Growing Up in the Strange & Spooky ’70s

Carl Sagan wants his wardrobe back.

As this photograph can attest, I’m a child of the 1970s. Although I would come of age in the time of MTV, the end of the Cold War, and the Days of Day-Glo, my childhood was spent in that strange decade between the radical 1960s and the “Me, Me, Me” years of the 1980s. I was blissfully unaware of the many bad things happening then–the recession (although my father was regularly out of work due to the nature of his job, I never missed a meal), the gas shortage, the war in Vietnam, Watergate, et al.–but instead viewed it with the wonder (or naivete) only childhood can provide.

For me, the 1970s was a time filled with strange, exciting occurrences. It was an era when Bigfoot, UFOs, and the Loch Ness Monster could be discovered any day by turtleneck-wearing scientists who studied these things very seriously. It was an age when the wealth of King Tut was slowly making its way across America, and I got to see the Boy King’s funeral mask in a dimly-lit exhibition room in New York City. It was a time when imagination and reality shared a liminal space, and if you were an six-year old boy, anything was possible.

I’m much older now, looking down the barrel of 50 and, like most people, having had the not-so pleasurable experience of living through the worst pandemic our world has seen in a century. Both of these events induced a great deal of introspection on my part, and not a little bit of escapism. The quarantine months saw me looking back at my youth. I had time for revisiting movies and other media from the late 1960s and 1970s, much of it far more mature matter than I would have been allowed to consume the first time these things appeared on the scene. This winding path led me through the thickets filled with folk horror, hauntology, “hexploitation” paperbacks, British occultism, reruns of In Search Of…, and many other strange and spooky offerings that emerged during this time. They all served as a balm on my shredded nerves, a reminder that there was a time when science was respected and we looked to the future with excitement instead of dread. A time when anything could happen and life could only get more interesting. Only later did I learn that that’s true of any time, but I digress.

Now as the pandemic recedes (which is different from vanishing), I find myself still fixating on the strange, spooky years of the 1970s. Nostalgia, some of which is for something I never actually knew and may not have ever existed, is one of the driving forces behind this fixation. Like most people, I have the desire to return to the simpler time of my childhood, yet with the knowledge and tastes I’ve developed in the more than forty years since intact. And since doing so isn’t going to harm anyone, why not indulge that nostalgia? Which brings us here today…

As the title suggests, this blog is going to focus on the strange and the spooky aspects of the late 1960s and the 1970s. The things that send a shiver down your spine and your shoulders to shudder. I’ll be using is as my field journal, a place to record my notes as I excavate my childhood years for relics undiscovered the first time around. A catalog of curiosities I didn’t know existed then, but which captivate me now. Hopefully, this blog will showcase how strange a time the 1970s was for those who never experienced it firsthand and as a rose-colored telescope looking back to those who made it through that decade alive.

Won’t you please join me?

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