The world in which I grew up

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    First of all, I do not mean for this to turn into any kind of a platform for political jabs or personal attacks.

    I think that I close to the middle of the demographic spectrum on this board. I reached the 40 year mark last year (just amongst us friends; I am officially stuck at 39 🙂 ). The world of my childhood and tween memories feels quite different than my reality today. Here are some random observations:

    • In the mid 1980s, only had one friend who wore a bicycle helmet. The helmets of that era were clunky devices that looked like giant wiffle balls. By contrast, today most organized cycling events and a number of cities require that bicycle helmets be worn at all times. How could the parents of the 1980s have been so careless?
    • One could spin the dial on a shortwave radio and hear the Cold War playing out over the airwaves.
    • Home computers were for hobbyists, and they were largely novelty items, due to their limited capabilities (by today’s standards).
    • Parents and teachers worried about the bad influences that hard rock/heavy metal music might have on youth. In one of my schools, several teachers actually made comments heavy metal was associated with low-class people (those in general and remedial classes)
    • Health classes portrayed AIDS as an excruciating way to die. When the death of Ryan White hit the news, I was shocked to see how an ordinary child, just like me, could succumb to the disease.
    • Smoking was much more prevalent among parents, teachers, and characters on television and films than it is today. Ashtrays were readily available at restaurants, hotels, and social events in private homes (even if the hosts were non-smokers). People smoked while they worked. The smell of cigarettes was just about everywhere.
    • Ethnic jokes had not yet become taboo. One could even hear them (particularly Polish jokes) on radio and television.
    • Rap lyrics were light hearted and often humorous.
    • Up until the Challenger disaster, school children routinely followed Space Shuttle launches.
    • The anxiety waiting for a telephone call from a loved one or of trying to reach a loved one was an occasional subject in popular music (for example, Sheena Easton/”Telefone” and Laura Branigan/”Solitaire”)
    • I thought that 1985 model year cars looked quite modern because they introduced the high-mounted third brakelight.
    • When groups of children played outside, they had to look out for each other (generally, this worked out).

    Sorry, as far as my experience goes, the 80’s were a non-decade. Bad music, bad TV, St. Ronnie…the list just goes on and on. IMO, it’s best that they be forgotten and laid to rest. :p


    I liked the 80’s

    And I am getting close to 50. Shit.

    Good thread alfredo. Later when I can actually type, I’ll share some of my experiences. They compare favorably to yours.


    If you lived through the 60s every other decades pales.


    If I had to be really concise, I would say that young people today would have a hard time grasping:

    1. The Cold War mentality
    2. Not having one’s friends easily contactable at all times
    3. How much fear, hatred, and disgust the public felt about AIDS (I think that the overreaction to ebola that we see today pales by comparison)

    I agree with Langston.


    Musically speaking I’d take the 80’s over any of the decades to follow. No doubt there was a lot of rubbish but I’ll take but the alternative and college radio formats over the last 25 years any day.


    I missed the 1960s by four years, so I cannot make that comparison. I have an old psychology textbook from around 1969 that makes the observation that the rapid social and cultural changes that were taking place at the time were a great source of stress to people. I think that the tension and anxiety that existed back then is something that I cannot identify with because I did not experience it firsthand (in the same way that Millennials can’t identify with the fear of nuclear war and suspcion of/disdain for eastern bloc countries that existed during the Cold War).

    As a piece of Cold War memorabilia, does anybody remember the song “99 Red Balloons” by the West German band Nena? The song was inspired when the band’s guitarist watched as a batch of helium balloons was released during a concert, and he wondered, “what if those balloons drifted over the Berlin Wall?” The English translation of the song tells a disastrous story where a malfunctioning early warning system misidentifies the balloons as a missile, and a nuclear strike is initiated.

    An event like that almost happened in 1983! At that time, a newly-deployed Soviet satellite-based early warning system misidentified high altitude cloud formations as missiles. Soviet Air Force colonel Stanislav Petrov saved the day when he decided to wait for confirmation from ground-based radar before taking further action. ( See )

    Deane Johnson

    I have to agree with Langston and Amus. The sixties were an easy time. That is, until the end of the decade when the social unrest came into being. I hated the music that was ushered in with that era.

    I became Program Director of KDWB in Minneapolis in 1969 and it was very difficult to make a station sound good with that music.

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