Shabby Safety Belts and Car Seats
Today strapping in is like second nature. Our arms immediately reach for the seat belt and we buckle-in without a moment’s thought. In fact, now, you could consider us well trained when it comes to car safety. Sadly, this wasn’t always the case.
Back then kids would be flung to the back seat without any protective means. If you were an infant, you might have gotten a ride on mom’s lap. We’re not sure which is worse.
Childproofing Was Unheard of
The kids of today have it pretty cushy. There are many things in place, such as certain kinds of latches or childproof medicine bottle caps that prevent kids and especially infants from getting hurt.
Back then, if a baby wanted to play with the goods around the house, they were going to do it. Electrical sockets were there to play with until their heart's content. We suppose you could say it toughened them up a bit.
Girl Toys and Boy Toys
Toys back then were very strictly defined by genders. Everything blue or red that could shoot stuff, fight or move fast was for the boys and anything pink and soft was for the girls.
If a boy was caught playing with a doll, it wouldn't have been so pleasant. Of course, there are still hang-ups as to which goes to who, but now there are certainly many toys that are for all kids.
Fire Hydrant Showers
This was popular in urban areas and large cities. In fact, it was almost like the official policy that during the summertime, fire hydrants would be opened to blast sweaty kids after playing in the streets.
If city officials didn't do it, then parents or an older sibling would surely do it. This way, all the neighborhood kids could get a spritz of water to cool them down. While it sounds like fun, as you might have guessed, that water wasn't always the best quality.
Walking To School
Unless you live in an incredibly safe area, it's unlikely that you will let your kid walk to school in this day and age - especially if they're in the first grade. Of course, it was a different time then and it was far more normal to let the kids run free.
Though it wasn't all bad, generally it was the older sibling or one of the older kids in the neighborhood that would accompany the kids to school. Think of it more like a 'boomer carpool'.
In those days, the kids were with the kids, and the adults, with the adults. While parents certainly cared deeply for their children, deep discussions and conversations about feelings were not for the public domain.
Today, of course, there is a strong culture of parents engaging with their kids, some even argue, too much. Maybe we still have not struck the balance
Drinking from Water Garden Hoses
Bottled water was not really a thing until a couple of decades later. You would just drink from the tap, and in the summer, kids, after running around the yard for a while, had no shame in taking a sip from the garden hose.
No one ever thought that water from garden hoses was unregulated and potentially unsafe. This was totally normal. The hose was a fixture of summertime fun, with kids running in and out of sprinklers.
Latchkey Kids Were Common
The '60s, a time where mothers suddenly started entering the workplace. While this is normal now, many systems have been set up to accommodate kids with busy parents. Then, not so much.
If a kid could stay outside all day without supervision, then they could definitely do it indoors. They would come home after school to an empty house and prepare themselves a TV dinner. Luckily, sometimes there was an older sibling to pick up the slack
If you misbehaved as a kid, it was simple. Out came the hand, or occasionally even worse, the belt. It's a good thing that most times kids were way out of their parents' sight for most of the day, but when they were with their folks, there was serious discipline.
The kind of physical punishment that went on those days would cause some serious eyebrow-raising today. In some cases, even a phone call to child services. Yep, things have changed, thankfully!
Lead paint was used on everything. Which is strange, since it was published as far back as 1904 that lead is highly poisonous in large quantities for both workmen and all inhabitants of a home.
Fortunately now, the legal amount of lead is no more than 0.06% concentration. Just think of everyone breathing that in, not just kids!
Kids Outside Unsupervised
When there were no video games, phones, computers, or ipads, kids had to seek fun in the world outside. And that's exactly what they did... all... the...time. Once a kid was let outside to play with their friends, parents wouldn't see them until dinner time.
Safety just didn't seem like a concern. Not because they didn't care about their kids, but because people felt that neighborhoods were safe back then. Kids were also mostly in groups or with older siblings so it seemed totally normal.
With all the 'hands-on' parenting of today, no one would accept someone else telling them how to raise their kids. But in the '60s, parents from the community or neighborhood would have no issue disciplining someone else's child if necessary.
It was extremely common to see other kids' parents giving a little mischief-maker a good yelling, sometimes even a spanking. If that happened today, people would very quickly find themselves in a lawsuit.
The Chemistry Sets Were Not Okay
It's always great when kids test out scientific experiments, but what isn't okay is when these experiments can lead to super hazardous explosions. Like in the case of these old Gilbert Chemistry Sets.
These sets contained terribly flammable chemicals like ammonium nitrate - a chemical used in the creation of homemade bombs and potassium permanganate. Not so smart.
Cycling Without Helmets
Kids were certainly not driven around by their mothers and fathers in the '60s. They either had to walk or cycle, and cycling was the popular choice for sure. Just about every father taught their kid how to ride a bicycle. If they fell and scraped their knees, too bad.
If they fell on their heads, you guessed it, they had to suck it up too. Helmets became popularised much later, in fact, if you were seen with a helmet, you were probably a giant dork.
One thing about the 1960s that is now unheard of, was the military draft. Young men of 18 years old would be drafted into the army to fight some of the world's toughest wars.
Today Americans who are 19-26 still have to make sure they register with the Selective Service System. But, thankfully, the draft doesn't exist the way it used to. Let's hope it stays that way.
It took some time to master the art of car making. Sadly there were cars, even well into the 70s which would just explode. As popular family cars, these often had kids in them!
A prime example of this? The Ford Pinto. These cars could explode due to the terribly designed fuel tank. Forget about not using seat belts.
Left at The Beach
You would think that at large public places like a beach, the safety concerns would be different. This is not the case. Whole families who would journey to the beach, wouldn't really keep an eye out on their kids. There were lifeguards for that. And the lifeguards were more like babysitters.
Of course, with the whole, 'kids run free' philosophy, kids were probably left to play on beaches long after the parents went home, depending on how far away they lived of course! Parents certainly weren't monsters.
No Safety Nets on Trampolines
Today this seems like a total hazard. Strangely back then, it didn't seem to faze parents that much. As you can imagine, they weren't short of injuries. If ever there was a trampoline in the neighborhood, all the kids would zoom over as fast as possible, only to come home limping and wailing from the all bruises.
As you can imagine, countless kids would suffer from broken arms, bumped heads and various sprains. Did it stop them? Not for a moment.
Going to a Friend's House Alone
Today, playdates are an endless burden in modern-day parenting. The scheduling and the planning involved in getting our kids socialized can be a little bit of a headache. But also those decades ago, a kid would just simply tell their mom that they're going to a friend. And that was that.
The kid would make their own way to the friend and likely stay there the whole day, sometimes even for dinner. No cellphones, no internet. Parents didn't always know where their kids were.
Not Letting Boys Cry
Little kids fall and get hurt. And sometimes they have to cry. Even little boys. Unfortunately, a few decades ago, little boys were always encouraged to be big strong men who never cry!
Thankfully that's changed and we now know little boys cry, and even big and strong men too.
People Hitchhiked Everywhere
For long distances, or cross country traveling, many young Americans simply stood on the side of the road with their thumbs out, waiting for a ride. This was particularly common for all those free-spirited hippies who were probably heading for California to live in peace.
Other young kids would also hitchhike to run away from their parents! Scary! Somehow, there wasn't much fear for creeps and weirdos out there. We wonder what happened.
Blood Brothers and Sisters
Before Instagram, Facebook or Snapchat, kids may have had fewer connections, but their bonds were definitely tighter. And in some cases... maybe a little too tight. Best friends wouldn't simply seal their friendships by exchanging cute bracelets or secret handshakes.
These kids would honor ancient oaths by becoming "blood brothers" or "blood sisters". Pretty gruesome, right?. Aside from the obvious 'ouch' factor, this was a great way to exchange endless bacteria and diseases.
Spinning Your Kids Really Fast On The Merry-Go-Round
Playgrounds, a child's paradise, yes, but it was also a place filled with screaming, bloodied knees and bumps on the head. And it wasn't always the kid's fault. Sometimes folks would encourage their children to play a little too hard.
Spinning their little ones super fast on the merry-go-round could sometimes be fun, but could also be harmful by making them terribly nauseous, or even worse, accidentally flinging them off.
Sending Your Little Kid to the Store with a Note
Then, a way to teach your kid some responsibility, now, a way to put your kid in a potentially dangerous situation. The world is not as safe as it was and sending kids to do shopping is not is definitely less popular.
Who knows, maybe things will change one day!
Sunbathing Without Sunscreen
Before sunscreen, kids would use baby oil with iodine to prevent burns. But, also there weren't all those fears about holes in the ozone layer, so the sun seemed like everybody's friend. Which after many sunburns and peeling shoulders later, we understood that it can be pretty dangerous.
At least they tried to protect their kids with what they had. Moms and dads, on the other hand, would freely lather up with suntan oil and roast in the sun. While many people still do that today, it is at least regarded as something pretty unwise.
Not Letting Their Daughters Date
Overprotective dads are as old as time itself, and they certainly are still alive and well today, but like with everything, it was a little more extreme in the '60s. Grumpy fathers would notoriously chase their daughters' dates off their front lawns, sometimes with an old hunting rifle in hand.
Of course, when it came to sons, they were only encouraged. It took quite a few years to ease up on our girls, and we're still working on it.
Chasing Trucks with Toxic Fumes
Poisonous pesticides were the last thing on anybody's minds back then. To the point that kids in the neighborhood would run after them as if it was a game. Little did they know that these were the very trucks spraying poisons and other chemicals to kill pests and mosquitos.
This seems a little too crazy and we hope that parents caught onto this very quickly.
Kids Using the Oven and Stove
Being alone in the house for long hours while their folks were away at work, these kids had to cook their own dinners. If you didn't stock up on simple microwavable dinners, little children had no choice but to light up those stoves and ovens themselves.
Sometimes it worked out, sometimes it didn't. We are sure that local fire departments were alert and ready for action.
Everybody wanted to be a Smoker
Those days, in just about every piece of media, whether it was in film, TV, billboards, magazine ads, not to mention, just on the street, you would see a cigarette in everyone's lips. Even ads featuring babies would be seen alongside a smoking mother and father at the dinner table
When it came to the older kids, the depiction of teens smoking cigarettes was seen as a sign of growing up. Just ask anyone from that generation. It's highly likely that they were sent to the corner store to buy smokes for their folks.
Another thing that has evolved, is the bullying culture. Not that kids have gotten kinder, we all know that kids can be pretty cruel, but their methods have certainly changed over the years.
It wasn't uncommon for kids to take the school's biggest nerd and dunk him in the toilet. Thankfully, that is safely in the past and in some outdated teen films.
Playing in the Streets
If you lived in an area where there were no parks nearby, or your backyard wasn't big enough for games like hide-and-seek, hockey, stickball, and Marco Polo, then the streets were your only choice.
Kids would also play with marbles, aiming them at small street manhole covers. Many little girls would also make hop-scotch boards on the streets with chalk. Miraculously, all kids were safe from oncoming cars.
Sugar Loaded Bubblegum
Blowing bubblegum bubbles was all the rage then. Often times there were even bubble-blowing competitions. This was seen as pretty sneaky as bubblegum was not even allowed in class in those days, so it was always up to one of the brave kids to smuggle some in.
Of course, with all that sugar, swirling around their mouths, cavities were endless and teachers and parents started clamping down even harder on the sugary treats after all those painful visits to the dentist.
Cereals like Cap'n Crunch or Trix were considered a decent breakfast back then. Unsweetened corn-flakes generally had about a tablespoon of sugar. These sugary treats made of corn, wheat or oat, were endlessly being fed into the mouths of young kids. As you can probably imagine, the results were not great.
It was belly and toothaches galore. The sugar was causing these kids a lot of harm. While there is certainly an abundance of sugary cereals today, there are at least healthier options too.
Skateboards Weren't Great
Skateboards have come along way. Other than the killer graphics and skateboard art available today, the design of the skateboard itself is very carefully crafted.
Of course, in the '60s, the skateboard was essentially a piece of plywood with some wheels slapped on. This didn't make for the best skateboard tricks. You could basically just go forward.
Toys have evolved over the years. At one point, all that was available to kids were scattered stones outside. Luckily, in the 60s, there wasn't a toy shortage, it was just the types of toys, toys that caused a lot of damage.
Toys like the tire swing would cause untold stories of whiplash, Jarts were giant darts for the yard and of course, BB guns and cap guns caused some horrifying injuries. Luckily, many safety measures have since been introduced and playing with toy guns is pretty discouraged.
Not Letting Girls Get Rough
Little girls like to run wild too! But if you grew up in the 1960s and you were a girl, you were probably stuffed in dresses, handed little dolls, strollers, and Easy Bake Ovens. That wasn't for everyone.
As we see today, many little girls love climbing trees and playing with trucks and toy guns.
Sleeping in the Rear Window
During long family road trips, there were no electronics to keep everyone entertained. Families resorted to songs and games. Of course, after a while, this would get a little tiresome and the kids would need a rest.
Where would they do it? They would take a nap in the little nook up above the back seat, right by the car's rear window. If strapping kids in wasn't enough of a disaster, this was just too much.
Girls Would Damage Their Hair
Painful hair rollers, peroxide that would burn the scalp and dry out hair, and even actual irons that you would use for your clothes. These were the things that girls would use for their precious hair.
Hairstyling for women sometimes resembled medieval torture methods. The term "beauty is pain" was in use then more than ever.
Before vaccines came around, kids had to be intentionally exposed to a slew of infectious diseases. Most commonly, these 'parties' were held for Chicken Pox and Measles, sometimes Mumps and Rubella were thrown in there too for good measure.
People saw it as inevitable, and just did what they could to 'get it over with'. Fortunately, kids recovered quickly and developed immunities. At least we have vaccines now. They have helped a lot.
Nuns Who Disciplined
Generally, Catholic schools had pretty harsh rules. Step out of line, and you could easily get spanked. Talking in class could get a smack with a ruler over the palm of the hand. Getting pulled by the ear and sent to the principal's office was another favorite.
After that, it could be on your knuckles, and quite often it would get even worse. Of course, punishment in today's schools - even the Catholic ones, looks drastically different.
Candy Store Hangouts
At one time, candy stores for kids were like bars for adults. Kids would hop on and line up at the counters, with lollipops in hand. This was also when candies were so cheap back then, that kids could guzzle up sugar-loaded sodas and egg cream for a nickel.
Kids were often seen sneaking in brown paper bags full of gummy bears, bubblegum, candy canes and much, much more. Of course, sometimes they would get caught by mom. At least they got to run around back then!
Aside from the now known fact that babies are not supposed to sleep on their bellies, back then not only were they doing that, but they were also sleeping in unsafe cribs. Slats were placed too far apart from each other, or they were wide enough to get the baby's head stuck! Thank heavens for today's regulations.
On some occasions, their little fingers would get stuck too. It took a series of tragedies for the manufactures to pick up on their clues. Soon after that, many new regulations that are now normal were introduced.
They Used Mercurochrome
The idea of clear anti-septic liquids and creams like Neosporin or Hydrogen Peroxide was but a glint in some little genius chemist's eye. Back then, if you grazed your knee or cut your finger playing outside, Mercurochrome was used to save the day.
This liquid was a scary dark red color that kind of resembled blood, so it wasn't pretty when you put it on a bloody finger. But this was the standard antiseptic liquid they made back then. They don't even produce it anymore,
An abundance of Molten Plastic
We mentioned dangerous toys, but nothing quite compares to this 1960s nightmare, the 'Creepy Crawler'. If this toy taught kids anything, it was how to not burn your hand off.
This game literally involved the melting of plastic and metal. How was this fun?
Lines at the Gas Station
During the year 1973 and then again in 1979, America suffered from a pretty rough oil crisis. The shortage sent people into a panic which resulted in crazy lines at the gas stations. It got so bad that gas stations across the country even started using color-coded fans to indicate whether or not they had gas (green for yes and red for no.)
Sometimes American families felt that they were moments away from their last car trip ever.
Disco Parties on Roller Skates
These things were all the rage for teens and folks in their 20s back then. Rolling across the room listening to the BeeGees or whatever funky disco was happening back then.
Approaching people at parties is hard enough, so, we wonder just how they did it on skates. That must have made for some awkward first impressions.
Waiting for the Telephone
The standard was one telephone per house. Maybe some super-rich folks had two lines but for the average family, phone fights were common. People had to exercise the utmost patience for that telephone. It was the brothers and sisters that would battle these things out the most.
Let's not forget about there was also little privacy as these phones were generally in the general family area. Thank heavens for cellphones
Annoying Your Brother or Sister on Road Trips
These days when the family piles into the car for their annual cross-country road trip, everyone has an apt amount of devices for distractions. Back then, you pretty much just had the person beside you.
The only way to get through it was to annoy your sibling as much you could. Either that or become the victim.
The world was not as geared for kids' entertainment as much as it is now. These days, you can't really go about your life missing the hype surrounding Dora the Explorer or Frozen. Back then it was one day of the week, and that was Saturdays.
Kids would rise early and rush to the TV to catch their dose of Saturday morning cartoons.
The Watergate Hearings
Even those who weren't up to date on politics were still glued to televisions and radios over the Watergate Hearings. Many people felt that they were witnessing the end of democracy as we know it.
When Americans eventually saw Nixon leave the White House and get into that helicopter, the nation was absolutely mesmerized, making that event the most unforgettable moment of the 70s.
Not Knowing About Star Wars
Just imagine living in the few years before the Star Wars mania. People were just going about their day not knowing what was about to hit them a decade later.
Soon it would be all lightsabers and muffled scary breaths. What were they referencing then?
Talking to Strangers
The world was far more innocent back then and people were definitely less hung up on the idea of stranger danger than they are now. Communities were closer and there was definitely more of a sense of familiarity among neighborhoods.
These days the thought of a stranger approaching a child will send chills up a parent's spine.
On the bright side, during the 70s, clothing was finally becoming a little more homogeneous and men and women could finally embrace similar fashions. Unfortunately, some of those items came in the form of short shorts and tube socks which for some reason seemed like a good look back then.
In retrospect, they could have done a little better but at least they thought they looked hip.
Everyone Had Their Favorite Charlie's Angel
There was the team for Jaclyn Smith, some fought for Kate Jackson, but it was Farah Fawcett who stole the hearts of many. Still, everyone had their own little quirk that they favored in each Angel.
One thing is certain, these super crime-fighting gals were on the bedroom walls of many teens out there.
Playgrounds are a little cushier these days with softer grounds for falls and rounded edges to prevent the odd accident here and there. Those days kids were no strangers to rusty nails and wobbly merry go rounds.
It definitely made them a little tougher, perhaps able to withstand military conditions.
Scars From Vaccines
That two-pronged needle to prevent that vicious smallpox could leave behind quite the mark. Throughout the 70s, kids may have been safer from diseases but they definitely had the scar to show for it.
Though they did wear it rather proudly as if it was a battle scar. It was done with a staple gun after all.
Students Using Ditto Machines
Remember ditto machines? Or mimeographs? If you're too young to know, these machines were duplicating printing devices that were particularly popular in classrooms for homework assignments.
How could you forget the way they left purple ink blots all over your hands? oh, and that smell!
Preserving Newspaper Comics With Silly Putty
These days, with the non-transferable ink, this method would be impossible, but back then kids were overjoyed when they found that they could replicate their favorite newspaper comics
Simply rolling the putty over the comic section, kids could enjoy their endless collection of Garfield or Doonesbury comic strips.
Getting Scared By Watership Down
For an animated film, this was pretty gory, even by today's standards. It may have not been exactly Tarantino, but Watership Down traumatized its fair share of viewers. Kids in the late 70s watched in horror as sweet bunnies were brutally killed by all kinds of vicious and cruel elements.
Years later it was adapted into a far more mellow series. Kids today will never really know how terrible General Woundwort truly was.
When mother would simply put a bowl over your head for a good ol' trim. The result was always a beautiful bowl shape of hair that framed the face in an ever so stylish way. Who needs hairdressers?
If it was good enough for Pete Rose and Dorothy Hamill, it was good enough for you and your siblings.
Walt Disney World Becoming a Kid Mecca
The year 1971 was the first time the American public witnessed the magic of Disney World. The Orlando haven practically reached mythological status within its few months of opening. Of course, it maintained that ever since.
Kids who were fortunate enough to experience the wonders of Disneyland reminisce about Space Mountain, while the rest would beg their folks for the journey down south.
Pop Rocks and Soda Horror Stories
Oh, the horror stories of consuming pop rocks and soda at the same time. Legend has it that little Mikey, despite the many warnings from friends and family, boldly decided to gulp down the lethal mixture of coke and pop rocks. The carbon dioxide intake was so high that his stomach exploded.
Somehow that worked and kids stayed away, no matter how absurd that sounded.
Messing Around with the TV Antennae
Before massive satellite dishes and digital streaming, it was all about those pesky bunny-eared antennae. The picture was often distorted with snowy speckles hissing back at you as grappled with finding a decent and clear picture of your favorite sitcom.
Often one of the kids just had to stand in place while the rest would sit back and enjoy the sh0w
Capturing moments with your friends while you were out and about was a rare occasion. Of course, there were cameras and even polaroids but the fun group photo was best taken stacked up in a tiny photo booth.
Everyone would pile in and it would simply snap up a bunch of shots with you and your crazy friends.
Discussing American Pie Lyrics
Don Mclean's 1971 hit was huge among "woke" teens at the time. Kids debated over whether it was really about a jester stealing a crown. Was Jack Mick Jagger, or was he Bob Dylan? Or was it just all really about Buddy Holly's death?
So much conjecture, so little information. Those were the days before the internet.
What was the state of toys in the 70s that made kids turn to googly-eyed rocks as their form of entertainment? However the craze happened, kids went mad for these things and before we knew it, they were stringing along their dear pet rocks everywhere they went.
This wasn't some quirky underground group. Every kid had a pet rock.
Taping Tunes Off the Radio
Vintage music piracy perhaps? When you didn't have enough cash for the latest and hottest album at the record store, taping songs from the radio was the best way to go. Preparation was crucial though. You would set up your little portable cassette tape next to the radio and with your finger on the record button, you would just...wait.
It was worth it, though. Kids would record entire top 40 charts right onto their cassette tapes without stepping foot into a record store.
TV Test Patterns
Unlike today, there was no non-stop broadcast on every single channel. At around 2 or 3 am, the stations would bid goodnight to their many viewers, and vice versa, and everyone would be off to bed. The test pattern would be an American flag or even a native American symbol that would play on until the morning.
It was not until about 6 am that the broadcast would come back on.
Profusely Shaking Polaroid Photos to Help Them Develop Faster
Like the 2003 hit OutKast song reminded us, you "gotta shake it like a polaroid picture." A reference to the vigorous motion of air drying a freshly snapped Polaroid picture to speed up the development.
Unfortunately for all those folks back then, it was revealed in 2004 on the Polaroid website that this kind of "shaking or waving has no effect."
Life after Steven Spielberg's horrifying film Jaws traumatized sea-lovers for years to come. People would play that chilling that theme music in their heads the moment they dipped their toes into the water. It was a global case of aquaphobia.
People searched the oceans for that dubious shark fin peering through the waters. It wasn't until a few years later that people's memories began to fade, and they felt more comfortable in the waters.
Folks Having the Oscar Mayer Commercial Stuck in Their Heads
If you don't know the Oscar Mayer melody, then you're obviously too young because anybody who caught this catchy jingle would haver never be freed of it. The ad was simply a cute kid catching a fish while eating a sandwich, but his words would be burned in the minds of all throughout the 70s.
There have been some catchy ads over the years, but nothing quite beats this one.
Typing Everything on a Typewriter
Just imagine the horrible experience of meticulously typing out a long and involved letter to your loved one, a novel, or a news report, and then having to deal with the stress of a typo.
That was it, out went the page, a fresh blank paper would be replaced, and you would start all over again. That was the terror of the typewriter. Thank heavens for the delete key. Oh, and spell-check.
Not Wearing Helmets
Back then, helmet-less bikers filled the streets. These brave folks (or just plain silly) were part of the hoards of tough new counter-culture gangs. Some were discharged soldiers, and some were wandering freedom seekers, but one thing was for sure, they all lived life on their terms and on the fringes of society.
in fact, if you were wearing a helmet, you were just a "sissy" or a coward.
Getting Cut Up By Soda Tabs
Back then, pulling a ring from a can was not for the faint of heart. These things would tear open a small wedge-shape at the top of the can. Not that only that, but as it was often thrown to the ground, it would inevitably be stepped on and cause quite the injury. It was an epidemic across the country.
In one 1976 New York Times report, it was reported that the majority of beach injuries "were due to cuts inflicted by discarded pop tabs." Gotta get that tetanus shot.
The bigger, the better. Back then, that was the look of choice, and if you had curly or thicker hair, then you were in luck. Men and women were walking around town, all sporting their best and wildest afro their hair could muster.
Think of it as today's undercut or man bun. You were simply nobody if you didn't have a thick and puffy afro.
Barbie Dolls Dominated
The Barbie doll entered the world during the sixties and, as we know it, became an instant sensation. By the year 1965, sales were valued at $100,000,000. It all happened because creator Ruth Handler witnessed her daughter playing with paper dolls.
Handler named the doll after her beloved daughter, and thus, the phenomenon was created, bringing joys to millions of girls (and boys) around the globe.
Obsessive About About Bell-Bottoms
Known as the fashion symbol for the hippies, these pants surprisingly originated from Navy uniforms. They were then famously worn by folks like Sonny and Cher and even Elvis Presley and became the trademark jeans of the 60s and 70s.
Young boomers loved their bellbottoms, especially when they were paired with beautiful suede or leather boots. That was peak coolness.
Getting Mail Twice a Day
For the older boomers, this might be a distant memory, but a memory nonetheless! According to the USPS, mail carriers would actually deliver mail and packages up to twice a day to all residential homes. This happened until about 1950.
The fact that we can now get hundreds of emails every day is kind of crazy too.
Eating Swanson TV Dinners
While these do technically still exist, they are in no way the family fixture they were back in the day. The first Swanson-brand TV dinners were actually created because of a surplus of turkey. The meat, mash, and sweet potato combo was a hit for new working moms.
Families would gather around their state of the art chunky color TVs and dig into the instant meal. It was a staple of the working to middle-class American family.
Playing with a Howdy Doody Doll
The beloved puppet show "Puppet Playhouse TV show" made its debut on NBC in 1947 and became a household name for much of the 1950s, meaning that all the little boomer kids were glued to the NBC show whenever they had a chance.
The character Howdy Doody was a real favorite and eventually even got his own show. The popularity resulted in a world of merchandise. If you were a kid, you had to get your hands on the fool at some point.
Raging to The Beatles
The British pop-rock group, "The Beatles," was a huge hit among pretty much everyone, especially kids and teens. Some fans were so crazed about the band they would even pass out while watching them perform.
Beatlemania took hold of millions of people around the world that the band couldn't go anywhere without attracting hysteria. Not even Justin Bieber could reach these heights.
Going Gaga About Go-go boots
In 1956 the legendary French designer Andre Courreges introduced the world to go-go boots. From the second they hit the shelves, they were the envy of every woman.
Along with mini skirts and bandanas, Go-go boots or Courrèges as they were also called, were one of the hottest fashion items on the market. Today, of course, they look a little silly.
Lighting Up With Lava
While we did all see a mini-revival of lava lamps in the 90s, lava lamps had their big moment in the '60s, which is when they were invented. Folks were fascinated by the colorful goops glowing in the darkness. Can you blame them?
These things would decorate trendy bars, lounges, and clubs, with, of course, some psychedelic music in the background. Sounds like the ultimate night out for a young babyboomer.
Wearing Oh So Mini Miniskirts
The 1960s were a real revolt against the conservative 1950s, so it would make sense why the era felt so colorful and "groovy." With that came some daring new fashion, such as the miniskirt.
Short dresses reached peak popularity in the late 60s, especially with the growing Women's Liberation Movement. It was all about "showing it all." These days though, those skirts seem pretty tame.
Inventing Smiley Faces
The smiley face is a staple of our world today. Seen every today in logos, emojis, toys, stickers, and more. The smiling yellow face is one of the most recognizable images today. You would think whoever was behind that must have made a six-figure profit. Sadly that wasn't the case!
A man named Harvey Ross Ball was the creator. He worked for an ad agency and was paid $45 for drawing something that would comfort employees. That was in 1963, and ever since, it's been a hit.
Wearing Tie-Dye T-Shirts
These days tie-dying t-shirts is just a staple of many children's birthday parties; back a few decades ago, all the young teenaged hippies would hang around in their faded jeans and those signature tie-dye shirts.
The more colorful, the better. Peace, love, and happiness, bro. Those t-shirts are still around, thankfully, proving the undying legacy of the hippie generation.
The Year of the Turtle
The late 60s saw the rise of the turtleneck sweater, lending the year 1967 the nickname "The Year of the Turtle." Countless high-profile celebs wore them including, Sammy Davis Jr., Steve McQueen, Paul Newman, and many, many more.
The trend hasn't died down at all, as turtlenecks are both cozy and flattering. Who could ask for more?
The Soda Fountain Gatherings
Today's kids are pretty sophisticated. Catch them sipping on ice coffees while scrolling on Instagram. But back then, specifically in the 50s and 60s, kids would line up at the soda fountain bar in their local diner.
You could fill a room with a jukebox and a checkered tile dancefloor, and teens would turn it into a total party, jitterbugging the day away. Of course, the sodas were the real pull.
The Poodle Skirts
There's no shortage of millennials donning avocado-themed tops, pants, or accessories. In the '50s, it was all about the poodle, hence the sensational poodle skirt. The long and colorful skirt went below the knees (we hadn't reached the era of the miniskirt just yet) and had a sweet poodle design.
It all began when a struggling actress and singer named Juli Lynne Charlot made a last-minute skirt made of suede for a Christmas party. She added a festive appliqué to it, and it was a total hit. Charlot was then approached by people to add poodles, as many women were seen out and about walking poodles. Needless to say, the iconic look was born.
Dancing The Sock Hops
It would be another 60 or so years until kids discovered twerking. If you were to hop in a time machine, you would catch kids rattling and rolling, twisting and jitterbugging at the school dances, all in their socks.
For school dances, kids would flick off their shoes and strut their stuff on the gymnasium floor (to protect the floors, of course.) You could also catch the kids the famous TV dance show "American Bandstand."
The 'Watch Out' Bra
The 1950s were really the beginning of an exciting new era. Don't forget that the era of free love wasn't far ahead. Perhaps we have the conical bra to thank for that?
Also known as the torpedo or bullet bra, the cone-shaped brassiere did get those eyes popping, even under those thick turtleneck sweaters.
Along with the roundest 'fro, young boomer dudes loved their bushy long sideburns or mutton chops if you had good beard genes. Folks like Elvis Presley and James Dean sported glorious sideburns.
Throw in a leather jacket with a popped collar and faded jeans, and you were the hottest boy in school.
Hanging Out At the Drive-In
Technically the first drive-in theater was opened in 1933, but it didn't actually take off until the 50s. Probably because of the little war in between. When it did, the theaters were packed to the brim with folks, especially teenagers.
We've all seen "Grease," haven't we? Drive-ins were also a great place for young love to blossom. The movie-watching experience was great too, of course!
Wearing Coonskin Caps
Ala David Crockett. This crazy hat is not so common these days - thankfully. This fifties fad was particularly popular among rambunctious little boys fad of the fifties who all wanted to be the famed Crockett from the 1954 Disney miniseries.
The Disney show seriously drove coonskin sales up to a point, $100,000,000 in sales to be exact. All you needed was a play rifle and a coonskin hat. Oh, the power of Disney.
These days, smoking cigarettes is majorly frowned upon due to all of our modern knowledge of how it negatively affects our health. But back when boomers were young, it wasn’t uncommon to share a box of candy cigarettes with your six-year-old friends.
As far as candy is concerned, they were disgusting, with a chalk-like flavor and texture. But it wasn’t really about the flavor, was it? It was all about the aesthetics and the feel.
Witnessing the Signing of the Civil Rights Act
Some boomers may have been too young to remember, but President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the act into effect in 1964, in a landmark move that outlawed discrimination based on race, color, national origin, or religion.
And, although they didn’t necessarily have anything to do with the signing or passage of the act itself, they were definitely feeling the effects of it in a rapidly changing world.
Although there are some things that shouldn’t ever be served in gelatin form, boomers were in the experimental phase of Jell-O.
If you find a cookbook from the ‘60s or ‘70s, you can bet it’s going to have some weird type of ham, vegetable, or fish gelatin mold in it! Thankfully, our palates have evolved, and there aren’t as many cookbooks in circulation that are promoting ham and gelatin crossovers!
Using a Phonebook
Long before the invention of Google and other forms of instant searches, looking up a phone number was a little trickier and took some more time – especially if you weren’t near a phonebook.
Most families and businesses kept one of the thick volumes of local numbers on hand for when they needed to call someone whose number they weren’t familiar with. If you had to find someone with a name like Bob Smith, it could take you all day to get through them all to find the right one!
I Love Lucy
The hit sitcom "I Love Lucy" aired throughout the majority of the 1950s and charmed everyone with the antics of a silly housewife and her comedic husband.
After it ended its regularly aired seasons, between ’51 and ’57, the legacy continued into 1960 in the form of 13 different one-hour specials, including "The Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz Show." These days, the show can be streamed on a number of platforms, like Hulu. But when boomers were young, they eagerly awaited new episodes each week.
Today, many grocery stores offer their own milk delivery services (and a number of them are plant-based, like coconut, oat, soy, and almond). But when boomers were younger, they had to wait for their weekly delivery from the milkman, who’d come by and drop off their supply, and pick up any empty glass bottles his customers left out from previous trips.
In the 1960s, about 30% of milk was still being delivered. Now, in the age of online shopping and grocery delivery, that percentage has probably gone up again!
Stamps were a big deal when what’s now dubbed “snail mail” was still one of the more popular methods of communication. And, choosing what to do with those redeemed S & H Green Stamps was a boomer kid’s favorite pastime.
Would it be a comic book? A new toy truck, perhaps? The possibilities were endless! The stamps were incredibly popular throughout the U.S. from the ‘30s until the late ‘80s and were distributed as part of a rewards program by the Sperry & Hutchinson company.
Adoring Paul Newman
Paul Newman was one of the hottest film stars from the Golden Age of Hollywood and the one that many boomers look back on and mourn for. Of course, kids today only recognize him from the side of his salad dressing bottles, but anyone who’s seen his films knows why he was such a hit in the 50s and beyond.
Some of his biggest films came out around the ‘60s and ‘70s, including the 1967 hit, "Cool Hand Luke," in which he played the role of the title character, Luke Jackson.
Five-and-dime stores came into existence in 1879, created by a failed department store chain, Woolworths. But back in the day, they were extremely popular, that is until Walmart and Amazon, and other mega-stores ran them out of business.
Still, many look back and miss the days of shopping at the cheap and cheerful neighborhood five-and-dime. There may still be a few sprinkled here and there, and you may find one if you’re lucky, but the majority have been closed.
Loving v. Virginia
It may seem shocking, as someone living in the modern world in 2021, that there was a time when there were bans on interracial marriages – but that time, unfortunately, and actually existed.
But in 1967, a couple named Richard and Mildred Loving had enough of the band and took their case straight to the supreme court in what would become Loving v. Virginia. Now, Loving Day is celebrated every year on June 12 to mark the momentous occasion.
Watching Evel Knievel & The Wide World of Sports
Who could forget watching legendary stuntman Evel Knievel make his first jump on Wide World of Sports on ABC in 1967?
The infamous entertainer appeared on the program a number of times, including in 1975 when he jumped 14 Greyhound buses at Ohio’s King’s Island amusement park. Five of his seven appearances on the show rank in the program’s top 20 of all time.
"Bonanza" was one of the very first TV programs that came on color TV, and that was a big deal. Color TV sets, on the other hand, weren’t so common at first. But, those who didn’t have one at home could always make friends with someone who had one!
The show first came out in 1959 and became NBC’s longest-running western, as well as the second-longest-running western series on U.S TV, spanning more than 430 episodes into 1973, meaning many boomers grew up watching it!
Talking to the Operator
Can you believe that there actually used to be a human at the other end of a telephone line who would help you find and connect with a phone number you were looking for?
The number for getting in touch with them varied occasionally, but “0” was always a good bet. Some people probably still press 0 on occasion, old habits and all.
Before we knew how terrible smoking was for us, it was seen as “the cool thing” to do. If you didn’t do it, you were the weirdo. Now, it’s the opposite, and smokers are sort of shunned in modern society. But when boomers were younger, tobacco was everywhere – on TV, in the movies, in magazines, newspapers, and billboards along the side of the road.
Today, if someone saw a tobacco billboard on the side of the road, there would be outrage! Outdoor advertising of cigarettes was banned in 1997 through The Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement.
Writing in Cursive
Kids today probably can’t even imagine taking notes by hand, especially if they’re in cursive. In many cases, writing in cursive isn’t even taught in school anymore, and why would it be when everything has gone digital?
But when boomers were in school, they didn’t have laptops or phones to help them record notes. Rather, they had a good old pencil and notebook and a tired wrist at the end of the day.
Smoking on Airplanes
These days, you can’t even step foot onto an airplane with the wrong type of nail file and forget about smoking. But things were much more relaxed in the past, and the industry was working out its kinks.
Smoking on airplanes first started being banned in the 1980s, and by 1990, it was barred from any and all domestic flights. However, if you’ll notice, planes still have ashtrays in the bathrooms, as it’s required by law – even where smoking is banned.
Can you believe there was a time when we had to pull out thick, physical books every time we wanted to know more about something?
Today, information is just a few clicks away and can be accessed from almost anywhere in the world. But before the days of Google, there were volumes of encyclopedias. These days, carrying around information is a lot lighter, that’s for sure!
Clipping Baseball Cards to Bike Rotors
Can you hear the noise clipping baseball cards to your bike rotors made as you whooshed through the neighborhood, making your way home for dinner? Even the thought of it is nostalgic.
Collecting baseball cards was always a fun hobby, too, though one that was not without its ups and downs. The hobby was still popular in the 1980s and the early 1990s. But things just weren’t the same.