I grew up during the 70’s and 80’s in a mid-sized city in Canada. It was a different time, a different era, both economically and as per the social structure. Dad’s worked and Mom’s stayed home cooked home-made meals and reared the children. Houses cost 20 or 30 thousand and a gallon of gas was about $0.40. There were no personal computers yet and certainly no smart phones or internet.
Back then everybody new, respected, and helped their neighbors. As children we played outside, ate our homemade meals together as a family and socially interacted with each other face to face. It was before our food was genetically modified and tasted that way. Back when children were taught to be polite, respectful and mindful of others. When you would call an adult Mr. or Mrs. and never ever by their first name.
THE OLD STOMPING GROUNDS
You ever go by your Old Stomping Grounds? You know, just to see what it looks like now? Maybe relive some old memories as you cruise past the houses in your old neighborhood? Yep! That’s where so and so lived and Yep! that’s where the corner store was! And remember the time when? Yes sir old memories sure can come flooding back when your mind goes back in time like that. Back to the “Good old Days!”
There’s my old house I grew up in! Nothings much changed on the outside but looking at it today it seems different? Seems cold and unloved like it’s been missing us all these years? Just looking at it starts up the old memory time machine. I almost expect my mother to open the front door and call me in to supper. Our crazy black cat seizing the moment, slipping into the house between her legs. Yep, it’s all coming back to me now …
Where I grew up in the east-end of Hamilton (Ontario) in the 70’s and 80’s, it was a time of legendary music, live concerts and famous bands. And we liked our music LOUD! With big powerful stereo’s, amplifiers and speakers rattling the windows. This was all before the digital age of course and our music was played on turntables, 8-tracks and cassettes. Not just in our homes, but outdoors with boomboxes and outrageously amped-up car stereo systems. The louder the better!
Mom used to say she knew I was on my way home because she could hear my car stereo blasting from 2 blocks away. And how many of you got screamed at back then to “turn that damn thing down!” Yep! We loved our music and we loved it loud! Window rattling loud!
And when you went to see a live rock concert, well, loud was not the word! Some were said to be as loud as a jumbo jet taking off! Damn near made your ears bleed, but you were usually too excited (or too wasted!) to even notice. And the bands? You kidding me? The 70’s and 80’s were arguably the greatest decades in music. Most of the legendary bands in history were either still playing or just getting started.
Now I grew up before the digital age of smartphones, computers, the internet or video games. Oh! Wait a minute, we did have “Pong.” Remember that video game? Maybe the first one ever? A line that could only move up and down on each side of a blank dark screen. And a blip, that you would contact when it came to your side and send it back to your opponent. Like Tennis only with a dotted middle line instead of a net.
Talk about prehistoric! And fun? Ah, no. Just up and down and “blip, blip, blip.” I win — let’s go outside and play! Definitely primitive! But Hey! That may of been the first ever commercially sold video game that you could play at home. One of the first, for sure!
But mostly, we played outside! From when the sun came up to when it was going down. Dashing home for lunch or supper in-between but then out again as fast as our little feet would take us playing till we were called in or until the street lights came on? That was my mother’s warning — “Make sure your home before the street lights come on!” “Or else all hell is going to break-loose!” Boy! I miss those days!
With no computers or Smartphones or social media like today, we found our fun outside! And it was good for us! We certainly got more than enough exercise for our young growing bodies and as a result we were way healthier than the kids growing up today. Fresh air, sunshine, a little dirt on our hands and knees and great big grins on our faces!
Its kinda sad really, you just don’t see kids playing football on the corner lot anymore, or baseball on the school diamond, or road-hockey on the um? Well, Road! But that’s all we did back then! Even in the winter! Every winter Pops would flood the backyard and we would skate or play hockey even on the coldest of days! In fact that’s where I learned how to skate and where most of us did! — Outside!
There was a dead-end street where we liked to play our road hockey games because there was almost no traffic. You rarely had to stop and move the nets off to the side because somebody yelled “car!” During our games, we were all over the neighbor’s grass, but nobody ever game out to shoo us away! Kids were kids and back then everybody accepted that! Imagine trying that today?
Sometimes when we played baseball on a hot summers day in the field beside a factory, the woman workers would come out and give us Popsicles to cool us down. Not shout at us to get of the property! Kids were kids! You think that would happen today?
Yep we definitely got our exercise, and how many overweight children do you remember seeing back then? On a non-school day most everybody was outside playing! Our mother’s would shoo us outside if we got whiny or bored or sat in front of the TV for too long. Go outside and play they would say, get some fresh air! Imagine saying that to your kids today? “Play? Outside?
And before they finally could drag us back in It was “Oh Ma! just a while longer?” That’s because we were having fun! Running outside in nature like we were meant to do. Like our growing bodies needed us to do. Like all the children before us did! Playing is what a child is supposed to do!
“Canadian kids aren’t just inactive but lack the fundamental movement skills, knowledge and motivation to engage in physical activities and play, according to a new study. That means that most kids lack skills like throwing a ball and perform below expectations in aerobic tests, don’t get enough physical activity, and what’s more — they don’t want to!”
“We know that kids today are less active than they used to be. They’re less fit than they used to be. They’re heavier than they used to be. Fewer children know how to swim or even ride a bike.”
Full article: Leslie Young at msn.com.
We were learning social skills “face to face” not on a screen! You knew who were the good guys, who were the bad, who your real friends were and who were the pretenders. Not by reading their tweets, or text messages, or email. But by looking them in the eye and getting to know them. No emoji emotion faces in my day!
Even the parents seemed more social back then. I know in my survey we all knew who our neighbors were! They all would wave or say hello to each other or stop for a chat. They had each other over for coffee, or for a beer and were invited to parties, birthdays and get-togethers! I don’t think it’s like that anymore, certainly not to that extent. Today It’s more — hello, nice day? — see ya!
THE TEENAGE YEARS — SEX
Being a teenager in the 70’s is probably pretty different than being one today. Technology has changed many things, bringing with it issues that we never had to deal with. Like access to the internet, which opens up the adult world much earlier today to a teenager then in my day. And of course social media! But the same after-puberty hormone craze that affects all teenagers both physically and emotionally happened to us as well! Only like I said, the times were different. Society was different!
For us guys back when, the first naked girl we ever saw was in a playboy magazine or some racy calendar hanging in a steel mill. There were no internet porn-sites showing not-only naked woman but all forms of sexual content, including all of their deviations. What a shock that must be for a curious teen of today? The whole shebang — all at once!
Today’s teens are missing out on the mysteries of the opposite sex that was so much a part of my teenage years! The words in the song by Meat-Loaf perfectly applied to my era “I could see paradise by the dashboard lights.” And when she tells him to stop and promise her he’d marry her first? That was ethically and morally what we were taught back then! Most unlike today.
With today’s teens, there is no mystery! No, learn as you go! The porn sites have stripped all ethical and moral reluctance away. They’ve changed sexual expectations in our young adults forever. They are now peer-pressured into performing sex (not having sex) as the actors do in the porn they are seeing. A total reversal from the sexual restraint and mutual respect that was pounded into our heads. Not that it always ended up being that way!
Having your own car in my day meant freedom and responsibility and learning about money management for the first time. In other words, a giant step in becoming independent. Nobody I knew was just handed a car either, unlike today when once of age a car is expected as if its your right! Back then you had to earn your car! You worked for it with a job, or your parents increased your responsibilities and chores. In other words you were made to earn this car. Taught a life lesson!
And this car would go on to change your life! Now you had the means to explore the rest of the world instead of just locally. Experience the world as you never could before. Soon you would be having fun adventures with your best buds and solving the mysteries of the opposite sex in the back seat of your car. Remember that!
Gentlemen — how many of you had your first real sexual experience (with someone else. Lol) while in your car? Parked in a secluded place? Steaming up the windows? You went as far as she would let you. 1st base? 2nd base? Or Paradise by the dashboard light? Getting your first car back in my time was life changing!
And oh baby! The cars themselves were things of beauty, built for speed and individually designed to stand out in a male buyers market. I’m talking about the muscle car of course. The Mustang, Nova, Trans-am, Camaro, Charger, Chevelle and so many more.
Dangerously over-powered for the young driver, yet such an alluring status symbol that we all dreamed of owning one. And the unique thing about those cars back then was that they were so highly customizable. Nobody really drove them as is. Making them individually unique was all part of the deal. This was your car! And nobody would have one exactly like it!
You could beef up the motor or exhaust system and have it purring like a cat or rumbling like a Harley Davidson. Strip it bare, or add spoilers, chrome rims and racing tires. You made it match your own personality and topped it of with a mirror finished paint job. Can’t do that with cars today!
Cable TV was mostly new and most of us still had antenna reception anyways, allowing local stations and perhaps 5 or 6 other channels. Oh! And no remotes! Yes we actually had to get up off our “fat lazy asses” to change the channel manually! But back then we were seldom lazy! And certainly as youngsters there were — NO — Fat Asses!
Children played outside while Mom cooked homemade meals and Dad’s did car or home fix-up projects or drank beer on the porch with a neighbor. Family time together was important, we all ate together at mealtimes and really feasted on holidays together with Grandparents and relatives. And eat? Oh boy those home-cooked roasts and homemade pies! Send me back!
Kids were taught to be respectful of their elders and mind their parents. In fact society as a whole seemed much more respectful to each other back then. Even today I hold doors open for those behind me and am willing to help out a neighbor when ever I can. All lessons I learned while growing up in the 70’s and 80’s. It was a different time, a simpler time, a time of family and ethics.
QUESTION: WHERE THINGS BETTER IN THE OLD DAYS OF YOUR CHILDHOOD?
THINGS I MISS
There are many other things that I miss about my time growing up. Simple things, that much like the era they existed in are gone now. Things that back then were just part of our daily lives and seemed of no real significance but today bring a smile of remembrance. We all have our favorites, here’s a list of some of mine.
Things I miss from my youth: Mom’s cooking, drinking water from a hose, being carefree, playing outside and never getting tired, the ice-cream truck. Mr. freeze and Lola’s, riding my bike, feeling invincible, fresh bread from the bakery, my first car.
Choosing candy from the lady behind the counter: Green leaves, tootsie rolls, double bubble, licorice whips, rockets, jaw breakers, wax lips, Pez, star burst, candy necklaces and so many, more!
The excitement of Christmas morning, not caring about the weather or the time, outdoor sports with my friends, the endless energy of youth. Filling up pillowcases with candy on Halloween, the old TV shows, how everything was an adventure, not being aware of death and taxes and politics, the Drive-in Movies. Believing in superstition, in magic, and in miracles.
Girls skipping rope and playing hopscotch! Pigtails and ponytails bobbing up and down as they played. The older ones carrying around their little transistor radios. The boys getting dirty with grass stains on their knees and healing scabs on their elbows. Giggling children running through the sprinklers on a hot summers day and piling up the fall leaves just so they could jump in.
All these memories flash together one producing another producing another until like being in a period set movie — I’m back there again! Back riding my bike, not caring where I go, just feeling alive and free.
Think I’ll ride over to Tom’s and see if we can get a game going! Or stop at the corner store and get an ice-cream!
Or why not both?
After all! I’m young! I’m carefree! And I have all the time in the world.
THE WORD OF WAYNE
“Nostalgia is a file that removes the rough edges from the Good old Days.” — Doug Larson
Don’t forget to share your views and experiences with all of us on today’s subject line. Your input “What do you think?” is what WOW is all about! Opinions from the only voice that matters. Your voice! The voice of the people!