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Growing up in the 1960s & 1970s - Living in Primitive Times

DarkAgesThose of us born in the generation that came before the introduction of today's whiz-bang gadgets may appreciate them the most since we know what it was like to have "suffered" the various inconveniences of life without them.  However, today's advances aren't always viewed as enhancements.  With that in mind, the following list offers younger readers a glimpse of what life was like back in the Dark Ages of the 1960s and 1970s:


  • Pringles, Cheerios, Oreos, M&Ms, Ocean Spray cranberry juice and French's mustard had just one variety - and drinking water wasn't filtered by Brita, it came directly from the tap.
  • Major League Baseball often scheduled doubleheaders on Memorial Day, 4th of July and Labor Day.  And the World Series was played in the afternoon.  Additionally, in the years before the first energy crisis in 1974, night games started at 8:05 not 7:05.




  • When the phone rang you answered it without knowing who was calling - at home or work.  And your pointer finger got regular exercise from dialing the telephone.  Additionally, long distance calls were considered a luxury because of their expense.
  • Before violent video games, the most raucous game was Rock'em Sock'em Robots.




  • Baggies were an advance in storage.  There was no such thing as Ziploc anything. 
  • When the weekend approached you'd go to the bank and estimate how much spending money you'd need to withdrawal.  Unless you kept money under your mattress.  And you stood in line inside the bank for all banking transactions.
  • Bottles and containers were a cinch to open since they weren't designed to be child-resistant or tamper-proof.
  • Guests on the Tonight Show stayed put when other guests came on.




  • There were no signers for the deaf at public events/news conferences.
  • Fireworks exhibitions happened only on the 4th of July.  (And sometimes when your neighbors had a fight.)  Jellybeans and marshmallow peeps were sold only at Easter time.
  • Going to church, school or Broadway shows were all "dress up" occasions.  And sneakers and flip-flops were worn only during gym class, play time or vacation.




  • Diet soda tasted like a witch's brew of chemicals. (Here's to the advanced chemical formulas of the 21st century that made Coke Zero possible!)  
  • Dentists/dental hygienists didn't wear masks, cashiers didn't wear protective gloves.  There was no such thing as hand sanitizer and yet we somehow survived.




  • If a classmate met with "misfortune" no therapists were called in, you went to school the next day just like any other day.
  • Neopolitan was about as gourmet an ice cream flavor you could get.  And before Starbucks there was was only General Foods International Coffee.




  • Morning paper boys went out before sunrise by foot and their parents didn't worry (except, perhaps, about the occasional ferocious dog).
  • You either turned a room light off or on, there was no dimmer switch (or ambient lighting).
  • To do school work students thumbed through an encyclopedia rather than Wikipedia and never doubted the verity of the information it contained. 




  • During snowstorms ashes were tossed onto roads from the back of dump trucks.
  • Adults knew that Liberace, Charles Nelson Reilly and Paul Lynde were "funny" but it wasn't mentioned in front of the children.




  • Instant potatoes were a time-saving advance in dinner preparation.  And Pop Tarts were an advance in breakfast food.




  • Suburban households sorted their trash and then openly burned what was made of paper.     
  • When taking a trip you unfolded an unwieldy paper document called a "map".
  • People who suffered from allergies were alergic only to tree pollen or ragweed - no one knew they were lactose intolerant or allergic to wheat.




  • Divorce?  What was that?
  • In the winter and summer you went outside without the benefit of a wind chill factor or heat index.
  • There was no such thing as a bike helmet.
  • In anticipation of winter, two rituals for my dad in October and November were putting up storm windows on the house and putting snow tires on the family car.






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Ah, those were the days!


Also remember, baseball fans paid once to see both games of a double header.

However, contrary to your comment, Tupperware started way back in 1946.


No ATMs. You had to go to a bank or accommodating bar or store and "cash a check" to get cash.


The press knew all about "indiscretions" by Presidents and baseball stars and didn't say anything about it.

Corry Frydlewicz

I think Cowboys & Indians was WAY more violent, lol.


Back in Pittsburgh we played a variation called Steelworkers & Coal Miners!


Liz, thanks for your comments. Yes, remember going to the bank on Fridays and trying to estimate how much cash you'd need for the weekend? Luckily for a researcher like myself, estimating came second nature!


Last week I was babysitting my 10-almost 11)-year-old grandson who had “Mono.” He was just at the sore-throat stage and his mom had purchased some Chloroseptic throat spray. I warned him it didn’t taste wonderful, so he’d be prepared. He asked what it tasted like and I said “School Paste” which led to “What is school paste?” I explained that I was in school way before glue sticks or Elmer’s school glue! Then went on to explain the big jar and the teacher scooping it out with a tongue depressor and putting it on a little square of paper and you’d have to share with the kid next to you! (and that it never worked very well to hold the things together) Also explained that it had Vitamin Q - at least that’s what the older kids professed as they urged you on to taste it! He may remember nothing about our week together, but I think School Paste with Vitamin Q will remain with him!

Thanks for your memories!


That's an amusing story - however, I never heard about Vitamin Q! Then there was the glue we graduated to after grade school, i.e. the more liquidy, somewhat amber colored glue that would bleed through paper if you used too much. Then there was rubber cement, which could be overpowering.

Thanks for sharing ...


Tom Barrie

I have been spending a bunch of time writing on various subjects about growing up in the 1970's as part of a personal history I am building for my kinds.

Got stuff about playing war using bricks as "hand grenades" and trying to be Evel Knevel using only a pile of rubble, a wobbly plank, a "Grifter", and some children to jump over.


Exposure to TV of the decade


And child labour/not being a Jessie


Elizabeth Simmons

We weren’t “best friends” with our parents, we actually had tons of friends. You would take out your address book and call as many as you could to hang out with, a lot of times, together. Your mom would tell you to “ get out of the house and get some fresh air”, and you would be playing in the streets or riding your bikes until it was either dinner time or almost black outside. We didn’t worry about getting abducted or anything else, and if you misbehaved in front of your friend’s parents, THEY could reprimand you too!.

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