Living In The Seventies


“Hey Mum” she said from the back backseat, her school bag by her side and tiny drops of perspiration from basketball practice still visible on her forehead. “Is it ture they didn’t have any rules in the 70’s?”

I thought for a minute, took myself back to a time in a small country town where I rode my bicycle to the pool with a towel over my shoulder and no helmet to protect my head.

“Yep – pretty much.”

“Is it true you didn’t have to wear seat belts?” she asked wide eyed.

“Yep – Granny and Gramps brought me home in a basinet that sat on the back seat of the car.”

“But what would have happened if there was an accident, or Gramps had to stop suddenly?” there was a tone of panic.

“I guess I would have just slid onto the floor. I’m sure someone would have attempted to catch me. Granny was a pretty good catch.”

She laughed.

“Did you ever get to sit in the front?”

“Yep, when I was car-sick Granny used to let me sit on her lap in the front seat”

“Nooooooooo! Granny was really naughty!”

“No, Granny was just doing what everyone did. I think I was sitting in the front seat on my own by the time I was six or seven, but only if Aunty Michele wasn’t there. She always had the front seat.”

“Is it true that people drank and drove?”

I thought about Granny and Gramps at parties, the bar that was installed in the rumpus room, Mrs Schultz on the piano and everyone crowded behind her singing along. The nights that were spent falling asleep under the pool table, and how Mr Pfeifer got out the broom stick and they span in circles staring at the ceiling only to throw it on the ground to attempt to jump over it – sideways.

“I think it’s fair to say they had a few drinks” I giggled “But Granny always kept herself tidy, she would have driven home”.

“How come Mum – how come they didn’t have rules?”

I wanted to say because was life was fun. I wanted to tell her how we rode in the back of utes and pick up trucks on the open road. I wanted to say that Australia was far more carefree and people played real music with real instruments, and we lived in the moment with no mobile devices to distract us. I wanted to tell her how I roamed the streets and parks with friends over the weekends, and swam with friends in the river without any adults watching.

“There were some rules though, they had some other really dumb rules. Back in the seventies there were bars in some parts of Australia that were still segregated. Back in the seventies sometimes women had to quit their jobs when they were pregnant. It was far from perfect.”

I thought back to the open air drive-in cinema, playing out on the street on New Years Eve and giggling while sitting on the front handle bars of a girlfriends bike on the way home from the pool.

“It was a pretty magical time though.”

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