(#104) Baby Boomers Reminisce: Then But Not Now

I asked the Baby Boomers to chime in about what existed “then but not now.”

One evening my wife and I, as we listened to a 60s music channel, reminisced about things that existed when we were growing up–but we don’t see much (if at all) now. Well, we quickly developed quite a list. Things like: 1 rotary dial phone (attached to the wall!) for the entire house; bread boxes; 30 minutes of nightly news—and that was it; there was a 154-game baseball season and a 14-game NFL season.

I decided to throw the question to my Facebook page. I asked the Baby Boomers to chime in about what existed “then but not now.”  I have broadly categorized and posted many of those comments below.  Have fun with the list…feel free to add more of your own.


  • TV aerials on the outside of many homes
  • The word “aerial”
  • Reel-to-reel tape player
  • Super 8 camera and projector, slide projector and screen
  • Spare change for a pay phone
  • Long distance phone calls being kept short because they were a very big deal and expensive
  • Black and white westerns on TV
  • The peacock that appeared right before a TV program that was about to be broadcast “in living color”
  • AM radio—only
  • 9-volt transistor radios
  • Party lines

Music and Entertainment

  • Black and white TV with 4 channels plus about 100 UHF channels with nothing on them but static
  • Cars without AC
  • Single blade razors that sucked
  • Paper maps in your car
  • 33—LPs
  • Big colorful 33 rpm album covers that opened up like some kind of Christmas gift!
  • 45 records—with those plastic inserts so you could play them on a record player spindle
  • Record players—non-stereo
  • Record player needles
  • Records
  • Scratched records
  • Bandstand and Sooooooooouuuuuuuuuuuul Train

Video recommendation for the week:

Enjoy this musical flashback (or, for the younger readers, musical history lesson).


  • No pitch counts
  • Goalies without facemasks
  • Place kickers in football who kicked head-on with their toes
  • Sneaking a transistor radio to school to hear the opening-day game of the baseball season
  • The Yankees ALWAYS won
  • Only 4 bowl games at the end of the college football season
  • Million dollar contracts? Are you kidding me?


  • Tricycles for kids called “big wheels”
  • Candy cigarettes
  • Comics. Lots of them
  • Saturday morning cartoons
  • Lunch boxes
  • Captain Kangaroo
  • Tom Terrific
  • Real Army Navy stores with authentic military items from WWII
  • The little “seal of good standards” emblem you’d see at the end of the credits on a black and white TV show
  • Drive-in movies and drive-in liquor stores
  • EVERYONE watching Ed Sullivan on Sunday nights
  • Wedding registries just for china, crystal and silver
  • No “Save-the-Date” cards for up-coming weddings
  • No limos and beach houses attached to Prom
  • You borrowed Dad’s car for the prom and drank Boone’s Farm in the parking lot before going in
  • No ATMs
  • The phrase “standard shift” for a car with a manual transmission
  • MPH not MPG


  • Milk delivery and milk boxes by the back door
  • Coffee came in one flavor—and that flavor was strong NOT bold
  • What is a credit card?
  • Returnable soda bottles
  • $4 pretty much filled your tank—not just a gallon
  • Bottled water? Drink it from the tap
  • Corner drug stores with a soda fountain
  • Really good stereos and TVs came in furniture cabinets


  • Walking home from school for lunch—and then returning back to school again
  • Fathers who were all veterans of a foreign war
  • “Clean your plate because children are starving in China!”
  • Percolating coffee pots.
  • Litter everywhere along highways (thank you Lady Bird)
  • Dressing up to fly and getting to peek into the cockpit to chat with the pilot before or after your flight
  • Everyone had tickets printed on cardstock
  • No TSA
  • Meals for everyone on planes
  • Suitcases you had to carry, not roll
  • Just about everybody CHECKED their baggage—at no extra charge
  • No in-flight Wi-Fi
  • Home delivery for big cans of “Charles Chips” – yes, potato chips!
  • Front bench seats in cars
  • Accountability
  • Catching fire flies in a jar
  • Sadie Hawkins dances


  • Small pox
  • Small pox vaccine scars
  • Chicken pox
  • Freaking everyone smoked wherever they liked including planes, restaurants and offices
  • DDT and everything that goes with it
  • Cigarette commercials and billboards


  • No Clean Water Act. No Endangered Species Act. No Clean Air Act. No meaningful pollution control for cars or industry
  • Second-class education for minority students
  • Jim Crow
  • A woman was NOT your boss at work
  • Little to no accommodation for disabled persons
  • A draft
  • The Vietnam War

School-aged stuff

  • High school students with after school jobs
  • We got paid 50 cents an hour to babysit
  • School dances
  • Boards and chalk dust
  • You went to the library to find books and do research
  • You probably had an encyclopedia set in your house
  • Portable Royal typewriters

What’s on your list of “then but not now”?

Enjoy your week—and H.T.R.B. as needed!

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog post. Please pass it (and any of the archived posts on this site) along to friends and colleagues. You can also follow me on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook. If you get a chance, visit my Facebook page and join in–or start–a conversation (www.facebook.com/stevepiscitelli). Also, if you have suggestions for future posts, leave a comment. Have a wonderful week!

© 2012. Steve Piscitelli and Steve Piscitelli’s Blog.


About stevepiscitelli

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7 Responses to (#104) Baby Boomers Reminisce: Then But Not Now

  1. Pingback: aerial guy

  2. Rick Kaden says:

    Great posting, Steve. To your list I’d add car styles that changed EVERY year, bakeries with great “hard” rolls, kids playing outside ALL THE TIME, and manners.


    • Thanks, Rick. We have come up with another one: the concept of “clockwise/counter-clockwise.” With digital clocks, phones, watches, computers and the like…will a direction like “move counter-clockwise” have any meaning to younger folks? 🙂


  3. Pingback: (#136) A Blogger’s Retrospective: 2012 in Review « Steve Piscitelli's Blog

  4. Wow! At last I got a web site from where I be able to really take helpful facts regarding my study and knowledge.


  5. Kyra says:

    Well as I read I figured you weren’t exactly speaking to my generation. However, there are something I no longer have also.
    Pager- I thought I was the coolest ever!!
    VHS- now you cant even buy a VCR for all the tapes you have.
    Atari- Now I cant even play the video games, there way to advanced.
    That’s all I can think of right now but you got me thinking.
    That’s quite a list, sorry for your loss 🙂


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