The Year Was 1970

I am a regular reader of a blog called Carpe Diem, which is written by Don Forrester. The blog is not a genealogy- oriented work, but much is written about family and everyday life and one’s comings and goings. Don writes a post every day and usually is posted early in the morning. The massive volume of his work makes me feel inadequate in my small output of work. Click on this link to see a recent offering of Carpe Diem. In a recent post, Don made the following offer, “The year was 1967. Pick up a pen and quickly write down what you remember about 1967. It may surprise you by the number of things that come to mind.” I got out a pencil and paper and soon was transported back to 1967. As I did this, I thought what a great way this would be for us to write part of our own story. So since I did 1967, I decided on 1970 which was a big year also for me.

While I could not sing or play an instrument, I could certainly tune in a radio or play a phonograph. Music has always been part of my life, and 1970 had plenty of good music to enjoy. Ray Stevens was telling anyone who would listen that “Everything is Beautiful.” A music group from Canada named the Guess Who let us know their views in “American Women” and also let us know that there would be “No Sugar Tonight.” The super group Beatles told us about a “Long and Winding Road” ahead of us. However not to worry Simon and Garfunkel built a “Bridge Over Troubled Waters.” The song “Spill the Wine” by the musical group War was playing everywhere my college campus in the autumn of that year.

The restored Strand Theater. I remember that is was never a good idea when I was young and attending an afternoon matinee to sit in the rows just in front of the end of the balcony. One never knew if you would be the target of flying missiles of candy. I played it safe and sat underneath the balcony.
All pictures of the Strand Theater courtesy of the The Strand Center for the Arts. Plattsburgh, New York.

When I watch a movie, I like to limit as many distractions as I can. A good movie can show you a world that you may never be able to be a part of, while a great movie places you right smack in the middle of that movie’s world and transcends from being just a movie to shared experience. I saw plenty of movies in 1970 as it was an excellent way for my future wife and me to enjoy each others company. We saw all of our movies at the Strand Theater in downtown Plattsburgh. A perfect date was a movie and a pizza afterward. The movie “Patton” gave me a glimpse of my father’s world in World War 2 since he served in Patton’s Third Army. The movie “Woodstock The Movie” showed me what I had missed by not going. I could not go because I had a full-time job in the summer of Woodstock. Now I think I was the only person of my generation that didn’t go based on the people I have spoken to over the years. “Kelly’s Heroes,” “Mash,” and “Catch 22” where other movies I watched that year. “Love Story” was a popular movie that year, setting all kinds of box office records. I did not enjoy this movie but what do I know? I do remember during it’s sad ending three girls were sitting right behind me bawling their eyes out and making such a scene that I had to laugh. I don’t think they noticed as their wailing never slowed down. One movie that I did not see at the Strand Theater was “A Man Called Horse” starring Richard Harris. I know this because after watching the movie at a drive-in theater near Kingston, New York I managed to stay overnight and slept in my car a 1957 Chevrolet. I did this because the college I went to had no dorms and I was unable to find a place to stay. So I would sleep in my car in a parking lot, or wherever I found a spot. I would shower at the school in the early mornings. I had to do this for a month before I found an apartment I could afford.

Not to be left out I did do a lot of reading. The book “Jonathan Livingston Seagull” by Richard Bach, was a huge hit in 1970. I starting reading it because everyone was talking about it. I am sure I never got anywhere close to reading half of that book. It was not for me. It was a lesson for me not to follow a crowd but to invest time reading books that engaged me. Some of the books that did for me were “Ball Four” by Jim Bouton; “QB Vll” by Leon Uris was one that I particularly enjoyed. Then a powerhouse book titled “Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee” was a history lesson we all should read. My parents instilled in me the habit of reading by example and making sure I found time to read. The last few years of my father’s life he was disabled at home, and I had to make frequent runs to the public library to get books for him to read. He loved mysteries and westerns. I think he read every one they had before his death.

Was I really that young?

The picture above is my high school diploma with an insert of my senior picture. 1970 was the year I graduated. I was surprised when at the ceremony my name was called to be awarded a small scholarship for college. I had no idea I was to get this award and found out later it was one that the teachers voted on. I was and still am honored by that fact. The celebration that night was simple just some cake and ice cream and not much else. I had a full-time job to report to in the morning to earn money towards college.

While in high school I participated in several sports, wrestling was the most prominent. I also had been on the YMCA swim team, ran some track, and even coached Little League baseball. It was in 1970 in the closing weeks of wrestling season that I injured my back during a match. This injury would follow me through the years and even today makes its’ presence known. But this story could be said for many of us that played a sport.

I am in the orange and black colors of my school.

The best of 1970 was my girlfriend of three years agreed to marry me at some point in the future. A ring was offered and accepted, so all I had to do is try and get her to set a date. That and try to win over her mother (which I never really did) and convince her I was not that bad. We had been dating for about a year when I told her we were going to get married. I can still clearly remember the look on her face and how she laughed. This year will mark 48 years of married life. I knew what I was talking about.

So now you try it. Pick a year in your life and start writing down your memories. I bet you can tell a few stories that your family did not know or perhaps bring back some memories for yourself.



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54 Responses to The Year Was 1970

  1. dlpedit says:

    This is a great idea for a writing activity / prompt. It would also fit in with a family history to provide historical background for the period(s) in which certain ancestors lived. It could also go even deeper than you went in your post, such as prices of selected items during that year, etc. Thanks for sharing the idea.

    • chmjr2 says:

      Glad you liked it. I could have gone into so much more, but I just went where my thoughts took me. It is funny how some memories can come back so clearly.

  2. From the heart and very evocative. I graduated in 1971 but my stories are centered around the East Village. Not because of the hippies but because my Polish-Russian Uncle grew up there. He told me about a Ukranian Church there and shop across the street called Surma. I bought peasant blouses there. It was all the fashion. I did not learn about the hardhips pf the Russian peasants until I went to college. Oh has your posting raised up the past. I enjoyedxhoe you gave me a glimpse intobthe world in which you and your wife came of age.

  3. Kathi Lucci Desko says:

    Oh my, this hit me in a couple of places. One, I also graduated high school in 1970. And I didn’t like Love Story or Jonathan Livingston Seagull. But two, I lived south of Plattsburgh, outside of Willsboro for 20 years until 2007. Still miss a lot about that area. But not the winters or the black flies.

    • chmjr2 says:

      So you and I were the two people in N.Y. that did not like Love Story. I had to move from the area in the mid 70s so I feel you were so lucky to be able to live there for as long as you did.

  4. Susan Lewis says:

    Charles, I am so impressed. I didn’t know most of this and I did not go to Woodstock. I was in California and was 23 years old and had two children and that’s all I remember about 1970. As I will let you read when you are here again, I remember my childhood much better.

  5. Peter Klopp says:

    Fond memories emerge when thinking of 1967 – one year after the wedding – the first son is born – doing very well at the University of Calgary …

  6. Su Leslie says:

    What a great exercise. 1967 was the year my family emigrated to New Zealand from Scotland, so there is a lot I remember about it.

  7. KerryCan says:

    I would’ve said I remembered nothing, specifically, about 1970, until you started listing music and movies and books! Those trigger memories of the times, for sure. And of course, the Strand! We were there a couple weeks ago for a concert and it looks beautiful, and brings back so many memories.

  8. That’s amazing you remembered so much about 1970. Perhaps some day I will give this a try. I think the suit and tie make you look older than a HS grad. Thought at first it was a college photo!

  9. Amy says:

    I also am a 1970 high school graduate! So, of course, all those movies and songs and books are part of my memories also. 1970 marked the end of my life as a child in my parents’ home and the beginning of my life as an adult (albeit one still financially and otherwise dependent on my parents) living away from home at college. For the country, it was also the year of Kent State, the rise of the women’s movement, and of some great television shows, including the debut of the Mary Tyler Moore Show!

    • chmjr2 says:

      I recall Kent State almost like it was yesterday. It is a bench mark in how low we could sink. It is very hard to explain the times to someone who did not live then. After my H.S. Grad I was mostly on my own. That is a story that I should write down someday.

      • Amy says:

        Yes, you should! I’d love to read it.

        It still boggles my mind that our government killed four innocent college students. It definitely had an impact on how I viewed the world.

  10. What a wonderful post! A 1971 grad with the years blurring together in a purple haze of smoke rings. Janis Joplin died in 1970 followed by Jim Morrison in 1971, those few facts tell the story I won’t be telling my grandkids 🙂

    • chmjr2 says:

      You still should write it down and put it in a safe place. A long time from now when you are gone they may find it and would have a new way to think about grandma. 🙂

  11. What a great prompt. And story! Thanks for the idea.
    1970: I graduated with a B.A. Honours from McGill University; drove with four friends from Toronto to Washington to participate in the anti-Vietnam demonstration (and did not get tear-gassed); had my first summer on an archaeological crew (where I learned that beer tastes really good after a long hot day in the trenches), and started my Master’s program at University of Manitoba (where I met a host of new friends). Alas, I don’t remember what music was playing or what movies I watched. I just remember having lots of fun. And why not, we were all young and crazy once upon a time.

  12. Luanne says:

    What a great year for you! I was 15 in 1970 and thought I would never be able to out of my parents’ house haha. You were one of the “older” boys. Now those 2 or 3 years is nothing!

    • chmjr2 says:

      Time seemed to move so slow back then. You would never be old enough to drive, drink, move out, vote and so on for a list of things that seemed you would never be old enough for. Now how the time zips by.

  13. Charles – I’m just discovering your posting. Wow! 1970 was filled with much. It was also the year I started work as a child protective services worker. My life has been forever enriched. Thanks for your friendship and the time you invest in reading my blog. I am grateful.

    • chmjr2 says:

      Yes 1970 was a big year for me, but it looks like it was a key year for you. I can’t help but wonder what your first thoughts were as you started your new career. I do enjoy reading your blog and in fact it is your blog and a cup of tea that starts many of my days..

  14. Elizabeth says:

    I have written extensively about the past, not for the sake of nostalgia(and neither did you) but rather to put things down for my grandchildren. I am amazed at how many people have their memories awakened by those posts. The wonderfully same thing happened here in your comments. Good idea to solicit replies.

  15. Pingback: Looking back…. – Test Patterns

  16. I enjoyed reading about your “years.” What a great way to share memories. I enjoyed your senior picture and diploma. I graduated just nine years later. And congratulations to you and your wife. What an amazing journey. And as for the mother-in-law, do they ever truly believe anyone is really good enough for their baby girls?

    Thanks for sharing!

    • chmjr2 says:

      The sad part was that my own mother was in agreement with my mother in law. But that is a story all by its self. 🙂

      • Moms can be difficult to maneuver at times. My mom didn’t like my fella, and from what my fella told me, I’m pretty sure she would not have liked me either. He was her baby. The important thing is you two are happy.

  17. Anne Pugh says:

    My husband and I were lucky enough to go and see the movie “Woodstock” at The Odeon, Leicester Square, London (one of the few big screen cinemas at the time) not long ?after we were married.

    • chmjr2 says:

      I recall after seeing the film that I was happy that I did not go. It all seemed to me a bit too much of everything. Perhaps someday I will make it to London. It is on my bucket list of places to go.

      • Anne Pugh says:

        You should visit London but also come to the north – to Yorkshire, which is beautiful county. Do you know Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights by two of the Bronte sisters?

      • chmjr2 says:

        I have read Jane Eyre but I must confess not Wuthering Heights. I enjoyed Jane Eyre but could not get into Wuthering Heights. I read very little fiction but read a lot of non fiction.

      • Anne Pugh says:

        The three Brontë sisters come from a small village called Haworth not far from where I live and Wuthering Heights is set on the wild moors just outside Haworth.

      • chmjr2 says:

        Someday perhaps I will see for myself.

  18. gorseinonboy says:

    Very interesting and rewarding read. I assume that you’ve gone on from a year of your life to writing something more extensive like a biography?

  19. chattykerry says:

    Great post, so evocative. I was trying to recall 1967 but nothing jumped out. In 1968, we were listening to the radio in primary class and the news of Robert Kennedy’s assassination came on. The teacher asked me to run to the Head Teacher’s office to tell her. On my 9th birthday in 1969, the first man walked on the moon.

  20. momfawn says:

    Thank you, Charles. I’m a few years older than you (graduated in 1967), but I didn’t make it to Woodstock either! From my home in California it would have been an impossible dream. But I certainly share your memories of the music! – Fawn

  21. Thanks for reminding us of wonderful days. The photo of the theater brings back such memories.

  22. Oh Charles, your genius never ends! This was fun to read and brought memories flooding back! I graduated HS in 1967, so was in college for Kent Statr and Woodstock, which I could not attend either– regretfully! Standing in my own protest line in Greensboro, NC– Surrounded by National Guardsmen– Kent State was vividly on my mind! Love this, thanks.

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