This is a look inside a circa-1970s rec room that has been a very important place in my life....
When I am in this room - this time capsule - the calendar rolls back a few decades. All the sudden I feel compelled to go find every friend (and View-Master reel) I lost track of from my early childhood. All the sudden I can hear Debby Boone and Bee Gees songs echoing in my head.
The Rec Room: In whatever form it took, Gen Xers remember a room like this from their youth where they played air hockey and/or Atari. The difference is that I didn't set foot for the first time in this room until after 2000.
This room is a serious 70s time-capsule. Sometimes we'd refer to as That 70s Room. It is the rec room in a condo complex built in the 1970s that my friends used to live in until recently. In an average home, most things start breaking down after a certain amount of time which is why you find appliances and misc. items in a house from any and every decade. Hardly anyone ever used the room, so to enter it is to step back in time. Because this room sat mostly sat empty over the last four decades, everything original remains.
There is almost nothing anachronistic about this room - a Hollywood set designer could not have done a better job of creating an era with props. My friends have sold and left their condo and have left this time capsule behind. But the 70s Rec Room Lives On.
The room includes some very cool graphic pics of San Francisco - these pics remind me of an OP (Ocean Pacific) brand yellow/tan/earth tone tee shirt I had from that same era. In this room, I can feel the roughness of macrame on my hand or the warmth of a pea-green afghan blanket on my lap.
A perfect rec room requires a kitchenette (or a wet bar depending on the nature of the event). I can't get enough of the trend-setting mirrors on the wall.
Why did I always find this room so strangely comforting and thought provoking? Maybe because when I was here it felt like we were back in time - like there was still time for more things to go right and less things to go wrong in the youth of Gen X. All these graphics, and textures, and patterns would cause me to think about the fabric of time. In this room, I would get this fleeting, and maybe childish, feeling that I could somehow go back and fix all that fell apart in those years. Doesn't everyone get that feeling sometimes? This is where I would be when I would get that feeling.
There was more than one night in this room over the last years that we discussed multiverse theory. Imagine a hypothetical situation in which Gen X did not grow up during a Crisis era of history. Imagine all those memories of yellow and orange in the background, but no endless stream of crises along with it.
Orange chairs cast shadows on the technicolor carpet and I feel a strange desire to drink some Tang. While in this room, I've marveled at how EVERYTHING around me was made in the 70s - including me and my friends.
Remember when TVs were actual pieces of furniture? There's also a record player tucked away inside this monolith structure. This is the godfather of entertainment centers, with doors that close in front of the TV. This TV's glory days were when new episodes of CHiPs, Alice, and Mary Tyler Moore would air. When several of us friends got together here, this became a good surface for setting up a laptop to occupy the kids with a movie. (Ideally retro-style Gen X claymation when possible).
The TV is still complete with a rabbit ear antenna. Adjusting these to get a clear picture would now be considered an obselete skill...looking at this gives me a hankering for a Swanson's fried chicken TV dinner - the kind in an aluminum tray that you heat up in the oven....
The decor is still complete with 70s interior design touches. Standing near this wall, I am reminded of some women's bathroom I went in during the 70s - then I think of the smell of Aqua Net hairspray mixed with Charlie perfume.
And suddenly I get a flashback of sitting on the seats of a Southwest Airlines plane by myself as a six year old to fly from the city where one of my parents lived, to the city and state of the other. In those days, I didn't just hang out with latchkey kids, I hung out with boarding-pass kids.
Since my friends moved out of their condo there will be no more dinners or late night conversations in this room. Goodbye bygone era. Goodbye 70s room. We will miss you.
for KT and CT - thanks for all the 70s memories.
(c) 2013 writing and photos by Chloe - all rights reserved....if you know the artist who did the cool retro West Coast screen-print images above, send me a message or comment so I can give them credit!!