Tuesday, January 4, 2011

11 Nostalgic Activities Today's Kids Will Never Enjoy

Blowing in Nintendo games, the horrible sound of a dial-up modem. Yeah, things sucked. But that's why they were awesome. And kids today will never know it. From Funny Or Die, by Dan Abramson.


Kids will never know the satisfaction of putting a cassette in your stereo and waiting for your favorite song to come on, fingers anxiously waiting on the record button. A message to today's children: mixes weren't always made by iTunes based on MATH. We had to work for these.


So you've got your mix tape and you invite your friends over. You announce "Check out this new Naughty By Nature song I recorded from Hot 97," only to press play and hear the worst possible noise. No, I'm not talking about the verse that Vinny raps (that's some Naughty By Nature humor for you). The sound your stereo makes when it eats your tape. The only way to fix it? A pen and tons of patience.


There was once a day where we did not have an "info" button on our remote controls. Instead, we watched the beginning and tried to guess what movie it was. And when we finally realized it was not Major League 2, we would consult our TV Guides. And if we couldn't find it, we would FREAK THE FUCK OUT and blame our siblings for losing it. Yeah, shit was hard back then. And it made us stronger.


Speaking of pay phones...yikes. I don't miss these at all. Kids are lucky they no longer have to rely on owning quarters to make urgent phone calls. Though, they do miss out on freaking out squares by dialing a special number and hanging up twice. Yes, that's how you made pay phones ring on their own. Now you know.


Has there ever been official proof that this even worked? We can all agree that we all looked like idiots treating Excite Bike like a harmonica, right? No big deal. What I wouldn't give to still be huffing that Contra cartridge. Then again, I certainly do not miss that friend who would use his lips while blowing on the game. When he came over, he'd be all "I'll fix this" anytime the game froze, only to mouth-rape Mega Man with every slobbery blow.


To be honest with you, I'd be surprised if kids even knew how to hold pencils. Everything's on their texting machines and porn boxes these days. But years ago, when we wanted to look professional, we wrote in cursive. And when we forgot how to write a lower case "f," we just scribbled a print "f" and connected it to the next letter, praying nobody noticed. It was a way of life.

(See the rest at Funny Or Die)

I can add about 100 to this:

  • Getting up to change the TV channel
  • Crank-calling people without worrying about getting busted
  • Flipping an LP or cassette to hear Side Two
  • Using a plastic insert to play a 45 on your record player
  • Making appointments to fight after school without fear of getting expelled
  • Having to worry about getting paddled if you got sent to the principal
  • Dodgeball
  • Opening food or medicine without cutting through three layers of security plastic
  • Using white-out
  • Making carbon copies and getting the carbon all over your hands
  • Bottled water = tap water poured into your empty Coke bottle (and it was free)
  • Getting a dime back for every soda bottle you returned to the store
  • 31 flavors of ice cream in one place? That's insane!
  • Playing with unsafe toys that were a lot more fun (lawn darts, pellet guns, etc.)
  • Cars that were made of metal, not plastic
  • Cars that exploded if someone rear-ended you
  • A videogame arcade in every mall
  • A cheese and sausage shop(pe?) in almost every mall. Free samples!
  • Movies that stayed in theaters longer than a week
  • Real butter on your popcorn

What else?

Before you answer, do me a favor and GET OFF MY LAWN!


  1. Big Gulp? Who the hell needs 32 OUNCES of soda at one time?

  2. Penny candy from the drug store around the corner and playing hide and seek with all the kids from the street until it got dark and no one worried about us.

    Geez I need to go take my Geritol and get my nap in before it gets too late.

  3. The smell of a sheet of paper straight off the mimeograph machine. Ahhhh!

    Using a typewriter and having to retype the whole page if you fucked it up too badly.

    Having Mom kick us out of the house in the morning during the summer and telling us not to come back until lunch., Repeat after lunch until dinnertime.

  4. Oh, Mom sending us up to the Majik Market (a mile away, on foot or by bike) to buy her a pack of cigarettes. For a quarter. :)

  5. No kidding! We walked everywhere, often barefoot (or "barefooted" as we called it).

  6. The smell of freshly mimeographed paper

  7. Pay phones! How old is this guy? I remember using DIMES to make a call. (Right after we stopped using Dixie cups and string.)

    Liz, I can't TELL you how many packs of cigarettes I bought for my parents! In fact, I'm convinced the only reason I got a big basket for my Schwinn Christmas of '75 was so I could purchase cartons instead of packs.

    Oh, and my first car was a Pinto thankyouverymuch, and it didn't explode. It was too ugly to blow up -- it was asparagus pee green. But it had an 8-track player!

  8. Dixie cups and string? You were cutting edge. We used pigeons and smoke signals.

  9. Mimeographs... man I miss those. (were we all huffers without realizing it?)
    Not being allowed in the house, unless I had to pee or I was bleeding, until the street lights came on.
    Fingers hurting after dialing long distance on a rotary phone (because you were too dumb to use a pen)
    Drinking little jugs of sugarwater 2 for 5cents until I was sick and didn't care about hfcs.
    the cents symbol on keyboards/typewriters.
    I gotta go, I feel old.

  10. Looking forward to the school newspaper, both in high schoool and college on the off chance your picture or an article about you was in it. Damn Facebook and this instant gratification culture

  11. The big long Jolly Ranchers candies
    Be kind, please rewind
    Cigarette machines (don't smoke, but remember they were everywhere)
    Riding in a car without a seatbelt on

  12. I love Jolly Ranchers. Cherry first, then watermelon. I'll eat apple only if there are no cherry or watermelon. Grape-bleh.

    Anyone else remember convenience stores that had a ginormous wheel of cheese under a glass on the counter, and you could buy a wedge? I never did, because the same wheel would sit there for years.

  13. Walking or riding your bike to school (then locking your bike up with a combination lock). Everyone's mom drives them now! Not me. My kid turns 10 in two years, and that mile and a half will do him good! (I also make my kids stay outside during daylight hours. It's good for them, and GREAT for me)

    Also, how come no one drinks from the hose in the summer anymore?

  14. oh yeah! And why can't I leave my kids in the car while I run in to pick up my pizza? Well, actually I do, but why do people who don't even know me get all worked up over it?!

    Crime is statistically no higher now than it was in the 70s. We just have internet and 24-hour cable news. Screw that. I am not lugging 3 kids into the 7-11 while I grab a carton of milk.

  15. Friends being able to tell their parents they were spending the night at each other's houses, and then staying out all night doing lordknowswhat... Cell phones and GPS have effed that up bigtime for kids today, huh?

  16. We were in Cawker City KS visiting the World's Largest Ball of Twine (exciting I know) and there was a pay phone on the street. Our kids were so excited about it having never seen one before. They ran in and out of it and insisted we take pictures of them in it.

  17. Cary - I grew up on the border of Wisconsin in Illinois and they still have wedges of cheese under glass in gas stations. You can buy a hunk of cheese (if you have a hanker for a hunk o' cheese, that is) along with fireworks.

  18. --smoking cigarettes (uh huh)in front of the high school while admin watched on.
    --telling parents about a naked guy sitting in his car at a park and NO ONE called the cops.
    --cleaning a cassette tape deck (asked my son to do this to make XM-Sirius work in my car and the poor lad didn't know what to do with isopropyl alcohol and q-tips.)
    --going to the record store.

  19. Stephanie, I always hanker for a hunk of, a slab a slice a chunk of, cheese. Except the ones in the convenience store.

  20. Programming your VCR with that magic VCR Plus code.

    Having a song fade out as your 8 track noisily changed tracks and then faded back in again.

    In my neck of the woods I could buy cigarettes for Ma but, by God, I needed a note!

    Oh yeah and allow me to add myself to the chorus of mimeograph sniffers.

  21. It's so funny you posted this, Mike and I were talking about the very same thing not too long ago.

    And pencils worked better for fixing the cassettes, better traction on the gears. I was a master and mixing and fixing tapes. I could fix anything and record songs perfectly with no DJ interruption. I was an artist I tell ya.

    That's another DJ's who didn't talk halfway through a damn song.

    After school specials

    Saturday Morning Cartoons

    Blackbelt/Kung-Fu/Sci-fi/Monster Theater

    Superstars of Wrestling

    And coming soon to a memory near you - VHS. Kids were watching Castaway the other night and tom Hanks was lashing together his raft with a VHS tape. Soon kids won't have any idea what he's using to hold the timbers together with.

  22. Awesome post! I totally agree with what Regan said about leaving the kids in the car. People are so weird about that these days, but my dad routinely left me and my sister in the car when we went along for furniture deliveries. We'd be out in his truck for 20-30 minutes at a stretch sometimes. These days someone would call the cops.

    I rode my bike everywhere and would be gone from dawn till dusk, too. And my first music was an 8-track -- Kenny Rogers, The Gambler. :)

  23. Getting a paper route when you are 12yo and earning your own money hauling around 100 papers in the canvas bags wrapped around the handlebars of your Schwinn stingray.

    The excitement of hearing a new release for the first time on the radio that will later become a historical classic (Sgt. Peppers, The Doors, Sympathy for the Devil etc.). What a shame such robotic crap is being produced today.

    Knowing and caring about your neighbors and knowing they give a shit about you too.

  24. Dog poop out in the sun turned white.


  26. Great, great, great post. Comments too. I'd add something but my brain is missing today.

  27. My daughter (age 27) doesn't know life before VCR, and I thought that was bad, but my son (age 11) doesn't remember life before TiVo. We were at someone's house and he was shocked that they couldn't pause live tv. :) I remember three channels, b&w, no remote!

  28. Although this may be only a West Coast Phenom, I miss the Friday Night Creature Feature/ Night Gallery TV shows. So not creepy now, but scared the beejeezus out of me back then.

  29. Being a latchkey kid... at the age of 6...

    Playing with non-Nerf toy guns.

  30. Hmmm....

    - Watching 24 hours of VIDEOS on MTV. Or, if you didn't have cable yet (because not everyone did 30 years ago), you could catch a few on Friday Night Videos.

    - Anxiously awaiting the World Premiere Video at 10pm on MTV. Which was usually the latest release by Cyndi Lauper or Duran Duran.

    - Taking in the album artwork on an actual LP.

    - Finding the prize hidden under the bottom of a Slurpee cup.

    - Catching a shot of some English lady's boobs on Benny Hill.

  31. The scratchy sound of LPs playing just before the music kicks in. Printed magazines: waiting for +14 days for news and pics about my latest musical obsession. Atari joysticks. I just got rid of my collection of mags and cassettes and I'm still hurting. Damn hoarding tendencies.

  32. We were just telling our 15-YO daughter about huffing mimeographs a couple nights ago! :D

  33. Has
    anyone mentioned sniffing freshly mimeographed papers, yet? Yeah, well damn you!

    Tom T., did you ever run over those dried out dog poop bombs with a lawn mower? Awww....summer.

  34. I will not miss VHS tapes. Good riddance!

    LVGurl - so true about Benny Hill. That's the only reason we watched it.

    Liz - I remember three networks (plus PBS but we never watched that) and a couple of local UHF stations (one was WTCG 17 which is now TBS). I remember having two antennas atop the TV: rabbit ears for the VHS, round one for UHF. And they didn't do jack shit, even with tin foil on them.

    Chrocs - I love that scratchy LP sound and all the other quirks and flubs in the studio they didn't bother to cut out. Like that woman who screamed while she was being killed during Love Rollercoaster.

    I think dog poop still turns white in the sun. Go check for us, Tom. Might want to pick it up and look underneath to be sure.

    Kenny Rogers, Bev? Awesome. Did you watch the made-for-TV movie, too? Kenny Rogers As The Gambler was pretty good, but it was no Coward Of The County or Six Pack.

  35. Yeah, WTF is it with dog shit these days? It doesn't dry out and turn white like it use too. Have to always keep an eye out for them in the yard, no matter how old they get.

    Are they putting too many preservatives in dog food these days or is it that no one feeds their dog table scraps anymore?

  36. Dog shit was the real drawback to going barefoot. I remember stepping in a fresh one more than once and having it squirt up between my toes. Nasty.

  37. I remember having only one telephone in the house. It was in the kitchen and we had a party line which meant we shared the line with other people in our neighborhood. At first it had a short cord and you had to stand right up next to the wall to use it. Later the long twisty extension cords came into vogue so my sister and I could take the phone (still attached by the cord, of course) into the bedroom and shut the door to have a "private" conversation with our friends.

    I remember using cream and sugar and vanilla to make homemade ice cream with lots of ice and rock salt to make it freeze up. It was wonderful!

    I remember going to the root beer stand for root beer floats delivered by teens on roller skates to the car on a tray that was fastened onto the window opening of the car.

    I remember using phone books to look up telephone numbers.

    I remember using manual typewriters and slamming the carriage back with your hand at the end of the line.

    I remember going to the G.C. Murphy's or Woolworth's stores and staring at all the different kinds of candy in the glassed in displays there. I always liked the row of spinning stools in front of the soda counters in those stores too.

  38. Using pliers to change the channel on the TV

  39. Like everyone else, those mimeograph sheets were an obsession of mine! And I remember having only three TV channels, and we had to go outside and manually turn the TV antenna to get them to come in. One person was outside turning, while someone inside would yell whenever the picture came in. And if you wanted to record a song you liked, you had to hover near the radio with the cassette recorder for days, waiting for it to come on, praying there was no talky DJ or static to ruin it! When I was a really young kid in the early 70s I remember a TV remote with one big white button that you pushed and KA-CHING! the channel would change.

  40. summer afternoons at the swimming pool sucking down pixie stix and fun dip like it was going out of style... mom's green chevette with the tan pleather seats that burnt the skin off the backs of our legs in the summer... making forts in the woods... and the movie "breaking away".

  41. Pop containers are still worth 10 cents in Michigan. :)

  42. I didn't read other peoples' comments so there might be repeats:

    *The fact that the TV went off air after a certain hour and all you got was static on just about every channel.

    *Really only having about 10 channels (unless you knew someone cool who had a satellite dish)

    *Slamming down a telephone when you're pissed and having it make an impact.

    *Hearing a busy signal when calling someone and getting really annoyed.

    *Having a telephone neck/head rest attachment so you could talk and do something else at the same time.

    *The fun of trying to untangle your telephone cord.

    *Going to the library and looking up something in a card catalog.

    *Sneaking to have to see nudity until it was on TV or if you were lucky, sneaking a friends, parents, siblings dirty magazines.

    *Using payphones and always making sure you had quarters on hand.

    *Being able to walk down to your local candy/hardware store and not be afraid of being kidnapped.

    *Waiting until Saturday to be able to watch cartoons.

    *Learning to type on an actual typewriter and knowing how to change the ribbon on one (and the cartridge on an electric one).

    *Actually still needing and using the phone book.

    *Having to save up and buy each new book of the encyclopedia. (We had a Colliers).

    *Full bush being the norm.

    And since Lorna is homeschooled, I'm making her how to learn cursive writing. :D

  43. Parents smoked in the car with the windows up. On long car trips two of us would share the back seat while one of us camped on the floor to sleep. You rolled down the windows with a handle. You used a key to unlock your car. Milk was delivered to your house. You wrote letters to your long-distance friends and you actually knew the proper way to format a letter. You re-heated leftovers on top of the stove and things like spaghetti always got burned a little in the process. Your cooking pans usually had to be soaked because they weren't non-stick.

  44. I vividly remember the after school special "My Mother's Having a Baby" in which actual childbirth was revealed to me on TV *barf* I will never forget it. Candy Cigarettes that had a puff of powder smoke to make it look real, just once. I bought those and candy necklaces from the ice cream man. Also wax bottles with super sweet syrupy shit on the inside. My dad made me change the channel on the old console TV with needle nose plyers because we broke the nob. My dad also heated up food on the engine block of the car while we went on road trips. We ate at rest stops and never wore seatbelts. I did however always wear shoes unless we went to Texas where I would attempt to go barefooted but since the streets were not paved it hurt like a mother fucker. Cartoon PSAs about nutrition "Don't drown your food" - learning the preamble from School House Rock and my brother having a stupid tshirt with a big shoe on it that said "Keep on Trucking"

  45. Candy cigarettes, Big League Chew and my brother and I actually used to sit on a city mailbox near our house and pretend to shoot drivers with a Daisy air rifle as cars drove by. It's a shame that kids had to smoke, dip and wield guns for real and ruin the fun for the rest of us!

    I still prefer to look numbers up in a phone book and get driving directions from someone who has been there.

    @tstevens & stephanie-I only had to use pliers to change the channel when I was grounded from tv and my mom would turn it to a channel we didn't have and then take the knob to work with her in the morning. It was the only way a single mother could punish a 1st grade latch-key kid.

    @Cary-thanks, man

  46. Having to put a piece of folded up paper, cardboard or something similar next to the 8 track tape in the player so it would be in the right position to play.
    Under-dash after market stereo equipment, such as 8 track or cassette players, and having 6x9 speaker boxes in your back car window.
    Metal monkey bars on the playground with gravel underneath.
    Bicycles with banana seats and sissy bars.
    Listening to Kasey Casem Top 40 Count Down on Sunday mornings - and no such thing as Rap or HipHop music.
    Oh, and staying up late on Friday night to watch your favorite band/artist on "The Midnight Special."

  47. Going to the high school game and hearing a rumble was going to break out. Using the TV remote that had the metal parts in it that went "clink" to change the channel. Taking 25-cents to the 7-11 and buying more soda and candy than you knew what to do with!

  48. Metal skates that were adjustable with a "key" that you kept on a string necklace.

  49. How about movie trailers for movies that are playing next door, instead of opening next year?

  50. Great stuff. I can related to all of it.

    Changing the TV channel with pliers--YES! Our knob had a slot in it, so you could use a quarter, but the pliers were easier. I also remember when a TV was a big piece of furniture the size of a love seat with miles of faux wood on it.

  51. Having your favorite song broken into two parts by that damned 8-track tape player...and waiting for your favorite song to be played by the Top 40 AM radio station...

  52. Riding your bike behind the mosquito fogging truck in the summer time.

  53. The ice cream man always came around when I was at my grandma's house. We'd hear the music and line up so my granddad could give us each a dime from his rubber coin holder, which my older cousin said looked like a vagina--I had no idea what she meant. We would get a Push Up or Nutty Buddy or the popsicle with a bubble gum ball at the bottom. I'm kinda glad the ice cream man doesn't come around anymore, because it's creepy. That music.

  54. Everything in the grocery store had a price on the item, cans had an ink stamp.

    I was a big deal when something good or a favorite movie was on tv (The Wizard of Oz once a year!)

    These lazy-ass kids getting driven to school (mine included). My oldest brother swears my mother drove him once to the first day of Kindergarten. I called bullshit, but he remembers she reached over him to open his door and said "I hope you paid attention to how we got here since you have to reverse it and walk home" and I said hmmm, now that does sound like her.

  55. Woodwoman, I still think that you're a pretty big deal. ;-)

  56. Party lines! dialing 1191 and ringing your party line partner (worked on Mountain Bell in the 60s).

    Stick shifts on the column (my 1951 Chevy)

    Love all these comments - good job people.

  57. Wow guys...you brought back so many memories

  58. Oh wow, I remember running after the mosquito fogger and getting lost in that opaque white cloud it left behind! Then they switched to a foul smelling, colorless gas of some type and ruined it for us.

  59. That's real, Melissa?? I thought that was just one of Frank's "alternate memories". was it a truck? Where did you guys all live, the swamps? That can't have been good!

    We had three tv stations (the networks) and one Kansas City station that ran classic horror movies on Friday nights called "Dimension 16". They also had a kid's program with a guy named Tory. Tory later got nailed for being a pedophile as I recall.

    I bought my hometown phone book from 1968 off ebay for a buck. All of the stores and business ads brought back memories and my grandparents were still alive and in it -it was a real trip back in time.

  60. Woolworth's
    When the mall had a Woolworth's and you could go in and order a hamburger.
    Penny candy
    flesh colored telephones
    All of the racial slurs being left intact when network TV showed "The Blues Brothers"
    The encyclopedia. Sets of encyclopedias, like World Book
    Using baby oil as suntan lotion.
    Riding in the back of a pickup
    Do they still have Saturday morning cartoons?
    BB guns - oh they were so fun. "You'll shoot your eye out!"

  61. I didn't get through all all of these posts, so maybe repeating here...
    -riding with my dad to the gas station (weekend highlight and he was extremely frugal, a.k.a "tight") and would only buy us a Orange Sherbet push-up in the polka-dotted wrapper. I think they were a quarter, but we always wanted Charleston Chews.

    -We had a box next to our TV that we had to turn to get our antenna on our roof to turn in order to get certain channels in. Sometimes we couldn't get a channel in and we'd get so pissed. We only had about 5 channels to watch so this sucked.

    -HEE HAW. God, I loved that show.

    -Walkman's. I loved my headset and would sit and rewind my New Kids On The Block tape to hear "Please Don't Go Girl" over and over and over.

  62. My grandparents always watched Hee Haw and Lawrence Welk. Eventually I got wise and started bringing a book to read so I could duck out of there.

  63. Cary, my dad STILL HAS the television our family bought in about 1987 that has a mile of wood on it and is as big, if not bigger, than a recliner. He moved it to his bedroom of all places (he's single) when he purchased a flat screen to put in his living room.
    I teased him for a bit about it, but then realized he really did plan on keeping it. His comment, "Well, I wouldn't get anything more than $20 for it anyway". HA! If that...

  64. Yep, the mosquito fogging truck was real, all right! It was a small truck with some kind of fogger device in back, and drove slowly down the street blowing out white smoke. And yes, where I lived practically was a swamp! On the lakefront of a combination military/correctional institution housing area out in the middle of nowhere!

  65. My Dad still has the Zenith console tv that is as old as me. I have long thought about taking out the tube and using it as some sort of display cabinet. It's actually a great piece of furniture and I'd like to make it functional, short of turning it into fish tank.

  66. Melissa, I LOVED the mosquito truck! We would ride our bikes behind it for several blocks until we were completely coated in what was most likely a carcinogenic. But we could play for HOURS outside (in L.A. -- Lower Alabama) and not get eaten up by mosquitoes so it was well worth the risk. (Cancer or 6-toed babies vs malaria, yellow fever, or encephalitis -- no brainer!)

    My mother had an old RCA console television repurposed into a bar. It was pretty cool but you could always tell it used to be a television.

  67. When you could go riding around in the back of your dad's pickup truck, play with cap guns and stay in the car while your mom ran into the store without someone calling the cops on you or your parents.

    I was the remote control in my house for the longest time. I was very happy the day I could pass the torch onto my younger sister.



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