1978: A Rockin’ Year to be Seventeen

Evolution of X just had a post about her memories of 1978. She invited readers to do the same.

So, let’s see. Not in chronological order:

In the summer I cycled home from school daily with my friend Floortje up to Baarn. We would buy an ice cream cone at every convenient store on  our route (there were three).

I was vaguely aware that stuff was going on with the Shah of Iran and something about Vietnam and Cambodia,

But the South-Moluccan terrorist acts were closer to home. This year we saw the last one, although we didn’t know it at the time.

Oh, and the Rote Armee Fraktion was also still around.

I graduated high school and moved out of the house.

In my rented room, I painted the wall tomato red and hung a full magazine-page photo of Robert Redford in the spot of honor.

After graduation I started reading all the books and authors I had heard about but hadn’t gotten to or had only partially gotten to during my school years: Steinbeck, Ernest Hemingway, Truman Capote, George Orwell, Moliere, De Maupassant.

I also plowed my laborious way through several German must-reads. Mostly so  I could say that, yes, as a matter of fact I did read The Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann. In case anyone asked. Which of course no one ever did. But now you know anyway. And boy, are you ever impressed, right?

We Are the Champions” by Queen was a hit around final exam time,

As was “Y.M.C.A.”, which we all thought was a rather silly little song, a typical flash-in-the-pan.

Jimmy Carter was President, and he brokered peace between Begin and Sadat, like the nice man he was.

Image from sadat.umd.edu

Image from sadat.umd.edu

I started drawing people this year. I also stopped drawing people this year. In between I did do a pretty decent picture of my friend Floortje, which hangs in my living room, even though, sadly, this is also the year that our friendship ended.

Holland won the World Cup Soccer against Argentina – Holland lost the World Cup Soccer against Argentina; take your pick.

But at least Gerrie Knetemann was definitely the world champion cyclist,

And I cycled to school barefoot in June. No shoes all day, such freedom!

On days that I took the train, I would sit at the train station with a notepad, and write shorts about the people on the platform, feeling like a right Simon Carmiggelt.

It was the year that super-tight ‘flares’ (bootleg pants) went out of fashion and Diane Keaton’s Annie Hall look came in,


Image from rootscanada.tumbler.com

Along with Roots, or earth shoes as they were known in America, which I figured out from Bette Midler’s Cleveland Show.

Sonja Barend was our Oprah,

And I still truly believe “Paradise by the Dashboard Lights” is the coolest cautionary tale ever.

It was a bad year for popes.

Jacques Brel also died, but Doe Maar totally blew us away.

Between high school and college I worked and had money to burn, but my two best friends were still in school, so I went to the movies by myself a lot.

However, I saw The Boys From Brazil with my dad and Deerhunter with what I thought of at the time as my boyfriend. I lived and learned.

I took the thirteen-year-old daughter of the house where I rented my room to see Grease. I felt very grown-up when I noticed her adopting a John Travolta walk back home and it reminded me that I rubbed the side of my nose at regular intervals for a whole week after seeing The Sting at age 14.

That was 1978, and now, in 2013, I’m still “Stayin’ Alive“.

Click here for the top hits of 1978 in the Netherlands.

10 responses to “1978: A Rockin’ Year to be Seventeen

  1. It was fun getting a glimpse of the 17-year-old you – bare feet and books and bicycle and Robert Redford poster and all. (He was ridiculously handsome wasn’t he?) What a great list. You remember things I didn’t – like Grease and The Boys from Brazil which I saw years later on videotape so I don’t associate them with that year. (The nearest movie theater was the next town over, so we didn’t go often.) And Paradise by the Dashboard Lights and Diane Keaton and Bette Midler (didn’t know who she was until years later. Funny, huh?) Thanks for the link and for playing the game!


  2. Hoi Barbara, Leuk om te lezen over 1978, en wat jij toen deed. En veel herkenning. O ja, die schoenen, die muziek, en inderdaad, op de achtergrond de politiek, wat toen nog niet zo belangrijk leek 😉 Hartelijke groet, Hennie


  3. If I were to put my mind to it I’d probably remember a lot, but what stands out is my Barockbummel in the summer of that year, a tour (mostly by train) focused on south German baroque architecture in Germany, Czechoslovakia (as it then still was), and Austria . Being single at the time, and having been unable to interest anyone else in joining me, I was on my own: not optimum, but okay. I read a lot of Dickens at night and while in the train. The high points: the Residenz in Würzburg, which Napoleon is said to have described as “the finest parsonage in Europe,” Vierzehnheiligen, Bamberg, Prague, Vienna, Salzburg, the Alte Pinakothek and the Asamkirche in Munich, and, as the pièce de résistance, the abbey church at Ottobeuren in western Bavaria, a truly breath-taking building. The Kaisersaal was gorgeous, too.

    While I was travelling, the World Cup was taking place in Argentina, and I had ample grounds for celebrating Dutch victories. I missed the final, however, as it was played on the day I flew back to Canada.


  4. FUN look back, Barbara. We listened to Staying Alive and some other BeeGee’s tunes last week . . . DISCO! 😀


  5. I started The Magic Mountain my first year at uni (of my own volition, although in English) and finally came to the realization that I was never going to finish it when we moved five years ago and I decided not to bring the book with me. So yes, I am impressed that you read it!


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