Thursday, May 15, 2008

Growing up 70's. (The first in a series)

First of all the problem with having an honest, open blog is that my mother will eventually find it, and she isn't going to be too happy with some of the things I have to say about my childhood. She looks at child rearing through grandma eyes and is somewhat hurt and in denial when my brother and I tell some of the stories that are to follow. I just want to say to my mother and father both that I love you, and I'm not scarred from my childhood at all. I had a wonderful time in the 70's and these stories are meant to be taken in a spirit of fun and fond memory. Although I am somewhat scarred by my excessive drinking, which being genetic, is all your fault.

I not only grew up in the 70's, but I grew up in the 70's in South Dakota. Things were different then. Since it was in South Dakota it was even more old school than say growing up in Minnesota or California. I would say just being in South Dakota made it seem more like a 50's childhood. The 50's with disco. Kids back then ran around the neighborhoods with free rein, and almost entirely without supervision. Once and a while some old lady would chase you off her yard with a broom, but that was about it. Teenagers would build pipe bombs in their garages and no one thought it was strange or anti-social at all. It was all just the normal part of growing up. There was always an office bottle to be found in the desk drawer at my fathers work and I recall many an evening playing with my dad's stapler as my parents and my father's coworkers and their wives drank booze, and laughed and smoked in the next room. Good times.

It was the summer of 1977, I had just turned 5. My parents took me to see Star Wars on my birthday. My favorite present was this big collared lime green button down shirt. I had been eyeing it at the JC Penney for quite some time. My birthday parties usually consisted of my parents inviting a bunch of their friends over for cocktails and lots and lots of cigarettes, and they would give me presents. It was awesome. I never cared that I didn't have little kid parties, I didn't know any better, and besides I was a precocious little runt who liked to give the adults a hard time. I suppose I was all manner of adorable. My dad had a young co-worker named John, a fellow salesman, who neglected to bring a present. So my dad trained me to call him Damn Fool which I did, for years. Damn Fool gave me a dollar, and I thought that was pretty cool. After opening all the presents my brother and I went outside to play as the adults continued to drink and smoke.

After a time outside doing kid things my mother called down to us from the apartment balcony and gave us 2 dollars and told us to go fetch more smokes. She said, "Get me a pack of Nows, and get your father a pack of Marlboros. You can spend the change on candy." Yay! Oh boy candy. Back then for 2 dollars you could get a couple packs of smokes and have plenty left over for Lollies and Fun Dip. So we scampered off a few blocks to the gas station. My older brother was 7 so he got to carry the money. We made it to the store and put the money on the counter. The stoners behind the counter (basically the same folks in gas station stores today) were listening to the radio. It was the year of Saturday Night Fever, so you couldn't go anywhere without hearing the Bee Gees. Good Times. Anyway money on counter my brother asks for a pack of Nows and a pack of Marbles. The stoners burst into laughter. "Marbles! That's cute kid." And then he gave us our smokes and our change. Which we then greedily divided and went candy shopping.

I loved growing up 70's. No helmets, heck no seat belts! We didn't even know our car had seat belts. One time my dad was fixing something on our 1968 Poniac, and he removed the backseat for some reason. We could see seat belts lying there all dusty from non use. My brother and I begged him to let us keep them out when he put the seat back in. It would be something new to play with, but he wouldn't have it. It just wasn't done. Oh and there were ashtrays on every door, so my brother and I each had our own. Mine was full of rocks and other various treasures I had picked up along the way. One time my grandma rode with us in the back seat and she used my ashtray as an ashtray, and I got all pissed off and cried about it, and my old man yelled at me, but a 70's smoking grandma was still a grandma, she cleaned it up for me and threw her smokes out of the window instead.

A couple of months ago my wife and I took our 2.5 year old son to the doctor because people were telling us he sometimes looks cross eyed. I didn't really see it much, but hey I'm a parent, we got the kid checked out. The doctor told us not to worry and that his eyes seem off sometimes because of his oddly shaped head. His head is slightly flat in the back on one side. It comes from the new method of making your babies sleep on their backs to prevent SIDS or what was once called cribdeath. Apparently the flat head is quite common these days. She told us that it would correct itself by the time he is 5 or so. In the 70's we were put to sleep on our tummies and we didn't get flat heads, and some say we all learned to sit up and crawl faster than kids today too, because we were forced to try to get off our bellies. Nowadays we set up special routines called "tummy time" to get the kids to learn to sit up. The problem is some kids hate tummy time. It got me thinking. So I called my mom and told her that the doctor told us his eye problem was due to him not having enough 70's in his life. I then went on to say that as treatment we let him ride shotgun on the way home from the doctors office with no seatbelt as we chain smoked with all the windows rolled up. Should just about do the trick. She didn't think I was very funny.

That's it for now y'all. Stay tuned for more fun stories about growing up 70's.


belsum said...

Gods I love those stories. I think my favorite lines were "The 50's with disco." and "but a 70's smoking grandma was still a grandma".

I wish we still had a scanner so you could include The Adventures of Jimmy and Chris.

Chris Hill said...

Gods damn right! Hmm yes, I should find a way to archive my "doodles".

Superbadfriend said...

"Not having enough 70's in his life"

holy shit! so true. look at all the things our parents let us do. Most of us turned out just fine.

Love your writing, btw and I can't wait till you get to the, "when I was your little dad" stories.

Go Zahn!

Anonymous said...

My mom was a stay-at-home who did babysitting during the day for extra money. She'd take us all out places in her little Chevette with a kid in the front seat, three in the backseat, and two in the hatch, no carseats for anybody. That was the 80's by then, though, but yeah. Gotta love it. The Captain and lisette will have no idea what any of that is like.

Chris Hill said...

Oh my stories will continue into the 80's too. Actually just the mention of a Chevette makes me laugh. Girls in high school had them. You can fit about 75 teenagers into a Chevette if you try hard enough.