Left to right: “Mac” and Wilma, Helen and Dale, July 3, 1974. “Mac” was Charles McFarland, the same age as Dale;
Wilma and Helen were sisters. The couples were close friends.

Time Capsule: The 1970s; Bicentennial, Watergate, and Earth Day

In the 1970s, the U.S. celebrated its 200-year history and made a commitment to protect the environment.  The 26th Amendment lowered the voting age to 18 for all elections.  Gender-based discrimination was prohibited, and a woman’s right to have an abortion was defined.  As a result of the Watergate scandal, Richard Nixon became the first U.S. President to resign from office.

Jumbo jets doubled airplane passenger capacity, and the first national speed limit, 55 mph, was instituted to conserve energy during an oil embargo.  Fiber optics advanced communications technology, and international direct dial telephone calls became a reality.  Ultrasound, CAT scans, and MRIs revolutionized medical imaging.

Sesame Street educated children, Monday Night Football entertained sports fans, and All in the Family introduced its audience to a new kind of TV series.  Viewers taped TV shows with VCRs, and some Americans caught disco fever.

New words: junk food, slam dunk, miniseries.

  • Freedom and experimentation guided 1970s fashion.  It was a time of leisure suits, bell-bottoms, and designer jeans, mini-skirts and hot pants, platform shoes, and long hair.  Synthetic fabrics, such as polyester, became popular.
  • Launched in March 1972, “Pioneer 10” was the first spacecraft to travel to Jupiter and send back data and images.  Eleven years later, it became the first man-made object to leave the solar system.
  • In 1972, two-year-old Secretariat was named Horse of the Year.  In 1973, he won the coveted Triple Crown, including the only under-two-minute Kentucky Derby victory and a 31-length Belmont Stakes triumph.
  • During the 1970s, the yellow smiley face became an omnipresent symbol of happiness and good cheer.  This perky design appealed to all ages and appeared on everything from buttons and cookie jars to neckties and sleeping bags.
  • America celebrated its 200th birthday on July 4, 1976.  Crowds of people gathered to enjoy a grand procession of sailing ships in New York Harbor, a naturalization ceremony in Chicago, and fireworks from coast to coast.
  • Winning four Super Bowls, the Pittsburgh Steelers dominated pro football in the second half of the 1970s.  Their explosive offense and defense included the “Steel Curtain.”
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