“When I was a kid…”

I was at the beach the other day.  It was cloudy and I didn’t really feel like swimming, so I sat and listened to the conversations of my neighbors.  Because I’m nosy like that.

The two women beside me (friends I think) were there with their kids and I couldn’t help chuckling when the one mom mentioned to her one child (and I quote), “I dunno, I was born in 1985.”  I’ve no idea what they were talking about, what 1985 meant, or why a little kid would be asking about the 80s.  It was so seemingly random.  But I had to figure out how old the lady was.  She looked younger than me, but not like YOUNG young, so I sat there doing the math and (as I had a cold) it took me a few seconds to figure out 33.  Wow.  I did a quick side eye and decided I have no idea how old people are any more. Then, I sat thinking about how old I was in 1985.  5 minus 2, plus the 1.  Okay.  13.  WOW.  This woman was born when I was in middle school.  And now she’s got a bunch of kids.  Life’s crazy.

When I started this blog eleven years ago (2007 for the math impaired) my oldest daughter was 7.  Now she’s 18 and soon-to-be starting college.  I know feeling good and being healthy is all that really matters, but I’d be lying if I said that doesn’t seem big.  I’m impressed by the passage of time.  How old I am now, how old I was then, people’s ages, dates.  It’s interesting to me.  Anyway, I started thinking as I sat on the beach about what life was like in 1985, the year that woman was born.  And how dramatically different things are now.

My daughters were shocked to learn that I didn’t have a microwave oven until I was in double digits.  Having known nothing but convenience and immediacy, the idea of having to wait for ANYTHING, let alone food, is insane.  Their lives are instant gratification.  But growing up I had to mow our lawn for an entire summer just to earn enough money for a tennis racket.  Do kids even PLAY tennis anymore?  (Yes, some do.)  Anyway, I got to thinking about life in the 1980s, when you had to show up for almost everything, in person, and wait.  And wait.  Whether you were getting cash (inside the bank) or going to school (on campus) or going to the grocery store to get groceries, which no one bagged for you and brought out to your car.  EVER.  In 1985 you basically had to show up, and wait.

SO I thought it would be fun to detail some of the strange but TRUE differences between now and then. Just bc.  IT’S FUN!

  • Phones were attached to walls.
  • If you weren’t at home, you’d use a public payphone that took change (10 – 25 cents/call).
  • Machines sold cigarettes (no one asked for ID).
  • You could smoke everywhere, including hospitals.
  • Even fast food restaurants had ashtrays!
  • All mail was paper.
  • All payment was paper, too (cash or check only!)
  • ATM (mac) machines didn’t exist; you’d have to go into the bank for money.
  • Drive thru windows were new.
  • Seat belts weren’t there or were rarely used.
  • No one wore a bike helmet, let alone protective padding.
  • Kids roamed freely.
  • Cable TV was brand new; otherwise you’d have ~6 channels that went off the air each night.
  • People talked on the telephone.
  • Answering the phone was so desirable people fought over who got to pick up!
  • Friends and strangers would drop by your house unannounced – and would be admitted!
  • People would write letters to one other.
  • Computers took punch cards.
  • Home computers came from Radio Shack (Tandy).
  • Walkie talkies were COOL.
  • Walkmans were new and only played cassette tapes.
  • Many car radios were AM only (my HS car got only 2 stations- woo!)
  • Friends would make mix tapes for each other.
  • Cameras took film and you had to get it developed (expensive & timely but wonderful.)
  • Microwaves weren’t commonplace.
  • If you wanted to bring/play music w you, BOOM BOX BABY.
  • It was NOT COOL to be different (and yet it was…)
  • People used travel agencies to book vacations.
  • Catalogs existed but most shopping was done in person, even many catalog orders.
  • If you wanted to order from a catalog from home, you had to call and speak w someone.
  • Phone calls were so valuable, people used answering machines when not at home.
  • People would manipulate answering machines.
  • People would make fake IDs using a cardboard cutout and polaroid (yes, they did.)
  • Hair spray was IMPORTANT.
  • You had to go to the movies to see a film, or luck out w a TV special.
  • …Until finally video stores, betamax, VCR were invented.
  • Pornography existed but had to be acquired.
  • Stuff was actually made here in the USA.  Lots of stuff.
  • Your student ID was your social security number and it was PUBLIC.
  • Kids would go to school and not worry about getting shot.

SO. That’s all I can think of right now off the top of my head.  Feel free to add anything I’ve missed.  Now TIME FOR COFFEE!  WOO.  Happy Sunday!

4 thoughts on ““When I was a kid…”

    1. Hahah so funny you say that – growing up my neighbor across the street would whistle SUPER LOUDLY every day walking home from the train station! You could hear him coming up the block!

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