I write a mystery series set in 1974. In 1974, I was seven. Don’t do the math. Please.
Readers frequently ask me how I get so much right.
There are several answers. The first is that I bought myself more magazines from 1974 than anyone in 2016 should own. The second is that MeTV is my forever friend. The third is more difficult. Even though I was seven, I remember more than seems possible.
Especially in the summertime.
Much has been made of 70s’ style parenting of late—blogs making fun of smoking, drinking, neglectful mothers. That I don’t remember.
I do remember being set loose to play in the neighborhood. Nightly games of kick-the-can and hide-and-seek. Bomb pops that melted down my arm. Bologna sandwiches and carrot sticks (not miniature carrots but actual carrots cut into sticks) for lunch. Sunburn on my nose and shoulders. The pass-throughs in backyards used as secret short-cuts from block to block. Packs of kids on bikes—all without helmets. Zinc oxide on those sunburned noses. A summer breeze floating sheer curtains as I curled up with Nancy Drew after a day in the sun. Halcyon days.
I also remember gas lines, my parents complaining about a 55 miles per hour speed limit, and how jealous I was that my friend Elizabeth’s parents bought a turquoise AMC Pacer. I remember School House Rock, getting up with the farm report on Saturday mornings because I wanted to watch cartoons, “You’ve Come a Long Way, Baby” (but not that far - the woman is still called Baby), Archie Bunker, Sanford and Son (you mean being a junk dealer is a real job?), and Kid Dy-No-Mite. I remember driving across Kansas with the back of the station turned down so my sister and I could nap (need I add we didn’t wear seat belts? Or, that when you’re seven, Kansas is infinite). I remember bickering with my sister on those trips (Mom, she's touching my side), my mother singing show tunes when we’d passed the point of radio reception, and begging my father to stop at a gas station pleeease.
I wouldn’t trade a single memory.
I hope your summer is filled with memories. You never know how you’ll use them.
Julie Mulhern is a USA TODAY bestselling author and Kansas City native. She spends her time whipping up gourmet meals for her family, working out at the gym and finding new ways to keep her house spotlessly clean and she s got an active imagination. Truth is she s an expert at calling for take-out, she grumbles about walking the dog and the dust bunnies under the bed have grown into dust lions.
Her latest mystery, Clouds in my Coffee, is available now.