The 1970s were all about fads. Like, ALL ABOUT fads. Disco. Pet Rocks. Rollerskating. Skateboards. Mood Rings. CB Radios. Rudimentary video games. When you’re the youngest of seven kids growing up in the 1970 (like me), you got to see all your older siblings embrace certain fads, and there was sort of “trickledown exposure” to the latest fad, like background radiation or the second-hand smoke from dad’s Benson & Hedge’s Multifilters.
One by one, all the fads made a drive-by appearance at our house on Lowe Ave. in Stoughton between 1971 and 1979.
I remember a sister with a mood ring, but I’m not sure which of the four sisters had one. Maybe they each had one? Supposedly, the ring’s stone changed color based on the wearers’ mood. Hmmm…four sisters between the ages 10 and 17. Imagine the light show coming off of those rings?
I remember the family briefly had a CB radio, and we’d take turns talking to truckers, also known as “strangers in vehicles.” “Breaker 1-9, this is Black Knight, come back…” I still don’t know why we felt compelled to talk to truckers. It was a fad. (You probably have no idea what I’m talking about. Google it.)
We got a Pong video game system sometime during the Jimmy Carter presidency, I think (1977-ish). That Christmas present had a profound effect on the next ten years of my life, as I became a typical 80s “video game parlor” kid. I’d kill a stranger for a quarter to play Pac-Man at the “Canton Entertainment Center” on Route 138 in 1981. (It’s a D’Angelo’s now, I think.)
Disco was HUGE, but I was too young to see the Village People when they played a concert at the in-house discothecque at the Chateau de Ville in Randolph, where my mom worked nights. Some of my siblings went to see them, and I still tell people I went with them. But I didn’t actually go. That one hurt.
I rode my little narrow fiberglass skateboard to middle school every morning for a year, and looking back now I am surprised I am still alive. That thing was tiny and rigid, not like today’s longboards. But everyone was riding these little sidewalk death-machines. If memory serves, mine was a plum color.
But the one fad I REALLY embraced growing up was rollerskating. Roller skates were so popular, and people would spend all day Saturday at roller-rinks going around in circles, listening to disco music, and probably thinking about their last high score on Pong and worrying if that trucker they talked to on the CB last week was still in jail after the “smokey” pulled him over.
But I was too young to go to the disco roller-rinks, so I skated up and down Lowe Avenue, outside the first house I ever lived in, back and forth, up and down the street, back and forth, up and down the street, joyfully and relentlessly.
But I didn’t have my own skates. And 40+ years later I have a distinct memory of myself skating with confidence in one of my sisters’ mid-calf-high white roller skates. All the other young dudes had their own black roller skates, so I probably looked like Dorothy Hamill. (We had the same haircut.)
But I looked pretty sharp, in my humble opinion. Almost good enough for the roller rink or the discotheque.
If only someone – other than a trucker – would have given me a ride.