We’re only one month away from the release of Leaving Kent State, so to celebrate, I thought I’d offer a list of things that teens today probably won’t know about the year 1970:
8. It’s called Penny Candy because each piece actually cost a penny. What’s penny candy, you ask? It’s those individually wrapped candies that you can buy separately, one piece at a time: Tootsie Rolls, Root Beer Barrels, Carmels, Sweethearts, and Hershey kisses were common choices in 1970. The Tootsie Roll was the first individually wrapped candy in the U.S. and was first made in 1986. This was quickly followed by Sweethearts from the Necco Company and Hershey Kisses in 1907. Sometimes the candies, if they were really small, came in little packages like Sixlets and Boston Baked Beans. You could buy Penny Candy at drug stores, convenience stores, supermarkets, and even some hardware stores and gas stations (the kind without a convenience store!)
7. “Bridge Over Troubled Water” by Simon and Garfunkel was the number one Billboard single of the 1970.
6. In 1970, a first class U.S. postage stamp cost 6 cents, a gallon of gas cost 36 cents, and a Barbie Doll would put you back $4.77.
5. If you wanted to make a phone call and you weren’t at home or at someone else’s house (or at a place like school or work), then you had to find a payphone, which was usually placed in it’s own little booth. These were often in buildings or on street corners or in parking lots. You also needed a dime (or someone willing to take your call “collect” who would pay the charges on their phone bill). Most phone booths looked like this.
4. At night, sometime after the Johnny Carson Show or the late movie (which usually started at midnight), the television stations went off. Like completely off. They called this signing off, and some stations would play America the Beautiful, or the Star Spangled Banner at the end of their last show. Sometimes you would get a colored screen with the station’s logo on the screen, but sometimes it just went to snow. Snow is a bunch of gray, scratchy lines that was the television trying to get a signal from stray signals. If you were a teen and it was the weekend, you probably tried to stay up until the station signed off.
3. If you went to the movie theater and you were late, you could stay in your seat until the next showing and catch the beginning of the movie (assuming you hadn’t waited until the last showing of the night, of course). If you really loved the movie, you could sit through the whole thing, but often people would get up and leave once they got the the part where they had come in.
2. The Beatles released their last album together in 1970.
1. When you drove into a gas station (usually referred to as a filling station or service station because most of them also fixed cars), you would drive over a hose that rang a bell. One of the mechanics would stop working on whatever car he was fixing and would pump your gas, clean your windows, and sometimes check your oil and windshield washer levels, topping them off for you if they were low. If it were the afternoon, then the gas station might have a teenage boy working the pumps in an after school job. Most service stations had dogs that belonged to the owners, usually German Shepherds or other breeds who were good watch dogs. Sometimes the dogs slept at the stations to guard them. My uncle had a shepherd at his station, but he took her home every night with him. Gas stations were closed at night, on holidays, and on Sundays. So you had to plan ahead if you didn’t want to run out of gas!