Stretch Armstrong

I remember having Stretch and stretch him I did. He lasted a few months before it happened. Mr. Armstrong sprung a leak and out came this gooey liquid everywhere.

Jesse Horowitz designed Stretch… he tried a sumo wrestler but it was too big and he dropped the idea. He thought about a stretch woman to rival Barbie but smartly dropped that idea.

In 1976  Stretch Armstrong was sold to the masses, and the $11 toy that made Kenner over $50 million in revenue had a secret: He was basically just a big sack of corn syrup… but to a kid…a fun $11 big sack of corn syrup.

The fad wore out after a while other companies started to do their own Stretch dolls. The Mega company started their own line with Batman, Spider-Man, and Superman stretchable figures. Kenner sued but by the time anything was done Stretch’s time in the sun was over and his popularity faded.

Maybe I shouldn’t have stretched Stretch so much…

Armstrong dolls in a box that aren’t leaking profusely from ’70s wounds can fetch over $1000 on auction sites, with especially rare versions or prototypes worth more.

The 50’s Revival in the 1970’s

When the Beatles arrived in 1964, the short hair and car hops of the fifties were going away. The sixties in some ways liberated people from the fifties for better or worse. The crew-cuts and simple times were giving way to Vietnam and the social unrest of the sixties.

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Slowly as the sixties started to come to a close the fifties started to peak in again.

In the late sixties, Sha Na Na started their act and even toured with well-known acts. Fats Domino, Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis’s popularity grew and Elvis started to make music again instead of soundtracks with his 1968 comeback special. In 1971 a disc jockey name Jerry Osborne started an “oldies” format on FM radio in Phoenix, Arizona and it was successful and other emulated it around the country.

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In 1972 “Grease” a musical that took place in 1959 debuted on Broadway. In 1973 George Lucas came out with  American Graffiti and boom really started. The soundtrack to American Graffiti peaked at #10 in the Billboard 100 in 1973. Happy Days debuted the following year and fifties music was gaining in popularity.

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A spin-off from Happy Days Laverne and Shirley, also set in the fifties, was a huge success and still is syndication to this day. In 1974 the 50s era movie The Lords of Flatbush with the pre-Rocky Sylvester Stallone and Henry Winkler of Happy Days.

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In 1977 Sha Na Na started a variety show…unfortunately I remember this…

In 1978 two big fifties era movies were released. Grease and American Hot Wax which featured performances by Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Screamin’ Jay Hawkins. Styles seem to recycle every 20 years or so but in the 1970s the fifties revival was really strong. Maybe it was a want for a more simpler time.

The 1972 London Rock and Roll Show

A few things from the 70s

If I could have been a teenager in any decade it would have been the 1970s. I barely remember the 70s  I grew up mostly in the 80s. I was always envious of people who grew up in the decade before I did…. Great music, split level houses, earth tones, funky clothes, cool cars, great tv shows and bad variety shows…so bad they were great…. Everyone and everything had their own personality. It was a decade where all generations intersected with each other. You had a  with Tim Conway, Kiss, Florence Henderson (singing That Old Black Magic no less) Donny and Marie!, Margaret Hamilton and the eternal Betty White. What other decade would have that and Saturday Night Live….with Laraine Newman, John Belushi, Jane Curtin, Gilda Radner, Dan Aykroyd, Garrett Morris, and Chevy Chase…

I’m not saying anything bad didn’t happen…they did… Jonestown, Kent State, Watergate, Iran hostages, inflation and gas shortages and more. But every decade has its tragedies and bad things.

Really good things were no cellphones, no AIDs, we had vinyl records and we would study the front cover art or picture and the fold out for hours, real honest to goodness rock stars who had talent, no auto-tune, pictures that were not doctored so much you weren’t sure they were real, Intellivision, Atari games, libraries were still relevant, hanging out with friends after school, not nearly as much commercialism (fewer choices to make), more freedom, individualism, you could tell a Ford from a Chevy, Now everyone wants the same things because we are hit with ads 24/7 to be like everyone else.

The 1980s is when commercialism really started in full earnest.

In the 70s people and companies were not afraid to take chances to do something different and new…like movies, houses and cars….even if you didn’t like them (AMC Pacer!) at least you weren’t seeing the same thing in different colors. Yes disco was there but I still like it better than boy groups now. Real musicians played on them. I will admit the lit dance floors were pretty cool…that’s all I will give disco. You could go and see The Who, Led Zeppelin, Paul McCartney, The Rolling Stones, Stevie Wonder for 12 bucks and under…sometimes cheaper.

Many people would disagree with the 70s but I still like the chaise lounge chairs with the groovy fuzzy feeling (I have one), green shag carpet the dark restaurants and Star Wars! Before the awful….for the most part Star War prequels.

I can think of many more things both good and bad. I just wish I could have seen more of the seventies at an older age than I was then. But I enjoyed what I had of them…I just wished we had more individualism now.

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Can’t forget the Pacer (rolling fish aquarium on wheels)

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The best Peanut Butter ever…KOOGLE… it came in 4 flavors and Banana was my favorite. I so wish Kraft would bring this back…I really miss this…