All parents find themselves repeatedly, incessantly, and annoyingly at some point saying to their kids, "When I was a kid...[this or that]." Since I have three kids spread so far apart in age, I'm always a bit surprised when I realize I haven't told one of them something about when I was a kid. And with the little one, who knows what I'll remember about those times once she's a teenager! Because it's during those teen years when the differences become so stark and shocking. So here is my list of all those annoying statements so that my kids can read them over and over again (and so I can remember them later on). It's the best way to measure the changes in the times, I think, when it comes to growing up.
When I was a kid...
- There were only three channels on the TV, and the TV turned off at midnight! Or it went to static. Remember static?!
- There was lots of static!
- There was only AM radio! With lots of static.
- There was no VCR, DVR, or Tivo. You either saw a show or you didn't.
- Half of the shows were in black and white.
- Phones were actually attached to the wall. You were lucky if it had an extralong cord, then you could walk around a little bit.
- Of course, there were no cellphones, no texting, no email, so if you went out and you didn't tell anyone where you were, someone would have to search for you or they would have to ask friends. Real friends.
- There was no Facebook. No Twitter. No Pinterest or Instagram.
- Cameras required film, and you had to WAIT to see your pictures--sometimes for months, if you forgot to take your film in to be developed. Unless you had a Polaroid. Then you had to wait a minute to see your pictures.
- People smoked everywhere. Even in school. And in hospitals, and definitely at work and in all restaurants. The whole world smelled of smoke. All clothes smelled of smoke.
- People didn't exercise unless they were athletes training to go professional. And you had to be a boy to do that. Girls didn't really do sports.
- Gym was stupid and mostly consisted of dodgeball and square dancing.
- Girls went to "Home Ec" and learned how to sew buttons on clothes and make cinnamon rolls. Boys went to "Shop" and learned how to use a power saw.
- If you wanted to buy stuff you had to go to a store, and most of the stores were "downtown."
- For music, you could listen to records or 8-tracks. 8-tracks were considered very modern and enabled you to listen to artists like Carole King and Johnny Mathis while being driven around in station wagons while not wearing seatbelts.
- Concert tickets cost $8.
- If you wanted to eat organic food, you had to grow it yourself, find a co-op run by some hippies, or go to the health food store that smelled funny.
- If you ate organic food, people would make fun of you and think you were really weird and not normal.
- Also, if you ate "health food," it didn't taste very good and no one wanted to be your friend.
- No one ate olive oil that I knew of. We used Mazola Corn Oil for everything.
- Pasta was not called pasta; it was called noodles.
- Everybody got sunburned. All the time.
- The only movies you could watch were the ones playing in the theatre.
- Sometimes, in the movies, there were intermissions and the theatres had curtains that opened and closed.
- Cadillacs came in purple. I know because my grandfather had one.
- If you wanted to write, you either wrote on paper or typed on a typewriter and if you made a mistake, you had to use Wite-Out or erase or type the whole thing over again.
- Women were simply NOT executives, chefs*, politicians, doctors, lawyers, firemen, policemen, or Army guys or artists.
- Women WERE teachers, nurses, secretaries, waitresses, or art teachers.
- * The only exception was Julia Child, but she didn't really have a restaurant so she wasn't a real chef, and she talked funny. Seriously, I remember having arguments about this in the backseat of a station wagon with a boy neighbor, and we were not wearing seatbelts at the time.
- Wonder Bread and Sunbeam were the standard breads. You could NOT ever get a loaf of whole wheat, multigrain bread with a crust unless you a) made it yourself or b) went to Germany.
- If you got in a fight with someone, you either had to talk the person or write a note or ignore him or her for the rest of your life.
- In school we wrote notes to each other for illegal fun. I still have some of them. They last longer than texts.
- If you wanted the news, you either had to read the newspaper or watch the morning or evening news, or know someone who did.
- If you wanted to share the news, you either had to call someone and repeat it or cut out the article and mail it or send it interoffice mail if you worked in an office.
- Skype was science fiction!
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