The Super ’70s through my eyes
by Clyde Whitaker
Hello again everyone! Sitting here in my living room, I have the TV playing the music channel, “Sirius ’70s on 7.” What awesome music we listened to back then! So, I thought why not write my October column about those times in my life, the Super ’70s!
So much happened during this time that it is not even remotely possible to describe it all, but I have a few memories I can share with you. I’m sure you probably have some of the same ones.
Going into my freshmen year of high school in 1970, Woodstock was still fresh in everyone’s mind. The Woodstock Music Festival was supposed to be a three-day love fest of peace and music, but rain pushed it out to four days, Aug. 15 through Aug. 18, 1969. An estimated 500,000 people were in attendance on an alfalfa field in Bethel, New York, that was owned by dairy farmer Max Yasgur. Thirty-two music groups played music over the four days, with Jimi Hendrix headlining the last act. Sadly, Jimi passed away a year later on Sept. 18, 1970.
We had the best music in the ’70s—Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, The Eagles, Chicago, The Doobie Brothers, Alice Cooper, Rod Stewart, The Who, The Rolling Stones, to name a few. Who can forget “Saturday Night Fever,” in 1977, with John Travolta dancing in his white pantsuit under the strobe lights!
The Vietnam War was on everyone’s mind as well. Recruiters from the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines came to the high school early in 1972 to lay out our options for the draft. All of us guys feared the prospect, but we felt we needed to enlist. As it turned out later, President Richard Nixon ended the draft on Dec. 7, 1972, and the war ended March 29, 1973. To my knowledge, none of us enlisted after the draft ended.
Sports were very important to all of us. We had baseball, track, tennis, football, wrestling, cross county and basketball. Out of all of these, Stockbridge was known as a basketball school. We have had great athletes in all of our sports over the years, but I would have to say the greatest of them all was Jesse Campbell. Jesse was a two-time All-American in basketball, (the only All-American in Stockbridge history) setting our school record for points in a game with 65. I played in that game, and at halftime Jesse had, I believe, 35 points. In the locker room at the half Coach Phil Hora said, “Let’s get Jesse the record.” So, on Feb. 22, 1972, at home against Perry, we did that—we helped Jesse set the school record with 65 points!
Speaking of Coach Phil Hora, he presently is in consideration for the Basketball Coaches Association of Michigan Hall of Fame. His 21-year coaching record was 354-117, a 75% winning percentage! He was a four-time coach of the year during the ’70s in the Ingham County League. He also was the Detroit Free Press Dream Team Coach of the Year in 1971, and Hall of Fame in my book!
So many things happened in the ’70s, I guess you can say they passed by in a flash. Bell-bottom pants, long hair and big beards, tie-dyed shirts, the dances on a Friday night after the basketball games, shooting clay pigeons on a Friday night at the Munith Rod and Gun Club, being the Homecoming escort for our Junior Queen Kathy Kowal and Senior Queen Sue Rautiola, cruising the Ave in Jackson on a Friday night, the hot summers working on the farm (getting a great tan for school), starting our work careers, watching the movie “Jaws,” the oil embargo, 8-track tapes, “Saturday Night Live,” I could go on and on.
In closing, we had the best teachers, the best coaches, the best times! It was everything anyone could want. All the friends we made in school are still friends many, many years later. It was a time in our lives that we will never forget—the Super ’70s!
Clyde Whitaker is a 1973 Stockbridge graduate. He and his wife, Mary, raised four children in Stockbridge, and they still reside in the Stockbridge area.