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Kids have found an effective new way to stick it to their elders: They’re wearing bell bottoms. The sight of those nautically cut trousers gives today’s middle aged yuppies a rush of nausea that can only be linked to a certain self loathing. (“Did I really dress that way?”) Naturally, they’re embarrassed at having been shaped by a decade that produced both Melanie and disco. Yet the Me Decade wasn’t a total loss. It was a bridge between the flower power of the ’60s and the power brokers of the ’80s.

Culture trends and fashion statements pioneered by the “freaks” of the late ’60s such as bells became institutionalized (remember “flare” legs?) in the early ’70s. It was a decade that brought forth such enduring products as the calculator, grass roots environmentalism and “Saturday Night Live.”

But a lot of it was pretty silly, and that’s the problem. We live in an era in which fashion designers, filmmakers and Madison Avenue types are indulging heavily in retro’70s fare. As a public service to readers, we offer this quick and handy (you’ll want to cut it out and tape it to the fridge) guide to the ’70s: the enduring things the decade wrought; the ’70s styles, fads and personalities making comebacks; and bits and pieces of the decade we hope never to see again.

Born in the ’70s and never quit

Running: “The Complete Book of Running,” by James Fixx, a runaway best seller in 1978, crystallized what was already an upsurge in the world’s simplest sport. The running boom gave usrunning shoes as casual wear and a fitness trend that continues to this day.

George McGovern: Here was a guy who rode the wave of anti Vietnam fervor to become the first Democratic presidential nominee on the ballot when 18 year olds were given the vote. McGovern’s ineffectual waffling set the tone for two decades of Democratic leadership.

Have a nice day: The yellow smiley button and its attendant

greeting are now seen as points of irony for the twentysomething generation.

“Saturday Night Live”: It began Oct. 11, 1975, under the title “NBC’s Saturday Night,” and it never left. The original Not Ready for Prime Time Players included Chevy Chase, Dan Aykroyd, John Belushi, Jane Curtin, Garrett Morris, Laraine Newman and Gilda Radner. (Bill Murray came after Chase departed in 1976.) “The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour”: Neither Sonny nor Cher seems capable of attaining a low profile, but one of their many zeniths was on the Zenith; in 1973 74 this was the top variety show. Their signature “I Got You Babe” runs throughout today’s hit movie, “Groundhog Day.”

Salad bars: What started as a hippie dippy novelty for counterculture grazers exploded into a restaurant and fast food phenomenon. Sneeze guards and chemical scares came later.

Fern bars: Hey, baby, come here often? While singles bars were actually born in the late ’60s, the fern bar with its abundance of fronds, shiny brass and fake Tiffany glass became wildly popular in the ’70s. Drink of choice: tequila sunrise.

Stayed in the ’70s

Kalso Earth Shoe: It’s hard to imagine what was thought fashionable or healthful about these shoes, which looked like corrective podiatric appliances with the toes up and the heel down. It was definitely a “crunchy granola” item, and one of the first products to appeal to the back to earth trend among America’s youth.

“Joe”: Although this 1970 movie is no longer on Susan Sarandon’s resume (it was her film debut), “Joe” helped create a caricature of the ’60s that carried on through the early 1970s, making bigoted laborers (Peter Boyle is the eponymous lead) and thieving, drugged out, sex crazed hippies part of our library of mass cultural stereotypes.

Kohoutek: The astronomical non event of the decade, Comet Kohoutek came screaming within viewing distance of Earth (sort of) in early 1974. Children of God cult leader David “Moses” Berg predicted the comet would bring calamity to Planet Earth, but it mostly brought a lot of astronomers onto the nightly network news. What a dud. It’s expected back in 75,000 years.

Guru Maharaj Ji: The 13 year old (in 1971) “perfect spiritual master” and his Divine Light Mission organization were typical of non traditional (some would call them cults) religious organizations that grew up and then blew up in the ’70s. The Divine Light petered out quickly after a fast start.

“Get Christie Love!”: What a ’70s title. (See: “Love, American Style,” “The Love Boat.”) This cop series starring “Laugh In” ‘s Teresa Graves survived only one season, 1974 75, but Christie Love was the first black policewoman on TV.

Watergate: What did we know, and when did we know it? The 1972 burglary that brought down a president lives on in popular culture in the endlessly gate suffixed scandals from Koreagate to Irangate to Iraqgate to Nannygate that have plagued us ever since. Also surviving from the era: the phrases “smoking gun” and “dirty tricks,” Richard Nixon’s cachet as a talk show guest and, of course, Lowell P. Weicker Jr.’s political career.
ladies timberland sandals A Decade Of Earth Shoes