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Michael Barnes

Readers chime in on 1970s Austin

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Our story on how the 1970s paved the way for the 2010s in Austin hit our readers where they live. Many sent in their memories. Some are collected here. More to come.

“This article in Sunday’s Statesman is just wonderful — a real trip down memory lane. I have lived here since 1969, and I’ll have to read this several more times and really think it through, but I think you really got it.” — Nancy Busbey

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“Thank you for the memories! I just wanted to reach out and let you know that I am the young girl on the right in the white blouse (in the photo of a Rag newsboy on the Drag), and I’m with my high school friend Kathy Murphy in the sundress. The ’70s were before malls and so we spent a lot of time shopping and meandering on the Drag and downtown.” — Kathleen Malcom

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“Great article on the ’70s. Thought you might enjoy seeing this. This was the first, totally diverse Austin City Council: Jeff Friedman, Mayor. Emma Lou Linn next to Uncle Sam.” — Anne 

“I just wanted to congratulate you on the great article in yesterday’s newspaper about Austin in the 1970s. Your constellating thesis, that the ’70s set the stage for today, is exactly what I’ve found in my research (although not the focus of my research). Moreover, now that I’m in the final stages of revising (hooray!), I can use a few choice quotes from you — properly cited in Chicago format. I have an entire chapter devoted to disrupting cultural narratives of ‘high’ versus ‘low’ titled ‘Cultural Contact Highs at the Armadillo.'” — Caroline Clark

“Thank you so much for Sunday’s article on how Austin in the 1970s laid the foundation for the Austin of today. It was an excellent examination of a cultural/social/and business flow that has been going on for nearly half a century. … In addition, I am posting you to let you know about a book that I have written that touches on much of what you spoke of. I am/was a music artist from 1971 until now and wrote on the evolution of Austin music and culture starting in the early 1970s. Called ‘Weird Yet Strange: Notes from an Austin Music Artist,’ it is published by TCU Press. … I think that much of what I have written was reflected in your Sunday article.” — Danny Garrett

“I loved your article about Austin in the 70s. I went to public school here from 1958-1970 and UT from 1970-1974. I had a normal, sheltered upbringing and blossomed in the early 70s while attending UT and living on or near campus. What a great time that was and well described in your article. I’ve told my nieces/nephews about frequenting the Armadillo World Headquarters, having late night coffee at Les Amis and Pecan Street, shopping at Whole Earth, voting for McGovern in ’71 (at 19 I was so proud to be able to vote), attending Willie’s first picnic in ’72, and marching from UT to the Capitol to protest the Vietnam War. But, I think your description of the change in the City, during my youth, captures it better than I could have described.” — Debbie Martin

“As far as the demonstration against the Cambodian invasion in 1970, did you know that after the march, thousands of us spent a couple nights on the main mall at UT protesting in a “love fest” kind of way?  We finally got sent home, and we were probably ready to leave anyway, but boy oh boy did we have some fun. The other thing that struck me was about the Armadillo.  It was more than unique, and most welcome and necessary, especially after the Vulcan Gas Company closed and we needed this new venue so bad –anyway, with Eddie Wilson as a leader, lots of people worked for free at the Armadillo just to help make it happen and to be part of the scene.  It had a real community feel to it, unlike most commercial ventures today.” — Norine Yukon

Extra huge kudos to you for such a thorough and detailed capture of the 70’s here in my home town.  Your research must have been exhausting, as you covered all the aspects of the decade, and exclusively Austin causes, music, local government, and businesses that defined why people loved and gravitated here.  Ultimately, we have become the live music capital of the world, even though it could be argued that “designation” was due decades before – in the 70’s ! 
Thank you Michael !  Glad you had a pic of me in the online video (at 1:59), from the Armadillo stage when I played with one of Austin’s most historic rock bands – Too Smooth. — Jeff Clark