My nostalgia level is high this week. Stranger Things Volume 4 is on Netflix, and I look forward to seeing the clothing, hairstyles, and lifestyles of the characters living in the 80s. Also, Top Gun Maverick is out in theaters, I’m in no rush to see this movie, but the original brings me back to when my friends and I would quote Maverick and Goose.
The series finale of This Is Us was on Tuesday night. If you’ve never watched the show, the series follows a family through many decades with flashbacks and flash-forwards. The Pearson family and the people in their lives are featured throughout the six seasons. In the final episode, there is a flashback with Jack Pearson and his two sons, and they are having a family day at home on Saturday. I wanted to share what he said to his kids, “When you’re young, you’re always trying to be old, and when you’re old, you’re always trying to go back. We’re collecting these little moments, we don’t recognize them when we’re in them because we’re too busy looking forward, and we spend the rest of our lives looking back, trying to remember them, trying to be back in time.”
We don’t always recognize the little moments. This post will highlight some of my little moments from my years growing up in the 80s and 90s.
Some things we did in the 80s and 90s:
We played outside:
I grew up in New Jersey and an Atlanta suburb. In NJ, we lived on a dead-end street with many other families. My best friend lived next door, and we had windows across from each other. We played games in our yards, and we traded matchbox cars. We rode our bikes to explore the neighborhood. We put on talent shows, and we played tag.
When we moved to Georgia, I had to make new friends, but many of these activities continued.
We went to (or worked at) the mall:
A question was posed on Twitter early in the week that asked the 70s and 80s kids where they went to first when they got to the mall. People responded with “go to Orange Julius, Sam Goody, Contempo Casual, The limited, Waldenbooks, Spencers, B Dalton, Benetton, the arcade, or the movie theater.” I would visit a few of these places, but I also loved the stationery store for stickers and gel pens.
My food court stop typically included The Cookie Company at some point.
One of my first jobs was at the movie theater in Lenox Square Mall.
I loved that job in the mall, with the free movies to watch during breaks and my fun co-workers. I started in concession and worked my way up to the ticket booth.
We stayed home with our family and/or friends.
Watching television shows and movies were weekly family events. We watched television with commercials and waited a week to see the next episode. To see what was on you had to watch the guide channel and watch the scroll all of the choices on television that night. Friday nights were my favorites: The Love Boat and Fantasy Island. FYI: The Love Boat is streaming on Paramount+.
We rented movies from Blockbuster.
We played card games and board games, including Parcheesi, Uno, and Monopoly. My family played a card game called Hollywood Rummy, where there were five different rounds, you needed pennies to buy cards, and you could win money during each round. It was a complicated game, but it was fun.
We had sleepovers where we made smores and watched movies. I remember watching The Outsiders at one sleepover and renting Footloose for my 13th birthday party.
We had fun, device-free activities.
In the 80s and 90s, we didn’t have cellphones. So when we went to roller rinks for parties, Six Flags, and water slide parks, we did it without posting any pictures on social media.
My family and I would spend summer vacations at the Jersey Shore, and we would spend a lot of time on the boardwalk – on the rides, in the arcade, and trying to win the games that we walked past every night.
Our devices were simple:
The phones had cords that would tangle, and you recorded songs for your mixed tapes from the radio if the DJ didn’t interrupt the first few seconds. Our portable music players were quite large or clipped to our jeans.
We had to wait to see how pictures turned out or use a polaroid camera for instant pics.
We used Encyclopedias and libraries to do research:
There was no Google. I didn’t have my first email address until after I graduated college. If we needed information for papers, we had to go to the library. We used typewriters to create our finished products. We used a computer lab in college, but you had to rip off the edges of the printed papers before turning in your work. If you know, you know.
We used maps and landmarks to find locations:
To get to a friend’s house, you might hear, “Turn right on Elm past the yellow house.” I took a few road trips using an atlas when I was older.
We met up with friends and family without cell phones:
I’m still fuzzy on how we managed to do this when I was younger. “I’ll meet you at 3 PM at the Lenox Square Mall movie theater” would be enough information.
The 90s had advancements in technology:
Having a cellphone and using the internet was more common as the years progressed, and by the end of the decade, we were worried our computers wouldn’t function when the year turned to 2000.
The shows and movies that are out now that feature activities and clothing styles from the 80s and 90s get me feeling sentimental while I’m watching them. These shows bring me back to a simpler time in my life, and it is fun for me to look back on those years growing up. So I look at pictures to remember all those little moments.
Take some time to remember your little moments, and take time to create more little moments with family and friends.