Archive for November, 2011

Gas Shortage in the 1970s

Out Of Gas in Portland Oregon, 1973

In 1973 and 1979, Americans had to sit and wait for their fuel.

It’s a memory of mine, passing gas stations in the Seattle area while cars were stacked out to the street and waiting in line.  Sometimes a person could only buy two, five, or ten gallons.  The national speed limit dropped from 70mph to 50, then shifted up slightly to 55 – which nearly everyone had trouble maintaining.

10 Gallon Limit

Line Up at The Pumps, 1973

Sign of the times, 1973

Because the lines were long and time consuming, some enterprising students would “hire” themselves out to sit in line for car owners, doing homework while they waited.  And McDonald’s jumped in line too:

All photos taken by David Falconer for the Environmental Protection Agency, and are in the Public Domain.

And It Will Add Numbers Together!

IBM machine, Richmond VA City Hall. I have more processing power in my cellphone. Check out the snazzy ducting system above the CPU, used to evacuate heat from all those tubes and transistors!

Via Flickr:
Title: IBM machine, City Hall

Creator: Adolph B. Rice Studio

Date: 1961 July 21

Identifier: Rice Collection 3364B

Format: 1 negative, safety film, 4 x 5 in.

Rights Info: No known restrictions on publication.

Repository: Library of Virginia, Prints and Photographs, 800 E. Broad St., Richmond, VA, 23219, USA,

Have a Disco Christmas – Joy To The World [1978]

It’s like the chintzy dish in the kitchen that you can’t resist using every December.

I found Christmas Disco from The Mistletoe Disco Band at Goodwill, nestled between other Christmas albums (Please note: there is always a huge selection of Christmas music at Goodwill on vinyl – year round).  The album had many elements which made it perfect for Wall Of Retro; the record was 25 years or older, had cheesy graphics, and tapped into a trend that divided a nation.

Back in the day we did a lot of moaning and groaning about Disco, and how it seemed to be taking over every segment of society.  I even had a t-shirt made with iron-on letters to say, “Disco: ignore it and maybe it will go away.”  But as time went on Disco self-imploded, becoming engorged on its own contribution to society while pumping out gems of non-necessity – like Christmas Disco. Now, thirty three years later, it’s a retro diversion from the other seasonal music – one that was probably recorded in all seriousness but comes off as a goofy alternative to Andy Williams or Burl Ives.

The tracks are upbeat and – according to my wife – the perfect tempo for walking.

Yes, there’s lots of cymbal, walking bass, and wah wah pedal.  Yes, there are some weird 70s synthesizer sounds mixed in with the backing harmonies, horns, and strings.  But while I would not sit down and listen to this album note for note, it is a work that could be on while I do other stuff.  Perfectly suited as background music, with the occasional toe-tapping that comes automatically with almost every track.

As I get older, I still think that Disco sucked back then; but now I realize that is wasn’t necessarily because of the music.  Rather, it was the lifestyle and the elitism (around these parts anyway) surrounding Disco that ruined the genre for those of us who couldn’t dance – or afford the wardrobe and the cover charge at the club.  Many Disco tracks have actually weathered the decades, and have become – dare I say “timeless?” – icons of a bygone era;  I admit to enjoying songs from the Bee Gees, ABBA, Gloria Gaynor, and Donna Summer from time to time.  Their work was well crafted, deftly written, and still hold the listener’s attention.  Other songs from the 70s – like those from Christmas Disco – didn’t weather the years all that well; many sound like little more than excuses to get something Disco-ey in the rack at the record store, like adding fur seat covers to an AMC Gremlin. But despite their dubious place in history, these Disco remakes are still fun to pull out as a way to reminisce about how some things are better now.  The chintzy dish once again graces our season with cheesiness.

Best 49 cents I spent this week…

Check out Joy To The World on MP3.


Good Friends and Warm Sweaters

Two Warm Sweaters and a Cold One

Jim and Jennifer warm up with their friend Tristan, who is currently appearing in the Off-Broadway rendition of Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice.


McCall’s Winter 1970-71 issue

Orange Top [1970]

I love photography from the late 1960s and early 1970s; people experimented with perspective, and created looks that were new and bold.  I won’t say anything about the top’s color, because the model is hot enough to make Orange Circus Peanuts look good!


McCall’s Winter 1970-71 Issue

Pinball and Paneling

Nothing says 1978 like pinball, wood paneling, and denim overalls all in the same Polaroid!

One Snag Away from Ruin

McCalls Winter 70-71 Coordinates

Catch that long yarn jacket on the corner of a 1971 Chrysler car door, and you can win the bet that it will either unravel or leave it with a loop big enough to function as a handgun holster.  Extra points for the white belt and the tassels at the bottom of the skirt.


McCall’s Winter 1970-71 Issue

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