The setting for the first book in the Michelle Kilpatrick Mystery Series, Write Place, Wrong Time, is a small Midwestern town in 1974. I figured getting the details about the time period would be easy, right? After all, I was a college student in the Midwest in the 70s. All I had to do was Flashback and voilà.
Flash Forward—the past and the present are all tangled. Did we have waterproof mascara back then (I ask as if I am talking about the dark ages)? And yes, we did-whew! It was invented in 1938 and improved in the 1960s.
Or when Michelle, the main character, goes to the vending machine to buy a diet soft drink—did she get a Diet Coke? (No, my memory failed me. Diet Coke wasn’t introduced until 1982. I had to make a change in the manuscript to Tab, which was the best-selling diet cola in the 70s and 80s.)
- Bad Company’s “Can’t Get Enough” was released on May 10, 1974.
- In 1974, the academic year at Bowling Green State University (the University of Petersburg is loosely based on BGSU) was divided into three quarters of approximately 11 weeks each.
- The Viet Nam war was nearing its end.
- All the President’s Men was published on June 15, 1974.
- President Richard Nixon resigned on August 8, 1974.
- A reference to “Sister Golden Hair” by America had to be deleted—it wasn’t released until 1975.
- Cassette players were first added to car dashboards in 1968 and remained popular through the 80s. By 2010, they were a thing of the past.
- The movie referenced by Michelle’s mother on October 14, 1974, was Yours, Mine, and Ours starring Lucille Ball and Henry Fonda. And, yes, it really was on NBC that night at nine o’clock.
- Rotary phones and typewriters were a thing.
- Pop-Tarts were introduced in 1964 in four flavors: Apple Currant Jelly, Strawberry, Blueberry, and Brown Sugar-Cinnamon. In 1967, the line-up added four flavors of frosted Pop-Tarts: Dutch-Apple, Concord Grape, Raspberry, and Brown Sugar-Cinnamon.
(Tentative release date for Write Place, Wrong Time is late summer 2023)