Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Ch- Ch- Ch- Changes

The title is a David Bowie song.  Bowie was a rockstar in the Seventies (and later), best known for his sexual androgyny.  Bowie's music opened a door for sexual ambiguity and widened popular culture's view of gender.

The subject of today's post is change.  Changes I've seen over the past five decades.  Some are subtle; some are dramatic.  They are fascinating if you contemplate them.

What changes have you seen during your lifetime?

- Music came on vinyl records, contained in large cardboard squares with art on them.  The covers told you everything you needed to know about the band and its vision.

- Teens went to "record stores" to browse, hang out and meet friends.  They were fun places with music, irreverent posters and playful pot paraphernalia.

- Old or obscure records were discounted to $1 so it was okay to take a chance on something unknown.  Later, when CDs came out, you never saw a discounted CD because record companies prohibited sales by distributors (in violation of antitrust law).

- Wives always took their husband's last names.  There was no discussion about the subject or "choice" to be made.

- Kids were set free in the afternoon and told to return home by dinner.  You wandered the neighborhood on your bicycle, doing whatever you wanted.  Parents didn't hover or even know where you were.

- There were only three real TV stations, so everyone watched the same shows.  When cultural critics observe that "there will never be another Johnny (Carson)," what they're saying is that there will never be another person commanding the attention of such a large percentage of the population.

- Hollywood never caught on to the youth movement, so its depictions of hippies, et al. were laughably unhip.

- Smoking cigarettes was common.  If you protested smoking, you were the oddball.

- When someone talked about driving drunk, people laughed.  It was a joke, not a crime.

- When the police pulled over drunk drivers, they gave them coffee and drove them home.  Nobody got arrested for doing this.

- When the phone rang, you were supposed to answer it.  Calls were important and you didn't duck 'em.

- People wrote real letters on stationary.  Women sent greeting cards.  There was no e-mail.

- Terrorism occurred only overseas, never here.  Americans felt safe and protected.


  1. All true. Going to the record store was so fun...

  2. Even though I am a lot younger than you, pretty much all of this was true in my lifetime. Growing up in smaller areas in the South, things took a little extra steam to get rolling. I had a record player (both suitcase and massive living room size one). I had cassette tapes, CDs, now MP3s.

    I spent most of my under age 10 years roaming on my rollerblades and bike or at the pool.

    But on the flip side, I didn't see a pregnant woman until I was in my teens. I still have never actually held or been around small children (other than when I was that age). I didn't have a computer until I was 15, but very quickly got a pretty nice one.

    Back before the smartphone craze, I had a really nice cellphone (the early Razrs).

    I've lived through the weirdest of times. I'm too comfortable with it. But I also would miss it terribly.

    Most of all, I do have a lot of fear these days. I often find myself wishing for the safety I felt in the past. I grew up as a child with an undiagnosed anxiety disorder. So feeling that back then was safer than now? Scary, man.

    It's hard to imagine that just a hundred years ago, how 'primitive' things were compared to now. The life span of a centurion has seen massive changes.

    Also I still send letters, and cards, and snail mail. ;)

  3. You are making me nostalgic. Watching television was something you did TOGETHER in the evenings. Except in the summer, when you sat on the front porch. Debbie @ ilovemylemonadelife.com

  4. Oh my! Quite the list, or should I say memories! I even remember mail being delivered twice a day. Yup. I'm that old :)

  5. "Wives always took their husband's last names. There was no discussion about the subject or "choice" to be made."

    This one doesn't surprise me but I have always wondered what I would do - if I didn't have an adjective last name I would hyphenate but no one wants the last name "Small-Johnson" lol I think I will take my husbands name but it wouldn't be without thought.

    The smoking thing is so crazy for me. I grew up in the age of smoking being bad - it was banned in public places and all those types of rules were made when I was a young girl so it was very in my face that it was unhealthy and wrong. It wasn't even cool for people my age to smoke - it was dirty. Very few of my friends smoke - it just seems stupid to us. it's crazy that were was a time when no one thought anything of it at all!

  6. Hi Shybiker! I've been reading your blog for a while but never had a chance to comment until today, and then it's going to be on a point for discussion - regarding your last sentence about terrorism. I suspect that would depend hugely on who you were. I would argue that the atmosphere of fear that black people lived under during - well, pre-civil rights movement? not that it really ended overnight or anything (or some would say has) is much the same as the fear experienced by people living with the threat of terror attacks.

  7. living in my country you get everything very late. It's getting less of this nowadays but back in my childhood and teenage years it was so. I remember most of things you've said and lived through this.
    It's so scary to live now. I'm looking at my niece and thinking that she has an extra reason for not being as free as I were.

  8. First off, I love David Bowie.
    Back to seriousness, some of these are good changes and some not so good. I wish we still had record stores where people would hang out and congregate - I love going to record stores and searching for something new to listen to. My parent's let me wander all afternoon as a kid (though I'm pretty sure my mom was keeping an eye on me). I still played video games too, but there weren't plenty of days that I explored the woods, jumped on my trampoline and made up imaginary landscapes in my head.

  9. I remember some of these things from my childhood (1980s) but so much has changed since then. I do recall thinking that the "bad guys" were way way way on the other side of the world and that nothing really horrible ever happened where I lived. I felt invincible.

  10. I have seen some changes even being a child of the 80s. I kind of grew up in the midst of the technology boom. I started out listening to vinyl records with my parents and I remember when we got our first CD player. I remember when VCRs first came out and going to the movie store and having to make sure you got a VHS tape for your VCR and not a Beta tape for the Beta player. I remember the old Apple II computers that you put a floppy disk in. I definitely remember the days before email and cell phones and texting. My generation was only just getting exposed to video games on the very first Nintendo or Atari - so we still played outside and went to the park. I've seen cars change too, when I was a kid they were still big and tons of metal and now they're smaller and compact. I'm not sure what else I can think of but those are some examples of changes I've seen!

  11. Thanks for once again making us think!!!

    Funny enough last night my son was wondering why guys don't take the girls name!!!

    Terrorism no matter where it is is unacceptable and cowardly ~ Like Megan Mae I too wish for safety.

  12. Also, also, when the phone rang, all the kids in the house would yell "TELEPHONE!". Hehehe. What an interesting post! I love that you used Bowie as your 'cover-art' for this post too, I have been on a Bowie kick lately :)

  13. i'm 36 but so much has changed. there were no remotes! rotary phones. phones had cords. no answering machines. music was an experience! you threw on the headphones and absorbed yourself for hours listening. now, it's in bite-size pieces or in the background. it'll always be impt to teens but not like it used to be. doors weren't locked. seatbelts were stuffed into the seats and never worn. you actually rolled the windows down. we drove without having a cell! more freedom as a kid/teen. we talked more. we talked to each other.

  14. I loved reading your list.... Even though like Elle I am in late 30s I can still attest to some of these... I did own a walkman. There were no cell phones when I was in high school and we had to decide on where we were meeting and when and show up.
    No internet or computers when I was in elementary school. Used to got o arcades to play video games. I too was allowed to wonder in our summer town within a set parameter with my family not knowing where I was. I walked to school!
    Who knows what our kids are going to experience in their 40s and look back today's technological age as the 'good old days'! Makes you wonder...

  15. So many things have changed ! and ways of doing things have changed.
    I miss most things. Cassette tapes, vynil records, typewriters...
    OMG... right now I am seeing in my country the metro line being built... so transportation should change for the better.

  16. I'm old enough to where I remember the days of pre cell phones/computers/DVDs/ipods. I remember when I was in 8th grade and working my butt off in the yard so I could have a cordless phone *gasp!* (It was a red lips phone) I was also set free in the afternoon and expected to be home before dinner.

    I am glad we have newer and updated technology, but I still stick to the past with a few things like I don't own an iPad or iPod, I still listen to records, I REFUSE to own any sort of electronic books, I don't have a smart phone.

    I was just talking to my Dad today about how it will be much easier for me to report sexual harassment than it was in the late 70's. It is more likely that my complaint will be taken seriously and I won't get the response, "You should take it as a compliment and quit whining!" These are changes I'm extremely happy for and hope they keep moving forward. Women still don't have equal pay, but it looks likely that that will change in my lifetime, and I can't wait.

  17. Wow, yes, yes yess! I remember many of these things as well...How about tapes, making mixed tapes, and (this is going to sound so un-pc,) but spankings...discipline is not what it was when I was younger! And video games were a treat that we got to play when we went to Pizza Hut. Mom and Dad were not big on Atari or ColecoVision...remember that?