Dear ’70s Dad on Father’s Day

You were in your prime during the years before I was born in the early 1970s. You were a successful electronics salesman working for popular brands such as Pioneer and Sanyo. You had your pretty, young second wife and a tri-level home on a cul de sac in the suburbs — the first in the neighborhood to get an in-ground pool. You lived the wining, dining, and traveling lifestyle, keeping up with people half your age.

Meanwhile, the electronics industry was changing, and the middle man was becoming obsolete. Back then, it wasn’t common for 50-year-old men to reinvent themselves. Plus, you also had four kids from a previous marriage and an ex-wife to support. That’s a lot of pressure.

Two characters from the television show WKRP in Cincinnati.
’70s Dad typically resembles Gordon Jump of WKRP in Cincinnati fame. See also Dick Van Patton from Eight is Enough.

You never did manage to reinvent yourself, but you did your best to step up for your children. You might not have been able to connect with us on the same level that dads today can, but we see you and appreciate you, ’70s Dad.

You were dealt a tough hand. You were a Depression-era man trying to keep up in a newfangled Baby Boomer world. You did your best.

I started this Dad Rock playlist a couple months ago and randomly started listening to it today, forgetting it was Father’s Day. I like to imagine you in your car in the ’70s with these songs playing on the radio. You likely have a cigarette dangling from your mouth, windows closed. Perhaps you’re giving your combover a good spray with the aerosol can. I imagine you have some Double Mint gum in your pocket that’s been torn in half.

That’s how I remember you, ’70s dad. You were an icon, and we salute you.

Play this soundtrack for optimal ’70s Dad experience.

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Leanne Maxwell

Writer and designer uncovering lesser-known stories surrounding San Francisco culture & history — and beyond.