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Dumb Things We Did In the 70's

Updated on May 1, 2012

Questionable Actions of the 70's

A recent conversation with my sister sparked the idea for this hub. She told me about a recent discussion she'd had with some friends about the seventies. They all roared in laughter remembering that decade of their childhood. Many of the things I had forgotten about but she reminded me of one particular child-rearing practice that is actually pretty shocking. (Keep reading to find out what it is!)

And remember, to paraphrase Oprah, we did not do better because we did not know better. I hope you enjoy the list!

By the way, this hub is part of my endeavour to create 30 hubs in 30 days this month. My first hub was also 70's related: Board Games From My Childhood in the 70's.


Eight Tracks

Remember these? For cleaning out the eight-track machines. Technology at its best!
Remember these? For cleaning out the eight-track machines. Technology at its best! | Source

Top Twelve Dumb Things We Did in the 1970s

  1. We bought pet rocks. Yes, rocks that were pets. I'm serious. Apparently, they were an easy-care alternative to the traditional cat and dog. I actually remember getting my Dad one for Father's Day one year.
  2. We listened to eight tracks. Every time a new song came on, you heard an enormous click. Can you think of a more unpleasant listening experience than an eight-track?!
  3. We held our televisions in consoles. These "lovely" pieces of furniture took up a whole wall and must have weighed 400 pounds. I mean, how ugly were those things?
  4. We created our fridges, stoves and bathtubs in yellow, orange and green. And we thought it looked modern and trendy!
  5. We allowed green and gold shag rug in our homes. The colours are bad enough, but then add the shag part in and well, it's embarrassing!
  6. We used beads instead of doors. Remember those bead things that hung down in the doorway, making our living rooms look like mysterious harems?
  7. We allowed panelling on the walls. Is there anything more ugly? But back then, it was standard. I'm definitely glad that trend stayed in the seventies.
  8. We wore Brylcreem. Well, some of the guys did. Brylcreem, which is still around, apparently, is a white, thick hair product that men added to their hair to get that greased-back look.
  9. We used orange crates for car seats. I remember sitting in the back seat on our orange crate seats, given to us so we could see out the window (and fly out the front window!) On the same note, we used to move all around the car. My sister used to stand on the "hump" so that she could talk with my Mom and Dad. Anyone relate?
  10. We hitchhiked. Regularly. And picked up hitchhikers. With today's terrorism and crime rates, it's hard to believe I actually lived in a time when picking up a hitchhiker was a nice way to meet someone new!
  11. We fed our animals scraps regularly, with small bones. i grew up with animals and I don't remember my parents buying cat food. We just gave them whatever was leftover from our plates. And they ate it. I think the cats from the seventies were less fussy than today's breed of cats!
  12. We put coins in our birthday cakes! Okay, I have saved the best for the last. We put coins in our cakes. Birthday cakes. For small children. At parties. First of all, can you say choking hazard? Second of all, can you say filthy? Coins are the dirtiest thing on this planet. But yet I remember being at a birthday party, and literally yearning to find a quarter in my piece of cake. Hilarious! This last one is from my sister and this questionable practice was what sparked this hub.


Pet Rocks

Companion? | Source

Do You Have Dumb Things to Add to the List?

I hope you enjoyed this trip back to this strange and wonderful decade. It was written in good fun and not to judge or mock anyone. I actually kind of like those hanging beads, but they are weird, aren't they?

So, what do you think? Do you remember any of these practices? Are you shocked by any? Do you have any dumb things from the seventies to add to the list? If you add anything in the comments, I might add it to the list. Let's see if we can come up with anymore.



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    • prairieprincess profile image

      Sharilee Swaity 7 months ago from Canada

      @No body, I don't remember the nuts! That sounds just as bizarre as the pet rocks concept! Wow, thanks for the laugh. They were such strange times!

    • no body profile image

      Robert E Smith 7 months ago from Rochester, New York

      1. Do you remember the nuts (usually it was an English walnut that was used) that people gave as gifts using the same principle as the pet rock? I distinctly remember one of them being the "preg-nut" That had a whole in the shell nut and a baby nut with a tiny bonnet on it. And there were all kinds of different nuts symbolizing different careers and conditions of people. It was the same principle as pet rocks, to put on a desk and to amuse visitors.

    • prairieprincess profile image

      Sharilee Swaity 2 years ago from Canada

      @LongTimeMother, thanks for the comment! I remember talking on that phone so well ... the phone where you had to stand up, because it was located on the wall. I remember my Dad kicking me off after talking for fifteen minutes to my boyfriend. Kids these days! Have it so good! I apologize for the delay in responding ... and thanks again!

    • LongTimeMother profile image

      LongTimeMother 2 years ago from Australia

      This was a fun trip down memory lane, prairieprincess. One of my kids recently asked me what I remember most about the 70s. Among my answers I had to include "Wasting hours by the telephone ... either waiting for someone to call, or waiting for someone to get home so I could call them." lol. Could anyone have imagined having mobile / cell phones in those days when we didn't even have an answering machine??

    • prairieprincess profile image

      Sharilee Swaity 3 years ago from Canada

      @Peg, I remember those concrete block shelves at my Grandma and Grandpa's house! And waterbeds .... what a concept, right? My Grandma and Grandpa had a waterbed, too. We thought they were so cool! Those were such weird times, for sure! Thanks so much for stopping by.

      @Stephanie, what we were thinking with those colours? Ha ha! That table sounds pretty hideous, but I remember my Mom painting a shelf in this bright neon-y blue. And yes, the stocking, also known as leotards, I believe. Yikes, but our kids will probably do the same thing about the 90's, too! Have a wonderful night.

    • Stephanie Henkel profile image

      Stephanie Henkel 3 years ago from USA

      Yes, we did love all those avocado and mustard appliances and rugs! At one point, in some crazed attempt to be fashionable, I painted a beautiful old oak table with 3 or four coats of avocado paint and "antiqued" it with more coats of glaze and varnish. Years later, when I came to my senses, it took me weeks to strip all the gunk off that table to find the natural oak again!

      And remember the textured stockings we wore with the short skirts? I also remember that many women were covering their own lovely hair with wigs and falls because it was the thing to do...

    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 3 years ago from Dallas, Texas

      Your list was fun to read and brought back those weird things we did back then. We never put money into cakes, though. My kitchen had harvest gold appliances and the apartment had shag carpet to match. We painted concrete blocks lime green and used boards to turn them into shelving units. We made sand candles at the beach, burned incense and slept on water beds. Oh wow, man. Cool.

    • prairieprincess profile image

      Sharilee Swaity 4 years ago from Canada

      Dolores, thank you so much for dropping by, and commenting. Isn't just amazing how trusting we were back in that day? It's hard to believe it, in today's dangerous world. Have a wonderful night!

    • Dolores Monet profile image

      Dolores Monet 4 years ago from East Coast, United States

      Ha ha, this one was so funny! We thought nothing of picking up hitch hickers in those days. I remember picking up a guy in 1972. The radio was on and they were talking about a shooting at the Olympics. The hitch hiker was from France and we were all upset about the horrible mess. We wound up taking him to our apartment, and all sat around watching the unfolding drama, crying together.

    • prairieprincess profile image

      Sharilee Swaity 5 years ago from Canada

      JAteacher, I am glad it brought back memories for you! Wow, can you imagine what we would do if a young girl was out hitchhiking these days? It's hard to believe some of the things we did. That's cool that you begged your Mom to put beads in. They were the coolest thing back then, weren't they?

      Thanks for stopping by and taking a little trip down memory lane with me. Have a great night!

    • justateacher profile image

      LaDena Campbell 5 years ago from Somewhere Over The Rainbow - Near Oz...

      What great memories! I was young enough in the 70's to think that eight track players and console TV's were cool...and remember trying to talk my mom into the beads for my bedroom door when we lived in California! Also in California I remember the teenager we took in when my mom and dad picked her up while she was hitchhiking and found out that she had run away from home...(we did later encourage her to call home and her parents came to get her...)

    • prairieprincess profile image

      Sharilee Swaity 5 years ago from Canada

      SS, yes! Those black lights were awesome! And we totally had an orange and green couch, too. With the yellow shag carpet underneath. It's so funny how our tastes "evolve!" Ponchos, too. Good times. Thanks for stopping by and I am glad you had fun, too. Take care.

    • Sharyn's Slant profile image

      Sharon Smith 5 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA

      Hi PP, this was fun! I remember having to have all the lights in my room "black lights." I remember the "in" colors for painting walls was turquoise. My parents had an orange couch to go with those turquoise walls. And ha ha, I see you mentioned ponchos. Oh gosh, my sisters and I all wore crocheted ponchos that our mom proudly made for us. And I used to love my seersucker elephant pants with the rope drawstring tie too. Hmmmmm, do you remember pay toilets? Gosh, you got me on a roll now! Thanks for the memories.


    • prairieprincess profile image

      Sharilee Swaity 5 years ago from Canada

      Dee, I had one of those transistor radios, too, and thought it was so cool because it was portable. And yes, jean purses, ponchos ... mood rings. Great memories! Thanks for the votes and comments. Take care.

    • Dee42 profile image

      Dee42 5 years ago from Beautiful Arkansas

      I had a little transiter radio, I think it got AM...I don't remember, but i was SO excited ! Ha We used to sneak into the drive in. Urban legends. And we used to make these Gawd awful looking purses out of blue jean shorts. Ponchos ( not the dude on chips) lol. Paul Lennon sunglasses and mood rings. You are right about that gold and green stoves and stuff. Voted up.

    • prairieprincess profile image

      Sharilee Swaity 5 years ago from Canada

      Andy, yeah, I know what you mean! We've gotten kind of wimpy, haven't we? Thanks for dropping by! Have a great day.

    • profile image

      andy 5 years ago

      were all still alive and doing well i cnat syand it when a kid breaks an arm and sombodt gets sued and they shut the playground down remove all the stuff this current world could do to man up and stop being a bunch of whining sniveling snots. ok rant over i mean really lol

    • prairieprincess profile image

      Sharilee Swaity 5 years ago from Canada

      Grannie, that's awesome! I liked the 70's, too, but this was just meant to be fun! I did not really mean we were all fun but it was just meant to gently poke fun. Have a wonderful night!!! :)

    • profile image

      grannie b 5 years ago

      I loved the 70`s and all the 'stuff' that was part of it!But then again,, I love every part of living!

    • prairieprincess profile image

      Sharilee Swaity 5 years ago from Canada

      Lizam, I had never heard it associated with luck but that's all the better. I remember everyone being so, so excited when they got a quarter in their cake. It really did make the cake exciting, didn't it? Yes, clogs! I had some of those, too. Thanks for the great comment and I'm glad I could drum up some memories. :)

    • Lizam1 profile image

      Lizam1 5 years ago from Victoria BC

      I miss the coins in our Christmas puddings! The silver sixpence ( a small UK coin that is no longer) meant luck for the year - our grandmother used to wrap them in foil, No choking hazard because we broke up the pudding hunting for it. Sitting in my uncle's living room on boxing day after dinner whilst the men puffed away on cigars and the children inhaled the smoke and turned green from the smell! Flowered purple wallpaper and open stairs and my dad taking down a wall to open up the kitchen and dining room. Yellow platform clogs - I kept falling over when I wore them Aaah such memories. Thanks for stirring them up!

    • prairieprincess profile image

      Sharilee Swaity 5 years ago from Canada

      Rosemay, thank you! Yes! Asbestos, yeah! That's gotta be one of the dumbest things. And pink and white carpet -- yikes! Have a wonderful day.

    • Rosemay50 profile image

      Rosemary Sadler 5 years ago from Hawkes Bay - NewZealand

      Loved this hub, remember a lot of this but never used the orange crates. Lol

      In the early 70's I had a bold pink and white floral carpet, asbestos ceiling tiles, and anaglyptic wallpaper Yuk

    • prairieprincess profile image

      Sharilee Swaity 5 years ago from Canada

      RHW, love it! I have a picture of my Mom wearing a very bold plaid suit in a very heavy material. And frisbees, yeah! It was such a weird time, wasn't it? Thanks for the great comment. Take care!

    • RealHousewife profile image

      Kelly Umphenour 5 years ago from St. Louis, MO

      Oh I'm so glad I caught this! I loved the 70's - what about Dippidy Dew? Or was it Do? A little dab will do ya! Haha Plaid! Peace, love, flowers and frisbees were in the air!

      Awesome hub:) I even wanted to "like" the comments above:) haha!

    • prairieprincess profile image

      Sharilee Swaity 5 years ago from Canada

      Brian, yes, weren't they awesome? It's so fun to look back and see how much things have changed since then! Thanks for the great comment!

    • BRIAN SLATER profile image

      Brian Slater 5 years ago from England

      Loved this. There wasso many items mentioned that we had, beads for doors lol shag carpets and panelled walls, oh don't you just love the 70's. voted up awesome.

    • prairieprincess profile image

      Sharilee Swaity 5 years ago from Canada

      Highvoltage, hey, maybe you are! But that's okay! I actually like the beads, too, if you must know. I love that whole hippie vibe thing. Take care!

    • prairieprincess profile image

      Sharilee Swaity 5 years ago from Canada

      @Lambservant, great additions! Ha ha! You made me laugh with those flower power memories. What were we thinking? So, so funny! Thanks for the awesome comment!

      @Travelinasia, there did seem to be kind of cultural element of pot, didn't there? Yeah, pet rocks do kind of sound like the product of a high mind. Ha ha! Thanks for your awesome comment!

    • Highvoltagewriter profile image

      William Benner 5 years ago from Savannah GA.

      I still use beads for doors, I guess I am in a time warp!

    • TravelinAsia profile image

      TravelinAsia 5 years ago from Thailand/Southeast Asia

      A lot of these things can be blamed on how much pot everyone was smoking! Especially the pet rocks and the beads hanging in the doorway. A little bit of drug culture carried over from the 60s?

    • prairieprincess profile image

      Sharilee Swaity 5 years ago from Canada

      @MsDora, I am glad this brought some memories for you! And about the eight tracks: they were so backwards, but it all makes for good memories, anyway! Thanks for coming by and for a great comment!

      @Kashmir, my friend, nice to see you again. I'm with you on the disco. Remember "Boogie Oogie Woogie Dancing Shoes?" Wow. Tacky! Thanks for dropping and commenting.

    • prairieprincess profile image

      Sharilee Swaity 5 years ago from Canada

      @Billy, I completely agree! It is so yucky. We bought a mobile home from the 70's and the first thing I did was paint over that disgusting brown panel board. What we were thinking? Thanks for the comment!

      @Green Lotus, I never hitchhiked myself but I do remember my parents picking up several hitchhikers and not thinking it was a big deal. And yes, it is hard to say which is worse: drugs or "smokes" as we used to call them. Thanks for a great comment!

    • lambservant profile image

      Lori Colbo 5 years ago from Pacific Northwest

      Burning incense that made me sneeze. It was God awful stuff. What about those huge, funky, bright colored flowers all over our cars, and bathtubs, walls doors along with the words "flower power." Remember black lights with fluorescent psychedelic posters? Peasant blouses, halter tops, moccasins...This was a great hub. Thanks for a good chuckle.

    • kashmir56 profile image

      Thomas Silvia 5 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi my friend, thanks so much for the memories, i totally hated disco .

      Awesome and vote up !!!

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 5 years ago from The Caribbean

      Precious memories to appreciate! Though I'm sorry that the eight tracks made your list of dumb things. Not saying they were not, just saying that I hate to admit it.

    • Green Lotus profile image

      Hillary 5 years ago from Atlanta, GA

      You have brought back the memories pp! I can admit to almost all of your examples except for the car crate since I had been able to see out of the car window by then. I was also too chicken to hitch-hike, but not too chicken to experiment with psychedelic drugs and cigarettes once or twice -(not sure which is more harmful).

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Shag rugs and panelling....YUCK! I go into a house now that has that stuff and I want to gag. Great hub, laughed at myself and that's always a good thing.

    • prairieprincess profile image

      Sharilee Swaity 5 years ago from Canada

      @Misty, no problem! I've done stuff like that, too! Have a great day!

      @Ib, thanks for the comment. That's so true -- that seems strange doesn't it?

    • ib radmasters profile image

      ib radmasters 5 years ago from Southern California

      We actually believed that we were running out of oil and gasoline.

    • mistyhorizon2003 profile image

      Cindy Lawson 5 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands)

      BTW Sharilee, so sorry I called you Susan and not Sharilee in my comment to you before. I was having a blonde moment lol

    • prairieprincess profile image

      Sharilee Swaity 5 years ago from Canada

      @Susan, that's so funny! A candle on an orange crate? Who would have thought? Thanks for sharing your story. :)

      @Molly, I know what you mean. I am quite embarrassed by this decade but I thought it would be fun to share in the "shame." Thanks for a great comment!

      @Misty, that is so sad! I had seen those advertised and wondered how they would be. What a traumatic experience. And I remember those little record players, too. And now kids are carrying cell phones and sporting their own DVD players. Thanks for such a great comment. Take care!

    • mistyhorizon2003 profile image

      Cindy Lawson 5 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands)

      This is an excellent article Susan, loved it. I was very young in the 70's but I do remember having my first 'Sea Monkeys' as pets then, and the trauma and guilt I felt when I accidentally knocked them over and most of them died as a result, (I hubbed about it a while back).

      I also recall having one of those record players where you could stack up the 45's so they would play one after another, but once a few records built up on the turntable the needle would start jumping. To solve the problem we would carefully balance more and more coins on the head so the needle would stop bouncing so much lol.

    • mollymeadows profile image

      Mary Strain 5 years ago from The Shire

      I wish I didn't remember this, prairieprincess. The 70's were also the worst fashion decade in the history of the world, and I lived them as a teen. Oh, the horror that was disco, and the hair--the strange politics--it's a nice place to be From.

    • Just Ask Susan profile image

      Susan Zutautas 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      I used orange crates for shelving in my bedroom. One day I had bought candles and set them on the orange crates, lit them, forgot about them and went down to the pool. Needless to say the orange crates caught on fire and totally destroyed the apt where I lived with my parents. Talk about dumb things :)