Tag Archives: vintage

Growing Up 1980’s Style


If you are 20 years or younger, this blog post is just going to blow your mind with the lack of technology people from my generation (born in the 70’s, growing up in the 80’s) had when growing up.

Cell phones. We did not have them, they were not invented yet. When we left home, we were off the radar. Oh, unless your parents had a CB radio, which of course only worked in the car. “Breaker, breaker, 1-9, do you copy?” There was a whole different language for its usage, in fact, everyone had their own CB nickname – called a handle. When they were invented, they were HUGE and had to stay in your car.. after all, they were a car phone. We had to rely on pay phones to make calls, or get to know some random people and use their phones. Today, that would be kind of scary.

And cordless phones in the house? Nope. If you were lucky, you did have a very, very long cord on your house phone that would reach into two rooms. There were no push buttons, a rotary dial and no speaker phone. Now, this could also be a game, as when your parents were on the phone, you could do whatever you wanted without physical harm if you stayed outside of the radius of the cord. “Neener, neener” However, if they dropped the phone, you had better run as all bets were then off. *Physical harm – this is something that many parents discontinued practicing. It was a spanking on your rear end (Parent had slapping the rear end in a disciplinary way). It was not enough to break the skin, leave welts, but just enough for the child to know the behavior was not appreciated. This was also practiced in schools, called ‘swats’ which gave a whole different reaction to being sent to the principal’s office. This was the reason why bullying was not tolerated in our day – even the bullies feared the swats.

Now, back to the phones. Single phone line, no call waiting, no caller ID. Every time we answered the phone it was like Christmas because we had absolutely NO idea who was on the other line. Could it be a salesman? A friend? Grandma? You didn’t know until you answered the phone. Oh, and when we were not home, the phone just rang, and rang, and rang. We didn’t have answering machines. And when you called a friend, if they were using their phone, you got a busy signal. This means you just have to try your call again later. And it was not a nice operator telling you this, it was an annoying “BEEP BEEP”.

Music – We had it. One records that easily scratched with no way to fix, rendering it junk. And 8 Track Cassettes. Bigger versions of the cassette tapes, which you also probably know nothing about. Those were introduced in our elementary school days. And phased out shortly after we graduated high school. The radios in cars – yes we had them, but they didn’t have a digital read, it was a dial, you had to get the dial in just the right place to get the station in.

Television, if you were lucky, you had all color televisions, if you had more than one in your house. And we didn’t really watch it that often, mainly because we only had 3 channels of public broadcasting. We had to utilize antennas for signal and sometimes cover the tip with some aluminum foil. There were no reality shows, no MTv, however, on Saturday morning, there were GREAT cartoons, hours of great cartoons. And during the evening time, we had great shows: Little House on the Prairie, The Jefferson’s, Different Strokes, Family Ties, Wonder Woman, The Greatest American Hero, The Dukes of Hazzard. So many memories of those shows! Remote control? Nope…and push buttons on the TV itself were rare, it was usually a dial. No VHS or DVD or DVRs, so if we were gone when a show we wanted to watch came on, we just missed out. There was no recording it.

We spent a good portion of time … outside… with other kids. We played hide and go seek, tag, on the swingset, rode bikes, played ding dong ditch and made mud pies in the sandbox. Oh, and when we were bored and the rain was pouring, we played board games. OR, when we got to be tweens, we made prank phone calls. They were great! Remember, no caller ID! Or made our own ‘phones’ tin-can-telephone

The school sports teams were more exclusive, if you didn’t make the cut, you just didn’t get to be on the team. Not everyone received trophies, we learned at an early age that life is not always fair and if you want something, you must work hard for it. The school teachers did not have phones in their classrooms, nor did they have TVs. When we watched movies, we watched them on a film projector.

We didn’t have Nintendo until the late 80’s we had Atari, a very primitive game, but it was fun nonetheless. Our child hood toys were Fisher Price playhouses il_570xN.701856792_t12gwith no electronics, only our imaginations to make those little family people come alive. Our out door riding toys were powered by us. Pedals, we had to work to move. Like a tricycle, fire engine or a big wheel.

Computers did not exist. We used a typewriter. No electricity required, but you had to line up the paper just right. No correction either on some. You made a mistake… you just started over. It took FOREVER! If you wanted to make a copy? Yea, there was no copy machine, you needed to type two copies at a time via carbon paper. Oh, spell check? Yea, it was called paying attention in Spelling class or using the dictionary. We had to know it or look it up. When your letter was done, you addressed an envelope and put it in the mail. It took days to get there and an even longer time for a response. Finding a book was even more fun, we had to look it up in the card catalog at the library. It’s a really archaic system. No downloading it on iTunes (There was no iTunes, no Internet!) It’s like one step above the dinosaurs, right?

Microwaves were just coming about towards our late childhood. When we had something hot, it was made from real fire on the stove. The grill used had charcoal, no gas. And dishwashers? No way. We actually had to wash them in the sink and dry them by hand.

Even fitness was different. There was a YMCA and a YWCA, but no really widespread ‘gyms’ that I can remember. What I do remember was when VCRs came into play, we had “Sweatin’ to the Oldies” with Richard Simmons. images If you have never heard of Richard Simmons, I highly suggest that you look up a video of him on You Tube or Google him. He was QUITE a character, completely different than today’s fitness leaders like Chalene Johnson, Shaun T, or Tony Horton. Simmons is something you have to look up and see to believe!

Today’s kids are always connected in some electronic form. Cell phones are everywhere. New policies at schools were created to prevent their use during school hours. In my time, given the same technology, we would have just known better. We did not like the swats, as usually that meant that you got another by your parents when you got home. At school, we wrote notes to each other, folded them up in creative ways and stuck them in each other’s lockers. We talked for hours on the phone… if you lived local. If you lived in a different town, unless your last name was Rockefeller, you were likely limited on long distance usage. There was no Facebook, no Google+, no Twitter, if you wanted people to know what you were doing or how you felt, well, you had to verbally tell them, or write a note!

While it wasn’t full of technology, those times were some of the best times in our lives. We were young and carefree. We had no bills, no jobs, summers and all holidays off of school. We used our imaginations to the nth degree. We had person to person contact, socialization and networking. The thing that I look forward to in the future, is reading someone else’s blog about how different their childhood from the teens was different than those of the 2030’s. 🙂 Maybe they will more closely resemble the Jetson’s.