1974 at a glance:
- Peter Benchley's "Jaws"is published
- Evel Knievel tries to jump the Snake River Canyon
- Girls are allowed to play in Little League Baseball
- Bachman-Turner Overdrive's "Takin' Care of Business" becomes a top single
- Patty Hearst, daughter of publisher Randolph Hearst, is kidnapped by the SLA (Simbionese Liberation Army)
- "Good Times," debuts on CBS TV
- "People" magazine begins sales
- First class postage is raised from 8 cents to 10 cents
- Ted Bundy victims Janice Ott & Denise Naslund disappear, Lake Sammamish, WA
- "The Rumble in the Jungle". Muhammed Ali defeats George Foreman for the Heavyweight Championship in Zaire, Africa
- House Judiciary approves Articles of Impeachment against President Nixon
- Richard Nixon resigns presidency, Vice President Gerald Ford becomes the 38th president
I was eighteen and nineteen years old in 1974.
The summer of '74 was hot.
I shared an apartment at Village East with my best friend. It was located on 72nd Avenue between Duke and Flavel Streets. He had a swing shift job at Winter Products. I too had a swing shift job at a privately owned little business called M&M Plastics. The windows of both our rooms were blacked out with cardboard against the glass on the inside of the sill, and covered over with dark blankets. This was to keep the heat out, and for Jim, to make it dark enough to sleep in the mornings. Our lives then were all about pancakes, grilled cheese sandwiches and hot dogs with pork and beans. The latter was the least favorite. Nutrition was what happened if any of us went home to mom's kitchen for a visit. Survival food was what happened in our kitchen. When feeling ocasionally gourmet, we'd have Top Ramen with chopped celery.
At my job I was making $2.85 an hour and was the only employee on my shift which started at 3:00 pm and ended at 11:00 pm. I operated a machine that made plastic picture containers for wholesale photo developing companies and retail outlets. Back in the day when folks had their film developed, the prints came in plastic boxes that snapped shut. The job was so incredibly boring that I thought I would pass out from the tedium. My job was about as brain dead as any could be:; all I had to do was sit and wait for plastic "Picture-Tainers" to come out of the machine. Back in the day when folks had their film developed, the prints came in plastic boxes that snapped shut. I made those boxes. This was my life.
The Blair Linda Project
In the summer of 1974 I had a real attraction to teen actress Linda Blair.
I'd read William Peter Blatty's novel "The Exorcist" and at the time, it was the scariest book I'd ever read. The story stayed with me, and even as an adult male-albeit still immature-I was sure I was hearing voices in the apartment. Any occasional plumbing gurgle, or knock in the wall had me believing that Captain Howdy was trying to get me. The next step naturally, was to go see the film.
After seeing the movie, I realized I wasn't possessed by demons, but instead by Linda Blair. For some reason, I fell in love with her, and couldn't get her out of my mind. I even bought a fashion magazine (yes, just like with Cybill Shepherd), with her picture on the cover that featured an article on one of her make-overs. The oddest piece to all this madness was the fact that she was four years younger than me! That means, when I was nineteen, she was fifteen.
I'd never fallen for a younger girl before, especially not a kid! I think what intrigued me more about her than anything was the idea of how gorgeous she would be when she got a few years older.
By summer's end, she'd starred in a made for television movie called "Born Innocent" which pretty much shocked viewers with its brutal content. It was an okay movie, nothing amazing, but it did feature Linda. Eventually the Linda Blair love affair ended, but lasted a good year or two.
My First Great Job
1974 holds an abundance of memories for me. During the winter of '73, I hung out with a band that lived next door to me. Their name escapes me now, but they were fun guys (some of them anyway). Through their guitar player, I was able to pick up some part time work for a well known and highly respected furniture company called Paul Schatz Furniture in the Hollywood district of Portland. I was hired to knock down a wall in the basement to enlarge a storage room. I used a sledgehammer and a metal stop sign as a battering ram. When that task was finished, I helped move furnture for the show rooms.
By 1974, I was working full time. Bear in mind that this was a time when a friend could refer you, you'd go in and talk to the foreman, and he'd say "Can you start tomorrow?" and bam, just like that you had a job! This is how my first real job happened. It was with a company called Rol-A-Way Truck Manufacturing Company. I was hired in shipping and receiving to basically clean and ship finished industry trucks such as hand trucks, rolling shelves with ladders, clothing racks, and hospital carts. I believe my starting wage was $3.50 or $3.75 an hour. I stayed with Rol-A-Way for three years. Every Christmas we got an extra week's pay, a five pound box of candy, and a ham! You just couldn't beat that at Christmas time!
I really got hooked on Stewart Sandwiches that had to be heated in an infra-red oven (the precursors to microwave ovens). One Stewart sandwich in particular was the Wrangler Steak I could have eaten that one every day, and nearly did! Often, my job duties expanded to grinding sheet metal. This was a bizarre job as I would run long sheets of metal over a grinding belt. They were literal sheets around four feet by five feet square. I had to hold one up, run one edge along the belt, then flip it, catch it, and run the other side. Eventually I ran eight sides across the belt. It was nerve-wracking in the sense that I always half-expected to lose my grip, and the sheet would hit the belt and slice me in half! I hated those grinding days because the sheets came on pallets of about 200-300 sheets. When I finally finished, they'd push over another pallet!
Though the work was both intense and repetitive at the same time, I have extremely fond memories of that sheet metal factory. The characters I worked with, the feel of the place in both winter and summer, plus all the years I spent there are now an important part of my life. I stayed with Rol-A-Way for three years.
"Welcome, Art Lovers..."
KPTV Channel 12 ran one of my favorite shows, "Night Gallery", in syndication in 1974. It came on at 7:30 every weekday evening. I always watched it, and rarely missed it. Though I do have a tribute page to this show here, I can't get over the wonderful memories it brings back. This show ran in syndication off and on in the 70's and early 80's here in Portland, Oregon before disappearing from the air waves. I really loved this show, and like most great syndicated TV shows, watching it every night became a sort of ritual for me.
My Favorite Albums on 1974.
Emerson, Lake & Palmer'striple live extravaganza proved that1974 was an awesome year for old and new music. There were lots of great albums I was into at this time, stuff like Fleetwood Mac's "Future Games" and "Mystery to Me", "Houses of the Holy" by Led Zeppelin, and Mott the Hoople's "All the Young Dudes". Ever faithful to Hawkwind I picked up "Hall of the Mountain Grill" It was only so-so, with a couple of good things on it.
The "Once Upon A Time in the West" soundtrack album was great; I'd just seen the movie on channel 12 a couple of weeks earlier, and really wanted the soundtrack to it. Another series of dynamite discoveries came from Aerosmith's premiere album that featured the song "Somebody" which I immediately fell in love with.
Though released a year earlier, this album was my introduction to Wishbone Ash. I bought the "Live Dates" double album by Wishbone Ash because of my love of live recordings. This was a marvelous LP with outstanding concert performances. Guitarist Andy Powell had a way with running powerfully familiar scales in the same manner as my guitar hero David Gilmour. Side one of this double-record set was amazing; so many fantastic songs were packed onto this record that I was completely blown away by this band. "The King Will Come", "Warrior", and "Throw Down the Sword" were sublime. "Blowin' Free" was great, as was "Rock and Roll Widow".
Elektronika and Heavy Metal
Fascinating new musical styles were beginning to stir me with my introduction of a 3-man group from Germany known as "Tangerine Dream." I began my psychological journeys with TD with their album titled "Zeit." I picked up the album "Ricochet" in 1975, and fell in love with it. All three TD members played synthesizers, but each focused on another instrument as well. Primarily, Edgar Froese was on guitar and synths, Peter Baumann keyboards, and the now legendary composer Christopher Franke doubled on percussion and synths. Even with this standard lineup, the main focus was synth. They were completely electronic, mind-expanding, and a wondrous journey into magnificent sublime of other-worldly space music. very long songs (usually averaging from 14 - 25 minutes),Tangerine Dream took us on galactical tours like nobody else.
By 1975, a supergroup had emerged. Their name: Journey. This was the pre-Steve Perry Journey, so the music was much, much different. It was guitar and keyboard driven hard rock of superior quality. The first album is pretty good, and the song "Of a Lifetime" got the most play on my stereo. The tune "Kahoutek", a hard instrumental, was pretty strong with great Neal Schon guitar wizardry. Though I enjoyed the 80's Steve Perry Journey, there was nothing like their earlier 70's days.
The dawning of heavy metal came with many new acts, but few were as great as a new band called Rush. The song "Working Man" spun consistently on my turntable. Rush thrilled me to no end, and I bought their albums for years to come. Though Kiss was loud, I never became a fan of them. However, I did like their a few on their album "Destroyer". I liked some Bad Company but I never bought any of their albums. I guess they weren't to my taste.
Robin Trower's "Bridge of Sighs" was a great album. Trower was always tops on my list, and to this day, I still have great memories of him as being one of the great breakthrough "Jimi-Style" guitarists with his own brand of originality. "Hall of the Mountain Grill" from Hawkwind I also liked, but it was sad to see their band line-up change with such consistency. The emergence of Heavy Metal began with a few legends: UFO premiered with their album "Phenomenon", and Judas Priest debuted with "Rock-A-Rolla".
The Rolling Stones finally fell from grace with me with the disappointing release of "It's Only Rock N' Roll". Though an interesting cover, I found it a bad LP. As Mick Taylor left the band, my interest in them waned. I saw an ending to the great legend of the 70's Stones with this somewhat sugar-coated LP.