Juggling Career and Family In the 1970s by Lynne Schafer Gross by Lynne Schafer Gross - Read Online

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Juggling Career and Family in the 1970s

Book IV of Diary Tales

By Lynne Schafer Gross

Photo information

Most of the photos are owned by the author in that they were taken by her or by a relative or friend. These photos, as well as the text material, are copyrighted by the author. Some of the photos are in public domain as indicated through the following websites.

Page 2 - Richard Nixon - https://www.archives.gov%25252Fpresidential-libraries%25252Fevents%25252Fcentennials%25252Fnixon%25252F&source=iu&pf=m&fir=RzAK8ZpG9dwjWM%253A%252Cj0RxqiIAyDUV2M%252C_&usg=__00_wsmkSAkIyFQCxkIwzRPsApOE%3D&ved=0ahUKEwjupYTQ0ITMAhVY1mMKHeH0Al4QyjcINw&ei=-5EKV668E9isjwPh6YvwBQ#imgrc=RzAK8ZpG9dwjWM%3APhoto credits

Page 11 - Forest Lawn - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Aimee_Semple_McPherson_grave_


Page 17 - Ampex 7800 - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Type_A_videotape

Page 35 - Rotary emblem - https://www.meridenrotary.org/Content/Rotary_International_1.asp

Page 139 - Atari VCS - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atari_2600

Copyright © 2016 Lynne Schafer Gross

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or retransmitted in any form by any means, electronic or mechanical, including but not limited to photo copying, recording, scanning, or any information storage or retrieval system without the expressed written permission of the author. Exceptions are made for brief excerpts used in published reviews.

ISBN: 978-1-387-08772-3

First Edition

Summary: Juggling Career and Family in the 1970s includes 84 illustrated stories, sprung from the pages of the author’s diaries, which she has kept since she was 10 years old. Most of the stories are based in the Los Angeles area of California. They incorporate historical facts and sociological commentary on such subjects as: amusement parks, astronomy, birthdays, boats, cars, child acting, child care, contests, electronics, friends, gifts, Goodyear blimp, grade school, Halloween, house cleaning, music, neighbors, pantsuits, paper routes, pets, piano lessons, puppet shows, radio and TV production, religion, sports, swimming, Television Academy, toilet training, toys, travel, videotape recorders, and women’s liberation,



The stories in this book and other books in this series were inspired by entries in my diaries. I started keeping a diary January 1, 1948, when I was ten years and nine months old, and I’ve written for every day since. I don’t remember anyone encouraging me to do this or giving me a diary for Christmas. I think keeping a diary is something I just decided to do. The summer before, I dug pictures out of an old hat box and started compiling photo albums - and I’ve continued to make a photo album every year. I imagine keeping a diary was a logical extension of making a photo album.

The early diaries (1948-1972) are divided into five years with a scant four lines devoted to each day. That’s short enough that I found it easy to keep up with making an entry each day, and now I find it long enough to jog my memory for the stories I want to write. In later years, five-year diaries were hard to find, so I purchased one-year diaries or notebooks and divided the lines myself so that I still wrote approximately the same short amount each day. My diaries are full of brief declarative sentences, especially near the end of the last line where I needed something short to fill to the end - I read. I typed. I made dinner. Basically it is just the facts, with very little emotion or commentary.

The first three years were originally written in pencil. I happened to look at these penciled diaries in 2002 and saw that they were fading fast, so I decided to type their contents into my computer. I got wrapped up in the process and started thinking in more depth about the events that were mentioned. I decided to write a few stories to send to our three sons. One story led to another. Once I had finished inputting the penciled diary entries, I continued typing the inked years. More transcriptions, more stories to send to my family. I worked at the computer project off and on and finished transcribing in 2011.

I imagine I originally wrote in pencil because ball point pens hadn’t been invented yet. The pen and quill were gone, but I think the best we had when I was ten years old was fountain pens - ones that sucked up a small amount of ink from a bottle. They were messy, leaking often. Actually, the first part of the 1948 diary (January through June) is all in ink, but it is obvious that it was originally written in pencil and written over in ink. I found out why when I got to August 6, 1952 where there is an entry that reads, I started to go over this diary in some ink. Apparently I got up to July and never finished. Writing ink over the pencil must have been an exceedingly tedious process.

Although these stories started out as reminiscences for my three sons, I soon realized they could be of historical and topical interest to those who like to read first-hand accounts of many of the events and innovations that occurred in the past - the depression, World War II, television, the Civil Rights movement, women’s liberation, computers, cable TV, the fall of Communism, the internet, the recession, social media, etc. The first two books, (one about the 1930s and 1940s and the other about the 1950s) contain many facts about Pittsburgh, where I was born and raised. The third book, this one, and ones that follow are centered in the Los Angeles area, where I’ve lived since 1959, but they also include information about the various countries where I taught and consulted. Because my jobs involved the media and because I am a woman who had a career and raised children during a time period when work and family life underwent many changes, I feel I bring a unique perspective to the social underpinnings of an important era.


Once I had finished writing about 300 stories, I felt the need to organize them. I vacillated between a topical order and a chronological one and finally decided on chronological. Of course, the organization is only roughly chronological because many stories cover years or even decades. A topical organization would have had the same problem because many stories cover multiple topics. Once I settled on a chronological order, I arranged the stories by decades:

Growing Up in the 1940s: Book I of Diary Tales

Coming of Age in the 1950s: Book II of Diary Tales

Starting a Career and Family in the 1960s: Book III of Diary Tales

Juggling Career and Family in the 1970s: Book IV of Diary Tales

Branching Out and Taking Risks in the 1980s: Book V of Diary Tales

Culminating Family and Career in the 1990s: Book VI of Diary Tales

Heading Toward Retirement in the 2000s: Book VII of Diary Tales

Giving Back in the 2010s: Book VIII of Diary Tales

Each story has been given a number. I-1 refers to book I, story 1; I-9 is the ninth story in the first book; IV-12 indicates the twelfth story in book four, etc. All the stories are short and breezy and written so that they can stand on their own while also being part of a larger chronicle.

The idea to make actual books for each decade germinated in 2010 and 2011. My original thought was to put one book together to give to my children and grandchildren as Christmas presents. It occurred to me that there might be wording and concepts my grandchildren would not understand because they were from a distant era. In the summer of 2011, I had my then 14-year old granddaughter, Molly Gross, read the stories from the 1930s and 1940s to tell me what she did not understand. She not only did that but also gave me excellent suggestions for improving the stories.

Once I had those stories in what I considered a finished form, I began going through my photo albums to find pictures to go with them. Then in 2013, I laid out the first book on my computer using Word and got it printed and published so it would be available to family members as a Christmas present. I also made it available through Lulu, amazon.com, and other outlets for friends and any others who are interested. I followed the same procedure with the books that followed: I had Molly read the stories, I found illustrations in my photo albums, I laid out the book and published it, and made it available as a present for my family and for sale to others.

I’m glad I have written in diaries for most of my life and equally pleased that I kept them all these years. Today people don’t keep diaries of the type I wrote. They write blogs, Facebook entries, journals, or other forms of remembrances. I certainly encourage any form of writing that can be retained so that it can be turned into personal remembrances—stories that can be handed down from one generation to another.

Lynne Schafer Gross

IV-1. A Little Bit of History: The 1970s

As with other books in this series, I am beginning with historical events that I mention in the diaries that I started keeping when I was 10 years old. The early part of the 1970s saw a continuation of the 1960s turmoil that was related to Civil Rights and protests against the Vietnam War. Then those issues settled down, but a new one arose—women’s liberation.

Women began demanding equal rights to men—politically, economically, socially, sexually. As one of the few women who had a career in the 1960s, I was in sympathy with many aspects of the women’s liberation movement, but, in truth, I did very little to further them. I was busy working full time, raising three children, and, yes, cleaning house. I never marched in a protest or burned my bra as many other women were doing. If I played a role, it was as an example of what women could accomplish.

My husband, Paul, was deep into a career in the aerospace industry, and our three sons (Kevin, Owen, and Brian) were growing up in a fast-paced world that we all seemed to enjoy. The main political event of the decade was the resignation of President Nixon, but there are other newsworthy items that I entered in my diaries. Here are some of them.

May 8, 1970 – School was closed because of student riots. (There were riots at many colleges during this time, but I hadn’t remembered them at Long Beach City College, where I was teaching at the time. May 8 was a Friday, and the next week when school was again open many of my students who were supposed to present a TV project were not in class. The protests must have been more significant than I remembered.)

September 26, 1970 – There were a lot of fires in Los Angeles. (This happened frequently, especially in the fall. Generally, it doesn’t rain in Los Angeles between March and October, so the grass on the hillsides dries out and goes up in flames at the slightest provocation, such as a carelessly tossed cigarette butt.)

May 17, 1971 – I had a headache from the smog. (Los Angeles was still referred to as the smog capital, but environmental laws would lessen the effects of smog in later years.)

April 16, 1972 – Brian and I watched the moon launch. (Landing men on the moon in 1969 was a major national event, and the interest in the moon continued in the 1970s. What we were watching was Apollo 16, the tenth moon mission.)

January 14, 1973 – I watched the Super Bowl. (This was Super Bowl VII and I probably watched earlier ones but they didn’t make my diary. Perhaps I watched this one because it was played in the Los Angeles Coliseum. I don’t think I had any interest in the teams, the Miami Dolphins who defeated the Washington Redskins.)

January 25, 1973 – My school and the kids’ school were closed because of Lyndon Johnson’s death. During the day Kevin used my school TV equipment to tape multiple news reports for one of his teachers. (Johnson had taken over as President after John Kennedy was assassinated in 1963. Television, by now, was being used for educational purposes, as evidenced by Kevin’s grade school teacher wanting to show news clips.)

May 27, 1973 – Paul and I went to see Deep Throat. (This was a porno flick about a woman whose clitoris was in her throat and it was all the rage in the early 1970s. It was called porno chic and its production values were high. Linda Lovelace, the star, later said her husband forced her to do the movie.)

August 8, 1974 – We listened to Nixon’s resignation speech. (The boys and I were in Cleveland at the time staying with Paul’s Aunt Maggie Mulac as part of a trip across the country. I think Kevin and Owen understood the significance, but Brian, age 5, kept asking baffling questions about how this could have happened that none of us could answer. On second thought, maybe he understood it better than any of us.)

April 7, 1975 – I heard President Gerald Ford and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger speak at a National Association of Broadcasters convention. (Afterwards I shook hands with Kissinger and in the process lost my watch—probably to a pickpocket.)

July 4, 1976 – We watched bicentennial events on TV (Many people watched this celebration commemorating the 200th birthday of America. A highlight of bicentennial activities was when the tall ships – elaborately rigged sailing vessels that sailed the seas in the late 1800s – came to our part of the ocean.)

October 11, 1978 – I watched the World Series. (I watched the games for several days because the Los Angeles Dodgers were in the series, but the New York Yankees won.)

January 1, 1979 – There was an earthquake. (This was a minor trembler, but there would be bigger earthquakes other years.)

May 4, 1979 – There was a long gas line today. (A revolution occurred in Iran in 1979 that led to disruption in its oil production and suspension of oil exports. This caused a panic that drove oil prices way up. People in the U.S. were afraid gasoline would run out, so they queued up for gas more often than was necessary, creating long lines of cars by gas stations.)

IV-2. April

April was our family cat from, appropriately, April 1969 to April 1983. In August of 1968, Kevin and Owen played with some kittens on The Strand and started asking to have a cat. I was pregnant at the time so told them that after I had the baby we would get a kitten. Because there was no way to tell the sex of a baby in utero in the 1960s, the deal I made was that if they got a sister we would find a male cat, and if the baby were a brother, the kitten would be female. Why I came up with this idea eludes me, but that was the deal I struck.

On April 29, two weeks after Brian was born, we went to the pound to find a female kitten. The clerk looked at me with a four-year old at one side, a three-year old at the other, and a babe in arms and said, Are you sure you want a female? My children answered very strongly in the affirmative.

It turned out there wasn’t nearly as much choice among female kittens as males. Although I didn’t make a point of this with my children, the stray females were euphemized faster than the males so that they would not produce more strays. But there were several female kittens that were new to the pound and from that group we chose a black one with white trim. We had already decided on her obvious name.

Kevin and Owen played with her almost constantly for the next several days and she was the most docile, tolerant animal I have ever seen. She had no objections to them rubbing her the wrong way, dragging her around by her tail, or slinging her over their shoulders. The only thing I ever saw her react negatively to was bath water—she definitely did not like getting a bath.

We took good care of April, taking her to the vet for her flu shot and a bout with diarrhea and brushing her often. Photos show that she even ate from a silver bowl. I thought I took better care of her than I did when she went into heat. She was still small and, to my thinking, too young to have her own kittens, so I kept her in the house while she was in heat—yeah.

However, her belly grew and in mid-May of 1970 she presented us with four kittens. She was more cautious with her kittens than herself. She gave birth to the kittens in the very back of our closet, a part of the house the boys were not allowed in and a place Paul and I seldom went. She had been missing for about a day before I heard the little mewing noises coming from the closet, and I waited another day to tell the boys so that the kittens would have a chance. Once April and I brought them from the closet, they were the delight of the household. In early June we took them to Owen’s nursery school and Kevin’s kindergarten where they were the hit of the day. On June 25 we took the kittens to the pound. This did not appear to be traumatic to April or the children. I must have done a convincing job of telling the boys the kittens would find happy homes. Later in the summer we had April spayed.

One of my main interactions with April revolved around that fact that she enjoyed helping me write. If I was writing by hand, she would plop herself on my arm. If I was at the typewriter, she managed to position at least her tail on the keys. When we got our first word processor, Brian (bless him) purposely put April on the keyboard because he wanted to see if she could type. She could. She successfully deleted a chapter I had just revised. The dedication for one of my books is, To April, for her devoted overview.

She occasionally got into other mischief. One year, on the day before Thanksgiving, I baked two pumpkin pies and put them on the top of the refrigerator to cool. The next morning a bite was missing from one and there were cat paw marks on both. Sometimes, especially when dogs were around, she would jump up on the roof, but then she couldn’t get down. She would come to the part of the roof near my den window and meow, and Paul would have to get out the ladder and rescue her.

But overall she was a wonderful pet for the fourteen years she was with us. The boys built her houses and forts, whether she wanted them or not. She was the subject of school reports, the lead character in stories, and the object of everyone’s affection.

She rarely got sick until close to the end of her life when she had digestive problems. When she died she tried to do it in a manner that wouldn’t be a bother. Cats usually go into the wilderness to die, but there isn’t any wilderness in our neighborhood, so she got herself to her garage litter box. Brian was home alone and four days shy of fourteen when, on April 10, 1983, April started to gag and head for the box. He was on his way to get help from a neighbor when I pulled into the garage in my car. We witnessed her last gasp.

If ever there was a cat that belongs in Cat Heaven, it’s April.

IV-3. Child Care

Child care was very different in the 1960s and 1970s from what it is today. There wasn’t as much need for it because most women didn’t work—mothers stayed home and took care of the children. Only the very rich had nannies to assist the mothers, and they usually were from English-speaking countries. When parents went out for the evening, it was usually a local teenager or a grandmotherly widow who watched the kids in the home. There were agencies that provided bonded sitters, but you couldn’t count on getting the same person twice.

Those of us who worked were mostly on our own to find someone who could come to our home reliably or someone who kept children in her home. Newspaper help wanted and situations wanted ads were the main source for connecting sitter and mother together. My neighbor, Barbara Huemer, found Mrs. Flynn, a grandmotherly character who was very good with children and who lived close enough that she could be at the house quickly. A few times, when I was in a pinch, I sent one or more of my children to Huemers to be taken care of by Mrs. Flynn and occasionally we used her when Paul and I went somewhere on the weekend.

We rarely had anyone come to our home to watch the children. Paul was fussy about the house and didn’t like the idea of having non-family members in it. And, indeed, one of the two times we were robbed was right after we had used a bonded sitter from an agency who seemed a little suspicious. I do, however, look at today’s women with live-in nannies and feel a pang of envy. My ideal would have been to have a genie in a bottle that