Friday, January 18, 2008

Time Warp

I came across a particular bit of memorabilia today, as I worked on a particularly old piece of H.V.A.C. equipment. How old you might ask?

This old:

That's a WAQY "Wacky 102" bumper sticker. Vintage late 70's /early 80's I believe. I remember when they were plastered on nearly every Camaro and F-150 bumper in the valley. I thought it was pretty interesting. Not only that it survived all these years attached to a rooftop HVAC unit, but that it was on this particular rooftop HVAC unit.

This shopping plaza rooftop, in my hometown, was a notorious stoner hide-out. Back then, there were several places throughout town to meet up, hide out if needed, and party. Every kid knew them, whether or not they used them. A clearing deep in the local woods called "The Bungalo" was a famous spot. Actually a lot of spots in the woods usually served very well. Pretty much any place the police might not randomly appear was a good spot. To find out what was going on, the Burger King parking lot was a local, central hub for meeting up and starting the night. No cell phones back then. Word of mouth, and a few bucks for gas and party supplies. Normally there were people you hung out with, and people you didn't. But those lines were often easily blurred in the pursuit of a good time.

(Caution, Beginning of a Rant)
There were downsides too....There was danger sometimes. Dangerous people, dangerous situations. Stupid decisions. Risk and experimentation. Every generation has kids that didn't make it, then and now.
Parents (and law) back then generally had a different attitude, not so...I don't know...over-protective. At least the parents I knew. Of course back then there was a certain social order in place, that they could trust to govern their kids' behavior in their absence. Right and wrong was pretty universally understood. Cross it and you were guaranteed a smack on the back of the head. That was the fruit of three channels on TV, no Internet and no cell phones. Things, ideas and values stuck around for years, if not generations. Kids still played in the neighborhood streets without supervision, even in my generation. This was also the era before the evolution of the Soccer Mom, and 'Baby On Board' stickers on the minivan. Before a whole generation, raised by a "What about the children?!" meme. I don't know if all the extra attention paid to the little rug-rats has made a real difference. It appears some kids are truly better off, better informed and freer to speak than my generation was. At the same time, there seems to be a lot more kids, rudderless and even bent on their own destruction. Was it better way back then? I don't know for sure. But it seems we're awash in a gangster/prison mentality that's enveloped most kids and cast a pall on every one's hopes. It's in clothing style, entertainment, even speech. It's become cool to look or act like you might get arrested at any moment, and you just don't give a crap. Come to think of it, I guess it's always been that way, to a degree. But there's some real differences; in the past, there were more fathers, and fewer guns. I fear my generation, the first to swim in the new flood of communications innovations, may not have been paying attention, and dropped the ball.
(OK, End of Rant).

The nights were an adventure when I was a suburban teenager, there was hope aplenty, and "Wacky" 102 often provided the soundtrack.


LarryK4 said...

In the early 70's the karate school I first trained at in West Springfield aired ads on WAQY. We were a non-traditional school (as indicated by using radio advertising) l so WAQY was on while we trained. A moment after the ad the phone would start ringing non-stop. They were the local Goggle, Youtube, or Facebook of our generation.

Nice rant by the way.

Mary E.Carey said...

Nice post! This has got a really good structure to it, beginning and ending with the old radio station and conjuring an era almost as different from this one as the Hairspray period. Where did you grow up? I grew up, as I'm always saying, in Pittsfield, a place that kind of tears at your heartstrings because of the disrepair it fell into since I was a teenager in the 70s.

Tony said...

Everyone watched and listened to virtually the same stuff. The power of advertising was huge. I still remember Ruby Vine and his 'Railroad Salvage' commercials.

Mary, I grew up in Ludlow (it's the Portuguese thing to do!) No complaints; good schools, good people. There was no one major industry in town, (since the 19th century anyway) so it never suffered a collapse like a lot of mill/factory towns did.