Column: ‘Soul Train’ was ticket to a vibrant world

Wednesday’s column (read it here) is an ode to one of the more striking TV shows from my childhood, “Soul Train.” Thanks to the Internet, it’s possible to watch clips from the show. Above is a delightful dance-line sequence said to be from 1974.

Below is a compilation of Afro Sheen and Ultra Sheen commercials:

And here’s a Scramble Board sequence:

Can you dig it?

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  • DebB

    You didn’t have to live in the Midwest to have grown up knowing only whites. I grew up in Glendale, not so far from several LA burbs with plenty of black residents. But none of them lived in Glendale, and one of the exciting things about my first year in college (at Cal Poly) was meeting black people and having black friends. My parents also taught us to be tolerant, which was a little surprising on my dad’s part, since he was from the south and his family was decidedly not tolerant of non-whites.

    Soul Train was just getting started when I moved into the Cal Poly dorm, with no TV access. So I don’t have the memories of it that you do. We did manage to watch it occasionally, with reception that was not much better than these clips! I also remember groups of us gathered in a smoky dorm room trying to watch Midnight Special – Robert Plant with static, snow and distortion!

    One question – what name was spelled out on the Scramble board? The clip ends before it is revealed!!

    [Thanks for your sharing your own memories, Deb. I just watched the Scramble Board video again and the name is revealed for a second or two: Henry Cisneros. Obviously this is a '90s clip, as the music probably makes clear. -- DA]

  • Bob Terry

    Having been born and raised in South Pomona, I didn’t need Soul Train to help me relate to my friends and neighbors that were black…but it sure helped me be a little more “cool” in their eyes because I really enjoyed the show and we would talk about it. I was fortunate enough to be able to go into any of the “hoods” back then, whether Mexican or Black, because of the respect my parents had from the locals due to their involvement in the Southwest Little League group.

  • RichP

    I heard Olney was so white, even the squirrels are white!

    [True! -- DA]

  • ray

    My sister & her husband Andy & Terri Soto were regulars on American Bandstand in the late sixties / early seventies. Andy & Terri met Damita Jo Freeman on American Bandstand. Damita Jo was very much interested in their style of dancing & spent many hours practicing their moves in the parking lot of abc 7. Damita was a regular on Soul Train & invited them to dance on Soul Train. Being Hispanic didn’t matter…they were welcomed with open arms from the predominately all Black crowd. Damita went on to choreograph for Diana Ross & The Jacksons. She also had acting roles in Private Benjamin with Goldie Hawn the movie & TV Series. Those are some good memories. I will gather more info, maybe some pictures & pass it on.

  • Ted Melendez

    I can imagine DA comming down the Soul Train hahaha!

    [hahaha! -- DA]

  • Bob House

    Growing up in Claremont in the 50s was a lily-white experience. Realtors and citizens worked actively to keep blacks from buying homes. The church-founded village kept blacks and alcohol out of the town limits as long as it could. With the exception of a few black students at the colleges, no blacks lived in Claremont until civil rights leader Medgar Evers’ widow and children moved there in, I believe, 1963. I went all the way through the Claremont school system from kindergarten to high school without ever having a black schoolmate — not just in a class, in the entire school.

    There’s a lot to like about Claremont, but not its unfortunate early legacy of racism. Before blacks, it was Asian and East Indian citrus grove workers who were literally run out of town. They were replaced in the groves by Hispanics who were forced to live in “barrios” on the east and west edges of town.

    [Bob, thanks for sharing an unfortunate side of local history. -- DA]