostly by Cecil Taylor and Bill Evans, and sang in a doo wop group called bill anooth and the Velvetones, which I had put together in high school. I wasnt as into rock music as I had been during the psychedelic era, which came to a close for me in the summer of 69, when i attended a festival that included Ike and Tina Turner, Tim Buckley, The Doors, The Youngbloods, Led Zeppelin, charles Lloyd, Albert Collins, chuck Berry. Not bad for five bucks, The albums I bought that came out that year included Moon Dance by Van Morrison, After the Gold Rush by Neil Young, Morrison Hotel by the Doors, Burnt Weenie Sandwich, chungas Revenge, and Weasels Ripped My Flesh by Frank Zappa, I Looked Up by the Incredible String Band, Self Portrait by Bob Dylan, Gasoline Alley by Rod Stewart, Stage Fright by The Band, Led Zeppelin 3, Washington County by Arlo Guthrie, Starsailor by Tim Buckley, and John Lennons Plastic Ono Band, ,,,,,,but mostly I was buying a lot of jazz that had been released in the 50’s and 60s.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. i dont listen to much 20s or 30s music. i like the smaller ensembles of the 50s and 60s. more for listening than dancing. The only novels I read that came out in 1970 were Deliverence, Play it as it Lays, and Love Story. I was mostly reading poetry and the french novelists like Zola, Hugo, Dumas, Balzac, and Maupassant‎.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. she wanted him at first because if she could get him to marry her, she would gain entrance into the family without marrying that unattractive liability. when she realized he would never be part of that family, she lost interest in him, her scheme would come to naught. she was not his equel. she was a sqirmy wormy little rat who wanted entrance into what she perceived as an upper class existence. she was just as low class as ray, but was pretentious. robert was far superior to her intellectually. he wasnt buying any of it. he was, however, pretty much of a chauvinist pig in all his relationships to women except for his sister, who he adored yet worried about her being taken advantage of by that creep Spicer, who was of the same ilk as Catherine.


          1. His adoration for his sister helps balance out the chauvinistic pig parts. When the movie was over, I liked him, but I thought he was less noble than you.
            This was fun. Thanks, Bill.


          2. i dont think he was at all noble. but he was an existential hero, like the guy who killed the arab in camus’ the stranger. if we feel sympathy for him, it is because we identify with his tortured inability to be anyone but himself, even if that meant alienating himself from those who would assume to love him based on their misconception of his identity,

            Liked by 1 person

  10. I did like the 20th Century American novelists and read a lot of then in 1970,,,,my favorites are still ‘John Steinbeck, James Jones, Dos Passos. Henry Miller, Norman Mailer, and Flannery O Connor,

    Liked by 2 people

  11. This post shook (more of) the cobwebs out of my aged memory. I was in high school in So Cal in 1970. I remember both reading and seeing Love Story. It’s tag line was “Love means never having to say you’re sorry.” My take on it then was, and still is, “Love means always having to say you’re sorry.”

    I was really a goody two shoes back then, and again really still am, and I didn’t see 5 Earsy Pieces until much later. It also made an impression on me so I really appreciate the discussion about it in the comments.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. What a year ! It was a great moment to explore through your words the world as it was. But me, I wasn’t born in that time. And I think Jim Morrison was still alive. He died in July 3rd 1971, the very same day my wife opened her eyes to the world. She must be the lizard princess 🦎😉


  13. Cindy, what a fabulous post! I just finished college, was mad that I passed up going to Woodstock, was still a Beatles and Motown fan, and spread my wings. Can you tell music was (and is) a big thing? Movies were the best, and we could hang out at the drive-in. Driving around town was a big deal. Women were making a voice, but it would be a long time to really be heard. My college teacher told me about the Rainbow Room in NYC, as he knew I was headed alone to the big city. When I arrived, I was politely told I could not go in…because I was unescorted. A single woman was a no-no. I was so embarrassed! That was how it was in ’70.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello, Jennie! Thanks for sharing your memories. I love hearing the stories and reminders. Women–unescorted–we’ve forgotten about that and for my daughter’s generation and younger, that’s a barbaric concept. Cheers!

      Liked by 1 person

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