Slang and terms of the ’70s we don’t hear much of anymore

Apr 06, 2019
A scene from 'Happy Days', a television show Julie says influenced the language of the 1970s. Source: Getty Images

Yes! We all survived the 1970s, which were way back when. It was a time when we were young, enjoying the flower of our youth. Of course, the language we used in those days was very different to today. It was a time when pop music hits were playing on our transistor radios. “They were hits that were around, when we were all closer to the ground”, I recall one radio DJ saying.

The ‘lingo’ of music and the television of the ’70s flowed through to our Australian slang too.

In those dim, dark, but fun distant days, I was a dorky classroom teacher in an impoverished parochial primary school. Teaching in the ’70s was like being a sort of gross lay preacher. We educated the future of Australia, little ‘chicks’ and ‘dudes’, who had to ‘sit on it’ all day in primary school. Sad, but true, The Fonz was a cult hero and tween idol back then.

As my class of little treasures — as I affectionately referred to them — were playing up, I would play along to spread little pearls of wisdom, such as ‘Get real’. I was not that much older than they were, we all went home and watched the same television shows after school. My dear little popes would respond favourably, by muttering, “Up your nose with a rubber hose!” That was their classic response to an essay writing task.

Really, my mainstream classroom were in my face all day. Some years were worse than others. Then they’d tell me, “Don’t chuck a spaz, we’re not that bad”. “Keep on trucking!” They loved pumping their fists at Kenworth trucks, for some reason known only to schoolboys. Boys will be boys, as many a veteran teacher will reminisce.

The highlight of the week back then was the art lessons, which the kids labelled ‘groovy’. The school was so poor, we did not have a photocopier or even a VCR for movies. On the other hand, my scholars thought maths was ‘sick’, as they were definitely no geeks. Talk about whinge and shriek. “That’s not fair!” So I would answer, “Well, sooky la las, here’s some maths for extra homework, signed off by your pas!” This was the ’70s, the teachers did not get into trouble, the kids did. Their parents had to sign off on all their homework.

I guess all old teachers are dragons, with hides like an elephant. Not one calculator graced their neurons, they had to learn to master maths with their brains. Back to the Fonz, “Right on, looking good”. “Dream on, dorky, hometime! There’s the bell”. “Good night, John boys!” I would call after them.

“Catch you tomorrow”. I must say no teacher on Earth thought hometime was a sorrow. “Catch ya on the flip side” as my little Neanderthals ran downstairs, flinging their schoolbags and leftover lunches and dead bananas. “Aw, don’t go bananas at us!”

Now we are all so old and there only remain memories of their golden childhood, I wonder why did I fuss so much? All those kids grew up okay, and did well in life. Yes, once we were all young, and the ’70s lingo had just begun.

Do you remember the catchphrases and sayings used by the youth of the ’70s? What were some of your favourite sayings?

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