U.S. CitiesCity-Data Forum Index
Go Back   City-Data Forum > General Forums > History
 [Register]
Please register to participate in our discussions with 2 million other members - it's free and quick! Some forums can only be seen by registered members. After you create your account, you'll be able to customize options and access all our 15,000 new posts/day with fewer ads.
View detailed profile (Advanced) or search
site with Google Custom Search

Search Forums  (Advanced)
 
 
Old 10-07-2012, 03:05 AM
 
Location: New Jersey
15,044 posts, read 13,095,907 times
Reputation: 6419

Advertisements

I'm curious as to what daily life was like during this time period (roughly 1975-1984). Reading through various threads on this forum and hearing stories from relatives, I have this general image in my head, i.e., clunkier cars, lots of smoking, children always playing outside, going out to dinner was a rare treat, colorful appliances and interior decorating, etc. I knew smoking was allowed in restaurants (heck, the ban is relatively recent), but I was surprised to read that people also smoked in the grocery store. Overall it seems like it was a less sterile, dirtier, grittier time compared to the present. I mean that literally and metaphorically. How did the food taste? Was it better, worse, or on par with today? Did a cup of coffee or a cheeseburger in 1980 taste the same as it does in 2012? I'm especially interested in what was life was like in the early 80s since it doesn't seem to be discussed much for some reason. When did the 80s become distinct from the 70s? Was 1982 really that different from 1978? Was the disco era confined to the mid-to-late 70s or was there any spill over into the early 80s? I understand this was a rough time economically with high unemployment, inflation, etc. What was it like when the economy came roaring back (I ask that considering we're still in a malaise from the most recession)? Economically, politically, and culturally, how would you compare this time period in the US to the present?

I know this is a hodge-podge of both specific and broad questions, but I've been thinking about this for a while and would like to hear your thoughts.

 
Old 10-07-2012, 04:11 AM
 
Location: One foot in CT one in KS
2,171 posts, read 2,894,336 times
Reputation: 6446
God I feel old....

Yes people smoked everywhere including airplanes and other public transportation, hospitals, workplaces. These gradually went smoke free in the mid to late 80s.

There are still some 70s and early 80s cars around. The late 70s saw a burst of high gas mileage imports from Japan. It was a real eye opener because many of those engines when 200K miles without major work, practically unheard of at that time from Detroit but those early import bodies rusted to smithereens which is why you don't see to many of those cars around. The cars from that era that are still going are the Mercedes from the late 70s onward, the old Saabs and Volvos of the early 80s, 70's VW busses and Beetles and the 70s muscle cars. Each owned by a different set of modern drivers.

Kids did play outdoors a great deal and interior decor tended to either be about comfort/homey or was trendy. I'm from the plains states so food tended to be of the fresh vegetables, fruit in the summer months and local produce and meat variety. In the early to mid 70s preparation of fresh vegetables trended away (thankfully) from being boiled to death to steamed or raw and green salads. Also we ate a lot of what is considered "comfort" food now. Mashed potatoes, mac and cheese, pot roast and casseroles.

In our area there was very little "ethnic" cuisine and "ethnic" was considered to be generally poor people food. At least in our area it was a lot of meat and potatoes. Bread was of that horrible white square variety, home made bread again considered poor people food. In the mid-late 70s whole wheat bread reared it's head to stay. Didn't drink coffee then but we had a percolating pot when I was growing up, then in the 80s it was Mr. Coffee. I really hadn't known about espresso until about 1984. Beef tasted better then IMO. The drive to low fat everything first started in the late 70s with the book Fit or Fat and the subsequent breeding and raising leaner meat animals was probably better for our arteries than our taste buds.

Your last questions are interesting. I guess IMO the early 80s started in 1974-75 or there abouts. The entire 70s decade into the mid 80s was rough from an economical standpoint. The sea change in fashion from the 60s mod, hippie, granny/granola gave way to a slicker hip look that is identified with the 70s and disco era that went well into the 80s before punk and other expressionistic styles took the stage. Mainstream pop music started changing in the mid 70s and then again in roughly 1983 to the "80s" sound. Our economic roar happened in the early 90s but we had an unusual recession tied to oil prices when everyone else was go-go so I can't comment on that.

I was looking for work in the mid-late 70s as a young person. There was pretty much nothing there. To get by on a minimum wage job you had to share apartments and operate on the cheap. I was starving to death almost literally and moved to AK where there were jobs. In that way it is comparable then to now. Inflation was high so there were news stories about elderly people on fixed incomes resorting to eating cat food for protein. In that way it is comparable and in some ways not. Food stamps are keeping people young and old from chowing down on Meow Mix.

What is not comparable is the number of people laid off, bankrupted and broken in their prime earning years with this downturn. Until 1981 and the PATCO strike, the social contracts between companies and their employees were basically intact. Regardless of the merits of either side of that debate, we are in a worse position now as far as it goes for typical American workers. That does not compare to the 70/80s.

Interesting questions but it makes me feel old. I guess I'll call myself experienced....

Just one view of that time period.

Last edited by AK-Cathy; 10-07-2012 at 04:20 AM..
 
Old 10-07-2012, 05:07 AM
 
Location: New Jersey
15,044 posts, read 13,095,907 times
Reputation: 6419
Very insightful and interesting post. Thanks for sharing.
 
Old 10-07-2012, 05:36 AM
 
Location: Colorado
1,969 posts, read 1,899,684 times
Reputation: 1723
There were a lot of great American cars, and some Japanese cars with lots of rust on them. Then the Japanese auto companies switched from rust to creating cars that were death traps and reasons to see to your mechanic once a month. There were a lot more good union jobs and thus fewer people struggling, and then the fatal error was made to elect Ronald Reagan, and the country started going downhill fast as the Neocons moved it away from an egalitarian society to a plutocracy.
 
Old 10-07-2012, 05:55 AM
 
Location: Virginia
18,717 posts, read 26,047,595 times
Reputation: 42834
What I recall from our daily life:

1. clunkier cars? Heavier cars that had low gas mileage. People cared about mph, not mpg. My mom drove a VW bus bought second hand. It had dragons painted on it. My dad drove a Buick provided by his employer. He was a mid level manager, but company cars were common back then. We had neighbors who traded in their cars every 2-3 years but we didn't. I didn't get my first car until junior year in college, before then I took the bus everywhere or hitchhiked . Gas lines were a big deal in the early 80s. I can remember waiting in one for over an hour one time. Didn't keep me from going on road trips, however.


2. lots of smoking?
Nobody in my family smoked, but it wasn't that unusual to see people smoking everywhere you went. Not many restaurants had no smoking areas.

3. children always playing outside? Absolutely! You came in for dinner, then went out again until 9:00 and nobody was watching over your shoulder, either. Parents were inside doing their own thing.

4. going out to dinner was a rare treat? Actually, back then we went out a lot more than we do now.


5. colorful appliances and interior decorating? We moved a few times (company transfers across the country were common back then). As I recall one house had a white refrigerator, another was coppertone. I thought the coppertone fridge was classy. Kitchen had vinyl wallpaper with lime green and lemon yellow flower power type design. The rest of the house was more traditional. Shag carpeting in every room. Bean bag chairs in kids' rooms and what we called the "tv room." Scatter rugs shaped like footprints in hot pink and lime green. Closet doors removed and beads hung in their place. Macrame, mobiles, and thread art everywhere. Groovy, man.


6. less sterile, dirtier, grittier time compared to the present?
No way; in fact the exact opposite. Our house was always spotless. We shined our shoes before going on job interviews and I wore black leather heels and my "interview outfit" (even for relatively flakey jobs). I had big hair (Farrah Fawcett style) and it was meticulously groomed and sprayed. We had an ironing board up all the time because we actually cared about having wrinkle-free clothes. (And god forbid you have "ring around the collar" ")


7. How did the food taste? Was it better, worse, or on par with today? Did a cup of coffee or a cheeseburger in 1980 taste the same as it does in 2012?
To me, it was about the same, although I suppose in some ways it wasn't as interesting. Not as many spices back then, and people were still learning about ethnic dishes (unless they were part of your family's background.) I remember my mom discovering Moussaka in the late 70s and trying to learn how to make it even though she couldn't find some of the ingredients. We didn't have ethnic markets near us (that I knew about). I, being somewhat of a typical 60s "earth woman", was into sprouts, granola, and stir fry but some of the things I made back then wouldn't seem all that healthy now. I was a vegetarian for almost 2 years at one point but still ate white bread. I remember the first time I heard about yogurt and tried to make my own. There was a lot more sugar, salt, and fat in foods back then, which may have made them taste better. I really don't remember that, though--guess I got used to the changes gradually so never really noticed. Portions were much bigger--you regularly got a whole stack of pancakes for breakfast, with bacon and sausage. Both of my parents cooked, but my dad mostly made "manly" things like BBQ. Both parents believed in "better living through chemistry and would read the list of ingredients on Eggos and such, being very proud of the strangely named chemical ingredients.

8. When did the 80s become distinct from the 70s? No distinctive cut off. I'd say things began to change 1977-78 because the economy soured, which brought an end to some of the partying free-spending attitude of the 1970s. But even when times were hard back then you could quit a job and find another one.


9. Was 1982 really that different from 1978?
IMO, not really.

10. Was the disco era confined to the mid-to-late 70s or was there any spill over into the early 80s? There were some discos around during the early 80s so I guess people went to them. Disco wasn't really part of my life, so I just have a fuzzy memory about it. I recall going to discos a few times in the summer of 1979 to see what they were like, not being impressed, and that ended the disco era as far as I was concerned.

11. I understand this was a rough time economically with high unemployment, inflation, etc. What was it like when the economy came roaring back (I ask that considering we're still in a malaise from the most recession)? I don't recall the economy roaring back. Things got better in my town gradually. People started buying new clothes and going on trips to Europe again. That sort of thing. You stopped hearing jokes about senior citizens eating cat food and photos of people living under the bridges--but for us times never got that bad so a lot o it didn't affect me that much. I do recall my stoic father shedding a tear one day when we walked into a shopping mall and saw a "Help Wanted" sign. I was stunned because I'd never seen him cry before. My father worked for the same employer for decades, was wiling to move to new cities if they asked him to, and they let him go when he hit his 60s and was getting ready to retire. I also recall that our refrigerator front door rusted out and my parents covered it with contact paper because we couldn't afford to buy a new one.

12. Economically, politically, and culturally, how would you compare this time period in the US to the present? It's harder to get a job now. You apply online rather than walking into a store and impressing the owner with your personality/character. People are nastier now--IMO, it's a result of the kind of bullying you see online spilling over into real life behavior. People are much less honest now, and often don't even care if you know they're being dishonest.

People also need to call each other all day long--I can recall going off to college, calling my parents once to tell them I arrived, and then not calling them again for 2 weeks (and that was considered normal and healthy). IMO that independence was very healthy, although in some ways it fostered polarization between the generations.

It's amazing to see young people living at home until their early 30s--back then it was normal to leave home at 18 (or after college graduation), and some even left at 17 if they could get parental permission to sign an apartment lease. And it's not like you hated your parents, it just was considered the normal time to move out. It was common to spend your early 20s having adventures and taking oddball jobs; we figured we'd get serious jobs after 25-26 but before then we wanted to try lots of lifestyles and career ideas in the same way people try on clothes. Everyone I knew went to college, and if you had a degree you were confident you could eventually get a good job with it once you settled down. (BTW, I salute today's young people for how they are preparing their careers. They're much more serious about it than I was and I suspect they may eventually become another one of the "greatest generations" when times get better as a result of the rough beginning they have right now.)

It was also fairly rare to go to college and live at home--I knew kids who did it but most tried to get their own apartment. Very common to have roommates--1-2 in an apartment or sometimes 4-5 roommates sharing a house.

I was really into mutual funds, and what you did back then was call a phone number at 5:00 each day to see how your fund was doing. People thought I was obsessive because I actually did this. The idea of checking online or business news on tv throughout the day would have been ludicrous. Most of my friends didn't check their stocks for weeks at a time. You also didn't check the news throughout the day or find out how political polls change day to day. You read the morning paper and maybe watched the news at night if you had nothing better to do and that was it.

Weddings were much, much simpler back then. People got married on the beach, in the town gazebo, etc. and then had a simple reception at the Kiwanis hall or maybe in the park, a condo community building, or in a nice backyard. I've been to some extravagant weddings lately that just amaze me. Back then, what we considered a "fancy party" would cost a few thousand--but it wasn't really that fancy, it just meant there was an open bar. And most of us weren't interested in fancy parties, anyway--renting a hall, etc. seemed gauche to us. Not sure if times have changed or if I just know wealthy people now.

LOL speaking about weddings--here's another funny memory of the era. Marijuana use was so common that I actually got a bag of weed as a joke wedding gift (given privately, of course, but still--is that 70s or what? ).

Last edited by Caladium; 10-07-2012 at 06:47 AM..
 
Old 10-07-2012, 06:32 AM
 
1,081 posts, read 1,698,714 times
Reputation: 1495
Quote:
Originally Posted by ilovemycomputer90 View Post
I'm curious as to what daily life was like during this time period (roughly 1975-1984). Reading through various threads on this forum and hearing stories from relatives, I have this general image in my head, i.e., clunkier cars, lots of smoking, children always playing outside, going out to dinner was a rare treat, colorful appliances and interior decorating, etc. I knew smoking was allowed in restaurants (heck, the ban is relatively recent), but I was surprised to read that people also smoked in the grocery store. Overall it seems like it was a less sterile, dirtier, grittier time compared to the present. I mean that literally and metaphorically. How did the food taste? Was it better, worse, or on par with today? Did a cup of coffee or a cheeseburger in 1980 taste the same as it does in 2012? I'm especially interested in what was life was like in the early 80s since it doesn't seem to be discussed much for some reason. When did the 80s become distinct from the 70s? Was 1982 really that different from 1978? Was the disco era confined to the mid-to-late 70s or was there any spill over into the early 80s? I understand this was a rough time economically with high unemployment, inflation, etc. What was it like when the economy came roaring back (I ask that considering we're still in a malaise from the most recession)? Economically, politically, and culturally, how would you compare this time period in the US to the present?

I know this is a hodge-podge of both specific and broad questions, but I've been thinking about this for a while and would like to hear your thoughts.
Very Interesting Thread - I can only think back the 90s clearly so its hard to find much difference between say 1993 and 2012 other than technology, music, cars. Perhaps the level of consumers goods and services are much better, and things are much cheaper, internet, more tv channels, its cheaper to travel, there are so many second cars to buy for peanuts, the level of choice in supermarkets and eating out is much better than in the 90s

It would interesting to hear from someone about 20, how does the early, mid 90s look to them - does it look very different from now, does it look very dated - or much the same with less mobiles and older cars etc.

As for of some of the posters talking about people being less honest, or nastier - I'd disagree with that from my own memory - I think people are always to same. - Its just a different sort of nasty. I'd say people are more manipulative, underhand and passive aggressive as opposed to being aggressive to your face.

Perhaps the clear difference is that people now are "smarter" - they have much more information available at their fingertips - for example a very knowledgeable person in the 80s, or someone who is good with fixing things - can now be replaced with internet forums etc.

Some of the posters talked about smoking - what about Alcohol has any noticed less people drinking now vs say in the 90s.
 
Old 10-07-2012, 07:04 AM
 
3,280 posts, read 4,600,818 times
Reputation: 3069
In my office of a large organization downtown in Washington DC, it was common in the 1970s for several my co-workers (even married men) to drink at a bar during lunch, and drink again after work before starting home. Twice a day. They would talk about it openly. The city was also near its low point, following the destruction of the 1968 M.L. King race riots and subsequent fear of the city. I remember people chain-smoking at their desk, then in the 1980s a conference room on each floor was set aside as a "smokers break lounge" then shortly afterwards everyone had to go outside on the sidewalk to smoke.

By the 1990s no one I knew, ever mentioned going out to drink on workdays. If anyone did it, they didn't mention it. And the city's reputation as a more livable place had started on its way up.
 
Old 10-07-2012, 07:09 AM
 
Location: GLAMA
16,584 posts, read 32,635,770 times
Reputation: 16781
Quote:
Originally Posted by ilovemycomputer90 View Post
colorful appliances and interior decorating
Model home, Mission Viejo, Calif, approx 1973:



As far as coffee goes, it's better now because we're demanding higher quality.

I don't miss all the smoking that was literally everywhere. (the last time I encountered a lit cigarette inside a grocery store was 1997)

With the wide spread introduction (domestically) of solid state ignition in 1974, the trend towards electronics replacing mechanical functions in automobiles was firmly set. And that's a good thing. Readjusting/replacing ignition points and spark plugs as often as was necessary back then was a PITA and I don't miss it.
 
Old 10-07-2012, 07:24 AM
 
Location: Everywhere and Nowhere
14,131 posts, read 26,246,015 times
Reputation: 6815
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fontucky View Post
Model home, Mission Viejo, Calif, approx 1973
I don't understand. Isn't that what kitchens look like now?
 
Old 10-07-2012, 07:46 AM
Status: "In an Involuntary Time Warp" (set 22 days ago)
 
7,839 posts, read 10,144,052 times
Reputation: 11395
Freer feeling in the 70's. A tailwind from the 60's probably.
Please register to post and access all features of our very popular forum. It is free and quick. Over $68,000 in prizes has already been given out to active posters on our forum. Additional giveaways are planned.

Detailed information about all U.S. cities, counties, and zip codes on our site: City-data.com.


Follow City-Data.com founder on our Forum or

All times are GMT -6.

2005-2018, Advameg, Inc.

City-Data.com - Archive 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35 - Top