Indeed, the best years to have been a kid or teenager, was definitely during the 70's & 80's. Now I know some will say things like, "What about the Vietnam War or what about drugs?" Well first off, not everyone back then did drugs, even though your history teacher would like to have you believe it to be so. As for the Vietnam War, well most of it was beginning to wind down, and by 1974-75, the Draft had just about ended.
So I suppose what I am referring to was the average youth back then, who grew up between 1969 and 1989. When you could feel free to do what you wanted to do. You may have had only 3 major television networks, and 3 local TV stations and PBS to sit and watch, but there was always something interesting, funny, suspenseful, mysterious, scary, romantic, momentous, and/or amazing to watch on TV. Nowadays you've got some 700 satellite or cable channels to sit through, and it's nothing but crap…either that, or things that are truly stupid and/or boring, like 24 hours of infomercials. Sad but true.
Back then you could eat whatever you wanted. Cereal, for a mid day snack? Not a problem. Nowadays we've got the Food-Nazi's, telling you what you can buy, eat, or drink, and also how much of it, if any, you can have, at any one time, if ever. Our generation had common sense though, we may have eaten a greasy cheeseburger once in awhile, with French fries that were deep-fried in peanut oil, and we even downed it all with an ice-cold bottle of Coca-Cola, the real deal mind you, not the new classic version of it, which still doesn't taste exactly like the original one did…plus add a Hostess Cupcake or Fruit Pie in there for a dessert. Later, we'd go outside to play…thereby effectively keeping in shape. However if we had friends who were just a bit overweight, or as our parents called it back then…being husky built, we all knew that it was only baby fat and would eventually come off, by the time we all got into high school.
Another thing we'd do to keep fit, was to go for walks and/or ride our bicycles…you remember, the ones with the old elongated banana seats, orange traffic flagpoles on the back of your bicycle (apparently so we could be seen while riding along the freeways and highways or so our parents thought at least), reflectors everywhere, for girls…a basket on the front handlebars, and for the boys…you put playing cards in the spokes of your wheels, so that your bicycle sounded more like a motorcycle, yeah that's it alright.
In the evening, you may have laced up your roller skates…if you had any, and headed out to the local roller rink, while skating to the sounds of ABBA, The Bee Gees, Peter Frampton, Donna Summers, Earth-Wind & Fire, and KISS…or you could hop on a friend's skateboard, provided you asked them nicely, or traded with them, with something you had, just for the chance of riding it, even if only for a short time. Sometimes we'd save up some change, and head to the nearest arcade on foot, or on our bikes, just to play a few games of Air Hockey, Pinball, or maybe that new kool video game, that everybody keeps talking about, the game…known only as…Pong.


Oh, and for the younger people of today, although we had no cell phones, computers, laptops, IPods, IPads, Blackberrys, XBoxes, Nintendos, Playstations, or Wii's…we still found a way to have fun, talk to one another (in person, whoa!), and keep in touch with relatives far away with a pen and a piece of paper, an ancient form of communication, which we used to refer to as writing letters.
Going to say maybe a carnival or county fair, getting to go on rides, eating cotton candy, and trying to knock down all the bottles of a Ball Toss Game, just so you could win your new girlfriend a stuffed teddy bear, may not seemed like much to the kids of today's generation, but it was a feat of almost superhuman skill, when you told it to all of your friends, as you went back to school after summer vacation.
Trading baseball cards, comic books, and even records…you know, those shiny black vinyl things, that your parents listen to on rare occasions, or maybe an 8-track tape, was before the advent of CraigList, E-Bay, Amazon.com, or the internet in general, for getting something you wanted, by way of sharing or trading.
Oh and FYI (for your information) just cause we grew up in the 70's, didn't mean we were lazy in the least. Part of the thing back then, that most of us youngsters used to do, in order to earn a little spending money, and this you may want to write down and take notes on for your history classes, was to actually go out, and earn it, through some kind of work, i.e., selling newspapers, painting houses and/or wooden fences, washing and grooming other people's pets, mowing lawns, washing cars, babysitting, bake sales, recycling newspapers, and cans, or glass bottles, just to name but a few ways.
Saturday Mornings were special for a kid or teenager back then. It was a day of rest and relaxation, but mostly it was a day to be entertained, and to just enjoy being young. There were cartoons, kids shows, dance shows, the latest toy commercials, sporting events, and the Saturday Night Movie Of The Week. However, cartoons did rule the most during early morning hours.
Parents never had to fight with kids to wake up or get up…because we were already wide awake, watching our favorite toons. Some of us even learned a little bit of education while sitting and watching the likes of: Time For Timer, Schoolhouse Rock!, Louie The Lifeguard, Smokey The Bear, Iron Eyes Cody (The Crying Indian), Woodsy Owl, McGruff the Crime Dog, and many more too. Why even many of the kids shows and cartoons, had some moral lessons in them, that you could learn from, back then.
Oh and who needed HBO, Showtime, and Cinemax, when you could just turn on the television and see the movies of the week, for free, on any of the 3 main networks.
Parents usually made more time for their families back then too it seems. My dad, who was in the Air Force, worked from 6am till about 4 or 5pm, Monday thru Friday, then came home, and still have the energy to play a game of catch with the old baseball, or football. My mom worked too, but she would come home, sew some clothes, make dinner, and if that wasn't enough, she would break out the old Monopoly Game, or maybe pop some popcorn so we could sit in, and watch a movie on the tube.
Most of us had chores to do, which there was no pay for, but we did it, because that's how things was back then. My chores included mowing our own front and back yards, raking up the leaves, washing my parent's old station-wagon, cleaning up my own room, washing my own laundry, and once in a while, cleaning up the garage. My wife on the other hand, says that her chores were to do the dishes, do all of the laundry, as well as helping her mom make dinner or set the table.
It seems that moms then, wanted the dinner room to look as presentable as possible, i.e., placemats, plates, bowls, utensils, glassware, napkins, tablecloths, and potholders, with everything in it's place...and that's just for a typical dinner. Thanksgiving Dinners, Christmas Dinners, and or Easter Dinners was truly something to behold, why you'd have thought that the President, the Pope, and the Queen of England would all be showing up at the house, from the way it would look then, and heaven help you if you ate with your elbows on the table then.
Anyhow getting back to the subject matter at hand, the 70's & 80's were still the best of times as far as my wife and I, are concerned. All of the best singers, bands, and getting to go to those concerts that you saved up for, was simply too kool to put into words. Or if you were a kid, seeing the Good Humor or Ice Cream Truck show up in your neighborhood was one of the more thrilling things to see and hear. Looking at all of the selections they had on the truck, and figuring if you had just enough change saved up to buy something truly delicious.
Anybody had those Bookmobiles show up to your street, before your town could afford it's own library? We did.
Once in awhile the bloodmobile came by too, to see if you'd care to give a pint of your own blood, to the local Red Cross Center or Hospital.
Remember having a typical backyard barbeque, dad getting the grill going, while mom opened up the packs of hot dogs, and seasoning the hamburger, to make into patties? Can anyone say, mmm mmm good?
As a kid, summertime meant also playing with water-balloons, water pistols, the lawn sprinkler, or even just the old water-hose, and having a blast getting wet, especially on a hot summer afternoon. Things maybe weren't completely perfect, but they were as close as you could get, in those two decades.
Sure we had the Cold War with Russia and China…we were the good guys, and they were the bad guys. Don't believe me? Look up, and watch the 1980 Winter Olympics, especially the hockey events, and the game between the USA and the USSR. It didn't get any better than that, and if you didn't shed a tear when our side won, or cheered your lungs out when team USA did the impossible, you weren't alive back then.
I know that none of us can go back in time, but that's what our memories, old photographs and family albums, and websites like this one, are all for...to let us all remember where we were, when it all was happening.
Well time for me, to get back, to the time at hand now…especially now that my daughter is wanting me to help her with her homework, my wife is asking me what I'd like for supper, and my dog is asking me to take her out to play in the yard. So I'll just say, "Later gators, and stay hip, groovy, and always remember…you can only be, with the IN crowd…so long as you're willing to be SO FAR OUT there." Think on that awhile.