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Culture Forum

Culture Forum

Date: Oct 26 2013

Topic: Conversational English

Author: englishteacher24/7


A. Forum goals:

  • Provide information on other cultures from the readers.
  • Identify the relationships between culture and language.
  • Provide information on English-speaking cultures to develop an understanding of the English language used in a particular country.

B. Introduction:

  • Cultural influence - Culture has a direct influence on the language(s) used in society. Learning the culture of a society can identify some general characteristics of its people.
  • Cultural factors - Factors such as religion, economics, traditions, customs, natural resources, and politics influences culture.
  • Benefits of learning other cultures - Information about other cultures can help us to understand why people of a society do the things they do, even within the same country. Therefore, let us use this opportunity to learn from each other and seek to improve ourselves.


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United States

Growing up in the United States during 1970-1979 (Part 3A)

High School Days

The spirit of the 1960’s carried over into the early 1970’s, at least as far as high school was concerned.  Nationally, the 1970’s were much different than the 1960’s which I’ll address in the National life section of this article.

Concerning high school, the senior class seemed so much older than us sophomores (10th graders) and more mature.  

Most of the new students came from one of two junior high schools; therefore, some of the students already knew each other and others didn’t.  A major difference between junior high school and high school was the separation into various groups of students as follows:

Hippies/freaks - These students were characterized by wearing bell bottom blue jean pants & tee shirts, wore long hair (male & female) and American Indian style jackets, beads and peace symbol jewelry. Materialism was seemingly shunned and various ideologies were embraced.

Jocks - This relatively small group of students were guys who participated heavily in sports. They mostly did not wear long hair, bell bottom pants but wore their varsity sports jackets with medals. 

Radicals - A small minority of students embraced militant ideologies against racial injustice and the Vietnam War.

Greasers - This small group was characterized by wearing black leather jackets and non-bell bottom (straight leg) pants.  They did not wear long hair but wore greasy relatively short hair combed backward.  They loved motorcycles and/or muscle cars and were not sports fans.

Nerds - Certain students were very “brainy” (smart) and focused primarily on academics. They were usually quiet and stayed to themselves.

Free-spirit types - These students were friendly types who associated with anyone they choose to without regard for differences or which group the person belonged.

Others - Many students didn’t belong to any of these categories, they just came to school, did their work and returned home.

To sum it all up, everyone did their own thing with others or alone.

School activities

The school day started in “Homeroom” for about 5 minutes where we listened to school announcements over the PA (Public address) system and other important school information.

Afterwards, we went to our first hour class which lasted for 50 minutes.  At the end of class you had 10 minutes to get to your next class which started on the hour.

Each student was assigned a locker located in the hallway which you used to drop off and pickup books so that you wouldn’t have to carry them all day from class to class.

The school year was from September to June and there was a lot crammed into the school year.  Sports dominated the school year, the activities were: football, basketball, track, wrestling, swimming, cross country, chess club and others.

The basketball season was very popular and there was intense support for them. There was a female cheerleading squad who rallied the fans.  After the home team made a basket, one of the cheerleading chants went like this: ”We want another one just like the other one, we want a basket!” “We want another one, just like the other one, we want a basket…!”

The next most popular team was football which was supported by many but not as much as basketball.  The rest of the other teams drew lesser crowds but the teams had a following.

School atmosphere

The school body was diverse among racial, religious, economic lines, and those with learning difficulties. However, students selected their own friends (cliques) and not necessarily from their own group.

Over 50% of the student body were hippie-ish (my new word for hippie types) or at least embraced rock music with popular groups being The Beatles, Rolling Stones, The Who and most of the British rock groups.

Soul music was embraced by most black students with popular groups being The Temptations, Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, Aretha Franklin, Supremes, and others from Motown and other soul musicians.

Basically, most students who liked rock music did not like soul music and those who liked soul music did not like rock music.  The exception would be students who was seriously into music and appreciated the musical talents of the musicians from both genres.

Then there were students who embraced only jazz and a few embraced blues music. Needless to say, music was popular among many students.

Furthermore, Detroit had a lot of local rock bands and music groups that were very skillful and local people supported them.  Many people (especially young) in Detroit and suburbs loved cars and music and that transcended all differences.

Lunch time

There was an hour for the lunch period which all students took at the same time. Initially everyone had to remain on the campus during the lunch period.  However later the students complained to the school administration and wanted an “open” lunch hour that would permit students to leave the campus during lunch hour.

After persistently making this request, the school permitted it.  As a result, during lunch hour students did their own thing, i.e. going home, listening to music from a juke box in the gym, sitting out on the lawn or whatever. Just be back in time for the next class!

Personal high school experiences

My high school years were a time of building relationships with my peers of various backgrounds and races in addition to academics.  My favorite subjects were Astronomy and Industrial Arts (Wood Shop) and Biology.

When I entered high school, I did not know how to swim and was reluctant to go swimming.  This reluctance stemmed from going to the public pool while living in the projects and a few kids would push you into the pool if you didn’t know how to swim (as a joke).

Well, I took a swimming class in high school and warned my instructor “I don’t know how to swim!”  The instructor was alarmed and replied, “You’re going to learn to swim!” Hence, he put me in with the group of non-swimmers and spent time teaching us how to swim while the swimmers played water polo.

By the end of the semester he taught us to swim through all the swim strokes and to float. This skill would serve me very well into my adult years.

Concerning sports, I was part of the wrestling and track teams but not a “Jock.”  I ran the 880 yard run and a relay on the track team. It was a very strange feeling before a track meet, i.e. a different kind of pressure based on your strategy to win the race. After the race, I only had enough energy to breathe and return to normal.  Although stressful, it was satisfying.

My first car

Young people were eager to get their driver’s license (including myself) and I took a driver’s education class in high school and received my driver’s license. It was ideal to have a car in high school so you didn’t have to walk or take the school bus.  I could not afford a car at the usual price but one of my track team mates had a car he wanted to sell to me but his father disapproved it at the last minute.  I was very disappointed.

However, I had another school mate who had a car but it didn’t run.  The mechanic told his mother it needed to have major engine work, so it sat at their home.  When my school mate told me the story and found out I was interested, he said I could have it for free if I came and got it.

My neighbor friend went with me and we picked up the car.  The only problem was minor and I repaired it and it became my car to drive to school.  Another one of my classmates had the same model and we parked our cars next to each other in the school parking lot.

I was happy to have my car because it gave me the means to be mobile. It was not practical or possible to travel on public transportation (buses). If you don’t have a car, or have a friend with a car, you are grounded.

One day, I was driving in Detroit with 3 of my friends and the Detroit Police pulled me over (stopped me). The police made us get out and searched the car. They didn’t find anything illegal so they let us go. After that, the officer gave me the courtesy to say he pulled me over because I looked too young to be driving.

I was 16 years old at that time and now I’m 61. Now sometimes I’ll tell some people, “When I was 16, the police pulled me over because I looked too young to be driving!”  I’ll get a response, “Well, they’re not pulling you over anymore!


The remainder of high school was going to class, participating in the fore mentioned sports and applied and was accepted at Ferris State University in their automotive program to prepare to enter the field of automotive vehicle development.

After graduation, it seemed really strange to not go to school and connect with my classmates.  However, it was a calm period before entering college which I will describe in Part 3B of Growing up in the United States – National  U.S. Life/College/First job/Moving out of parent’s house (1970-1979). Once it’s written, see you there!

Mahtab.bp thanks for letting us know 1970 was your birth year, congratulations!

Everyone, I’d like for you to share your comments.



Iran, Islamic Republic Of


Your story will begin with my birth year 1970!

I’m waiting for reading your great story my dear teacher! :)

02:49 AM May 21 2015 |


United States

For those of you who desire to read the next “Growing up in the US 1970-1979” story, please stay tuned. I’ve return to writing it and will post it hopefully by this weekend.

11:55 PM May 20 2015 |


United States

Slephip, “Growing up in the United States 1970-1979” will be posted as soon as I can write it. For those who are just joining this forum, it will cover my high school/college years and jobs after college. Thanks for your interest and support.

11:00 PM Apr 29 2015 |




Dear English Teacher,

 Thank you also your for feedback. I am looking forward to the next lesson. 

09:18 PM Apr 28 2015 |


United States

WobblyJoe, thanks for “having my back” on the explanation to Slephip’s question. On the one hand I wanted to explain the origin of “albatross” but it would have made the post longer than I inteneded.

On the other hand, I was hoping that a reader/student would ask the question how could the literal meaning of albatross can possibly be stretched to have the metaphorical meaning as it was used.

Your explanation of what you thought I meant by using this word to describe this aspect of our society is “right on” (correct).  That is exactly what I meant to say.

Finally, thanks for explaining what a “metaphor” is and for your encouragement to students of English to ask questions if they don’t understand something, otherwise they will live with unanswered questions and miss the opportunity to learn.

I always appreciate your input, I learn from you as well.

07:23 PM Apr 25 2015 |



United States

The metaphor is from a poem called the Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner. Most people here have never read the poem but most of us know that an albatross gets shot and the evil of the act causes ocean spirits to curse the ship. Bad things happen because of the curse.

Knowing what “most people think” a metaphor means can be helpful since, as in this case, most of us haven’t actually read the poem the metaphor comes from and so we know the metaphor from people explaining it to us, the same way Mr. Alston is doing. 

Metaphors don’t have specific meanings, they convey more an ‘impression of meaning’ based on what the listener thinks it means. We have to explain metaphors to each other sometimes because sometimes they mean different things to different people, so never be afraid to ask if you don’t understand something. We do it all the time.

In this sentence; “The racial issue has been an albatross in the US from the founding of the country;” I would interpret the meaning of the metaphor of the albatross as: ”the albatross represents the USAs great evil when we allowed slaveholding and the curse of the albatross is the racial issues that evil has created in the USA since that time”.  That may or may not be what Mr. Alston meant, because he might have actually read the poem, but its how I would understand it based on what I think it means.

We are working on the race issue and I agree that things are improving over time. It’s hard for anyone, especially a nation, to live up to its ideals. There is still a long way to go.

It’s been an albatross around our neck all right.



My foot print to leave here, to mark my interest for this culture forum here.

02:38 AM Apr 25 2015 |

1 person likes this


United States

Hello Slephip,

Thanks for your feedback and assessment.

Concerning your question of the meaning of my statement “The racial issue has been an albatross in the US from the founding of the country;” here is the meaning:

Literally, an albatross is a large ocean bird.

It is used metaphorically to describe a situation or condition that exists and the solution is difficult or impossible to accomphlish.

Therefore, I used the word to describe the fact that the racial issue in our country haa been a major problem and many lives, money, and time has been spent dealing with it.

Nevertheless, the US has made enormous progress in race-relations and continuing to do so.  That is not to say that we have arrived at the point that we aspire to, but keeping hope alive, we desire as a country to arrive there.

Nia, I welcome you to the forum. You have good activities.

11:37 PM Apr 24 2015 |



United States

reading sewing working and other things. my name is Nia Jackson

04:33 PM Apr 22 2015 |




Hello english teacher,

Your lesson was very interesting, it’s worth to read all people who a interesting in history. But I don’t understand one phrases or maybe sentence “albatross in the US” – (The racial issue has been an albatross in the US from the founding of the country.) So, maybe you can explain a little more about albatross.

I am waiting your next lesson ! :)

03:10 PM Apr 22 2015 |


United States

Hello S&W, I appreciate your consideration. Writing on the sixties was indeed challenging and as always, I learned a lot in the process.

Concerning your question about the existence of communes from the sixties, there are a few still in existence, such as Twin Oaks in Louisa County, Virginia.

However, the “commune” that you referred to where everything is hand-made is the Amish community.  Some Amish do not use cars, electricity, or other modern conveniences.  If you search for “Amish” on the internet you’ll receive a lot of information on them.

Their largest communities are in Ohio and Pennsylvania but are they are located in many states.

Easypeasy, you’re welcome. I’m glad you were able to receive something that you can combine with your other knowledge. Keep on keeping on!

Cgray610, welcome back! You being a native also lived through the sixties and can relate first-hand. Thanks for your encouraging words. We all would like to hear more from you.

11:34 PM Apr 21 2015 |



United States

Your lesson on growing up in the 60’s is so interesting and insightful. Keep up the great story telling!

01:58 AM Apr 21 2015 |




Thank you again for this great post Mr.Alston! You summerize the events of the American history very well and also in a way that makes it interesting to read. Like the others said, it is better to read a post written by a native from a more personal view than in history books. Again I learnt much, also concerning new  vocabulary.

04:24 PM Apr 20 2015 |

2 people like this




Hey teacher,I always appreciate your hard work.Writting a story like this one would probably need time to review and re-organise history materials.Actually,A native american real experience was more convincing than any other history book

It is hard to judge Vietnam War was right or wrong.But a cruel war lasted as long as 12 years must bring deeply hurt to everyone in both countries.

Regarding COMMUNES,Are those communes still exist ?Cuz I had heard there was a samll town near Chicago where people almost hand-made as everything as they can.Besides,no light ,no comfortable creatures.Obviously people choose their lifestyle.Is this special town got any relations with Communes?

Well despite all of turmoils and calamting,in my opinion,those were payments for freedom and equality.Amazing ten years.Creative ideas ,new generation.


United States

Anja your feedback is greatly appreciated especially coming from being the caliber of English teacher you are.  Yes the 1960’s were tumultuous indeed with so many things happening simultaneously in the United States.

Your daughter appears to be keenly aware that Rosa Parks is recognized as being the mother of the civil rights movement in the U.S. She is to be commended for her knowledge on this piece of American history.

Rosa Parks’ legacy is renowned and worthy of further reading to understand the significance of her civil disobedience to an unjust law supporting segregation and contribution to society.

1960’s been a paradoxical decade full of national self-examination and changes in political mindsets of the leaders.

However, the 1970’s would be the decade to launch me into adulthood and the results of activity in the 1960’s. This will be the topic of Part 3. Please stay tuned.

12:22 PM Apr 20 2015 |




Well, when I came here, I knew I’d find another well written gem of yours, Alston. I think we all can see how passionate you are about those mental leaps into the past.

Like I’ve mentioned before, many thoughts swarmed through my head while reading your post. No doubt, the 60’s was a time of turmoil and a decade with the most drastic changes. Yet, just like you described those years as your favorite – I hear a lot of people saying what a great time the 60’s were.

My daughter asked me the other day, if I’ve ever heard of Rosa Parks. I did not know who she was referring to and I learned only within minutes about the courageous woman and her refusal to give up her bus seat to a white man. My daughter was really fascinated about her story. Maybe Rosa Parks’ case  (which took place a decade before your current post) was the budding of the civil right movement?


United States

Thanks Lesya for your “from the heart” feedback. There are always at least two sides to a story. The person who tells a story first, seems right. However, for a story to be truthful or balanced, the other side must be told.

Every person has a story, and this is my life story as seen through my eyes of living and growing up in the United States.

In Part 3 of “Growing up in the United States 1970-1979” I want to show the reader how a writer/speaker can persuade an audience to embrace their side of the story by not mentioning the other side of the story. I have a few examples during my high school years to show as examples.

Thanks for taking the time to write a comment, it is taking the opportunity to express you in English. Your English writing has improved significantly during your years on Englishbaby.

04:57 PM Apr 17 2015 |




Dear, Alston the very idea to tell all of us your life story in combination with important historical facts of USA is quite great.  
Your captivating style of speaking takes me to thoses years directly. :-) 
Undoubtedly,  there were very hard and at the same time interesting years for American society. In some ways it was a beginning of a turning point of USA
I have heard a bit about the situation in USA in 1960’s but not in such details I got from your posts. 
I wish you could continue to make such posts up until nowadays. I would like to read about current ups and downs of USA. How USA is seen in your eyes right now!? 
Of course, I can search this kind of information in internet but it is much better to hear this story from you – native American :-) who put all his soul to such outstanding posts like these ones. 

06:35 AM Apr 17 2015 |


United States

 Growing up in the United States – Part 2C The 1960’s (1965-1969)

National life –

1965 ushers in with 3,500 US Marines being sent to the escalating war in Vietnam, and the assassination of Malcolm X, who was an activist against the oppression and mistreatment of black people in the United States. These two areas (racial discrimination and the war in Vietnam) would be the foundation of protests, both violent and non-violent, to follow throughout the remainder of the decade.

Discontent in the nation

The racial issue has been an albatross in the US from the founding of the country.  Many laws have been written for and against this problem in American society, and many laws were not enforced, but much progress has been made.  Nevertheless, it has been, and still is a problem that is being addressed in various ways, through personal conviction, governmental mandates, and business involvement. 

However, rewinding back to the sixties places us in a time period void of the progresses that has been made.  The period from the end of World War II until the late sixties has been labeled as the Second Reconstruction, the first Reconstruction being after the Civil War.

The meaning of “Second Reconstruction” was to make changes from an oppressive society based on racism to a more equitable society using presidential executive action, federal courts, and congressional legislation to provide full political rights to Black Americans and make corrections to past immoral treatment.

Unfortunately, many blacks and other minorities were discriminated against in jobs, housing, schools, medical care, law enforcement and a host of other areas.  As a result, discontent was wide-spread across the nation culminating in peaceful demonstrations and boycotts, then from 1965 on, some participated in huge riots in many major US cities.

1965 was the year the Civil Rights legislation was passed and signed by President Lyndon Johnson that was started under the administration of President John F. Kennedy.  This gave blacks and other minorities a host of legal rights such as voting, fair housing, and other anti-discrimination laws that many believed should have been included simply by being an American citizen.

A New Mindset from the Sixties Generation

Many white middle and upper class young people started protesting against “the establishment,” the Vietnam War, injustice and materialism. 

The sixties marked an era of so-called peace, love, protests, demonstrations, sit-ins, drugs, healthful eating, and rock music.  Many of these young people were known as Hippies, Yippies, Freaks, and Activists. This generation was known as the “love generation.”

Some of the above mentioned young people embraced Christianity and were known as “Jesus Freaks” because they were untraditional in their appearance and attitudes.  The late Pastor Chuck Smith of the Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa church welcomed the hippies and yippies in their untraditional dress and long hair and the Calvary Chapel church denomination was born.

Certain radical groups both black and white armed themselves with weapons and their ideology was to use guns to fight against police brutality, injustice, and corporate profiteering.

Popular Cultural Items

From the years of the mid-1960’s much of the traditional things were discarded or modified to identify with a new mindset. This was manifested in:

  1. Music – The music of the sixties was elevated to an intense mood in various genres.  The mindset of dissatisfaction with society’s acceptance of injustice and oppression of people was no longer tolerated among many musicians, young people, and those oppressed and discriminated against.  This sentiment along with other immoralities was reflected in some of the lyrics in rock, soul, and jazz music.

  2. Clothing/Appearance- The clothing and appearance during the sixties took on a rebelling against society expressed in long hair, old worn clothes, symbolic jewelry (peace signs), lack of personal hygiene, manners and a host of other rebellious actions.

  3. Language – Many new slang words were coined in substitution of the traditional words to make a distinction of opposition to the status quo and made it a unique language.  Words such as: “right on” “cool” “hip”  “far out” “out-of-sight” “bummer” “cruising” “groovy” “heavy” “high” “laid back” “lay a trip” “tripping” “rip off” “vibes” and a host of other slang words that many are still in use today.  Do a search on the internet for “words of the sixties” if you want to know more.

  4.  Drugs – The use of illegal drugs among young people increased substantially across the nation into the suburbs and areas that it previously was not in common use.

  5.  Social Unrest

Civil Rights Movement– The separation of whites from non-whites by law (Jim Crow laws) in the southern portion of the United States, as well as injustice, inequality and discrimination were part of the discontent of non-whites and white supporters resulting in mass demonstrations both peaceful and confrontational against the system that maintained the Status Quo.

As a result of this pressure on Congress, the Civil Rights and Voting Rights laws were passed along with many other laws to address these issues.  Corporations began to make policies within their organizations against discrimination in hiring and promotion of non-white and other minority groups.

Anti-war Movement – Many people were against the draft and the Vietnam War because it was not acceptable to engage in an undeclared war that didn’t directly threaten the United States, cost thousands of lives on both sides, and the amount of money the war cost. Many young people were against warfare of any kind and were known as Pacifists.

Despite the “love generation” designation, some segments of this new movement resorted to violent anti-war protests and often there were battles on university campuses between protesters and the police and national guardsmen.  A well-known violent confrontation with the police was on the Kent State University campus in Ohio where 4 students were killed by Ohio national guardsmen (May 4, 1970.)  This incident alarmed the nation and there was great animosity against the police.

Second-wave Feminist Movement- The first wave feminism movement started back in the late 19th and 20th century for the equality of women with a main goal of obtaining the right to vote (Suffrage).

The second-wave feminism movement started in the late sixties with a protest against the Miss America pageant in Atlantic City because it was viewed as an event that reduced women to a cattle parade of objects of beauty controlled by men who sought to keep women in the home or dull boring jobs. The movement lasted into the late eighties to early 1990’s.  This time the focus was on women equality with a focus on sexuality, and the position of women in the home and workplace.  The movement included women from other countries and various races and ethnicities.

  6. Fornication – This is sex outside of the bounds of marriage and during the sixties this behavior increased substantially and became more acceptable with young people as is evidence in the lyrics of songs and movies.  In addition to this taboo, many others were rendered not shameful and inhibitions were lowered under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol combined with an overall rebellion against society.

  7. Civil Disobedience – This is the deliberate and conscience refusal to obey as a form of protests.  In addition to the ones that are listed, there was a general mindset to engage in civil disobedience concerning other areas during the sixties.

  8. Crime –“The rebounding of violence in the 1960’s defied every expectation” says Steven Pinker in his article, “Decivilization in the 1960’s.” The irony is that this increase in crime was during a time of economic prosperity, almost full employment, historic racial progress and intense government social programs. Nevertheless, it’s puzzling to social scientists about this anomaly.

Several prominent people were assassinated during the sixties, namely, President John F. Kennedy, Dr. Martin Luther King, Senator Robert F. Kennedy, Malcolm X, Medgar Evers and others.  American culture was reshaped during this period of time both positively and negatively.

  9. Consciousness raising  -  This is an activity of a group of people  influencing a wider group of people to focus their attention on a cause or condition that they want people to support or protest against.  This activity started in the late sixties and continues to this day.

10. Escapism – Certain people or groups of people chose to remove themselves from society and formed “communes” where they created their own societies with their own rules.  Some of these people were known as “Hippies.”  Others were “Draft Dodgers” who escaped being drafted into the U.S. Army by escaping the country and moving to Canada or some other country.

During the time of the Selective Service (the draft), when a male U.S. citizen turned 18 years of age, they would have to register with their draft board which would send a letter to the individual when to report for duty in the military.

In 1973 the draft ended and the U.S. military went to an all-volunteer Army.


A lot of things changed politically and socially during the 1960’s in the United States.  Some were good such as the elimination of the legal endorsement of racism and other forms of discrimination.  Some of the bad things that changed were the acceptance of certain forms of immorality, e.g. sexual promuscurity, the breakdown of the family, etc.

Despite all of the turmoil and calamity that occurred during the sixties, it was one of my most favorite decades to live through as I described in Part 2B.

At the end of the decade, President Kennedy’s goal of landing a man on the moon was fulfilled and the world rejoiced in that it was ”…one giant leap for mankind!”

The next series is Part 3 “Growing up in the United States during the 1970’s” which will describe my high school/college days and first job after college.

Thank you for your patience, your questions and comments are welcomed.

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