As I watched my children play with their tablets I started thinking back to my childhood. I had a great childhood. What an awesome time to grow up.
I was inspired to compile a list of the things that I loved as a child. Just to show my kids how cool it really was.
1. Televisions with knobs
You actually had to get up and walk to the TV if you wanted to choose a different show. There were no remotes back then. YOU were the remote. If you wanted the privilege of watching TV with adults you had to sit close enough to change the channel whenever you were asked. After many years of spinning that dial, the knob would eventually break off. This is when you were handed a pair of pliers to do the job. We didn’t have all of the channels that are available now though. Thank goodness because surfing hundreds of channels with a pair of pliers would NOT have been fun.
2. Turn-dial car radios complete with 8 track player
Before satellite radio and push button memory recall, we had two little round knobs. One was for volume and the other was for channel surfing. Now unlike the television, you were not allowed to touch the radio. It was way too complicated. Finding a channel without static could prove very challenging. Back then we also had commercials in between songs. When Mom got tired of the commercials she would pop in an 8 track. With an 8 track you didn’t fast forward or rewind but rather chose a track and committed to it. Those were the days.
3. We didn’t wear seat belts
I’m not saying it was smart, I’m just saying. When I was a kid you were completely free to move about the cabin. We would climb over the seats. You would race your brothers and sisters to be the one to sit ON the hump between the two seats in the back. If you were lucky, your parents had a secret compartment that you could crawl through and play in the trunk. Sometimes I feel lucky to have actually survived my youth.
4. Video stores
When I was a kid there was no video on demand or Netflix. If you wanted to watch a movie you hopped in the car and rode down to the local video store. You walked around and looked at walls of shelves stocked with movies. You made your selection then paid a rental free. I still miss this a lot.
5. Casey Kasem’s American Top 40
This is how you stayed up to date with the hottest songs in the land. You would sit and listen to four hours of the weeks most popular music. Sometimes you would even take a cassette tape and record the countdown so you could listen to it again later. From the week’s biggest movers to long distance dedications, this was the only place to be on Sunday afternoons.
This was only the best game system ever created. From River Raid, Pitfall, Pacman and Frogger, you would spend hours glued to your TV. The best part had to be the joystick. Why can’t we still have joysticks? You could play these games until you couldn’t move your hand and never get bored.
7. The skating rink
On the weekends you had to hit the rink. If your parents told you that you couldn’t go skating on a Saturday night, your life was ruined. This was a place where you could hang out with all of your friends. If you were lucky, you owned your own pair of multicolored, neon skates. If not, you could always rent some. Then you would skate round and round on the floor, as the DJ played Midnight Star. If you got hot and thirsty, you could swing up to the concession stand for a blue snow cone to cool off. These nights were the highlight of your whole week.
8. Talking on a real telephone
There was no Skyping or picture messaging. There was no Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. There was just the telephone, and not a cell phone, a real phone with a twisted up, annoying cord. You had to beg your mother to let you call your bff, because back then you only had one phone line and if you were on the phone, your mother couldn’t get her calls. You could spend HOURS talking about nothing important and it was AWESOME.
9. Letter writing
There was no texting or instant messaging. If you wanted to write you friend, you pulled out a piece of notebook paper and a pencil. You would see your friend before 3rd period, but by the end of 6th period you had written her a letter outlining the important events of your day. You had to be careful not to be caught writing these notes, because how embarrassing for a teacher to and read it to the class.
Not the MTV that you know now. Back in the 80s, MTV was actually Music Television. I remember watching the very first video that ever aired. I knew right then and there that my life was forever changed. Not only could I listen to my favorite artists, but I could see them as well. Stephen Pearcy, who was hanging on bedroom wall, was now on my TV. Score!
Ahhh those were the days. I do realize that nostalgia makes everything seem better than it actually was. Growing up in the 80s was completely different from how my kids are growing up now. I am not saying that it was better. I am just saying that it was wonderful.
I tell my children these stories and they act like I grew up right down the street from Abraham Lincoln. It is all ancient and foreign to them, because everything now is so available and accessible, right at their fingertips.
Heck I wouldn’t give up my internet either. Or Bravo. Or my remote. Or my iPod. Or Netflix.
But if I could put on my acid wash jeans (size way-smaller), neon shirt and my LA Gears, I would absolutely do it for a day.
For ONE day.