When I Was Your Age

My throwback 30th birthday cake

I recently celebrated my brother’s seventh birthday at a magical place called Chuck E. Cheese’s. From the golden tokens being manually jiggled into their slots to the rogue skee-balls rolling around the floor to the kids pooling their tickets to buy matching jelly bracelets, the experience was reminiscent of birthday parties of yore. In fact, aside from someone finally determining the much-beloved ball pit was really just a colorful urinal, Chuck E. Cheese’s appears to be one of few childhood experiences untouched by time. It was fun to tell my brother I had the same birthday experience when I was his age.

But with the “dinner’s ready” text replacing the porch light flash and the personal gaming system replacing family game night and the iPad replacing everything else, it’s high time we update the “when I was your age stories.” (No one still believes that walked-to-school-in-the-snow-uphill-both-ways one anyways).Thus, “when I was your age”:

  1. Birthday party invitations came in an envelope
  2. Road trip entertainment consisted of coloring books and family sing-a-longs
  3. When you sent mail to someone, you could count on not having to hear back from them for at least a few weeks
  4. Having a roll of film developed was an expensive and exhilarating crap shoot
  5. You had to calculate and manually record your own bowling score
  6. Finding a Scrabble partner was an arduous task
  7. The only new TV shows on during the summer were Lifetime movies
  8. “Going to the library” was a common leisure activity
  9. Highways across America were littered with the tinsel-like remnants of cassette tapes
  10. You had to memorize everyone’s phone number
  11. The only electronics to fear being grounded from were a curling iron and crimper
  12. In order to play a game you had to be in the same room as your opponents
  13. When someone told you to “look it up” they were referring to an encyclopedia
  14. If you wanted to know if a boy liked you it required a hand-written multiple choice note
  15. Reading other people’s diaries was considered inappropriate
  16. Final versions of book reports were written using black ink, college-ruled paper, and sporadic splotches of white-out
  17. If you really liked a song on the radio you just had to keep on listening and hope for the best
  18. When you were done with a movie you had to rewind it or risk being fined
  19. “Posting” referred to the finger paintings, recipes, and photos on your refrigerator
  20. If something ran out of juice you had to go buy new batteries

It seems times are changing far faster in this generation than the last, and the “trials and tribulations” we went through as children don’t seem so rough until we’re explaining them to a kid who never had to learn cursive.

What “when I was your age” story can you add to the list?

About WhiteElephantInTheRoom

I'm an 80s music lover, traveling junkie, mac & cheese connoisseur, amateur wine snob, party-planning priestess and Chicago transplant living in Southern California. I find adventure in the everyday and have a unending compulsion to write about it. Hope you enjoy reading my mind!
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29 Responses to When I Was Your Age

  1. When you start of blog with a reference to your brother’s 7th birthday party and it wasn’t during the Nixon administration, I can’t help but feel a little more like a fossil than usual.

    I do recall my first visit to Chuckie Cheese – it was for one kid or another’s birthday, I can’t honestly recall which niece or nephew it was. I was appalled to see a rather tubby woman waddling around in a T-shirt which was emblazoned with the message “Stop Staring at My T*ts” with an “i” instead of an asterisk. I may not recall who’s party it was, but I definitely remember that my son was a very good reader at the time.

    Ah the good old days! I could wax nostalgic about the days before seat belts, the second hand smoke of my childhood with Dad, the black and white tube TV, but it’s too early in the day for nostalgia, besides, Matlock is coming on soon, then it’ll be nap time.

    I’ll check in with you kids later, if I remember.

    Nice post.

  2. pleunblog says:

    You are so right! Things have changed a lot. When I was 7 (40 years ago)…
    – We had to get up to change the channel on the TV; but we only had two stations, so it did not happen that often.
    – Illegal downloading meant that you sat listening to the radio with your fingers on the Rec button of your cassette player, waiting for your favorite song to come along and hoping the dj would not talk through the intro too much.
    – The length of the telephone cable determined how ‘mobile’ your phone was.
    – When you agreed to meet someone at a certain time in a certain place, you made sure you were there.
    – a record was a black large disk that you put on the record-player. ‘Skratching’ was cool!

    I have to say it all sounds very romantic, doesn’t it. Although I am very happy with my remote these days 🙂

  3. We used to store files on floppy disks, which were no smaller than 3.5″, that wouldn’t even hold a single photo these days.

  4. gojulesgo says:

    Ha! Love this – AND the cake! Let’s see…I think I would have to add something about touch screens only being seen in sci-fi movies.

  5. when I was a kid…my sister and I would spend HOURS jumping over this thing called a ‘skip-it’, I think about half that time was spent fighting over who’s turn it was though. 🙂

  6. When I was your age, we could still buy small pieces of candy, like jolly ranchers and double bubble for 5 cents, tootsie roll pops were free if your previous pop rapper had the Native American shooting a star with a bow and arrow, and Dr. Pepper’s had twist-a-pepper.

  7. When I was your age, fantasy football meant dressing up like a football player and kicking the ball off to yourself in the back yard.

  8. Kendra says:

    The only thing we did on a computer was play the fancy green screen Oregon Trail game at school a couple of times a year – or make folded, pixelated Print Shop cards on neon printer paper for birthdays. And it was a big deal when you no longer had to tear off the perforated edges and separate each page after you printed something.

  9. notquiteold says:

    When I was your age, we went to the movies for 25 cents (35 if it was a Disney movie). TV was three channels, although most days you might get only two. Cassette tapes? Try records (often scratched) and a turntable.

  10. paywindow7 says:

    In “those days of old” myself and my neighborhood buddies, all about ten years old, played down in the train switching yard at the stockyards in Ft. Worth hoping trains going north about 10 miles to Saginaw. Then hoping another train back home to the stockyards.There was no TV, cars had clutches and the nearest fishin’ hole was a half day walk. Going to the movie required walking across the cattle pens then down Exchange Ave past the drunkin cowboys and prostitutes to get to the New ISIS theater where we could spend a most of the day watching a Roy Rogers, Gene Autry and Hopalong cassidy movie plus two weekly serials and two or three cartoons all for twelve cents. Some days the pop corn was free but you had to pay for your own Coke. Today if I heard my grand kids were doing any of that I’d have a come apart. But then it was normal fare and we thought nothing unusual about it and figured everybody else was doing the same thing.

  11. When I was your age entertainment consisted of going outside and playing with the neighborhood kids rather than now days where they play video games, cellphones, nooks, and internet.

    • I miss my mother getting rid of me with “it’s nice go out and play!” These days parents escape their children by handing them an iPad.

      • Yes it is kind of sad how parents think that money can change anything. I miss the old days when all kids needed was love and affection. But because of money and their parents buying them whatever they want kids expect everything handed to them.

  12. – When I was a kid, we used to call people or wait for their Christmas letters to find out what their statuses were.
    – When I was a kid, we had to sneak in my dad’s closet to see pictures of a naked woman.

    And this one isn’t necessarily a kid thing, but same concept.
    – When I was younger, matchmaking services were seen as a last resort for the desperate.

  13. ashleemae says:

    I miss the thrill of picking up your pictures! I remember when Target used to develop pictures and put them out in alphabetical order when they were ready to be picked up. I never got my pictures printed there, but I can remember looking through other people’s pictures with a group of friends, giggling the whole time because we were all sure the next photo would be of a naked person.

    Sadly (or thankfully, probably) that never happened.

  14. Sara T says:

    “When I was your age, Pluto was a planet.”

    My son is in Kindergarten and learned about the solar system recently. He was telling me what he learned and when he said “there are six planets,” a little piece of me died.

    Poor Pluto.

  15. thinkwithbg says:

    I am only twenty eight and I cannot fathom how much has changed since I was a hyper little seven year old. I remember when fuel was less than 99 cents, kids actually played outside, books were in paper form, people carried cash and checked were accepted everywhere. Cartoons were actually good, People could smoke anywhere they wanted to, tiny dogs were not accessories, and computers were extremely rare to find in a home. So much has changed. Makes me wonder how things will be in another forty to fifty years…

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