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The 1970s. By Martin Green.


This is a sad story. It’s also a true story, which makes it even sadder. The story takes place in the 1970’s. My wife Alice and I bought our first house. It was in the suburbs. It doesn’t matter where the suburbs were because this story was, I’m sure, taking place in suburbs all over the country.

Alice and I had our first child, a son; then our second, another son. All around us our neighbors too were starting their families. The parents did a lot of things together. We had soccer, Little League, basketball, swimming and PTA meetings. We went to many pizza places after games. We also had many parties. Some of the parties were pretty wild.

The couple who had the largest house on our street and who gave the biggest parties were Pete and Irene. Pete had political connections and held a high state office. Irene did volunteer work and arranged their parties. The couple down the block was Ralph and Brenda. Ralph was an office manager; Brenda worked part-time as a secretary. Brenda was a stunning redhead. Bill and Marie, the couple on the corner, had a daughter, a high achiever, and a son who was moody and troubled.

It was the 1970’s. The 1960’s had unleashed a lot of forces: sex (make love, not war), drugs (get high), self-indulgence (do your own thing). Here’s what happened. Pete had an affair with Brenda. His wife Irene found out and divorced him. Pete moved out of the house but didn’t marry Brenda. Instead, he had an affair with one of his interns and eventually lost his high state office. Irene stayed on in the house and took up drinking. Brenda’s husband Ralph left her. We heard later he’d married a 20-year old. Then there was Bill and Marie. When their troubled son became a teenager he committed suicide. They blamed each other and soon divorced.. Their high-achieving daughter ran off with a drummer in a rock band. Their house was sold and we never saw them again.

What about Alice and myself? We had a happy marriage. I had a good job. Our children were fine. I had a little fling with Brenda.. Why? It was the 1970’s. It was in the air. As I told Alice, it didn’t mean anything. But she couldn’t forgive me and we divorced. I never remarried and I have little contact with our sons, who blamed me for the break-up. As I said, this is a sad story. It was the1970’s. It was happening all over.


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