I think I might have mentioned my new obsession with Pinterest.  During one of my very first forays into the magical world of everything you could possibly want to know or make or eat or see… or 10,000 ways to braid your hair I stumbled across this little gem of a photo.

I still have this at my mother’s house. My kids loved playing with it and all my old FP toys  (okay, I did too).

Now, if there’s one thing I love doing, it’s taking a stroll down the ol’ memory lane of my ’70’s/early 80’s childhood which was hands down the best time to grow up.  Period. You can take your Boy Meets World and Fresh Prince and Pogs all you 1990’s Gen Y-ers,  but I’ll happily ‘take the good and take the bad’ (Facts of Life – adored) of all the ground breaking, wholesome good fun we lucky late Gen X-ers got to grow up experiencing.

**Note to readers – if you recognize this
continue reading.
If you don’t, you can still continue reading, but be warned that you may feel like my 16 year old daughter who just told me, “I don’t really get it.”

Remember the days when Michael Jackson was black (don’t even say that’s racist – It’s true and you know it), Joanie loved Chachi (fun fact – I still know all the words to the theme song from “Joanie loves Chachi” and am a little not at all embarrassed by it), you considered Bonnie Bell lip smacker a food group (admit it), Gee! Your Hair Smelled Terrific!, and when you walked into your classroom in your ESPRIT shirt and Member’s Only jacket after playing on the metal & lead painted playground equipment at recess and saw a giant film projector or even a filmstrip projector on a cart and the screen pulled down it was the best day ever? 

What was even better was if you were the chosen one to get to turn the handle at every beep

I adored playing with my wooden Fisher Price Little People and their yellow house/town/castle/school house/garage (we had them all. Still do), loved Weeble Wobbles when I was a tot (unbelievable choking hazard. It’s a wonder I’m even alive), Stretch Armstrong (the coveted gift from Santa – and no, I wasn’t a tomboy. Confuses me, too), my Holly Hobbie oven, Spirograph or Lite-Brite, and board games like Mystery Date, Cootie, Mastermind or Operation (although that buzzer scared the shit out of me so I usually had to dare myself to play it).
We children of the 70s/80s must’ve been so fit because we played outside for hours – unattended! – roller skating, skipping over the Lemon Twist, riding our bikes (usually with another person perched precariously on the handle bars or riding 2 to a banana seat), building innovative cities in the dirt for our Hot Wheels cars, and playing Kick the Can or Ghost in the Graveyard until after dark. On multiple and consecutive nights. Because we wanted to, not because our parents said, “Step away from your screens and take a breath of fresh air for God’s sake. Jump a rope! Hop a scotch! It won’t kill you” (something I may or may not have ever said to one or both of my children on one or multiple occasions).

Oh, and the list of favorite movies, shows, books and activities is endless and such a trip (no pun intended) to remember:

Benji – (adorably scruffy dog, adorably scruffy kids, but terrifying kidnapping scene. I loved/loathed this movie)

The Shaggy D.A.-  (hilarious, ridiculously absurd, classic)

Escape to/from Witch Mountain
(cute, pre-addict/crazy fame whore Kim Richards. Well, I guess she was technically a fame whore, but probably not an addict. Or an actual whore. But, really, who can say?)

Ice Castles-
(I adored this heartbreaking saga of a small town figure skater with big time dreams which she gets to realize but only after losing her small town boyfriend, her small town values, her small town coach and unfortunately, her eyesight.  Karma’s a bitch. Still makes me want to scream, “LEXI!!! THE ROSE!! WATCH OUT FOR THE ROSE!!! NOOOOO!!” when I think of it. And the memory of the sight of Robby Benson in his tighty-whities makes me uncomfortable to this day. 
Hold on, now I have to go purchase “Through the Eyes of Love” on iTunes)
(my God I loved everything about this movie. Recently I realized it was released in 1978. 1978??
Can’t recall being particularly confused by Sandy’s “I’m-a-good-girl-but-that’s-not-good-enough-for-your-popular-yet-criminal-and-sex-starved-friends-so-I’ll-slut-myself-up-so-you’ll-like-me” transformation or being shocked by Rizzo’s teen pregnancy or THE LYRICS TO “GREASED LIGHTNING”.  How educated was I at the tender age of 9 and what in God’s name contributed to my acceptance that these situations were A-OK??  I may need to make a call)
And the movies and music of the 80’s?  Well, that is an entirely different blog topic that I think I’ll save for another day. I’m getting really tired on this trip…
…continuing on though…
Eight is Enough –
(loved Elizabeth and David, even though he was the oldest brother and probably about 12 years older than I was. Whatever. I was obviously mature enough for him what with all my newfound knowledge from GREASE)

Family – (Oh, Kristy McNichol. I remember my sister wanted to be her)

Land of the Lost – (seriously, what the hell?)

Family Ties – (Justine Bateman. I wanted to be her)

Judy Blume
(my sister and I spent hours re-enacting those books. I choose to think we were creative. You can choose to think we were however you want to).

This was always my favorite one

Choose your own Adventure books
(I loved these but can’t say I recall reading this one. I’m kind of glad I didn’t)

V.C. Andrews
(Flowers in the Attic completely freaked me out.  I’m getting a definite queasy feeling just typing that title and the following photo will give me nightmares tonight no question. Except now I kinda want to re-read it)

Colecovision. We had this exact one. I loved it (even though all the cool kids had Atari) and would play Pitfall and Donkey Kong until I got blisters from squeezing the sides of the controller.

And it’s not only the products that signified the times, it was also all the experiences –

In this era of iTunes, internet, texting, and all things Kardashian, it’s funny to reflect on, and of course, moan to our own kids about how terribly rough we had it (hey, we had to roll down our car windows by hand) which of course makes you (and by you I mean me) feel like the crypt keeper.

When we wanted to hear our favorite song we had to laboriously fast forward or rewind our cassettes, hoping we’d be lucky enough to stop it in the exact spot between songs, or try to get that damn needle in just the right groove on the record.

When we needed to tell our friends something during the school day we wrote notes – on paper – carefully hidden behind our PeeChee folders, and folded them in intricate puzzling ways and passed them on between classes.

And forget about it if we wanted to call a friend and someone in their house was on the phone. WE COULDN’T GET THROUGH!! We’d have to wait like 10 min. and try again…and maybe even again!! When my kids hear a busy signal they think the phone is broken.

After MTV debuted in 1981 (raise your hand if you, too, remember that vividly. Great! You are also old) we had to sit through hours of videos by Blondie and Joan Jett to finally, finally get to see the coveted Duran Duran and Go-Go’s ones we were anxiously waiting for (since it’s my blog my favorites become your favorites).  Now when my kids I want to see a video, be it recent or retro, I can find it and be watching it in 30 seconds. Suck it, patience!

Need to write a research paper? Great! We could either lose our minds trying to find and read articles from 25 years earlier on a microfiche machine (we didn’t need drugs to hallucinate – just trying to find and focus a microfiche article got us there pretty damn quick) or we could flip through hundreds of cards in a card catalog (and no, my young readers, that is not a catalog that you can order cards from).

Can you just imagine if we could go back and whisper into our little 14 year old ears, “in 30 years your children will be able to write the same paper in 1 hour that it took you over 10 hours, 3 hallucinations and 2 bottles of Wite-Out to write.  Oh, and they’ll do it all without using a single book on a magical typewriter.”
We’d think we had spent too much time with the microfiche machine.

We had only a handful of television shows geared toward kids to choose from. My kids are able to record their 10+ favorite shows 5+ times a day and watch them whenever they want.  Over and over and over and over (I will hear the theme song from “Suite Life of Zach and Cody” in my head until my dying day. Must think of appropriate punishment. Maybe I’ll make them play outside).

Whatever advances our kids (and of course, us) enjoy now, though, I will forever believe that what we had was not better, perhaps, but certainly more authentic. Of course every generation has a soft spot for the objects and pop-culture of their childhood, but they can’t and won’t ever be able to convince me that theirs was better than the late 70’s/early 80’s.

This little gem proves it. Enjoy.
(and I’ll be singing along)
**If you, too, were a child of the 70s/80s, a terrific book to get is Whatever Happened to Pudding Pops? by Gael Fashingbauer Cooper and Brian Bellmont.  I actually met Brian and we had a great time laughing and reminiscing about some of the above, plus a whole lot more that they’ve brilliantly catalogued in this great little book.**
And now it’s your turn. What were some of your favorites??


  1. readndr on April 11, 2012 at 10:38 pm

    Why oh why did I throw away ALL THE BOXES OF FOLDED NOTES THAT I HAD SAVED?!? and my sticker collection…..and my fashion plates…..and my Smurf figurines….

  2. Kara on July 3, 2012 at 1:51 pm

    I am an 80’s/90’s kid but this post totally spoke to me. We make our daughter and any cousins or friends she has over play outside as much as possible. She doesn’t get much TV or Computer which is fine because she never had it so she doesn’t know what she is missing.

    Last week she asked me what an encyclopedia was because it was mentioned in a book we were reading. She could hardly believe it!

    And I truely miss the days of MTV actually playing music videos.

    Another great post! 🙂

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