Life in U.S. in the 1970s

From the early 1970s to now in 2022, it has been half a century. You or many of your relatives and ancestors lived during those years. Some of the common items people used or had included: free-standing pay phones with rotary dials in stores, gasoline stations, and street corners. There was no 911 emergency service either. Instead, you called the operator. The American population still had about 50% who smoked cigarettes, cigars or pipes. Tobacco companies were by far the largest advertisers collectively on television by 1970. Legislation was passed by Congress known as the Public Health Cigarette Smoking Act. It banned all cigarette advertising from television and radio, effective on January 1, 1971.

On Sept. 21, 1970, the TV channel ABC started ‘NFL Monday Night Football’. One item always on the nightly news was the war in Vietnam. Included were the many protests against the war shown on the news.

Smaller cars such as VW Beetle and Japanese cars became popular, so General Motors, Ford, Chrysler, and American Motors, developed models to compete with the Germans and the Japanese.

On April 22, 1970, was the first time Earth Day was observed in the United States. It has since grown to encompass over 190 countries and is the largest secular holiday in the world. That first Earth Day had 2,000 colleges and universities in the United States holding events to recognize the environment and humanity’s role in protecting it. Approximately ten thousand high schools and primary schools joined in, as did hundreds of cities, villages, and towns across the United States.

A big change came when the leading complaint was that 18-year-old men could be drafted to serve in the military, but was denied the right to vote. The 26th Amendment was ratified, and the right to vote in all elections was granted to those who had reached the age of 18. In the first presidential election which followed in 1972, about half of the newly eligible voters participated.

A ticket to the movies was around $1.50, more or less, the minimum wage was $1.60 an hour and gasoline was about 36 cents a gallon. It was pumped by a gas station attendant, who also washed the windshield, and offered to check the oil, water, and tires.

Fashion for both men and women, especially the young, favored jeans with flared bottoms known as bellbottoms. The more frayed and ragged they were the better, and patches were often applied whether they were needed or not. Denim jackets were popular, as were fringed leather jackets and vests. Tie-dyed shirts were worn by both sexes.

So 50 years ago was different from today and for your ancestors. Include info in your family history.

Photo: A outside payphone of the 1970s where a local call cost 10 cents.

Related Blogs:

Slang of the 1970s

The ‘Pet Rock’ of the 1970s

Ladies Have Come a Long Way Since the 1970s

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