Being A Child in the Eighties
1. I don’t ever recall a seatbelt. I preferred to lie on the shelf-like space above the back seat under the rear window, just perfect for my six year old frame on a long car trip.
2. There were no suburbans in those days, not even a mini van, just sedans for families of four like mine and the grandiose station wagons for my friends with larger families. If there was an over abundance of kids, all the seats were put down and we rolled around like apples on a goat cart. If we behaved ourselves, real cigarettes were passed out so we would be quiet and pretend to smoke.
3. No one was supervised. Ever.
4. No one asked me if I wanted to go to camp. Nope, my input was not required and I was sealed, signed and delivered for weeks on end to various summer programs. The summer my brother and I stood together in our refusal, we were quick to never voice our disdain again. We found ourselves walking for the most part to camps around our small town and yes, there was a two week computer camp available in 1982 at obviously a cutting edge private school.
5. Speaking of school, in those days color charts were not sent home to represent behavior. I personally had my own desk in the hall where I was banished for being a talkative first grader and for being impudent, I was lifted and placed in a large cafeteria trashcan. Righteous punishment and my parents likely agreed.
6. No one demanded to know your whereabouts, if anything you were encouraged to roam far and wide. It was the days before technology babysitters existed and the door was locked from the inside, with exceptions only for blood, until dinner time.
7. We had a laundry chute, not a carefully stocked playroom with labeled bins. It was lined with shiny tin and we frequently stuffed ourselves down it. When we grew tired of that, we dragged in sleds from the garage and flew down the thickly carpeted staircase.
8. We roamed the neighborhood, on foot, roller skates and by age 8, many of us on gas powered go carts. Interestingly enough, we often were stopped by police cruisers but there was not much you could do to a child, too young for a citation and parents that had locked themselves away.
9. Dinner was casserole. Every single night. If a Friday you were treated to a Salisbury steak TV dinner and the Friday night movie.
10. There was no technology controlled by wimpy parents. Movies and television were controlled by men, far away in suits. Wizard of Oz?! Yes, it would be on in two weeks and you counted the minutes. The best movie I ever watched was in a friend’s plush van, fitted with rabbit ears, on the way to the beach. A couple kid’s meals and we were golden.