I’ve watched this video a few times over the years. It’s mostly just shots of people walking the streets of Charleston, WV in 1981. I was in high school at the time, and it’s interesting to see the old stores, and the way people dressed.
I grew up roughly seven miles from there, and when we were kids Steve and I would occasionally take the city bus to Charleston, and visit all the bookstores, record stores, etc. We were about 12 years old when we started. I can’t imagine parents allowing such a thing in 2016, but maybe I’m wrong.
My favorite stops:
Arcade Books had a huge selection of magazines and comic books. You could spend hours in there. It was in a cool-ass historic building which, of course, was eventually torn down. Awesome.
Major’s Book Store was a lot smaller, but they carried British music magazines, like Melody Maker and New Musical Express. Oh man, I was all up in that kind of thing.
National Record Mart had a fantastic cut-out bin. I remember finding almost all of the early albums by The Jam there. Also, the first two Undertones records. It was like a treasure hunt. Everything was cheap, and mostly shit. But there were great items mixed in, if you had the patience and know-how to find ‘em.
There was also Turner’s Records, but it was a little snooty. They clearly didn’t trust pre-teen Dunbar riff-raff to roam their aisles unaccompanied. And Moore’s was a fun bookstore/art supply place/hobby shop. But I can’t recall actually buying much from them.
A black guy tried to sell us drugs on one of those day trips. That freaked us out a little. I remember he mentioned “grass” and “microdots.” I knew what he was talking about with the first one, but am still unclear about the second. Whatever.
We always had lunch at a place called Bowincals. It was a hot dog joint, basically.
During the high school years we were there with Rocky and the Angry White Guy. AWG bought some sort of ludicrous chocolate shake that was served in a cup the size of a residential bathroom trashcan. It was enormous. And I think he only had one or two sips before accidentally knocking it over, and creating a shake-lake that was approximately ten feet across. The cashier began howling in protest, and we took off running. Heh.
There were also big department stores (The Diamond, Stone & Thomas), and you can see how crowded the streets were. It was a good time.
Also, just one block over were porn theaters, drunkard bars, pawn shops, and a place where you could buy inflatable sex dolls, imported fetish smut periodicals featuring midgets and/or amputees,“pocket pussies,” etc. Oh, a trip to Charleston was a wonderful thing.
But the reason I posted this video today, is because of a conversation Toney and I had over the weekend. I heard a guy on a podcast last week talking about losing weight by eating “real” food, like they did in the ‘70s and before. And if you’ll notice… there are almost no fatties in the video above. In West Virginia! If you walked up and down those same sidewalks today, you’d have to keep going into the street to allow yet another ottoman-assed bed sheet-draped hoglet to pass by. Now everybody is fat, almost 100%.
And it has to be about the food, right? I don’t remember eating fast food back then, except maybe once a month. You know, for a treat. Now people eat it twice a day, every day. For dinner we had things like pork chops and fried potatoes, with pinto beans. I guess that’s what they mean by “real” food? No frozen crap, or stuff from a box.
The dude on the podcast said you can eat as much as you want, if you keep it 70s real, and you’ll lose weight. It’s an intriguing idea. But it seems expensive, and labor-intensive. You have to cook up a Sunday dinner every day of the week? It’s a tall hill to climb, especially with Domino’s right down the street.
Anyway, for a Question I’d like to know how you’re dietary habits were different when you were a kid, compared to today. I remember eating hot dogs and baloney sandwiches for lunch, or leftovers from the pervious night’s dinner. Is baloney “real?” It feels counter-intuitive to me. And dinner was classic meat and potatoes. Almost every freaking day.
What do you have on this one? Please share it in the comments. And I’m going to get ready for another week of wonder and delight, about 40 miles south of here.
Have yourselves a great day, my friends.
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But as well as the meat and potatoes, Mom also made vegetables and usually a salad as well. And desert – maybe once a week!!
AND in the 70’s – my brothers and I were NOT allowed in the kitchen to “graze” – no locks required – we obeyed. And we could not snack after dinner unless it was a holiday .. . .
AND in the 70’s – snacks? Were healthy and usually “real”. Mom always said “if you are really hungry then you will be glad for an apple or celery”. I remember occasionally we would go nuts because she would give us “space food sticks”!
AND we only had soda around for special pizza nights.
Now – its fast food, processed food and snacks anytime I want them. in 2009 I was 4 pounds away from the lower marker of “obese” for my height. Successfully lost and have kept off about 22 pounds. Now I am 9 pounds away from the marker of “normal” for my height. But its hard at 55 to motivate for that last 9 pounds.
Ruthless Dee says
“ottoman-assed bed sheet-draped hoglet” I am in pain here!
Surly Shawn says
I was going to say the same thing.
I think that is partly true. There were no fast food places where I grew up in WV.
Ruthless Dee says
On the serious side, an adult meal at McDonalds back then was a burger, fries and coke, nothing was supersized. Little kids might get a few fries, not a whole order. We slowly learned that “full” meant overstuffed and miserable.
Meat and potatoes, with canned corn or beans or peas or forzen corn or peas or broccoli. The only time we didn’t have potatoes was if we had spaghetti, or sketty as my little brother called it.
Oh, and we always had bread and butter (margarine) on the table.
And as Becki said, we didn’t snack or graze between meals.
Eating “real” is a lot of work, I don’t mind cooking but damn I hate cleaning up.
I had to click the edit button to see how it works.
Walter – AMEN so AMEN- HATE cleaning up, lol.
Lee Harvey Ramone says
I think that the serving sizes are just way bigger now. I remember a large coke at a fast food joint or a movie theater being about 16 oz (at most) back in the 1970s. Now, the large size is big enough to drown a person, with a straw that is about as thick as a drainpipe. Also, a soda would have been sweetened with cane sugar back in the day. Now, the same soda would be sweetened with high fructose corn syrup. They fatten cattle using corn, and it works about the same way on people.
I also remember just about everybody had a small garden plot in the backyard. My grandfather was really into the gardening thing, and lots of free vegetables to be had. The closest to processed food we ate was cerial (and even that was by no means an everyday thing, a sandwich of some sort was breakfast, and it was also lunch). Supper had Meat, potatoes and vegetable(s) of some sort. Snacking and water bottles, that just didn’t exist. You went outside and entertained yourself, you did something physical.
Turd Ferguson's Twin says
Its probably a combination of factors. More processed foods with chemicals and preservatives in them, plus the proliferation of advertising everywhere and more options to eat unhealthy stuff. I read in another blog recently that there were something like 20 types of Oreo cookies in the grocery store. So a LOT more options to for unhealthy crap (I’m not knocking Oreos at all, but really, 20 different varieties?)
And more fast food joints, McD’s and others on every corner. Add to that electronic games that don’t require any physical movement to play them, so kids aren’t required to get out and do anything physical at all like we did in the 70’s and 80’s. Plus the paranoia in general about letting kids get out and play (repeat all the stories here that we all did – leave home in the morning, play all day, explore, whatever, and show back up at home for dinner) which keeps families busy – the preoccupation with making sure little Jimmy has plenty of activities because we cannot let him go unsupervised – leaves little time for eating a decent meal.
Then again, in 1981 I was graduating from college, could drink 4 or 5 nights a week (heavily), eat food with negative nutritional value, and still stay in shape. At age 56, just breathing air results in instantaneous weight gain.
Root 66 says
My mom cooked just about every night and she was from the South, so it wasn’t like we had really “healthy” nutritious foods (e.g. fried chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy, green beans.) But we didn’t snack much and were outside most of the day–especially during the summer. We only really ate out when we ordered pizza on Friday nights. I was a “husky” kid, but not overly obese. I think my metabolism has changed more so than my eating habits.
Incidentally, I’d just about sell a kidney to have some of mom’s homemade fried chicken right now! That was the good stuff!
On the other hand, maybe Uncle Sam puts growth hormones in all of the food supply now to get us nice and plump so they can make Soylent Green out of us later! (adjusts foil hat) 🙂
Wait, you were in Bowincals with Rocky? Did they try to pull a rabbit out of their hat? Was Boris there?
Miss Q says
You made me honest-to-god laugh out loud. Nice one!
My Dad had a garden and most of our meals consisted of fresh vegetables (with a tablespoon of bacon grease thrown in for flavor). We had a freezer and my mother filled it to the brim with veggies during the summer. Dad would raise a calf and have it butchered so we had plenty of beef. Rarely, if ever, did we eat fast food. We lived in a rural area so driving to McDonald’s for a burger was a rare thing. I guess the thing was that the food we ate was fertilized with cow manure and not commercial fertilizers; organic when it wasn’t a hip thing. I remember eating bologna sandwiches; and a hot dog or hamburger was a real “treat”. Can you imagine getting sick of roast or fried chicken? We had it so good and had no idea. I was skinny as a rail back then!
I agree that portion sizes and the availability of fast/junk food have a lot to do with The Obesity Epidemic.
I also like to throw a little blame at the government. Here’s why. Back in the 70’s I think someone said fat people were fat because they ate too much fat. We needed less fat in our diets and the government was here to help. So low fat and fat free became a thing.
The problem is that really only 3 things taste good- salt, sugar, and fat. We gave up fat and someone needed to find a substitute. We were already full of salt, so manufacturers started sweeting everything.
All our sauces and condiments for example are now honey this or sweet and tangy that. Mango habenero cheese, hot & sweet flavor a everywhere.
Then the sugar lobby got involved and made sure that sugar, while listed as an ingredient on a label, does not list the amount (like sodium, or fat) in grams not offer the caloric value of the sugar.
Interestingly, my brilliant physician mentor RFW, who I’ve mentioned before, told me not long ago that there’s some suggestion recently that artificial sweeteners cause changes in intestinal bacteria that causes you gut to be better at caloric uptake. So when you drink diet soda fr a bit you actually get more calories out of the food that you consume.
But yeah, if we ate less fast food and sweetens food, and snacked less and excercised more we’d end The Obesity Epidemic in a few months.
Now where’d I put those cookies…?
R.A. Reimer says
Into the way-back machine….gas was expensive, rents/mortgages were expensive. If you had any extra money after paying the bills, you put as much of it into a savings account (that paid 3.5% interest) as you could manage. People cooked and ate at home, usually off of dishes and around a table. Eating out was a special occasion. Fast food was considered garbage but was still a once-in-a-while treat… but not part of your daily routine. More people smoked. Feeling peckish? Spark one up and the pangs disappear. Further, in Europe where 70% of the adult population still smokes (they smoke a lot and constantly), obesity is much less common. Look at China and Japan! In 1981, smokes were about $0.50/pack and a Big Mack was a $1.00. Both I think are addictive. One can make your face look like a Peruvian mummy, the other can make you to gain weight like a sumo wrestler. Just an observational theory. As far as the 79s-80s being the decades of “real food,” Rubbish! These were the decades that brought us Funions, Pizza rolls, diet Coke and lite beer, etc. etc. etc.
In 1981 I was working overnights at the TV station and could barely afford to eat. I never ate out, and what I cooked was cheap: mostly rice and frozen veg. Between that and being 22, I was “slender.”
Nowadays I can afford meat and alcohol in quantity, with predictable results. I sit in front of a computer for a living, and bodily I have evolved into a middle-aged fatass.
I’ll second the “rubbish” remark above. The 80s (and 70s and 60s and 50s) were all about processed convenience foods. When I was a kid Mom “cooked real” not out of some holier-than-thou attitude, but because it was the cheapest way to feed four kids on a teacher’s salary. We would, however, get pizza once in a while – certainly not every month, but as an occasional treat.
There was also the physical activity factor. For entertainment we played stoopball or stickball or whatever with the neighborhood kids. Later I took up “riding my bike all over hell’s half acre.”
It’s also interesting to see people casually jaywalking in traffic, just like they did in NYC back then. And opposite to NYC today. Also, Detroit was producing some seriously awful cars in those days.
In 1981 I was 4 years removed from my distinguished military career (3 years 11 months and 29 days) in the army. I was living on beer, cheap booze and whatever food I could scrounge up. Sometimes out of the produce trash cans behind the grocery stores. I could make a killer potato soup out of refuse put out for the local pig farmer. And once in a while we’d end up with chickens or a turkey or ducks or somesuch out on the biker commune where I rented a two bedroom house for $85 a month. And I was, at the time, intimately familiar with microdots. In the 70’s in northern Virginia I could buy 100 of them for a round $60. I could sell them for $1 each, but I either gave away or ate so many myself that I never could break even. Oh, yes, the LSD was good in those days. When it seemed like someone just took the cover off the world, and you started to wonder why you never thought about things the same way until that very moment, then, my friends, you were truly high. 1981 was also the year, incidentally, that I decided that I had by that point ingested my total lifetime supply of hallucinogenic drugs, and gave them up for alcohol and much milder illegal substances. By 1988, I had given up on all of it, having decided at that point that I was too old to keep visiting the judge.
In 1981 I was working at McDonald’s. Got me through my first 2 years of college. But I still ate the classic meat and mashed potatoes for dinner. And we u s usually had milk with dinner. Coffee and some kind of entemanns cake for dessert.
I think we were “healthy” (read: skinny) because we lived out in the sticks.
The nearest McDonalds was half an hour away.
There was only one restaurant in town, but we were too poor to eat there.
We ate casserole three times a week. So the majority of my diet was canned soup and noodles with whatever stew meat was available. The rest of the time was buttered noodles or peanut butter sandwiches. We always had desert and snacks though. I think it was every two weeks we would get a box of stuff from the church. It always had oatmeal, cheese, a shit ton of raisins (why were there always so many raisins) a small back of flour a small bag of sugar and then some random shit. My mom would make cookies, and cheese crisps, and sweet rolls, and glazed raisins, and all sorts of other things with this. Our junk food was just made from whatever the government/church gave us.
Maybe being thin was a combination of being so poor we had to shake the milk to get butter and having no access to purchasable prepared food.
Oh, this was in 1990 or so. I didn’t even exist in 1981.