The sixties and the seventies

When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down ‘happy’. They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life.

John Lennon

I grew up in the sixties and seventies.

And this is what I remember:

People used to smoke everywhere, nobody spoke about getting cancer through smoking. Wherever you went, also inside bars or restaurants, there used to be smoke hanging around.

Cars used to smell really bad on the inside, and there used to come a lot of smoke from the exhaust pipe in the back of the car.

Women stayed at home, men went to work, women took care of the children. I remember my mother hand washing our clothes, even washing diapers from my younger sister.

Television was just in black and white, and a real luxury, a television in that period could cost the equivalent of a months’ salary, also there was just one or two television channels, which only worked in daytime. There was no remote control, to change channels someone had to go to the television and turn a wheel.

“Men wore business suits and carried briefcases, while their wives, who were attractive but not sexy, stayed home, raised the kids, cleaned the house and had a meal on the table for the whole family when they arrived home. Both husband and wife knew their roles. The wife would only apply face cream after ‘congress’ was completed and the husband was asleep as it was considered that it could be shocking for a man to view his wife this way last thing at night. She would be compliant and forgiving if he suggested some of the more ‘unusual’ sexual practices, although she might register hesitancy by remaining silent.

The Hippies rebelled against this, growing their hair long, burning their draft cards, taking hallucinogenic drugs and indulging in ‘free love,’ which in reality was just another term to describe the notion that all the girls were up for it.”

― Karl Wiggins, Wrong Planet – Searching for your Tribe

At my school girls were supposed to just wear dresses, I remember my sister going to school wearing trousers and she was send home, the teacher told her “to get dressed” before coming to school.

There were no cell phones, so when one left home (to play or whatever) there was no way to contact anyone or to be contacted. This was not really an issue, people were used to this. At 14 I went with a friend of mine on a “tienertour”, we had a train ticket that allowed us to travel during 8 days through the country. At the time my family stayed at a camping, also without telephone. So at 14 we were 8 days without ever talking to the family and we managed fine!!

At the time hitting your children was really nothing extraordinary. Even at school the teacher could at some point hit a child.

As a child we used to go to bed much earlier as children nowadays. Television at the time used to follow a schedule. At 7 o’clock there used to be a children’s programme (sesame street, or Pipo the clown), just for 20 minutes, after that the news and publicity, after that some kind of series,  maybe for 30 minutes, and than we were send to bed.

And of course who does not remember Peyton Place, All in the Family, I love Lucy, and let’s not forget MASH and Bonanza…


But apart from all this, one of the things which really caught my attention is the difference in priorities which shows when you compare salaries with prices.

For instance in 1964 an electrician would earn between 1300 and 1500 pesetas per month (€ 9,02)!!

An apartment would cost appr.  Between 100.000 pesetas (€ 600) and 300.000 pesetas (€ 1800), depending on where you would want to buy.

15 days holidays to New York 25.000 pesetas  (€ 150)

A car (SEAT 1500) could cost 135.000 pesetas (€ 811), and a washing machine 5800 pesetas (€ 34.86).

Let’s pass these details to 2021 figures:

To simplify our calculation nowadays (2021) an electrician would earn approximately between € 1300 and € 1500, you can find an apartment between € 100.000 and € 300.000, but the big difference in proportion you can find comparing prices of for instance a car, in proportion a car in the 60’s would cost 10 times what it costs now, the same can be said for a washing machine and a trip to New York…

Most of the things I remember are just small things, details which just do not seem that important. But all these details make a life experience, my generation, the way we think, the way we live, is all connected to these life experiences, and therefore they are important.

And or course let’s just not forget the Beatles, Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Woodstock, hippies and Flower power…

But we’ll get back to that later.

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