I Survived the Seventies

It’s a small wonder that I survived the Seventies. But I lived to celebrate my 18th birthday in the early eighties with a slap up meal of scampi and chips. Phew! Here’s some of the life threatening hazards I encountered on the way to this landmark date.

We’ll start off with the cheesecutter shall we? Anxious modern day mums would immediately notice that there isn’t a safe surface in sight.   The loading looks somewhat suspect. There’s also a distinct lack of parental supervision going on.  Check out the little fellow hanging off one end!  Add into the equation that about 50% of the kids hanging around on this particular piece of playground furniture were classroom bullies. Then you’ll understand why recreation grounds were a latter day version of combat training.

It was considered a right laugh in my day to  inflict a bit of contact dermatitis on your mates by sticking itching powder down the back of their shirts. .  I understand the commercial stuff was made from powdered rosehips.  Resourceful and thrifty at an early age I made my own budget version from the fibreglass insulation pulled through a hole in my classroom wall.

Button eyes abounded in my day.  There wasn’t this namby pamby rule banning fluffy toys from the under threes.  In fact excessively hirsute bears were the least of a 1970’s toddlers worries.  Once you’d munched your way through the foam body of bendy toy Rupert, and maybe avoided a bit of toxic paint to boot, you’d have to be careful that you didn’t poke out your eye on his exposed wire frame.

Sweet cigarettes were just one way in which lifelong habits were fostered through play in my day!

Gifts containing toxic chemicals were gratefully received.  Here was my personal favourite, Plasticraft, which won the  ‘Toy of the Year’ for 1972.  I remember it fondly but then my judgement is probably affected by the fact I was so high on the plastic resin’s toxic fumes.

To earn my Girl Guide Handywoman Badge I rewired a plug. This is a job considered too dangerous these days for anyone but a qualified electrician.

What’s there not to admire about clackers? It was a toy that, when used correctly, could trap fingers, give you a black eye and then shatter into a million pieces of acrylic shrapnel?  War zone training indeed!

 A must have item of clothing for the 1970s lad was the snorkel parka.  He could lose himself in his thoughts snuggled in that  cosy head encompassing cocoon. He’d be so preoccupied that he’d forget to take it off when crossing a road and get squished by a bus because his vision was obscured.

Has the world gone so mad now that we can’t see the  character building benefit of Tap, Tap? This toy set for teeny tinies contained real nails and hammer?  Just the thing that used to be found in every reception class’s toy cupboard.

And finally forget that expensive factor 50 suntan lotion that we have to slather on our kids these days to avoid charges of neglect.  Mama Lovelygrey used to make her own out of malt vinegar and olive oil! In spite of all this I survived the Seventies and I’m super proud of myself for doing so.

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  1. O, this has so resonated with me! From what I have told my daughter, she genuinely believes that no one gave a flying f* in the 70s! My personal brush with death as a child of the 70s was standing up in the back of the car, leaning between the passenger and driver seats to see the road ahead- no seatbelts for anyone! My husband also recalls driving home from a caravan holiday and he and his brother were allowed to stay chilling in the caravan as it was being towed home along the motorway!

  2. Of course the words/ terms were different but even with cultural and language variation from UK to USA, I related to all these death traps of the 70’s! I do sometimes wonder now how child mortality wasn’t higher.

  3. This really resonates with me, I’m slightly older than you but remember all these. Especially the much-coveted ‘clackers’ (that I was never very good at) and the sweet cigarettes. My parents both smoked, so why wouldn’t I want to emulate them? I’m a non-smoker now by the way! My dad had an estate car and we fought to ride in the boot. Well, with five kids in the car someone had to. As you say, it’s a wonder that we all survived.

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