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          FACTS about this Decade

  • Population: 204,879,000
  • Unemployed in 1970: 4,088,000
  • National Debt: $382 billion
  • Average salary: $7,564
  • Food prices: milk, 33 cents a qt.;
    bread, 24 cents a loaf; round steak,$1.30 a pound
  • Life Expectancy: Male, 67.1; Female, 74.8
  • Cold War begins.

 

     The chaotic events of the 60's, including war and social change, seemed destined to continue in the 70's. Major trends included a growing disillusionment of government, advances in civil rights, increased influence of the women's movement, a heightened concern for the environment, and increased space exploration. Many of the "radical" ideas of the 60's gained wider acceptance in the new decade, and were mainstreamed into American life and culture. Amid war, social realignment and presidential impeachment proceedings, American culture flourished. Indeed, the events of the times were reflected in and became the inspiration for much of the music, literature, entertainment, and even fashion of the decade.

     Two trends not directly related to education nonetheless heavily impacted the nation's schools and campuses during the Seventies.  Social movements, particularly the anti-war movement, were highly visible on college and university campuses.  The Kent State massacre was the most devastating event, with four students gunned down by Ohio National Guardsmen attempting to stem the anti-war demonstrations.  In the lower grades, forced busing to achieve racial integration, particularly in Boston and other Northeastern cities, often led to violence and a disruption of the educational process. On a positive educational note, Congress guaranteed equal educational access to the handicapped with the Education of All Handicapped Children Act of 1975.  Mood rings, Star Wars figures, Rubik's cube, Sea Monkeys, smiley face stickers, and pet rocks all captured the imagination of Americans during this decade.  The wildest fad surely was streaking nude through very public places!   Families vacationed in station wagons and everyone wanted an RV.

     The fashion influence of Sixties hippies was mainstreamed in the Seventies, as men sported shoulder length hair and non-traditional clothing became the rage, including bellbottom pants, hip huggers, colorful patches, hot pants, platform shoes,  earth shoes, clogs, T-shirts, and gypsy dresses.  Knits and denims were the fabrics of choice.  Leisure suits for men became commonplace, and women were fashionable in everything from ankle-length grandmother dresses to hot pants and micro-miniskirts.  The movie Annie Hall (1977) even inspired a fashion trend with women sporting traditional men's clothing such as derby hats, tweed jackets, and neckties worn with baggy pants or skirts.

     The floppy disc appeared in 1970, and the next year Intel introduced the microprocessor, the "computer on a chip."  Apollo 17, the last manned craft to the moon, brought back 250 samples of rock and soil.  Unmanned space probes explored the moon, Jupiter, Mars, Saturn, Uranus, and Venus.  The U.S. Apollo 18 and the USSR's Soyuz 19 linked up in space to conduct joint experiments. Atari produced the first low-priced integrated circuit TV games, and the videocassette recorder (VCR) changed home entertainment forever.  Jumbo jets revolutionized commercial flight, doubling passenger capacity and increasing flight range to 6,000 miles.  The neutron bomb, which destroys living beings but leaves buildings intact, was developed. In medicine, ultrasound diagnostic techniques were developed.  The sites of DNA production on genes were discovered, and the fledging research in genetic engineering was halted pending development of safer techniques.  The first test tube baby was born, developed from an artificially inseminated egg implanted in the mother's womb.

     During the 1970's the United States underwent some profound changes.  First a Vice President and then a President  resigned under threat of impeachment.  The Vietnam War continued to divide the country even after the Paris Peace Accords in January 1974 put an end to U.S. military participation in the war.  Roe v. Wade legalized abortion.  Crime statistics increased despite Nixon's pledge to make law and order a top priority of his presidency.  There was an increase in immigration as a result of a law passed in 1965 which reformed an earlier policy that favored western Europeans.  People from Third World countries came to this country in search of economic betterment or to escape political repression.  Minorities and women demanded full rights and privileges in the society.  Women expanded their involvement in politics.  The proportion of women in state legislatures tripled.  Women surpassed men in college enrollment in 1979.  However, the rising divorce rate left an increasing number of women as sole breadwinners and forced more and more of them into poverty.  African-Americans also made their presence felt as the number of black members in Congress increased, and cities such as Los Angeles, Detroit, and Atlanta elected their first African-American mayors.  Affirmative action became a controversial policy as minorities and women asserted their rights to jobs and quality education.  Native Americans began to demand attention to their plight.  In 1976 the Indian Self-Determination Act encouraged Indians to take control of their own education and promote their tribal customs.

     Presidents:  Richard M. Nixon (1969-1974),  Gerald Ford (1974-1977), and  Jimmy Carter (1977-1981). Houston's U.S. Representative  Barbara Jordan gained national prominence with her eloquence during the Watergate investigation and hearings which resulted in impeachment proceedings against Nixon.

     By the 1970's, the term "rock & roll" had become nearly meaningless. This decade saw the breakup of the Beatles and the death of Elvis Presley, robbing rock of two major influences. Pop music splintered into a multitude of styles: soft-rock, hard rock, country rock, folk rock, punk rock, shock rock - and the dance craze of the decade, disco!  But whatever sub-genre(s) you preferred, rock music was big business. Among the top names in popular music were  Aerosmith, the Bee Gees David Bowie, Jackson Browne, Alice Cooper, Eagles, Electric Light Orchestra, Emerson, Lake & Palmer, Fleetwood MacBilly Joel, Elton John, Led Zeppelin, John Lennon, Pink Floyd, Bob Seger, Bruce Springstein, Rod Stewart, Three Dog Night, and The Who.  "Easy listening" regained popularity with groups such as the Carpenters, and  Bob Marley gained a huge core of fans in the U.S. performing Jamaican reggae music.

     The Seventies was the decade of the big comeback for the movies.  After years of box office erosion caused by the popularity of television, a combination of blockbuster movies and new technologies such as Panavision and Dolby sound brought the masses back to the movies.  The sci-fi adventure and spectacular special effects of George Lucas's Star Wars made it one of the highest grossing films ever. Other memorable movies were the disaster movies, Towering Inferno, Earthquake, Poseidon Adventure, and Airport. Sylvester Stallone's Rocky reaffirmed the American dream and gave people a hero with a "little guy comes out on top" plot.  The Godfather spawned multiple sequels.  There also was the terror of Steven Spielberg's Jaws,  the chilling Exorcist, and the moving  Kramer vs. Kramer. There was a definite public yearning for simpler, more innocent times as evidenced by the popularity of the movies, American Graffiti and Grease, which both presented a romanticized view of the Fifties.   Saturday Night Fever with John Travolta fueled the "disco fever" already sweeping the music and dance club scenes; and the nation's experience in the Vietnam War and its aftermath influenced the themes of several movies, including Coming Home, The Deer Hunter, and Apocalypse Now.

     Television came of age in the Seventies as topics once considered taboo were broached on the airwaves for the first time.  Leading the way was the humorous social satire of All in the Family which had plots on many controversial issues such as abortion, race, and homosexuality.   Saturday Night Live also satirized topics and people once thought of as off limits for such treatment, such as sex and religion.   Nothing was considered sacred. Television satellite news broadcasts from the frontlines of the conflict in Vietnam continued to bring the horrors of war into the homes of millions of Americans and intensified anti-war sentiment in the country.   The immensely popular TV miniseries Roots fostered an interest in genealogy, a greater appreciation of whites for the plight of blacks, and an increased interest in African American history.  Happy Days, which followed the lives of a group of fifties-era teenagers, was TV's primary nod to nostalgia, while The Brady Bunch comically presented the contemporary family.  The relatively new publicly funded Corporation for Public Broadcasting gained viewers and stature with such fare as Sesame Street for children, and live broadcasts of the Senate Watergate hearings.


For more info about the seventies decade go to Kingwood College Library

IF YOU ARE AN ALUMNI OF THIS DECADE AND HAVE NOT CONTRIBUTED YOUR INFO YET PLEASE CONSIDER DOING SO TODAY.  THERE ARE SO MANY OF YOUR CLASSMATES AND FRIENDS WHO WOULD LOVE TO HEAR FROM YOU               ~~ COYOTE UPDATE ~~