I’m an 80s kid. It feels like so long ago. We all can’t believe how fast time flies. Millennials today really are missing out. I know everyone says that, but we did really have an awesome childhood.
I recently took a ride with my 9-year-old son on a yellow school bus while visiting a zoo recently. It’s been 25 years roughly since I rode one of these. I’m too lazy to do the math on how many years so let’s say 25, as it sounds about right. The site of the green firm seats and awkward tire hump some kids were forced to sit over, brought back fond memories. I felt like a kid again. Thoughts rushed through my head in matter of seconds. I remembered how I put my backpack down to the floor, racing to get my Sony Walkman out to listen to Van Halen (David Lee Roth not Sammy Hagar) or any one of the other bands I was into. Back then we had cassette tapes. Mp3 didn’t come out until the early 1990s and when they did, it was revolutionary. We had vinyl records and cassette tapes only.
I carried no more than 5 cassettes on me, swapping them out each week. Today you can have thousands of songs with you always. You kids are spoiled.
As most people would say, “my generation was better.” I would have to say ours was one of the best. Kids growing up in the 1980s saw the birth of so many things. Granted, other generations have that statement, but ours was the largest in technology.
Here’s a small list of things we saw come to life in the 1980s:
- Cable tv. Before cable, I remember watching live tv with my family, especially saturday nights, which was pizza night. By the way, I canceled cable 2 years ago so we are back to watching live tv and using HULU. Couldn’t be happier.
- Arcade games. We played PONG on an old black and white tv in the late 70s at the age of 7. It was magical. We were there when pac man and space invaders started the video gaming revolution. It was simply awesome to witness the birth of video games. We literally had no games of any kind. Atari 2600, colecovision and Intellivision. There was an arcade close to home called STAR WORLD. During the summer on Wednesdays from noon until 1pm, you could play all the video games you wanted for $1. It was normally 25 cents a game…quarters not tokens.
- Movies were better. I’m not a fan of CG or computer animation. I know it’s art but it was more impressive to create models and film on live sets to me. Don’t get me wrong, computers are great, but I prefer old school effects, as they aren’t sterile.
- Music stores. You knew from friends and magazines when your favorite band was releasing their album. There was no internet. We counted the days to visit the record store, and even wait in line, for that album. It was magical. Now we just click and download from our homes. Sad really. I started buying vinyl records, then cassettes, then CDs in the 1980s. I never thought I would adopt iTunes in the beginning.
- I started photography as a kid and shot on FILM. After 36 exposures, I had to PAY to get them developed at the grocery store. Now kids are photographing endless digital pics and posting to social media instantly for the world to see. Back then, Only local family and friends could see my work. If I wanted anyone else to see my photos, I would need to pay for copies to be made and snail mail it to them.
- If you loved video production, as I did, you were stuck filming on a large VHS camera with no editing capabilities. Again, only friends and family could see what you shot. Now, everyone has access to digital cameras and social media. You Tube was born in 2005 and is now the 2nd largest platform next to google. It’s easy now.
- Cell phones. There were no cell phones unless you were a doctor or someone with money. They were called car phones and attached to the inside of a car. If you had a car phone, you had money or were important.
- TV. If you were playing outside in the snow and missed the Charlie Brown Christmas special, you had to wait until next year. This made it more special. There was no YouTube or DVR or anything to record it on. It was on live tv with commercials and that’s all you had. It was special.
- Radio was much better. Your favorite band relied on radio to sell albums and promote tours. There was no Spotify or internet or anything to get music from. You bought albums and waited in line for tickets at Ticketmaster for a concert. The closer the concert got to your town, the more commercials you would hear, hyping it up all the more.
- TV was of better quality. There wasn’t all this killing and zombie slayer BS. I’m a guy and I can’t watch it. It doesn’t appeal to me. Storylines and movies were better than they are now.
- Book stores. I got most of my books from BDalton. I miss walking into the store as a kid, taking in the smell of fresh books all over the store, and looking for the perfect one.
- The ditto machine in grammar school. Remember the smell? Loved it.
- Smelly stickers and sticker books.
- Mtv – When it was cool and real and only music. – thanks Gwen!
- We’d stay outside until the street lights came on.
I know it sounds like life was more limiting back then and you’re right. That’s what made it better. That’s what made people more social. Back in the 80s, kids and people talked more. They hung out more. I work downtown and everywhere I go, people are buried in their phones. On the train, crossing the street, in their cars, in waiting rooms, at restaurants, all buried in their phones. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a tech geek, but I’m just not attached to my phone. I use technology as a tool, not a crutch. I rarely look at it.
Speaking of awesome stuff as a kid, I was there for Star Wars EP 4 on opening day, along with 4 and 6. Star Wars was amazing. It was new. It was inspirational. I can’t say that about today. Star Wars doesn’t have the magic it once did, as it’s more watered down, if you will. Sure, it’s still great, but not to me.
I’m not sure what dictates cool in high schools of today but for us it was hanging out with friends. The colder months were the best, as we got together around fire pits in someone’s backyard while wearing our flannels and leather jackets. If you were in a band, you had a cool leather jacket. Those are some of my favorite memories. Girls in highschool often smoked cigarettes and wore leather and tight jeans. The smell of aqua net hairspray, leather and light cigarette smoke, is one of my favorites to this day. Come to think of it, a lot of the guys did the same thing, minus the aqua net. I take that back. Guys wanting to be in glam bands (ugh) wore the aqua net. Metal dudes did not. Metal dudes, by the way, were always very cool to everyone. They got a bad rep.
A good cup of coffee, a good flannel, and a great October day are what I loved most, and still do.
No era beats the 80s. The 1950s were also very awesome, although I wasn’t alive back then.
What are some of your favorite memories from the 80s?
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