“Something bold, never told, can unfold in your mind.”
–former Free Press editor Ken Jordan
In the pages of the 1973 Free Press, occasional (and uniformly sarcastic) articles about the national situation suggest a time of low morale in America. Sharply rising meat prices and an oil supply crisis must have soured the national mood considerably.
One student’s photo essay about his visit to Washington for January’s massive “counter-inauguration” vividly documented a sense of bitter resignation among many about President Richard Nixon’s reelection.
The widely protested Vietnam War ended in 1973, but apparently with little rejoicing.
And to top it all off, there was the Watergate scandal, which eventually forced Nixon to resign after he was implicated in massive abuses of power and obstruction of justice.
Student poems were a regular feature on the back page of the 1973 Free Press. Editor Ken Jordan contributed lines like “Something bold, never told, can unfold in your mind” and “Fair Madonna of the road / May you always keep your smile / And may it shine upon your path / As it shown [sic] on me awhile.”
Aerosmith singer kisses lead guitarist
Staff writer Cindy Zinni wrote a review of Boston rock band Aerosmith’s concert in the Portland campus gym. She was decidedly unimpressed.
“I’ve got nothing against the one rhythm they used, but after three or four songs it gets a little monotonous,” she wrote, asserting that the band suffered from a “tremendous lack of musicianship.” As for lead singer Steve Tyler’s “obvious imitation” of Mick Jagger, she wrote that he “should be sued for not getting Mick’s permission.”
The high point of the show, she added sarcastically, was when “the illustrious lead singer decided to kiss his lead guitarist. To say the least such goings on should be limited to offstage moments. It tends to be somewhat nauseating to an audience.”
Pasquale’s frozen pizza and cassette recorders
Apparently you could order a “frozen pizza” with a side order of a cassette recorder at Pasquale’s on Veranda St. in Portland. The pizzeria’s ad in the Free Press pitched “name brand cassette recorders and radios [at] reduced prices.”
Amato’s, which was their competition (for pizza at least), advertised a large pizza for $1.15, Italian sandwiches starting at 35 cents, and a “bucket of spaghetti” for $1.
Nixon says, “Let them eat cheese”
A short article claimed that food prices in America rose “higher than they have in a quarter century” in January of ’73. President Nixon’s remedy, the article said, was to suggest that Americans abstain from meat one day out of the week, eating cheese instead.
Echoing in your veins
Music writer Maurice Harter was quite taken with Pink Floyd’s new album “Dark Side of the Moon,” and he claimed the band’s music was “on a level above everything else being created.”
Describing the track “The Great Gig in the Sky,” he wrote, “The piano fades to almost nothing… and then in a tremendous burst of sound you are carried away, screaming, pleading, the frantic cries of the chick chorus singer echoing in your veins… Soft now; deep inside, the last battle has been fought… You are at peace.”
Trying to convey his impression of another track, “Us and Them,” he wrote, “Learn karate; know how to defend yourself. Know how to kill. First a quick short chop… What’s it all for?”
Showing at the Playhouse Theatre in Gorham during 1973 were “A Clockwork Orange,” “Slaughterhouse Five,” “The Godfather,” “Lady Sings the Blues,” and “Butterflies Are Free.”
Maine women “loveable, soft” but not equal
An Equal Rights Amendment for women passed in the Maine House of Representatives (76-68) but was defeated in the Senate (15-16).
Opponents of the bill argued that it had “no regard for women who cherish their roles as housewives and mothers” and feared the “destruction of the family circle, national chaos, the petering out of chivalry, and the wrath of God,” according to an article in the Free Press.
Aroostook Rep. Edward Cyr changed his vote from yea to nay, and was quoted as saying that “95 percent of the ladies [who support the amendment] do not know what they are talking about.” He also reportedly implied that the impotence of Gorham men was the reason there were so many “unsatisfied” women in that town who supported the bill.
Sen. Frank Anderson of Hancock told the Senate, “Women are lovable, soft, indispensable creatures… women are meant to be loved and not understood.”
The USM Spud Pickers
USM sports teams were searching for a new name in the wake of the early ’70s Portland/Gorham merger. The most popular suggestion was the Pogos, after the comic strip “Pogo” by Walt Kelly. The university spent two years trying to secure the right to use the character as their mascot, and failed.
Other ideas for names included Lobstermen, Spud Pickers, Clamdiggers, Seals, Seagulls, Terns, Herons, Sailors, Seafarers, Fishers, Pelicans, Loggers, Doves, Grey Ghosts and Captains.
Stop smoking pot on shuttle buses
Paula McMann wrote to the editor to complain about pervasive pot smoking on the shuttle buses between the Portland and Gorham campuses. She explained that she wasn’t upset because it was illegal, but because the odor was offensive and stuck to her clothing, and the smoke aggravated her allergy.
“I would hope,” she wrote, “that no one is in such a condition that they must smoke pot” on every trip between campuses.
A man incarcerated in a London, Ohio prison wrote the Free Press asking them to publish his address in case any students would like to be his pen pal. “I promise to answer all letters, and furnish a photograph of myself. I’m 23 yrs. of age and an Aries… To receive a letter in a place like this is like a dream come true,” he wrote.
Five years overdue — fine: $0
A persistent issue at USM during the ’70s was faculty members’ abuse of the University libraries. Library policy gave them no incentive to ever bring books back, and as a result many professors had reportedly amassed their own personal libraries over the years, consisting largely of University books.
New math: “Santana = rock = art = religion”
Maurice Harter called Santana’s new album “music that makes whole being [sic] respond; dance; vibrate; celebrate; elate; communicate with one, with all. Into the nether regions of the soul; a whole; a look inside. There’s nothing to hide; all stands revealed. The spirit is healed.”
Good rock stars vs. evil rock stars
Harter’s article “The Future of Music” depicted the national rock scene as a battle between good and evil.
The good guys were Mahavishnu Orchestra, Santana, the Moody Blues, Pink Floyd and Joni Mitchell, who Harter claimed were “attempting to develop new directions in spirituality and musical awareness.”
The bad guys were Alice Cooper, Slade, Iggy Pop and the New York Dolls, who were “decorating [rock] with… exaggerated glitter and pseudo-sexuality, and mid ’50s punk violence.”
Letters to the editor mercilessly ribbed editor Ken Jordan for bad grammar in his articles. The letters that pointed out his mistakes had no errors in them, but Jordan took out his frustration on other letters, by not editing them and printing them with notes counting the number of misspellings.
Back to the country
John Markward wrote an article about the “Physical Survival group” at USM, who spent a week living in a field six miles from Gorham.
“No heat, no electricity, no gas, no phones, no refrigeration… and no television. It was great!” he wrote, urging other students to “get off your butts” and try it. “I think this experiment drew us all a little closer together.”
The Free Press stinks
A letter to the editor from H. Brent Wilbur read, “Congratulations, your paper, I now consider the worst I’ve read… I don’t wish to appear completely critical, but on the whole your paper really stinks.”
Quit school and hit the road
An editorial by Ken Jordan encouraged students to “leave behind the umbrella protection of the university [and] set forth upon the road to discovery and personal liberation.”
Roll another one
“There’s only one way to roll your smokes. With e-z wider,” claimed an ad for cigarette paper. The ad featured an illustration of a smiling policeman in uniform (see the ad in the Urgent News photo section).
For more photos click on the “Urgent News of the Past” link on the upper left side of your screen.
Brian O’Keefe can be contacted at [email protected]