Friday, May 13, 2022

Insight: Party like it’s 1975

By Ed Pierce
Managing Editor

Next week marks an anniversary for me as 47 years ago I wrote my first published professional article for a newspaper. On May 16, 1975, I was assigned by United Press International to cover the world heavyweight championship fight in Las Vegas, Nevada between the challenger, Ron Lyle, and the champion, Muhammad Ali.

It seems like an eternity ago as so much has happened in my life and career since then but celebrating 47 years as a print journalist is certainly a milestone that not many are able to reach. I attribute my career longevity to lots of luck, some wonderful mentors, and having been blessed with an opportunity to tell some exceptional stories through the years.

In celebrating my career anniversary, I thought it would be interesting to look back at some of the news, events and newsmakers taking place during this week in May 1975 at the start of my career.

Gasoline was selling across America for 57 cents a gallon. Electronics manufacturer Sony announced the creation of a new video cassette recording system it called Betamax.

The game show Wheel of Fortune made its debut as part of the NBC daytime television lineup.

The top movies of May 1975 are “Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore” with Ellen Burstyn, “Breakout” with Charlles Bronson, and the Academy Award winner “The Godfather Part II” with Al Pacino and Robert DeNiro. On television, the top-rated show is “All in the Family” followed by the ABC miniseries “Rich Man, Poor Man,” and “Laverne and Shirley.” 

The pull tab ring for aluminum cans is discontinued by American manufacturers after a series of injuries and deaths caused by people who swallowed the metal tabs. Gerald Ford was serving as the U.S. president.

Newly released products on the market included the Mood Ring, a jewelry item which contains a thermochromic element or a mood stone that changes colors based upon the temperature of the finger it’s worn on, and the Ford F-150 pickup truck.

For three consecutive weeks, the song “He Don’t’ Love You (Like I Love You)” by Tony Orlando and Dawn tops the popular American music charts in May 1975. The top country song during that same time period is the crossover hit “(Hey Won’t You Play) Another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song” by B.J. Thomas.

The top bestselling novel of May 1975 is “Ragtime” by E.L. Doctorow and the first issue of “Soldier of Fortune” magazine is on sale at newsstands across the U.S.

Gourmet jellybeans are introduced in America by the Herman Goelitz Corporation. Original flavors are licorice, lemon, grape, root beer, cream soda, green apple, tangerine and very cherry. The company was rebranded in 2001 as “Jelly Belly.”

The “two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun” jingle is introduced to the American public in a television commercial for McDonalds in May 1975. The minimum wage for American workers was $2.10 an hour.

Milk was priced at $1.57 a gallon in May 1975, while eggs cost 70 cents for a dozen and ground beef was 99 cents per pound. A 1.05-ounce Hershey’s chocolate bar was 15 cents, and a 12-ounce box of Kellogg’s Corn Flakes was 45 cents.

Pillsbury acquires Totino's frozen pizza for $20 million in May 1975 while Wally Amos introduces his “Famous Amos Chocolate Chip Cookies” for the first time to American consumers. A Kentucky Fried Chicken “Family Bucket” meal containing 15 pieces of chicken, mashed potatoes, gravy, and six rolls was selling for $4.90.

The U.S. merchant ship Mayaguez and its crew were seized by the Kymer Rouge Cambodian forces and held for three days before being freed during a daring rescue by U.S. Marines.

The Milwaukee Brewers held first place in the American League East baseball standings on May 16, 1975, leading the eventual A.L. champion that year, the Boston Red Sox, by four games. The Los Angeles Dodgers were in first place in the National League West standings by five games over the Atlanta Braves and 5.5 games ahead of the eventual N.L. and 1975 World Series champion, the Cincinnati Reds.

The top selling automobiles in America in May 1975 are the Oldsmobile Cutlass, the Ford Granada, the Chevrolet Chevelle, the Chevrolet Nova and Chevrolet Monte Carlo and the AMC Pacer.

The theme park Busch Gardens officially opened in Williamsburg, Virginia with television personality Ed McMahon on hand for the dedication ceremony.

In women’s fashion, platform sandals, mini dresses and turtlenecks for layering were the top trends, while men were wearing bell-bottom and wide-leg pants, platform shoes, vests, long collared shirts, turtleneck sweaters, and leisure suits. For full disclosure, I wore a new brown plaid leisure suit when I interviewed Muhammad Ali before his knockout of Ron Lyle in Las Vegas.

Yes, May 1975 turned out to be a memorable month for me that I will not ever forget. That was truly a different world than the one we live in today and in many ways a simpler and less complicated way of life.

In looking back, I wish I knew then what I know now, but I wouldn’t change a thing about how my life or career turned out. <

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