The seventies was not awesome for all sixty year olds. 129



View Profile

It seems when many sixty year olds here reminisce about the seventies, they remember the fond days of flares, and the fun times of rock and roll. But for some, when they think about the seventies, they want to block out the whole darned era. I got talking to a woman over the weekend who told me point blank that her life was “bloody hard” right through the seventies and that she could find no romance in looking back on the era. She would not tell her story for the site, but was happy if I told it to see how many other over 60s had a really hard time living through the seventies and rarely had the chance to reflect on this with others in the same position?

For anonymity’s sake, lets call her Jan. Jan, born in 1951, grew up in regional North Queensland, in a town with perhaps 5000 or less people. Education in the town was limited back in the sixties, having a career meant joining a small business or working for the local government’s typing pool, and she said herself that the greatest opportunity available to her was to leave and move to the city at the time. But she didn’t until much later. At the humble age of 18, Jan fell pregnant to her boyfriend. They weren’t married. In fact, the way she remembers it they were not really even in love, perhaps just lust. It was all a recipe for disaster, but a good catholic girl Jan had no other option but to live the life in front of her.

She was living the ultimate late sixties lifestyle before this. A life where the most important things were The Beatles and the fashion of the day, and where the next bit if fun was coming from.

As a good Catholic girl, Jan had grown up at a convent school, a part of a big country family. She tells the story of being the youngest of five children, with a mother with typically high expectations. Such was the time, that when Jan told her mother she was pregnant, her mother reacted by freaking out, then not talking to her for the whole of the pregnancy. A whole nine months of time went by, and the two lived in the same house together in complete silence.

She didn’t ask her to give up the baby, nor take her to a single mother’s home; but she didn’t offer any emotional support through this time. Jan was alone. Her boyfriend had deserted her, her mother was silent and her dad, well, dad’s didn’t get that involved back then.

Alone and having a baby was how a lot of women had to do it back in the 70s but few people talk about it with each other and shared the reality of just how hard it was for them. The TV show on Channel Nine, Love Child is the first time I have seen this era spoken about for its isolated mothers in decades.

Jan was one of these. She gave birth to her little baby at a local hospital, alone, at the age of 18. Her mother had dropped her off there when she went into labor. Her boyfriend, who knew she was pregnant had been asked by his own catholic parents to keep away from her, and in consideration of his own youth and the inconvenience of children at the time, he did.

The birth of that little baby, back in 1970 started a life and a decade for Jan that she can only look back on as very very hard times. She doesn’t regret this, the only child she ever had, but says her attitude to children was very much framed by this experience and even now acknowledges that she feels too raw to read articles about those who had enormous fun in the 70s on Starts at 60.

She lived on with her mother for a year, before her old boyfriend approached and they tried to set up a home as a family. For a year or two they got married, and tried to make things work, before alcoholism and violence caused her to leave with her small baby girl and abandon her home town for the city, seeking some kind of opportunity and hope. Living in a small boarding house in the big city of Brisbane was very tough, especially with limited parental support. Making ends meet with a young child was almost impossible, and a constant battle for a single mother like Jan.

It certainly made living the exciting looking life of Woodstock-style parties and Beatles-mania through her twenties look aspirational, unreal and enviable. But Jan lived her reality. What was yours?

Was the Seventies a really tough time for you too?   Jan is listening as are many who lived a tougher life   

Rebecca Wilson

Rebecca Wilson is the founder and publisher of Starts at Sixty. The daughter of two baby boomers, she has built the online community for over 60s by listening carefully to the issues and seeking out answers, insights and information for over 60s throughout Australia. Rebecca is an experienced marketer, a trained journalist and has a degree in politics. A mother of 3, she passionately facilitates and leads our over 60s community, bringing the community opinions, needs and interests to the fore and making Starts at Sixty a fun place to be.

  1. Lets be honest, most of us were getting married and having our families in the 70s so it definitely wasn’t fun, fun, fun. We got married in 72, bought our house in 73, had our first child in 76 thanks to the pill being around so we could plan our family (still had 4 kids). Wages were low, interest rates high, you were expected to give up work once a baby was on the way. Life was different then and not so fast paced. Shops weren’t open like they are now, Sunday’s was more a family day, take aways weren’t so prevalent and I think that is part of what people miss. There’s good and bad in every decade and you just have to make the most of it and get through.

  2. Dear ‘Jan’. The first words that popped into my head were “There, but for the Grace of God, go I.”

    1 REPLY
    • I grew up in N.Z. We were more liberated than our Aussie cousins, we had the pill we used it. But if we hit 21 without at least being engaged we were considered Spinsters. I too think back, but like you Leone with your comment, could have made a mistake, but I and many of my age were more adventurous and by 75 was living in Australia and loving it. I divorced and bought my little boy over with me too.Maybe City kids did have it better than our Country sisters in both countries.

  3. The seventies were hard work young kids no help no day care no money. Hanging on to our house by the skin of our teeth as interest rates went through the roof.

  4. We all tend to forget the bad and remember only the good, that is not such a bad thing..who wants to dwell on the bad things in life forever ? is easier to plow through life only remembering the good

  5. I admire “Jan” for the sacrifices she must have made to bring up a child alone in the seventies

  6. Hard is not the word for it. As a deserted wife, living with a sick baby, trying to get to appointments at a major city hospital by 9am, haha, the trains and trams didn’t allow prams until 9.30am… paying $29 rent for a flat each week when the pension was $32…. the stigma of being a single mother…. NO life in the seventies was not easy. Neither was the whole Vietnam thing. Not for the women and especially not for the young boys conscripted. I could go on but it is all in the past thank heavens.

  7. I have fond memories of the 70s and was extremely fortunate i didnt fall pregnant. I really feel for “Jan”. Especially going through something like that alone and without any emotional support from her mum. When i got married in early 80s i was pregnant and my mum didnt want it known at my wedding. I was shocked as she too was pregnant when she married and much younger than i. All i can say is thank goodness times have changed and there is so much support available now and less shame

  8. Lots of girls went through this. Unfortunately being married didn’t protect women back in those days as domestic violence was commonplace.

  9. Lots of us experienced this and worse for a lot longer but I still have my good memories and my wonderful children and grandchildren it all depends on how you choose to see your life and experiences

  10. 60’s & 70’s for me were horrendous – incest, boyfriend then unmarried & pregnant, baby in 69, taken from me-no choice or options, alone with no family to speak of. Love Child was difficult to watch…so many of us walk thru life in difficulty. However life goes on, I don’t live in the past, it’s past & today is a present & tomorrow is a gift!

    3 REPLY
    • Salvation Army home in Sydney for a small town country girl, Love Child was very difficult to watch, but it made me who I am today.

    • Anne, my son was born June’69 and likes your baby taken from me, first time I saw him he was 25, then courtesy of his adoptive mother he developed a chin on his shoulder at me giving him up yeh right did I have a choice like you NO, now at 45 he hasn’t spoken to me for years. I now have 2 beautiful daughters and grandchildren but they will never fill that gap. Love Child was hard to watch but yes I did watch it, it is my life, your life and a lot of others

    • You are better off without him you sound lovely you have 2 lovely daughters god bless you.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *