I grew up in Worcester, Massachusetts during the seventies, and returning to the area after a long hiatus has prompted me to reminisce about those days of long ago. Not all of it was perfect, and I certainly would not turn back the hands of time. Be that as it may, we did not know what we did not know, so let us look back on some trends.
The blow dryer came into existence during that period. Am I frivolous? Perhaps, but this was a life-saver for those blessed with curls. Frequently, we viewed our coils as a curse, envying our straight-haired sisters. Scotch tape, big curlers, cans, or ironing were the choices available to smooth out those locks. I used only the first, often leaving mild abrasions with the removal of the tape.
Platform shoes were another trend that arose in this decade. Again, this is a minor issue, but for those like me, vertically challenged, the artificial height provided a sense of equality among our taller peers. Although they altered in style, thankfully, they never disappeared.
Bar Weejun loafers were popular from 1970 to 1971. Soon Wedges, Saddle Back, and Worker shoes came into vogue. Huarache sandals made their appearance. Unfortunately, they never returned in the same form.
Bell Bottoms were there earlier in the decade, coming from the later sixties. The Afro also remained from that transformational decade. Circular sunglasses showed up (thank you, John Lennon) and, in some form, have remained.
Looking more closely at Worcester, downtown had a reset. The beautiful galleria gobbled up all of the stunning Main Street Stores. Downtown was never the same after that significant alteration.
The El Morrocco was a staple for Middle Eastern Food. That “little hole in the wall” attracted world-famous celebrities. I only went once during its small and cozy era, but I can see the attraction. Once you entered, you felt like you were entering a dark, mysterious abode. Soon you found yourself in a festive, electrifying atmosphere. What fun! Eventually, the family built a glamorous restaurant on a hill overlooking Worcester. Although it was majestic, it was never the same, and sometime in the nineties or early 2000s, went out of business.
On the world stage, much was happening. Richard Nixon resigned. The Vietnam war came to an end. Gas lines began. The Shah of Iran was deposed, ushering in the 1979 Iranian revolution. Things went from, supposedly, bad to worst. To this day, they have not improved for the long-suffering Iranian people.
We still had three major television stations and landlines. Voice machines did not show up until the next decade, along with many other conveniences. Most people drove sedans, and if you were lucky, you might have two cars in the family.
The music consisted of rock and roll bands from the Beatles to the Rolling Stones. From the Who, Led Zeppelin, Three-Dog Night, to the J Geils Band, the Dube Brothers, Earth, Wind, Fire, and many more. We played our albums and eventually 8-tracks.
How about those memorable movies? The Exorcist, The Godfather, and the controversial Last Tango in Paris made their way to the theatres. I did not see any of them except for the release of The Exorcist back in the 2000s. Although dated, it retained its imprint of terror. I had nightmares after viewing it.
Speaking of movies, how about Saturday Night Fever? That movie contributed to the rise of the disco era where everyone went to clubs “all spruced up.” People from Worcester might remember Maxwell’s? How about Rendez-Vous? Yes, songs like “Shame” by Evelyn Champagne King and “Oggie, Boogie, Woggie” by A Taste of Honey seduced me into dancing up a storm.
Although some of what I am mentioning also occurred on the national level, Worcester was a part of the trends and crazy events emerging during this continuation of tumultuous times. I even remember as a junior seeing a streaker pass through our school grounds, a catholic high school no less.
Yes, growing up in this provincial city may have seemed boring to some. Also, due to extenuating circumstances that I will discuss another time, leaving could not be more coveted. For many of us, however, the simple town-like aspects provided a sense of stability and safety. Not perfect, but what is? I would not trade it.
What are your thoughts, Boomers? I invite you to share?
Originally Published on Newsbreak