No, no. I don’t mean that literally. Not now, anyway. I mean “Let’s go streaking,” as in that 1970s craze that, in hindsight, was one of the very few memorable things about that decade – well that, polyester and platform shoes. Come to think of it, I’m not sure streaking wasn’t the crowning glory of the 70s. The fad blazed through college campuses back then, with students brazenly and unabashedly ditching their clothes and running from Point A to Point B, just because they could.
Incidentally, the University of Georgia holds the record for the largest group streak in the United States, with 1543 of the state’s finest youth running around naked at the same time. That was on March 7, 1974. Go Dawgs!
My husband and I were telling our children about the streaking fad and how it caught fire, emboldening baseball fans to zip around the bases in the buff, dodging security guards and grinning the whole time. A guy interrupted the summer 1976 Olympics in Montreal, wearing nothing but a smile. Yes, from college campuses to sports arenas, running around naked became all the rage.
“But why?” they asked in disbelief. “What was the point?”
Well social injustice and unrest, of course. Why else do college students do stupid things? Somehow, somewhere, some kid smart enough to get accepted to a university somewhere got the bright idea that showing the world what God gave him would call attention to the ever-present social issues that plague this country.
“But did it work?” they asked us. “Did anything change?”
“Well, uh, no,” we answered sheepishly. You see, hubby and I were in our glorious college years in the late 70s. Well, he was working, already “adulting” earlier than most of us did. But I entered college in 1977. While the peak of the fad is pinpointed right around 1974, I still had a front row seat to more streaking incidents than I care to remember. In fact, one was so close that I washed my hands compulsively for days. Let’s just say I was a naïve young woman until that afternoon on the campus of Ole Miss.
Well, this whole conversation with our kids started because my husband and I were commenting on the outlandish things young people do for any number of reasons. For example, it’s our young who decide to roller skate off the roof of a three-story house. It’s our offspring who get the bright idea to surf on the roof of a moving car. Goodness, as far back as the 1920s, young people were obsessed with doing strange, outlandish things. Dance marathons, those dances that lasted until the participants dropped (or threw up or began crying for Mama), were all the rage. Kissing marathons, or locking lips for hours, even days, were a thing.
And let’s not forget the “goldfish swallowing” craze, started at the nation’s most illustrious and revered institution of higher learning, Harvard. Was PETA around in the 1930s?
Flagpole sitting was another fad during the 20s and 30s. Again, a test of endurance. All I can say to that is, “Ouch.”
I can’t say whether any or all of these crazes was dreamed up to right the social ship, or to shed light on an otherwise ignored inequity. Odds are, though, the young people who engaged in these silly rituals were attempting to make some kind of point. As long as no one is harmed in the process (except for goldfish, mind you), it’s all in good fun. I say, let them do their thing.
Let me tell you, our children laughed and laughed, their message ringing loud and clear. “You old people are weird!” And yes, maybe “weird” is a good word for the things we did back in the glory days of our youth, those days in which all the tomorrows in the world are promised, and in which all of us were bulletproof.
Too, there’s another reason I suspect that these ridiculous fads are relegated to the young. I certainly wouldn’t suggest streaking at my age. Maybe, MAYBE, in my twenties, but not now. First, one must be able to run in order to streak, so that leaves me out. And as far as the rest of it goes, well, no. Kissing for hours? No. I’m a germophobe. Dancing for hours? Shuffling, maybe, but dancing’s out. Swallowing goldfish? I get queasy just thinking about it.
Yes, leave these things to the young. And to our children, who were so quick to tell us how silly we were so long ago? Of all the goofy things I’ve done over the years, and believe me, there have been a few of them, I have never, ever, eaten laundry detergent, no matter how pretty it looks.
I can’t wait to hear what that’s all about, what that’s supposed to solve. I really can’t wait.
Carole Townsend is a Gwinnett author and freelance writer. Her fourth book, BLOOD IN THE SOIL, was published in 2016. It is the true tale of a crime that took place in Gwinnett County nearly 40 years ago. Her previous three books are written with Southern humor. Carole often appears on network television talk and news shows, as well as on national true crime radio shows. Her books can be found in bookstores, on Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble.com, and at www.caroletownsend. com. When she’s not writing, Carole travels throughout the southeast, talking to groups about women, writing, family, and life in her beloved South.