Back In My Day

I am a baby of the 70’s and a school aged kid of the 80’s and a few years of the 90’s. As I watch the Millennial generation and my  young kids that are known as Generation Z, I sometimes think to myself or even sometimes say out loud, ‘What the heck is wrong with these kids?’. These kids have cell phones at the age of 10, find dates on the internet, take selfies like it’s nobody’s business and so much more; so because of this I felt it necessary to share some of my ‘Back in My Day’ moments so that maybe these kids could stop, think and realize how unlucky their generation is.

Back in my Day

Back in the Day:

  • Kindergarten was half days and we learned to read from ‘Dick and Jane’ books.
  • We played Dodge Ball and Red Rover during school recess.
  • If you were bad at school you got licks.
  • You’d better not slide down the slide on a hot summer day or you might get a 2nd degree burn.
  • You had to get up to change the channel.
  • We played Atari.
  • We played flash light hide and seek.
  • We ran around barefoot and climbed trees.
  • We played in the front yard.
  • We were known as the ‘latch key’ kids.
  • We helped in the yard, mowed and pulled weeds.
  • If you made your mom mad, you’d have to wait in the car until she was done shopping.
  • Grocery stores used paper bags.
  • Grown ups smoked while driving and you were lucky if they cracked the window.
  • Christmas trees were in every classroom and we had a ‘Christmas party’ where boys brought a boy present and the girls brought a girl present. It was great!
  • Go Fish and Old Maid were the card games of choice.
  • We played cops and robbers and used our fingers as guns.
  • We watched wrestling on Saturday night.
  • When someone was being attacked or if they needed help, we helped them. We didn’t video them.
  • We watched the local news channel at 5 o’clock.
  • We talked on the phone.
  • Every Saturday you had chores and didn’t get paid for doing them.
  • You didn’t get paid for making good grades.
  • You could buy candy bars for less than 50 cents.
  • We chased the snow cone truck.
  • We rented VHS movies and our parents illegally recorded them.
  • If you didn’t rewind, you’d have to pay a penalty.
  • Jane Fonda workouts were where it was at!
  • We couldn’t view our pictures after we took them. We had to take 24 pictures and take the roll of film to Eckerd’s and wait a week or so.
  • Selfies didn’t exist.
  • You didn’t have to have car insurance.
  • Health insurance was so inexpensive and really good!
  • You didn’t want to be seen at Kmart.
  • Stores were closed on Sunday.
  • You could smoke in a movie theater.
  • You recorded your favorite songs from the radio onto a tape recorder.
  • We rode in the back of pick up trucks.
  • You camped in a tent and sometimes in your back yard.
  • You walked to school in the rain and snow.
  • You respected your teachers and elders.
  • If your parents were divorced, mom would without a question get custody and get paid a small amount of child support from the dad that you rarely ever saw.
  • Michael Myers and Jason were the scariest characters ever; along with Freddy Krueger.
  • You met your significant other at work or from a friend of a friend.
  • When you ate at a restaurant, portions were enough for one person not 2-3.
  • There was no ‘Swear Jar’, it was just a given that mom and dad would swear.
  • We would circle what we wanted for Christmas in the JCPenney and Sears catalog.
  • We got an orange, an apple, some walnuts and a book of Lifesavers in our stocking which was a pantyhose.
  • We were not spoiled.
  • Parents disciplined their kids in public without fear of backlash.
  • Cabbage Patch dolls were the must have dolls!
  • No one dared to mess with Barbie!
  • We got our ears pierced when we could communicate and think for ourselves.
  • If you smarted off to your mama, you’d better duck!
  • Music was clean.
  • MTV played videos.
  • Parents did not talk politics much, especially around the kids.
  • You ate what your mom packed in your lunch and didn’t complain.
  • We lived to play outside.
  • We rode bikes.
  • We walked to the gas station to get candy and root beer.
  • We drank from the water hose.
  • There was always Kool-Aid.
  • Apple juice was good for you.
  • It was unheard of to drink spinach.
  • You didn’t think twice about eating fried food.
  • Meals were primarily cooked at home.
  • Santa Claus came to visit us at school.
  • Santa Claus delivered wrapped presents.
  • McDonald’s playgrounds were outside.
  • You had to try out for cheerleading and only a few girls were chosen.
  • Family pictures were taken at JCPenney or KMart and you’d better smile!
  • Kids worked and had a newspaper route.
  • Cheese and mayonnaise sandwiches were a staple.
  • We sat ‘Indian Style’.
  • We gave each other ‘Indian Burns’.
  • We made fart noises with our hand and arm pit.
  • Home daycares packed in the kids like it was nobody’s business.
  • We didn’t have toll roads, so it took a long time to get places.
  • You knew a Chinese Fire Drill when you saw one.
  • Summers were spent outside.
  • Beverly Cleary was an all time favorite author.
  • Choose Your Own Adventure books were the best books to read over and over again because they always had a different ending.
  • Cereal boxes had awesome prizes.
  • No one talked crap about Mcdonalds.
  • You didn’t dare interrupt your mama when she was on the phone.
  • We prayed before the Pledge of Allegiance at school.
  • We used pay phones.
  • SlimFast was the ‘it’ weight loss drink.
  • You didn’t question a police officer.
  • Everyone was not a winner.
  • Political correctness did not exist.
  • The Watcher in the Woods was the best scary kid’s movie ever.
  • Most kids dreamed about being in The Brady Bunch, Little House on the Prairie or the Cosby Show’s family.
  • Kids woke up early to watch Saturday morning cartoons.
  • Cartoons made sense.
  • Land of the Lost and Lost in Space were the coolest Saturday morning shows.
  • Soap Operas were our ‘reality tv’.
  • TV dinners were delicious!
  • Sesame Street taught us friendship, our colors, numbers and simple Spanish.
  • Teachers were allowed to teach what kids needed to learn.
  • Kids slept until 10am in the summer.
  • Kids worked after school.
  • Kids respected adults.
  • Kids didn’t get caught when they were ‘being kids’ because we had common sense and no social  media.
  • We had SLAM books.
  • We played Dominoes with our family.
  • We went to family reunions.
  • We got to enjoy Michael Jackson first hand before he became….odd.
  • Movies were good.
  • We had boy bands and glam heavy metal.
  • DARE was created and we listened.

Most of my childhood was spent in the 80’s. The decade of Madonna and the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster, in addition to Ronald Reagan as the 40th President. I grew up in a middle class neighborhood, had only 2 best friends and owned one pink Guess mini skirt. I was not privileged and I do look back and sometimes laugh at some of the decisions that were made by our elders but then I have to wonder if their decisions made me the person that I am today; a strong, independent, big hearted, funny and confident woman.

Tell me about your childhood experiences. Do you have any ‘Back in the Day’ memories?


  1. I grew up with most of these memories too. Some were before my time too, but the vast majority I could relate too. Life sure is different now!! I wish we could go back to this simple way of living lifestyle. Great post and great reminders!

  2. Wow. Such a long list. I’m not sure that music was clean, I can think of quite a few of the ones I heard on the radio that were all about sex. They just did a better job of imagery and metaphors. Yes, I have them all the time, especially with my son. He doesn’t realize how easy he has it.

  3. Sounds interesting & so much of fun. I really loved read this post as it brings back my ever lasting sweet memories. Oh yeah, Music was clean. Kids respected elders which is rare today & so many to list.

  4. Oh my I love this post! Brings back so many fun memories of my childhood! Thank you 🙂

  5. Ann Bacciaglia says

    This post brings back a ton of memories for me. I remember sitting in the backseat of the station wagon and facing the back of the car. When we would go out after supper the rules were when the street lights came on we had to be home.

  6. Atari was the best video game console ever. I used to play Pitfall with my uncle and Qbert. Those were good times.

  7. I loved the 90s & 00s, haha! Backstreet Boys for the win…well boy bands in general 😛

  8. I play lots of Atari! What is an Indian burn, I need to know

    • says

      An Indian Burn is when you hold out your arm and someone comes up and twists it until it turns red. Stupid, right? BUT that was the 80’s.

  9. Love this! Thanks have changed so much. I was born in the late 50’s so you can imagine how it is for me. I laughed when I saw, “I played Atari” because I remember doing that. This post brought back great memories. Thanks for sharing!

  10. I remember the 80s like it was yesterday. Madonna and Bruce Springsteen ruled the airwaves, and all the girls, and some of the guys, used Aqua Net hairspray like it was nothing. It’s a thousand wonders we didn’t destroy the ozone layer completely!

  11. I remember the whole neighborhood used to get together and play in our yard! I rarely see kids playing together outside anymore!

  12. This is a great post. No matter when you were born or what decade you grew up in, you have “back in the day” moments. I was born in the 50s and a child of the 60s and 70s and I have to tell you, I loved every minute of it. We were raised in a very rural area and a farming community and most of my memories surround that. Many of your memories were the same as mine although we were decades apart. However, we had no inkling of what was to come in the form of a VCR and beyond.

  13. I’m a child of the sixties and alot of what you wrote applied to my era as well.

  14. Yep to pretty much all of this for me too! I wish it was the same now as it was back then, childhood was so different.

  15. I read this and I am wondering if you are the same age as me. Sounds very much like my childhood. I am dating myself!

  16. You hit the nail on the head. Whatever “back in the day” everyone had is what has shaped them to be who they are today.

  17. I loved dodge ball. My kindergartner played it this year!

  18. We walked every where! We had this cute little corner store about 1/2 mile from our house and we would go there to buy candy! Loved those red hots!

  19. Catherine S says

    This brought back so many great memories. We played outside all day on the weekends and in the summer. We knew it was time to go home when the street lights came on.

  20. I miss those day so much, I remember I had lots of fun riding my bike for all the neighborhood, now everything is just cellphones and computers I think the kids need more contact with nature and the simple thinks in life. Thanks for the amazing post! ^_^

  21. I can relate to almost all of these. Circling what we wanted for Christmas in catalogs brings back such great memories!

  22. These brought back such memories! Thank you! I didn’t even have kindergarten! I love the “MTV played music” one – hahaha! I just read that Kurt Loder is 70. Ouch.

  23. Maybe it’s the teacher in me, but your Kindergarten comment stuck out. Ha ha! I talk about this all the time to my husband: My kindergarten was actually fully days (1989), but my sisters (who started in the mid to late 90s) saw the rise of the half day kindergarten. Now, all the schools around us have gone to half days. You’re the first person I’ve met with a half day kindergarten before the 90s, so maybe your school was ahead of the curve! Of course, I’m an advocate for full-day kindergarten, but that’s neither here nor there 🙂

  24. I remember working out with Jane Fonda in the basement of a local church – leotard, leg warmers and all. OMG And when I was a little girl I remember looking through the Sears catalog and picking out everything I wanted for Christmas. I do believe Santa shopped exclusively at Sears. 🙂 Thanks for the warm and fuzzies.

  25. This is so true. I remember circling things in the Sears, JCPenny and Best catalogs. I miss that actually. This is such a good list, Amy.

  26. I grew up in the 80s and I love this list the kids now are all about the latest and greatest in everything. My 8 year old daughter wants a phone I do allow her to watch netflix on it but that’s it she really does not get the concept yet and I hope it stays that way. The girls and boys are growing up way to fast now a days and think they are older then what they are. It’s up to us parents to make sure we monitor everything to keep them safe.

  27. I grew up in the 70s and 80s and these are all true! Things were so different back then and we had more outdoor games and activities than kids do now.

  28. I was born in 1971 so I relate to almost all of these! A lot has changed.

  29. You are most likely the same age as me and I bet the older generation thought the same thing. I do miss the innocence of that time but love how everything is so quick now

  30. Robin Masshole mommy says

    It was a completely different way of life back then, wasn’t it? Things are so different now.

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