Foggy Campsite

Key of Breathing

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Short Story: The Secret Mystery of Wood Stoves, American Homes, and the 1970s


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The 1970s were a strange time. In some sense, it was socially turbulent like things are today. And in some places, it was just as violent. There wasn't much unity in what people considered a correct direction for our culture. But conformity in culture was expected. So, as an unfortunately lousy result, we got Disco!


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The Oil Crisis seemed to break a common trend that was in place for almost two decades. For the entire previous generation, young people rebelled against parents' norms, and they expected much more from life. From rebels without causes in the fifties to flower-power hippies hanging out at Woodstock, the identity was formed not by personal thoughts but by a cultural age group. In times of growth, it's easy to go along with the popular masses. But, unfortunately, it's way too easy when trends are trending up. That's what causes trouble!



When trends start trending down, that's when people begin to question things. What do they genuinely believe within themselves? What should they be doing, and what is most important to them internally?



By the end of the 1970s, money got tight, and many people asked the old familiar question, "Is there a better way?"


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Like turning a ship's rudder, TV, music, and even clothing showed us a hand that was playing out differently. Our broader culture gravitated towards nature and the older ways. As a result, an American roots movement developed. We watched it play out on TV shows like The Waltons, Grizzly Adams, and Little House on the Prairie. We listened to music like The Eagles, Marshall Tucker, Charlie Daniels, and John Denver. This subconscious unease saturated everyone and caused American organic roots to change. "Getting back" to our heritage and culture must have offset an uncertainty of our economic future.



I suspect the unease and uncertainty we feel today is the same kind of unease and uncertainty my parents felt just forty years ago. But, the good news is my parents made it through, and somehow we will too!



Money was short, but I remember school shopping was critical for Mom. But, of course, it's not proper that others know you can't keep up with the Jones', so it was off to "Bargain Bob's" for shoe shopping. Not Macy's or Nordstrom. And guess what? Bargain Bob's didn't carry Adidas or Converse. At least not the real ones anyway! But then again, my shoes were only entirely spotless for the first week of school. So it didn't matter.



Skyrocketing energy prices were the primary concern. Households couldn't eliminate utility bills and fuel expenses. So Dad bought, built, and retrofitted a couple of wood-burning stoves for home, figuring out how to fabricate them for neighbors as well. So this meant log-splitting was a new thing all over again! Later on, selling log splitters and wood-burning became a big business for some folks.


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Mainly, I remember the ridiculous number of good recipes my mom had for hamburgers and chicken back in the 1970s. I don't think I ate McDonald's till sometime around 1982! As a teenager in the eighties, I was excited about going to the 'Golden Arches.' Little did I know the meals we could get at home were the best thing for us—both in physical health, as well as mental.


I'd like to hear people's commits on this issue. Did you experience this "country revival" in the seventies with your family? Why do you think we turned the culture around the way we did? Please share your ideas and personal experiences about growing up in the 1970s! Leave your comments and share your thoughts!

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