(Pictured: ABBA, 1974.)
July 4, 1974, was a Thursday. Americans are able to celebrate Independence Day as usual because a federal ban on consumer fireworks, announced by the Consumer Product Safety Commission in May, was delayed last month. Americans enjoying holiday cookouts learn that the federal government has spent nearly a half-million dollars buying meat as part of a new program designed to help livestock producers struggling with depressed prices. Embattled President Nixon, facing an impeachment vote later this month, spends the day in Florida with his friend Bebe Rebozo. Last night, Nixon returned home after a lengthy diplomatic trip to the Middle East and the Soviet Union. Tonight, news reports reveal that during Nixon’s trip, doctors diagnosed a potentially fatal blood clot in the president’s leg, but Nixon rejected their advice to rest and continued his trip. Nixon’s phlebitis was reported in the media last week, but the blood clot is a new development. A new Gallup poll says that 72 percent of Americans favor the new 55MPH national speed limit, which Congress instituted earlier this year to save energy and lower highway fatalities. At Kendall Ford in Eugene, Oregon, you can get a new 1974 Mustang II with four-speed floor shift, whitewall tires, vinyl bucket seats, and woodgrain dash for $69.98 a month for 42 months, with trade-in. Interest rate on the loan amount is 12.75 percent. Seven major banks raised the prime interest rate to 12 percent yesterday. Real estate developer and former New York Yankees co-owner Del Webb dies at age 75. Future NFL player La’Roi Glover is born.
NFL players are on strike over a number of issues including free agency. Veteran players have begun picketing training camps. David Pearson wins his third straight NASCAR Firecracker 400; Richard Petty finishes second for the fourth year in a row. The tightest race in baseball is in the American League East, where Boston takes over first place by one-half game with a 10-6 win over Baltimore while second-place Cleveland loses at Milwaukee 15-3. Mike Hegan hits two home runs for the Brewers and 19-year-old rookie shortstop Robin Yount goes 3-for-4. The women’s final at Wimbledon is tomorrow and the men’s on Saturday. On Sunday, the World Cup final matches West Germany against the Netherlands in Munich.
On TV tonight, NBC presents an episode of the summer replacement series Dean Martin’s Comedy World with Jackie Cooper, Barbara Feldon, Nipsey Russell, Freddie Prinze, and Rodney Dangerfield. Also on NBC tonight is an episode of Ironside plus Stars and Stripes, a special hosted by Tennessee Ernie Ford with appearances by Bob Hope, Dionne Warwick, and Miss America 1974, Rebecca King. ABC presents episodes of two half-hour adventure series, Firehouse and Chopper One, followed by Kung Fu and Streets of San Francisco. CBS airs The Waltons and a repeat of Applause, a made-for-TV adaptation of a Broadway musical based on the movie All About Eve. The film stars Lauren Bacall, Penny Fuller, Larry Hagman, and Robert Mandan. Between The Waltons and Applause, CBS airs the first of a series of Bicentennial Minutes, spotlighting important moments in history “200 years ago today.”
At WCFL in Chicago, “Sundown” by Gordon Lightfoot is #1 on the latest survey, dated June 29. “La Grange” by ZZ Top is #2, and last week’s #1, “Band on the Run” by Paul McCartney and Wings, is #3. New songs in the Top 10 are “Waterloo” by ABBA at #8 and “I’m the Leader of the Gang” by Brownsville Station at #10. The biggest mover is “Annie’s Song” by John Denver, up 11 spots to #17. “Rock Your Baby” by George McCrae is up to #24 from #33, and “Radar Love” by Golden Earring debuts at #30. The top five albums in Chicago are Band on the Run, Sundown, ZZ Top’s Tres Hombres, the soundtrack of The Sting, and Bachman-Turner Overdrive II.
Perspective From the Present: July 4, 1974, was a warm and breezy day in southern Wisconsin, with high temperatures pushing 90. Holiday or not, there was probably hay to be made on the farm; if so, I spent the morning driving the hay rake, one of the rare farm jobs I did not dislike. That night, we probably blew off a few firecrackers and cherry bombs before or after the fireworks in town. Dad liked to put them under tin cans and blow the cans into the air. One year, our dog ran away to escape the noise, and it was days before he came home. It might have been 1974, or some other, earlier year. All those years are now very long ago.
My thanks to all who voted in the poll choosing which decade to write about today. A writer should know his audience, but clearly my audience knows its writer.