Nostalgia Break (Oh Where Did the ’70s Go?)

Everyone experiences nostalgia at some point in their lives.  I got to have it twice. 

I was born in 1958, which means that I largely missed “The Sixties.”  Largely, but not quite entirely.  Partly because of my own inclinations and the people I hung out with, partly because I was living in Minnesota before we all had instant access to everyone all the time, the Sixties endured remarkably well into the mid-Seventies.  I hung out with peaceniks, and when Carter re-instituted draft registration, prepared to work at a draft clinic, helping people avoid the coming war.

In a sense, that was my first bout with nostalgia.  I longed to be a hippy.  No, not really.  Hell, I was a shy, badly-bespectacled, shy, shy, shy diabetic who’d grown up about as a straight as you can.  I mean, until college I had been drunk precisely once, and that because I had no idea the punch at that party was 80 proof.  I had dated, very unsuccessfully, in high school, but man, was I square.  And I longed to be groovy, to be a poet.  I thought I could be an actor.  I thought…many things.

But that’s not really what I want to talk about.  As much as I miss that period of my life, what I think I miss more is the fact that it changed slowly.  Let me explain.

Here’s a start:  telephones in 1980 were pretty much like telephones in 1970.  They had dials, the fancier ones had push buttons.  But they were all pretty much the same devices, with a base on one end of a coiled handset cord.  Typewriters changed a little, but not very much (the coolest thing in the world was the Correcting Selectric, but I digress).  Calculators bloomed, but settled down pretty quickly.  Cars changed every few years, but not all that much (though they did get smaller).  Music had a more lasting quality–something you heard in 1970 would likely still be in circulation a decade later.

This was, of course, for all practical purposes before personal computers and certainly before the internet.  There was time to digest things.  Today, I feel uncomfortable if I’m not connected to everything at all times.  Then–I could sit and read, and let the evening come in.  I could ride my bike for the hell of it, and drink a beer when I got home, and not feel like I was missing things.  I had less sense of dignity, and more of freedom. 

Now, you may say that I bring all of the modern shit upon myself.  I’m the one who uses Facebook.  I write a blog (or two).  I love my phone, and my technology.

Perhaps that’s true.

And yet, all I can think as I sit here writing this, is that I miss the ’70s.

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