Marty, that might not be contact paper. There is a vinyl topped wallpaper that was common for areas like kitchens at that time. You can peel the vinyl layer off without water or other release agent. In fact, a 6 year old can do this and many have.
Under the vinyl part is a layer that looks like fuzzy paper. Is it possible that you are mistaking this backing for the drywall. If you think that there is a chance that this is possible, take a damp sponge and hold it to the fuzzy paper for a couple of minutes and then try to scrape the wall with a putty knife. The water will release the wallpaper paste, if that's what is holding it on. If my guess is correct, under the wallpaper backing will be primed or painted true drywall.
I'm certainly not sure that my guess is correct, but it does sound possible. You might tell us what you find and we can go from there on more efficient ways to strip what's there.