Anyone who grew up before the millennium will have a different outlook from most of their younger descendants today. Kids these days have everything on demand, without much effort needed to get these resources. If, like me, you grew up in the ’80s and ’90s, the chances are your days were filled with a mixture of excitement and boredom. However, so many small things we took for granted then are almost gone now. A recent online post shares readers’ childhood memories of things we no longer see.
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1. Pay Phones
If The Sopranos had been filmed in modern times, where would Tony have made all his calls? Being from Britain, I have a close affinity with royal red phone boxes — there are still a few scattered about. Strangely, many red British phone booths are now public defibrillation units for local coronary emergencies.
2. Door-to-Door Salesmen
Selling anything from home insurance to cleaning supplies, the door-to-door salesman lives long in mind. We used to get them in the ’80s and ’90s, though I still see them occasionally. Their unflappable charm, determination, and work ethic are admirable.
3. Catalog Deliveries
With most commerce going online now, there are few people in need of home catalog deliveries. “Speaking of catalogs,” says a nostalgist, “the annual Sears Wish Book’s arrival was greatly anticipated in my house.” We had the Argos catalog in the U.K., which gave us catalogs. However, customers still had to travel to the store to order and collect the goods — this tradition continues today!
4. Kids Playing Outside Until Sundown
“I never see kids on bikes anymore,” says a commenter who pines for the days when the neighborhood was alive with action. Kids have gone from boisterous, innocent daydreamers to sedentary mass consumers, rewarded with dopamine hits for zero effort. I enforce a zero-screen policy for certain parts of the day, but it is hard to compete with Sonic the Hedgehog.
5. Talking to Neighbors
“Having a lot of kids who are friends involves talking to your neighbors, which people used to do a lot more back then,” opines one thread member. It is true; I grew up on a street where we all knew our neighbors. Routinely, friends would drop in just for the sake of it — parents’ friends or nearby relatives would stop by for cups of tea. It saddens me that these customs are disappearing in the West.
Speaking about growing up hunting for fireflies with their dad each summer, one contributor believes even this natural phenomenon is in decline. “It seems like there were hundreds on a regular basis,” says the nature lover. “Now we might see half a dozen every now and then.”
7. Bugs and Birds
“Neonicotinoids are wreaking havoc on the insect populations and need to be banned!” pleads someone who grew up seeing far more bugs than nowadays. “Also, along with the decline in insects, I have observed a decline in the number of songbirds that rely on these insects for food.” We can safely say that urbanization drives this sad loss of insect habitats.
8. Window Air-Conditioning Units
One cheeky commenter misses the day “When Only Fans (just) meant the A/C was broken.” Window-mounted air conditioning units were once ubiquitous, though nowadays, they are losing out to the more discreet, less ugly competition.
“Kids building forts and treehouses in fields and abandoned lots,” one contributor adds to the thread, “(and) staying there all day.” Who can forget the rush of having our own autonomous place away from the main house? Kids’ treehouses can be an important part of their social and emotional development if they can access them. It’s no surprise adults like building them too!
10. Arcade Games in Odd Spaces
“We still have a Mrs. Pac-Man in our local mom-and-pop restaurant,” boasts someone who must live in a very remote area. “My neighborhood donut shop had one when I was a kid!” laughs another Mrs. Pac-Man fan. I remember our local fish-and-chip shop in England had a Double-Dragon arcade game. I loved playing that while waiting with my dad.