The Good Old Days

by MooshiMooshi

I love living in today’s world. I love how DH and I can settle friendly arguments by whipping out a smartphone and hitting Wikipedia. I love that I can see constant photos of my DH’s baby relatives posted on Facebook. I love, love, love navigating with Google maps or my Garmin. It makes me far more willing to drive to unknown places. I am happy that I rarely have to enter a big box store like Kohl’s or HomeDepot. I am thrilled that I can stream Bollywood movies, or obscure Japanese art movies, or old episodes of West Wing, whenever I want.

I like a lot of the changes in the world, too. The fact that I have been to China three times, and that I realistically can visit Vietnam or Tibet, just boggles my mind. When I was 18, I never would have envisioned that. Granted, the middle east is a scary place, but it has been a scary place for a long time.

But there are some things I miss from the old days. Some of these things make me sad. I miss bookstores – not the cheesy mall bookstores of my youth or weird dusty bookstores. I miss the oldstyle university bookstores, which used to be packed with intellectual, specialized books instead of logoware. I miss the fun of a trip to Borders, and spending lots of time hanging out in their comfy chairs looking at history books.

I miss getting lots and lots of Christmas cards, with actual handwritten messages inside.

I miss vinyl records, and big splashy album cover art.

I miss thinking that it was really cool that you could write a lowlevel C program that would shoot a message through a socket, and another C program on another machine could actually read that message.

I miss feeling like it was a big deal when I got a letter from overseas stamped AIRMAIL, PAR AVION,… with lots of fancy stamps

What do you miss about the old days? What has gone away that perhaps you hadn’t even noticed was gone?

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185 thoughts on “The Good Old Days

  1. I miss the less stress, less competition, less homework childhood that I enjoyed. I wish my kids could have that, but they can’t. DS2 was stressed today because of 2 days of standardized testing. We had minimal standardized testing in my day.

  2. Agree with Houston – I don’t want to end up in an education arms race with the kids and I feel like we are already there. :(

  3. I miss not being informed all the time. Ahh the blissful ignorance the preceded the 24 hour news cycle. Now we not only know about the horrible things that happen here, we know about every terrible thing that happens the world over and yet it is impossible to help or care about every single one of them.

    I too miss what I perceive as a slower pace of life. I miss that Sunday was a family day and shops were closed instead of a day to do errands and drive to far away children’s sports competitions. Then again, I was living that through the eyes of a child so maybe it wasn’t that great for adults.

  4. I also miss the more relaxed life that I had in high school (and college) – my kids have/had so much more going on in their lives – often as a necessity.

    DH and I were talking about TV shows from our youth, and the only show I could come up with that I really wish was on today was Johnny Quest. That was and is my favorite show from my childhood.

    I remember getting letters over the summer from my college boyfriend – it was so exciting, and that was a highlight of my week (I guess I had really boring summers). Now dd can Skype or FaceTime or whatever with her bf – I’m sure they have never written each other letters beyond a note on a birthday card.

    I need to think of more of these!

  5. Me too, too. I had so much free time to ride my bike around town with my friends and go get frozen yogurt and just hang out talking about life, the universe, and everything.

    Here’s one that I both do and don’t miss. In high school, some of my gang were huge fans of the movie Harold and Maude. We didn’t have VCRs, let alone DVRs. So every so often, one of the art houses would show the film, and one of us would call all the others: “You guys!! You guys!! Harold and Maude is playing at the Bijou on Friday at 7:30. Who can drive??” And we’d all converge on the theater, pay our $2, buy some popcorn and Junior Mints, and watch raptly. Then we’d all go to someone’s house (probably Elizabeth’s) and dig out her Cat Stevens albums and listen to the songs from the soundtrack and just chill.

    Now, should I want to have people over to watch Harold and Maude and eat popcorn and Junior Mints, I can buy it from Amazon or rent it from Netflix or probably just stream it from youtube. I can do that any time I want. But there’s a thrill that’s gone. I miss the serendipity of finding a beloved movie showing somewhere and getting all excited about it and having a big social event built around it.

    Or maybe I just miss my youth.

  6. Harold and Maude. That was so popular when I was in college. I am not sure I miss that one. But I do miss going to the afternoon double feature at the Harvard Square Theater.

  7. RMS, while I am not a huge Harold and Maude fan, I know exactly what you mean. The idea that someone can buy or rent The Rocky Horror Picture Show and watch it at home, instead of at midnight Saturday, is crazy! Where is the fun in that? Forget the fact that I don’t think I’ve ever seen the end of the movie because I always fell asleep.

  8. I miss being able to give my kids a little freedom. (And I say this as the mom who generally wants every kid in my line of sight in the house because I don’t want them fighting.)

    When I was six, I was allowed to ride my bike around the block myself. When 6 yo DD was over at the grandparents a few weeks ago, my dad let her ride around the same block.

    I had to tell him that she can’t do that. Not because it isn’t safe – they know every family on the block, she’s responsible, and it’s very quiet – but because our local police will take her in if they see her and there is not an adult with her. They just charged a dad in our neighborhood with felony child neglect for leaving his seven year old in the locked car while he went in the store for less than 15 minutes.

    At this point I fret every time I leave her in our fully fenced backyard while I change the baby’s diaper, because if an officer drove down our street he might notice she was alone. We are considering a high privacy fence for that side.

  9. I miss listening to a storm and not wondering if the roof will leak or the basement flood.

  10. Like Mooshi, I like lots of things. I like not having to make it to the DMV for license/registration renewals because I can do it online. I like large double-pane windows, digital photography and taking long, hot showers whenever I want. I like disposable diapers and cheap baby clothes so my inability to sew doesn’t matter. I like buying frozen vegetables processed by machine and not me! I like the availability of produce at the grocery store in many seasons, and how out-of-season produce keeps getting better every year.

    I miss neighborhoods with lots of young kids, which are less common than they once were. I miss having Sunday set aside as a day for family and/or worship, though we still avoid sports teams and activities on Sundays. I miss bidding farewell or adieu to people at airplane gates and packing whatever I want in my carry-on. While I never experienced it, I miss extended families who saw each other frequently enough that kids knew their cousins well.

    We watched The Wizard of Oz for the first time with the kids this weekend and explained what “film” was and talked about “black and white” and “color” film. I remember watching it on network TV as a kid, but I liked being able to pause it for four bathroom breaks and for bedtime, to be continued. And we had popcorn from the hot air popper.

  11. Sky – do you live near that crazy county in MD where they called CPS on the free range parents again? Good GRIEF!

  12. Oh, speaking of the old days. I just started reading Dead Wake, Eric Larson’s book about the sinking of the Lusitania. It mentions in passing that the Captain, William T. Tuner started his career as a cabin boy aboard the Grasmere, when he was 8.

  13. I miss living in an era where parenting choices didn’t have trendy names and Internet sites attached to them. Remember when it was just the Dr Spock book, usually a tiny dogeared paperback sitting somewhere on the parental bookshelf?

  14. I agree with everything on WCE’s list, with the one modification that we’re really happy that we spend a lot more time with extended family now than we ever did when I was growing up.

    The most significant impact for us from Internet connectivity is that it is the only way we were going to be a dual-income family. This changes our long-term financial outlook considerably.

    On a lighter note, I really appreciate that DVRs and Netflix have allowed the entertainment industry to develop what is essentially an entirely new genre of telivision series that require hour-long segments watched in series. You can’t have The Sopranos, Downton Abbey, Friday Night Lights, Breaking Bad, House of Cards, and Mad Men without it. And now I have a habit of seeing two-hour movies from an earlier era (like “The Firm”) and thinking about how much better it could have been if developed into a 60-hour series like Breaking Bad.

  15. Missed the shared experiences we used to have with just 3-4 channels of TV. I remember watching and discussing the last episode of Seinfeld, the last night Johnny Carson was on air, etc. I remember scheduling time to watch Murphy Brown and Melrose Place with friends. This doesn’t happen anymore, as we all watch on our own time on our own little screens.

  16. This is possibly still available to the youth of today, but related to the slower pace of life, I miss cruising Riverside in my steel tank high school car with the awesome stereo (thanks to my brother and his first job) with the windows down and The Cars (my only cassette at 16) cranked, and laughing with my three best friends. Life for me was so stress-free during that window of time. There was just not the same pressure on high school kids.

  17. Houston, I agree with you on the shared experience of watching TV and the water cooler talk afterwards, but I think it still happens to some degree with shows like House of Cards, Game of Thrones or Mad Men. There are a lot of people who will watch them right when they come out. Those who haven’t seen the latest episode have to leave, though to not hear spoilers!!

  18. I also miss a no-cell-phone-camera world, where there was no danger of stupid or embarrassing behavior being saved for posterity. I do see the value, particularly in some recent police issues, but I was happy to retain plausible deniability through high school and college.

  19. “There was just not the same pressure on high school kids.”

    I think I’m going to be contrarian again and disagree with this. Many of my friends and I put a certain level of pressure on ourselves in high school. And I remember how the day after I got my college acceptance (early, at the end of October), I felt like this huge weight had lifted, like I could finally relax and enjoy everything. So the pressure was definitely there, to some degree, for a certain type of student.

    I think a lot of Totebag parents have simply self-segregated into communities and school districts where a far greater percentage of the kids are like we were, and they’re much more micro-managing of their kids’ performance, so they perceive a greater difference.

    I’m really struggling to come up with something that I miss that is no longer possible now.

  20. I miss Saturday morning cartoons. DS will not have the thrill of getting up on Saturday morning to watch Scooby Doo, Looney Tunes, Huckleberry Hound, or any of the other Hanna Barbera creations. Yes they are on Boomerang, but it just isn’t the same.

    While I love DVR, I do miss having to be home at a certain time to catch a certain show or channel (like ABC’s TGIF of the 90s, or Nickelodeon’s SNICK on Saturday nights). It was fun to gather at a friend’s house and make a night of watching the shows.

    I think Sky mentioned it best – I’m going to miss not allowing my son to play around our block alone. DH and I both grew up like that, and he won’t be able to because the PD will be called the second the kid is off our property.

    What kind of frightens me is that my son will never NOT know smart phones, Netflix, high speed internet, telecommuting, TSA, needing an ID for everything (including at the drug store), and the worst offense of all, Pluto was a planet.

  21. “There was just not the same pressure on high school kids.”

    Academic pressure? Maybe. However, In My Day™ almost everyone worked, often from 3-9 after school (and on weekends) so it could be pretty grueling.

  22. I miss the relaxed time I had as a kid where summer seemed to last forever. I miss that I have to put effort into getting my kids into the outdoors, rather than just opening the door and letting them roam like I did as a kid. I miss old movies that were shown on the weekends from the 30s and 40s. The effort to get them these days is more than I am willing to put out, but loved Mickey Rooney, Dr. Kildare, and Cary Grant. I, too, miss the shared TV experience – we had TV night in college where we’d gather at someone’s apartment to watch Dallas or whatever was the “in” show. I miss all the things my kids have to wait to be older to do and by then they don’t want to due to societies’ fear – like riding your bike multiple miles alone or with another kid.

    I don’t miss blue laws and Sunday closures – as a kid, my Saturdays were curtailed because ____ was only open on Saturday and this was the only day we could go, so I couldn’t do _____. I don’t miss having so many clothes that required ironing to look presentable. I don’t miss the ability to screw up and be able to learn from it vs. zero tolerance.

  23. “I also miss the more relaxed life that I had in high school (and college) – my kids have/had so much more going on in their lives – often as a necessity.”

    I agree, and yet it’s difficult to fit a job into all those activities.

    I miss receiving letters. My old saved letters are some of the most precious things I own. Yet I’ve never gotten around to saving emails!

    Going back to one of last week’s post, I miss “slow” reading. But I love the Internet and so much information at our fingertips, so I would not go back.

  24. The one thing I miss from living in Bergen County NJ is BLUE LAWS (OK and bagels and Taylor Ham… but that’s it). The joys of knowing my mom (a retail worker) had one guaranteed day off with me was wonderful. Not having tons of people clog the roads was heavenly. We could just be a family one day of the week.

  25. Pundits were already wringing their hands over kids staying inside to watch TV rather than roaming outside back when I was a kid. I don’t remember a lot of idyllic wandering, either. Even then, kids preferred to watch Gilligan’s Island reruns when they were hanging out together

  26. CoC, I have all my mother’s emails in a file that I keep backed up. Even though she passed away in 2000, I had a lot of them. She was an early email adoptor. I like to look at them to remember just how much fun she was

  27. Oooh, great topic!

    Like Milo, I remember being under pressure in high school, and doing several hours of homework a night. I grew up in a not-particularly Totebaggy school district, but I think the AP/honors track included kids from families that would have fit in in the more Totebaggy suburbs.

    Where I see the difference from the ‘good old days’ (for me, the 80s) and today is the limited amount of free time kids today have. Back in my day, kids might have swim lessons/soccer practice/CCD or whatever a couple of afternoons a week, but kids were otherwise free to roam the neighborhood after school until Mom called you in for dinner. Nowadays, there’s no one home at most of the houses in our neighborhood in the afternoons – most of the moms work, and those who don’t spend the afternoon driving their kids from activity to activity. It makes me wonder if kids aren’t missing out on learning how to actually entertain themselves sometimes. Of course, my kids are little, so I’m a few years away from needing to decide what the optimal scheduled/unscheduled mix is for us.

  28. “The joys of knowing my mom (a retail worker) had one guaranteed day off with me was wonderful.”

    FIL thinks that this is one of the reasons why Chick-fil-A employees appear generally happier than their counterparts at other restaurants. And his parents owned a business that was always closed on Sundays.

  29. My childhood included lots of “idyllic wandering”, along with TV reruns. My husband also had that experience growing up. Probably depends where you grew up.

  30. “There was just not the same pressure on high school kids.”

    Academic pressure? Maybe. However, In My Day™ almost everyone worked, often from 3-9 after school (and on weekends) so it could be pretty grueling.

    It was a different grueling. I remember getting home at 3:30 working until dark, being worried about how to get parent home from the bar….but….all I had to do to get out of that situation was to have a decent gpa and decent SATs.

    To get into the same college I went to, my daughter has to have an above 4.0, better SATs, and a whole lot more extra curriculars.

    DH and I have often talked about how the kids don’t get to make mistakes. The penalty for getting caught in high school with beer (assuming you didn’t die) was to have the beer poured out and maybe your parents called. Getting a B didn’t affect your chances of getting out that much. There was time do foolish things with friends.

  31. Many of my friends and I put a certain level of pressure on ourselves in high school.

    Do you think if you were growing up now you’d perceive it as easier today? Thinking back 25 years, you’re average 16.5 year old was, in many ways, their own self contained entity. Job, car, activities, school work, homework, sports, friends, etc. all self arranged and in many cases self financed. Today, I could imagine it being perceived as easier when so much of it is just showing up to a series oh highly scripted activities and doing what you’re told.

  32. “To get into the same college I went to, my daughter has to have an above 4.0, better SATs, and a whole lot more extra curriculars.”

    Which raises the obvious question of “what difference does it make if your dd gets into the same college you attended?” Now the colleges that you wouldn’t have considered have probably since added an honors track and opportunities for her to really distinguish herself, work with a professor, get internships, do research, whatever. We could even make a case that this is a more promising path for a kid to take. And like LfB and Rhett discussed, it’s not like the competition in the work force is all that keen.

  33. “Do you think if you were growing up now you’d perceive it as easier today?”

    My parents were Totebaggers before it was cool, so I don’t think my own personal experience would really be any different.

  34. We kids did more idyllic wandering in Germany than we did in the US. I suspect that was because German TV in those days didn’t come on until 5pm!

  35. Today, I could imagine it being perceived as easier when so much of it is just showing up to a series oh highly scripted activities and doing what you’re told.

    Actually, I think this makes it harder, especially for the kids who don’t have the parents who set up the highly scripted activities. Since the expectation is that all you have to do is show up and do what you’re told, there is little room for mistakes, and a flawless performance, in whatever, is diminished.

  36. Hmm – not sure there’s a lot that I miss. Things are much safer for kids than they used to be. And I know there have been articles on CPS being called because a kid walked home on his own – but I wonder how often that happens. The fear of letting kids play on their own because CPS might be called seems overblown to me. 9 year old DS walks 3 blocks home from the school bus stop. He walks another 3 blocks to aikido. And I let him ride his bike on his own around our neighborhood. 15 year old DD rides her bike to various places and is very good at taking the Metro bus to get to where she wants to go. I am comfortable with DD riding the bus in part because she has a cell phone so I know she can call me/others if she needs help.

    My kids have more opportunities than I did. DD is athletic – team sports for girls are far better now than they were when I was a kid in the 70’s. Martial arts are a better fit for DS – and those were not available where I lived when I was a kid.

    And there are so many more opportunities for girls and women now than there were 40 years ago. I don’t miss being told by my math teacher that he was surprised I was good at math because I was a girl.

    On the shared experience of watching tv – DD does this with her friends. Lately they’ve been binge-watching Friends. I told DD that I watched it in real time when it originally aired. She was not impressed.

  37. For me the academic pressure part was a constant pressure cooker. Actually, I find my kids have it a lot easier than I did. What they don’t have is extended family living close. However, about that kids don’t understand the dynamics between the adults and growing up I could have certainly done without all the drama that having relatives close by brings.
    Actually, my good old days are the ones when I could go visit both sets of grandparents in their houses, before they were torn down to build apartments, playing in their yards, having family celebrations at the old houses. My grandparents were the glue that kept the drama in line, without them it wasn’t the same.

  38. What I *don’t* miss about my childhood–lack of diversity. I was one of 2 kids of my race in my graduating class of 780 students. Our school was very white and UMC. There’s so much more economic, racial, and cultural diversity at my children’s’ schools.

  39. “talked about “black and white” and “color” film.”

    Did you give them the Calvin and Hobbes explanation? E.g., that films and photos have always been in color, but back in the day, the world was black and white.

  40. I don’t miss much about the old days. But I will say that receiving handwritten love letters was one of the greatest thrills of my old-youth/young-adulthood. I can’t help but feel sort of sad to think that the young people of today might not have that experience. Maybe I’m just old, but I don’t think that I’d ever find a text or an e-mail to be all that romantic (irrespective of the language it contained).

  41. “Missed the shared experiences we used to have with just 3-4 channels of TV. . . . This doesn’t happen anymore, as we all watch on our own time on our own little screens.”

    It still happens in my workplace. Currently, the shared experience is the NBA playoffs.

  42. I remember having a pen pal and receiving hand written letters. However, even to get into a pen pal program was a lottery and very few managed to land another kid’s address and maintain a correspondence. My pen pal found me on Facebook after many years. It was very nice to hear from my friend again.

  43. Things I wish my kids could experience*:

    1. The fun of having a pen pal. When I was in 3rd grade, my teacher set up pen pals for us with her teacher friend who lives in California. It was so much fun.

    2. Sneaking out of the house and then sneaking back in before my parents would find out. No way would my kids be able to get away with this.

    3. Skipping school on a really nice day. Seems like kids really get in trouble for that sort of thing now.

    4. Not having everyone know where you are all of the time.

    5. No caller ID.

    *from the perspective of being a teenager. Not from my perspective as a parent.

  44. I think hand written letters are the only thing I miss. I had a few pen pals along the way and I remember it being a thrill to get the mail every day. I love netflix and not having to watch television at a certain time. Kids are pretty free to roam where I live and there are a lot of stay at home moms around during the day. And kids have activities, but it just doesn’t seem as all consuming as people are describing. I remember a decent amount of pressure too in high school.

  45. I miss being able to walk or bike all about town without encountering any homeless people.

  46. Finn–that’s why sports are so popular and lucrative (advertising). It’s the one thing that everyone has to watch live.

  47. Milo – ditto re: the internet. Because of it my DH was able to follow me up here and still work in NY – without it we either wouldn’t have been together, or he would have had to get a job here, or I would have had to get a job in NY.

    Also, ditto to SSM on opportunities for girls and women.

  48. A lot of people don’t watch sports events live any more, thanks to DVRs, but most people I know watch them almost live. If you can’t watch them within a few hours, it’s pretty tough to avoid all the coverage.

    Back to the shared TV experience, this will date me, but I was in a dorm when “Charlie’s Angels” was on TV. During a season premier, the plot line took one of the Angels to a nudist colony as part of the investigation, so she had to disrobe to enter. She reached back to untie her bikini top…. and cut to a commercial. There was a loud collective groan through the entire dorm complex.

  49. Cat S. – the no caller ID was huge. You could call your crush and not have him know! My parents still don’t have called ID. They are the only people in America who answer the phone with a question mark after the “hello”?

    I too miss shared tv. EVERYONE watched Love Boat and Fantasy Island on Saturday nights and on Sunday it was Wild Kingdom and Wonderful World of Disney. Didn’t matter where in America you lived, that is what you did. It is neat to meet people with very different lives, but we all shared this one thing if you were born around 1970 or so. The OJ chase was a big shared tv experience and I think this Bruce Jenner interview will be something that a lot of people sit down to watch live because it is just so like “WHAT?”. My kids shrug at it, but I’m like you would have been laughed out of the room if you had predicted this in 1976 – he was THE example of masculinity.

  50. “They are the only people in America who answer the phone with a question mark after the “hello”?”

    That’s how I answer, even though I have caller ID. I feel odd answering as if I know who it is. Not sure why, maybe it’s guilt from screening calls.

    My D just started watching Friends. She thinks it’s cool. :) I love catching occasional reruns of shows I watched as a kid.

  51. I vaguely remember having more time to do what I wanted to do, but I really don’t remember what I did with my time. I didn’t have a car till I was in college, and I lived the wrong direction from school for any of my friends who did have cars to come get me before school, so, horrors, I took the bus which picked me up around 710. Always did sports, so got home around 6 after taking the late bus. Dinner was around 7, then I guess I did some homework, watched some TV or read/listened to music then went to bed. No weekday job for me. I’d do some work on weekend my jr/sr yrs.

    I agree with points made about self-selection into neighborhoods ‘like us’ and the relief of getting that first college acceptance.

    I’ve actually talked about the stress teens feel with my oldest, who I think felt it most, of my kids, during hs. He was probably right.

    Honestly, given the lens of time, I think he’s one of those kids (boys) for which the direct-to-college-from-hs system we have in this country does not fit. He’s not dumb, just at 18 wasn’t ready / organized / academically motivated enough to succeed at college. He might have been better off doing 2 years full time of e.g. landscaping or other real physical labor to allow him to grow into the motivation, enroll as a non-traditional student, and kick butt in 4 years (or less, possibly). Different than DW and me, DS2, and many here. He’s gotten thru that.

  52. I do remember the last episode of MASH – huge!

    But we still have shared tv experiences – like the discussion on the Totebag about Downton Abbey!

    and +1 to Houston’s comment about diversity. My kids have a much more diverse set of friends (though mine were more economically diverse – I lived in a small town with only one school so all kids rich and poor went to the same school).

    Life is much better now for teens who are LGBT than they were in the 70’s (still lots of room for improvement though).

  53. When I watch the 80s SNL I’m surprised at how low-level sexist the whole show is . . . I didn’t remember it that way. I have to agree that this is a better time for women and girls, notwithstanding the excessively gendered children’s clothing and toys.

    There was only so much tv you would even want to watch — cartoons were a Saturday morning thing, no dedicated channels, and most of the programming throughout the day was of very limited kid interest. Even when MTV showed up, after not too long the videos would start repeating. Home video gaming was in its infancy, as were home computers, and the industry hadn’t mastered the art of addictive computer-based entertainment. In other words, it wasn’t that wrenching to turn the tv or gaming system off. So while we may have seemed tv addicted compared to the 50s kids, and very much so compared to the 20s or 30s kids who grew up with only newsreels and movie theater serials, it still did not require an act of willpower to limit screen time.

  54. “how low-level sexist the whole show is”

    You mean as compared with the “Jane, you ignorant slut…” parts.

  55. That, by the way, is what I see as the great challenge for the current generation of kids: when you have a constant fount of entertainment available 24-7, more than you could get through even if you were watching 24-7, all meticulously crafted to be addictive with the next episode auto-starting/ next level auto-starting/ related articles or twitterers or instagrammers all listed right off to the side, how do you train yourself to notice time passing and make the affirmative effort to shut it all down and go see what’s up in the physical world? It’s a daily cognitive challenge that didn’t even exist for former generations, who had built-in end points to their favorite shows, and closing times (and limited quarters) for the video arcades.

  56. I’m surprised at how low-level sexist the whole show is

    When I googled Finn’s episode of Charlie’s Angels I was struck by the description of Leilani Sako as a “lady crime boss.” Like lady pilot or lady doctor.

  57. I absolutely remember the sexism of the 70’s. It wasn’t even low level. It was so bad that in my HS English class, we had a debate on the topic of “Should married women work outside of the home?”. Can you imagine?

  58. I always liked the “weird dusty bookstores” mentioned in the OP. There used to be one downtown here very similar to the description of Aziraphale’s bookstore in Good Omens: http://goodomenslexicon.org/articles/aziraphales-bookshop-in-soho/ . Sadly it eventually closed.

    Rhett, because of course the job title is by default masculine unless it’s something like “nurse.” Like the old mind-bender about boy and his father who are in a car accident, and when the boy is brought into the operating room the surgeon says “I can’t operate on this boy — he’s my son!” How can this be?! Well, if you don’t have the background assumption that surgeon = male, it’s not all that difficult a puzzle . . .

  59. MM, I was talking about the 1980s SNL, not the 1970s, with that reference. For what it’s worth.

  60. “‘I do remember the last episode of MASH – huge!”

    RMS, do you remember? Maybe Fred?

    I remember there was a big storm the night they showed that last episode, and the power went out in my apartment. I grabbed my small B&W TV and took it to the office, which still had power, and saw the end of the episode. I’ve never watched the entire episode.

  61. “I just started reading Dead Wake, Eric Larson’s book about the sinking of the Lusitania.”

    I have this book on my nightstand, haven’t started it yet.

  62. I think we did watch the last episode of M*A*S*H but had stopped watching it regularly long before, so it didn’t seem like a big deal. It was something we used to watch as a family much earlier in the show’s run.

  63. And I remember TV viewing very differently. Maybe it was because we didn’t usually have a TV in my family so the fact that all my friends watched so much TV really struck me. We only had 4 channels (including PBS) but afterschool TV was crammed with reruns that were chosen to be appealing to older kids. The soaps, which were for moms, were all done by 3, and then the channels segued into Gillgan’s Island, StarTrek, Bonanza, I Love Lucy, Three Stooges, Flipper, Get Smart, and on and on. If I went to any of my friends houses, that is what we did – we all lined up in the den and watched TV. At some point the mom, if it was a more responsible parenting type, would yell at us to go outside, and we would. Then we would sit in the grass gossiping for a while, and then trek back in for the next rerun. I also remember that lots of families watched TV during dinner. There were lots of books and articles on how we all watched too much TV. And in many ways, Sesame Street was a reaction – the idea was if kids are going to watch tons of TV anyway, why not make some of it high quality?

  64. “Life is much better now for teens who are LGBT than they were in the 70’s (still lots of room for improvement though).”

    Lots of improvement has been made in just the last 15 years since I was in HS so that is good

  65. HM — you described it perfectly and I agree completely with your 1:40 comment. “It’s a daily cognitive challenge that didn’t even exist for former generations”

  66. I love and hate my cell phone. Feel like I need to have it on me but don’t like the expectation of people who expect you to answer any time of the day since you have one.

  67. We (new gf, current DW, and I) watched the last episode of MASH in the main lounge of the grad dorm with about 40 other people. Though the dorm was very diverse, many were foreign students who had no clue what the show was all about or the significance, the crowd in the lounge was pretty much all-American. We made a party of it…pizza, beer, other munchies.

    We (DW, DS3, I) recently started watching MASH from season 1 episode 1. It’s fun. He doesn’t get a lot of the references and asks; I like explaining that part of our (USA) cultural history to him.

  68. HM — you described it perfectly and I agree completely with your 1:40 comment. “It’s a daily cognitive challenge that didn’t even exist for former generations”

    Very true- 24/7 of good tv you can stream, fb and twitter, sites like this, no one ever has to be bored

  69. Another vanishing ritual: dinner parties. They used to be the bread and butter of adult social life, but they’ve been largely replaced with meeting friends at a restaurant. Which is also nice, but is not the same thing.

  70. I love the internet! We didn’t have internet in my house until junior year of HS. Love messaging people instead of calling

  71. uhh…maybe that was poorly worded (new gf, current DW, and I). That list of three is only 2 people IRL…DW and me. We had started dating about a month earlier.

    I hope you all had/have a good chuckle!

  72. And part of me wishes sites like fb were around when I was a teen, and part of me is glad they weren’t.

    Glad they weren’t- because of cyber bullying
    Wish they were because I was so shy at school

  73. I love, love, love cell phones. Having one would have made such a difference for me as a kid. As I have mentioned before, I was way-too-much-free-range as a child, and was often left to watch my sibs while my parents were hours, and miles away. They used to leave me alone for overnights starting when I was 12. I was often terrified, worrying that they might have a car accident or something, and having a cellphone so I could have talked to them would have helped so much. It is funny too, because they had a rule that I had to tell them where I was going and call when I got to my friends house, but they didn’t see the need to reciprocate.

  74. HM – is that because people feel like there is less time to cook? Or is there less time to cook? Maybe we’re all so busy shuttling the kids to their activities on weekends so there is no time then, either! :-0

  75. HM, I agree. Although, at least around here in totebag suburbia/sprawl, there seem to be lots of impromptu Fri-Sat-Sun get togethers in the warm weather where the adults congregate on the deck/patio for casual grilled or ordered-in dinners with plenty of alcohol available (I suspect plenty of other relaxers would be available in CO and WA).

    But to your point of having 1-2 couples over for a nice meal around the dining table, kids hidden away fed earlier in a different room…I don’t think that’s ever happened in our house (our parents/in-laws, excepted).

  76. I had limited TV watching time growing up – so the time that I was allowed to watch TV was a treat. I saw a lot of movies at the movie theatre – those were an outing with my family and they were fun.
    Now, my kids don’t want to watch TV at all. One likes video games, the other likes to do crafts or read, the rest of their down time, they are told to play outside. As usual, two weeks after school lets out, when they have had time to savor their freedom from school jail, they are bored and it is time for camp.

  77. My parents had a lot of dinner parties, until my mother went back for her degree and then got a job. It took a lot of work to do those. I think the reason for the decline is because everyone is working.

  78. “Another vanishing ritual: dinner parties.”

    I remember getting out “the good china” when we had these, and how the adults would linger around the dinner table while the kids were sent into the living room to play.

    Nowadays, when we do have friends over (if HGTV is to believed, people do this all the time), DW always wants to use disposable dishes. I can’t remember the last time we used our fine china.

  79. L, it’s not just less time to cook. Families’ day to day lives are much busier, leaving less time for house cleaning, so getting the house ready to host people is a major effort.

  80. L, I think there are a lot more people who just don’t cook, with the increased availability of take-out and ready-made entrees in the markets, so it’s no longer a standard thing that whoever cooks for the household would feel able to produce a “company” dinner. And it’s probably a positive feedback loop where as fewer dinner parties are held, other people don’t feel obligated to hold them in return, and then you end up with people who have never hosted one and don’t understand why it would be rude to flake out on an invitation at the last minute, which discourages their would-be hosts. Eventually it just becomes easier for everyone to outsource to a restaurant, or do as Fred says and get takeout or grill outside, which is more conducive to having the numbers change at the last minute.

  81. Having both partners work is probably another factor. I’d be interested to hear from Louise or another poster who lives in an area with lots of SAHMs whether dinner parties remain more of a done thing there.

  82. The things I miss are more to do with being a parent than changing time:

    Top of the list, A#1, is the joy of snow days — that serendipitous day off out of the blue that is just pure, unadulterated joy. I truly hate that working makes snow days a hassle instead of a joy.

    Closely behind is the joy of summer — not quite as good, because it is expected and planned for, but still, it bothers me that the thought of summer now induces a sigh instead of unadulterated joy.

    Next, freedom/independence to walk/bike anywhere and generally take care of myself. Note that I say I miss this as a parent: I *hated* it as a kid, would have much preferred my mom to chauffeur me everywhere in air-conditioned, lazy bliss. But now that I am the chauffeur, I see tremendous value in childhood independence. :-)

    Similarly, the freedom to fail and find alternate paths. Rhett’s scripted “show up and check the boxes” lifestyle reads like a straightjacket; it actually makes me squirm physically just to read the description. I chafe at the connect-the-dots expectations in school, at the fact that acting up now gets you expelled instead of just making paper airplanes in detention, at the sense that the slightest blip in the record stamps a big “rejected” sign on your forehead. It is ironic that we are in an era where the companies that drive our economy were founded by dropouts in garages, and yet we are becoming more rigid in our expectations for our kids. I hope that the current younger generation does better in forcing its way through to make alternate paths.

    The thing that I would have missed had I known at the time it was out there but wouldn’t last is the idea of turning off and having free time while still having security. I remember reading somewhere that the average law partner in the 1960s billed something like 1500 hrs/yr — you did your job, you went home, you had dinner with your family, and you neither worked the weekends nor felt guilty about not doing so. I mean, I never wanted to be either June or Ward, but the Cleaver lifestyle had a lot going for it — dinner at home every night, no after-hours emails or calls, etc. I avoid night and weekend work to the extent possible, but the pressure is always there, because there’s always someone faster/cheaper/willing to respond at 2AM.

    AND then as a corollary, you also had the pension system. My dad never had to worry about saving money, because he had a pension! He didn’t have to do retirement projections, or figure out whether to save for retirement or college, because retirement was covered and college you could largely work your way through. Now there is the constant and chronic insecurity that even if you save a lot, you can never be quite sure it will be enough, because it’s all on you. (And the saddest part is how many people are now discovering that that pension wasn’t really as secure as they thought it was — in retrospect, I’m glad my dad got religion around 50).

  83. We get invited for dinner sometimes by some local friends. Their dinners are WEIRD. I could not call this a dinner party. Rather, it is a kind of nibble ramble. We go over, they might put out some nuked frozen pizza, then mention something about making spaghetti. About an hour later they might get around to reheating some spaghetti, and then ask if we are still hungry because maybe they will put out some pork that has been in the slow cooker. Oh, and there is lettuce in the fridge if you want to get some. I can never figure out, for any given food item, if this is it and I should fill up, or if I should wait.
    We invited them to our house a couple of times, and they kept coming into the kitchen and eating out of the pan of food while it was still cooking. Weird, weird, weird

  84. I’m going to a dinner party this weekend. Although, the dinner is being catered by a local chef. :)

  85. Hmm….first PC I saw was in college (TRS 80s), first email was in my first job (PROFS notes – the ones you heard Oliver North used) after grad school; first email as we know it a few years after that. My first home computer in the early 90’s had a 20 MB hard drive – I just bought a 1 TB drive!

  86. Thinking back a bit more, I recall that during the dinner parties of my small kid time, the adults were usually all seated at the dinner table, which was covered by a clean tablecloth, and were served on our best china and used real silverware.

    The kids sat on the floor, were served on the everyday dishes, and ate at a small short table in front of the TV. Those were some of the few times my parents used the TV as a babysitter, to keep us occupied so the adults could engage in adult conversation.

    In some ways, things aren’t too different now. When we have company these days, or go to others’ homes, it’s typically with families of our kids’ friends, and the segregation between the adults and kids happens organically. But DS sometimes ends up with the adults when we get together with DD’s friends’ families, as many of DD’s friends are eldest or only kids.

    I’m wondering if we’ll continue to see the same adults once our kids leave the nest.

  87. MM, do you think they eat that way all the time? Like, just raid the fridge when you’re hungry, with no regular meal times?

  88. HM – I don’t think dinner parties in the style my parents used to host are done in my neighborhood.
    What I see is what Fred describes…on a good weather day people get together on the deck/patio for grilled food with neighbor friends contributing a few dishes. People also do nights out to local restaurants without kids. Neighbors will hire neighborhood high school kids to watch their elementary aged kids. The parents of the high school kids are home, so if anything goes wrong everyone is a short distance away.
    Mooshi – extremely weird. You have had some interesting experiences.

  89. LfB,

    I would add a seniority based layoff expectation such that the longer you worked somewhere the less likely you were to get laid off vs. today when the opposite if often true.

  90. LfB, ditto on the savings and financial security to be middle class. I was discussing this with a teacher friend this week.

    HM, most people in my age range don’t host non-family. Our 55+ friends are the only ones who will respond to an invitation with a yes/no (if it’s a specific date) or an attempt to schedule. I think the primary reason is dual working couples and secondary reasons are high expectations (because it isn’t common, only people who love hosting do it) and lack of scheduling in general by SAHP’s.

    One of the things I LOVE about working with women engineers is that they execute and stick to a schedule. Most SAHM’s seem to want to be spontaneous and we have working late, soccer, swimming etc. so spontaneity doesn’t work.

    We have a monthly potluck with our small group at church. We all have 3-4 kids so eating out together that often isn’t affordable or, for that matter, convenient because of where we live.

  91. “Dinner parties” we attend these days are usually some combination of potluck/takeout. If anyone actually cooks, it’s usually just one dish.

  92. I think the affordability of restaurants has a role as well. As a kid, my parents had/went to dinner parties, but throwing one was still much cheaper than going to a restaurant at the time. Of course, you can always find a very expensive place to go, but there are many more options of mid-range priced restaurants than I recall in the 1970’s.

    I agree with the other comments of (1) ability to cook, (2) time to cook and (3) time to prep the house.

    A few years ago, I had to host 25 women for dinner. I did a salad and dessert buffet – 3 main dish salads (with meats/cheeses/fish) and 3 side salads, an assortment of breads with butter, and about 4 dessert options (with one chocolate-free and one included fruit). Tea, coffee, lemonade and water to drink. Used the dining room table, breakfast room table, and a card table to have enough spots for everyone. I used nicer paper/plastic ware. It was a lot of work, but also a lot of fun.

  93. The one thing when my parents (and even when we host) is that major cooking must be done in advance of guest arrival so you are serving or putting minimal finishing touches to dishes. No disappearing into the kitchen the whole time or having the guests help with the cooking.

  94. Fred, also through the lens of time, I think my daughter would have been better served by a gap year. She’s a completely different person now than she was at 18. It’s amazing

  95. “No disappearing into the kitchen the whole time or having the guests help with the cooking.”

    Today’s “open concept” home designs do not facilitate disappearing into the kitchen.

  96. Today’s “open concept” home designs do not facilitate disappearing into the kitchen.

    I can’t stand people on House Hunters who want everything thing in its own room. It sets my teeth on edge. “Oh, I simply must have a formal dining room!” Oh, FFS, you’re never going to use it.

  97. We used to host lots of parties and dinners. However, people very rarely reciprocated. We have cut down our entertaining drastically, as it takes time to clean and cook. It’s too bad because we really do enjoy the social time, but I got resentful. Same with play dates for the kids.

    Maybe people are too busy or they don’t care anymore.

  98. You guys are too pessimistic about the middle class earnings/savings/security situation. We get too locked into this idea that median “household” income is only $50k. The median income for white families of married partners ages 40-44 (which is what we think of in comparison to the Cleaver ideal) is over $80k. That’s comfortable enough to save for your own retirement. I, for one, would prefer to not be dependent on a single company’s continued solvency for my pension income, nor do I want to be required to stay with a single employer for 30 years in order to have a comfortable retirement.

  99. The local friends with the weird eating habits are ex-Brooklyn hipsters, if that makes any difference. They have one kid.

  100. I have a kitchen with a door that closes and I love it. We had rented a house in MA with an open concept kitchen/diningroom/livingroom – really a sort of oddly shaped amorphous space – and I filed it away on my list of must-avoids, along with well water, and living 8 miles from a grocery store.

  101. Houston – When they were young…DD#1 – we seemed to host most play dates, maybe because her friends at the time were 2nd or 3rd child. Found that with DD#2 – it was more even, but more of her friends were the first child/only child.

    We host DP’s gaming group often on Friday nights. It’s a BYOB and snack. The main things we have to do is have a cleared off breakfast room table, cleared off counter space, either room in the frig or a cooler available, and bowls/glasses available. When everyone is too busy, we miss the social aspect too.

  102. Mooshi,

    Are they just people who prefer to graze vs. a set schedule of more formal meals?

  103. This is probably partially an age vs era issue, but I miss eating junk food with abandon. My six year old is concerned about making healthy choices.

  104. We have people over for dinner quite a bit. We had 2 families over last weekend. I also like to have people over for brunch on the weekends. More casual and people still have most of the day with their families.

  105. +1 Houston. We like to cook and host, but find that people don’t reciprocate, so have scaled back. We still host big meals (we had 16 for Easter) but we make a solid few dishes and respond with specific requests when people say, what can I bring?

    We entertained a lot in med school, but found in residency that people weren’t interested. Maybe because it was a smaller group, we just never found our people. However, we did a lot of drinking. I closed many bars those years. I do miss that.

  106. Milo, where do you get your $80k number? It’s tough to save much if your household income is $80k and you are paying for childcare, especially for more than one kid. The need to pay for after school childcare until your kid(s) are 10+ is probably different now from the old days. When I got my extended maternity leave, I pointed out to Mr WCE that there was no financial reason for me to work this summer.

  107. It’s in the Census data. It is not often popularized because it is not a popular idea to tell everyone that the middle class is doing great and should stop complaining, and others just want to quietly believe that they are well above average when they really are just normal.

  108. I don’t miss a lot of specific things (other than youth) from 30-50 years ago. But I do miss what i will call rarity. Raspberries and roses were only locally available once or twice a year. So eating raspberries was a huge treat, a sign of summer, not something you buy year round to put on the toddler’s plate as finger food. A bouquet of roses out of season was expensive and a sign that you were greatly cherished or honored by the giver, not something I can get at TJ’s each week for 5.99. A chance to speak with a far away relative or friend via long distance was an event. My mom got her first passport when she was in her late fifties. Life was full of anticipation.

  109. That’s comfortable enough to save for your own retirement.

    Saving is one part, but there is also the investing part which many people fear and loath. In your case, you seem to view it as a bit of a hobby. For most people, it’s a source of stress and anxiety.

  110. Rhett – but if your retirement income is tied to the fortune of Enron or Kodak or American Motors, then it really should be a source of anxiety, even if it isn’t.

  111. Milo,

    The highest pension, $272,892, is paid to a retired four-star officer with 43 years of service, according to the Pentagon. Before the law was changed, the typical pension for a retired four-star officer was $134,400. The top pay for an active-duty officer is capped at $179,900; housing and other allowances boost their compensation an additional third.

    Now, compare that to $10 million. Market hits a bump and you’re at $7 million and your dividends have fallen by half so now you’re skipping your vacations, buying a new car, etc. But, an iron clad 100% secure inflation adjusted $22,741/month for life? That gives a sense of security to the typical person that almost no amount of money can match.

  112. I agree, but you’re comparing a pension from the federal government with one from a private corporation. And as you have said many times, anyone can simply by a pension if they purchase an annuity.

  113. Several people have mentioned that they don’t miss the fruit selection of years gone by. That now the selection and availability is year-round. However, I just had the most fantastic strawberries in my lunch. It is clearly strawberry season (in California I assume). The winter berries are tasteless compared to what I just had. There is still room for improvement to get tasty berries all year long in the midwest.

  114. And as you have said many times, anyone can simply by a pension if they purchase an annuity.

    True, but we could have a default system of private savings that would provide the average person with a stronger feeling of security than the current system. It almost seems like the current system was designed for investing/retirement hobbyist’s like yourself rather than for the average Joe.

  115. Also, whenever someone tries to tell me that the middle class has it hard and can not save, I now remember two statistics. The first is that the Ford F1 50 pickup is still the number one selling vehicle in America for about three decades. The second is that Americans now spend more money in restaurants and bars than they do in grocery stores.

  116. I agree, but you’re comparing a pension from the federal government with one from a private corporation.

    We could modify the tax laws and beef up the PBGC and dramatically expand the pension systems, if we wanted to.

  117. Rhett –
    If, and this is very rough, someone has $10M that a year later is $7M, and they were on a 4% of assets use plan, the income available drops from $400k to $280k. And, with $7M of assets, upside remains (downside remains, too, btw).

    I don’t know which is rarer, someone with $7-10M assets age ~65 or someone attaining 4* officer status (or any other position that would qualify for a $273k pension).

  118. “We could modify the tax laws and beef up the PBGC and dramatically expand the pension systems, if we wanted to”

    That is all well-intentioned, but it’s just government favoring large corporations over small businesses. There is a very significant cost to the compliance with all these regulations.

  119. Rhett – and some of us make very good living by being experts in compliance with such regulations. That’s well and good for us, but the problem is it’s a burden on the overall economy.

  120. Seasonal fruit. Strawberries & Peaches are the epitome of that for me.
    I will eat local strawbs off the stem when they are in season (starting sometime early-mid June, for a few weeks), then it’s wait till next year.
    I will try some of the Georgia peaches when they hit the stores, but honestly, I am quite willing to wait till late summer when the local ones are perfect for 3 or 4 weeks. We do freeze some for use the rest of the year, but mostly it’s late August – mid Sept when we eat them. The imported ones, whether from the southern hemisphere or California, just don’t cut it.

    Lemon, I think it may be a little past prime strawberry season in California.

  121. but it’s just government favoring large corporations over small businesses.

    Why would employers need to be involved?

  122. Strawberry season in California is between January and December.

    Georgia peaches….hmmmpft….I get local ones July thru September and nothing else comes close.

  123. Oh good lord, wasn’t trying to set off an argument about whether the MC can save! I was actually comparing my dad to me — both of us were clearly UMC for our times, with “secure” jobs for our times, and both of us were clearly more than able to save. My point was that he just never had to worry about it — the pension and SS were just there, and were inviolable, so he never had to learn anything he didn’t want to about that whole area. Sure, he could if he wanted to, if he found it fun — but if he didn’t want to, he could just go play golf and not think twice about it.

    I just find that almost unthinkable, because it is so different from our current society, where everything is on you. And as much as I enjoy saving and probably would regardless, I am absolutely envious of the mental freedom he had not to worry about that for even one second of the day.

  124. MASH — yes, I watched the last episode in my dorm with my boyfriend. He cried. I rolled my eyes.

    Dinner parties — good luck finding something to cook that everyone will eat! I’m part of a four-person planning committee for an event that will be over with next week, thank God, but we’ve had two planning sessions at my house at dinnertime. You can’t come to my house at dinnertime without being fed. But one person is vegetarian, one’s gluten-free, and I aim low-carb. The fourth guy is mercifully omnivorous. It’s a huge pain. And the more people you add, the more restrictions you add. That’s why restaurants have become so appealing, IMO.

  125. RMS, good point about dietary restrictions. One of the reasons our potlucks work is we can bring dishes that work for us, with leftovers mostly consumed by round 2 of the teen guys

  126. I miss the days before social media.

    RMS, I agree that specialized diets have contributed to the decline in dinner parties. It is just so much easier to pick a restaurant that everyone likes. My parents did a lot of casual entertaining when I was growing up (having people over for dinner–but just main meal and dessert, and not particularly fancy/gourmet)–they still do but it has dropped off a lot for exactly this reason. Most people would rather just meet at a restaurant, and then you don’t have to worry about who doesn’t eat onions, who is paleo, etc.

  127. We’re like WCE–our group of friends doesn’t really do dinner parties per se but we do get together for potluckish type dinners. The host makes a main dish and everyone else brings complementary sides or other compatible mains if the main course doesn’t work for them. Works well for people who have small kids without requiring any one person to shoulder the whole thing.

  128. I am absolutely envious of the mental freedom he had not to worry about that for even one second of the day.

    Honestly, I think that’s the main reason for the decline in pensions – they rob a certain segment of he population of the joy of doing without. Imagine poor Milo with a $150k Navy pension robbed of the joy of driving around in the old CR-V with the cracked windshield.

  129. Kids concerned about healthy choices…..;-)
    At my kids school at potlucks, the most popular dish is the chicken nuggets….the salads, different pasta dishes etc. are ignored.

  130. HM,

    $134k was the old max the new max is $150k higher. I’m sure Milo could have retired as the captain of a desk somewhere and under the new rules snagged $120k/year.

  131. Where are you getting $120K/year as a typical pension for someone retiring as an O6?

  132. Who said I expected him to get the typical pension? The max pension for an O6 according to the Google seems to be 96k. But, that seems like it’s under the old rules.

  133. “I mean, we’re all sure Milo was a fine officer, but you seriously think he was going to retire as a four-star admiral? ”

    Lol, I had the same thought reading that. If I stayed in, I would have considered myself lucky to make O-6. No way was I ever going to be a flag officer.

    Rhett – I knew an O-6 at my last job who was much cheaper than me driving with a cracked windshield. Whether he was going to work out in the morning or not, he always showered at the base gym rather than at home, to save water and energy costs. (Or so he said–DADT *was* still in effect :) )

  134. “The max pension for an O6 according to the Google seems to be 96k.”

    Perhaps with a highly unusual 50 years of service, and maybe as some specialty like a medical officer with an in-demand specialty.

    I think about $70k is what you’ll typically see nowadays, assuming 26 years and a survivor’s benefit clause.

  135. Missed the shared experiences we used to have with just 3-4 channels of TV. I remember watching and discussing the last episode of Seinfeld, the last night Johnny Carson was on air, etc. I remember scheduling time to watch Murphy Brown and Melrose Place with friends. This doesn’t happen anymore, as we all watch on our own time on our own little screens.

    Yes, this. I Love Lucy had ratings over 50 for full seasons at one point, and even into the 80s the top shows were getting ratings into the 30s. And that’s ratings – the percentage of people watching – not shares, which are the percentage of people actually watching TV at the time. When you think about it, it’s pretty staggering that a third to over a half of the country watched the same shows at the same time. When I was in college, the Simpsons and Seinfeld were huge events every week. Sunday Night Football won last season with a 7.9 rating and the Big Bang Theory was the top non-sports show at 6.2.

    You’ll have to pry my DVR out of my cold dead hands, but it was a lot of fun when we all watched the same shows.

  136. And Rhett, I think the special pensions for four-stars were invented to retain high-profile people like Petraeus (pre-Paula Broadwell). It was legally easier to give delayed compensation than extra bonuses for running the Iraq War.

    But your typical, nearly anonymous, four-star CINCLANT will get the $134K. If he wants more money after retirement, he can go head a division of defense contracts at Raytheon or something.

    My old CO, otoh, who retired as an O6, told me he had no interest in the “rat race’l and finally gave in to his parents years of pleas to go “home” and take over the family farm.

  137. Don’t forget Ed Sullivan. (I don’t actually remember it, but apparently EVERYONE watched it every Sunday.)

  138. The one thing I miss from living in Bergen County NJ is BLUE LAWS

    Hey, I grew up there too! And I hated the blue laws. It was such a revelation when I went to college that you could actually go shopping on Sundays.

  139. Oh, I miss watching Walt Disney on Sunday nights (whatever the real name was, we always just called the show by his name). All of the fun movies, Jodie Foster as a young kid shows, etc.

  140. I think about $70k is what you’ll typically see nowadays, assuming 26 years

    So he’s 48?

  141. Denver Dad, do you know anyone who remembers when The Wizard of Oz first came out? I don’t think I do right now.

  142. RMS, I only recently discovered that Paul Lynde’s career extended beyond being the center square and playing one of Sam’s uncles on Bewitched.

  143. Finn – Yes on Paul Lynde – they had lives before we started watching! I remember reading about how Buddy Ebsen was going to be the Tin Man but he had an allergic reaction to the silver paint. I was amazed that he was known for anything but The Beverly Hillbillies!

    Friends is a good example. I am old enough that I had heard of and seen all of their parents in previous roles in movies or TV, but probably a lot of people younger than I am know them only as “Ross’s father” or “Rachel’s mother”.

  144. OK, I miss The Wizard of Oz and Cinderella (Rogers and Hammerstein’s with Lesley Ann Warren) being on one time each year. We lived for those shows! It was such a big deal when they were on.

    Or, Charlie Brown – you had to be home to watch The Great Pumpkin or the ACB Christmas. Now I have to remember to watch them – they are available on demand whenever!

  145. As a General Hospital fan in the 70s, I was always startled that Alan Quartermaine (Stuart Damon) was Prince Charming in Cinderella. Alan! Get back to Port Charles.

  146. RMS – Yes, yes, yes. I loved him so much in Cinderella, and it was so disconcerting! How about the cute old lady on General Hospital being one of the nuns in the Sound of Music (not quite the same, but still hard for me to get my mind around).

  147. I think a lot of people know Ross’ father (Elliot Gould) from the Oceans movies.

    For you youngsters, since we were discussing MASH earlier, he was also Trapper John in the movie version.

  148. Yeah, my aforementioned friend Elizabeth wasn’t allowed to watch the TV show MASH because her parents had seen the movie and found it inappropriate.

  149. A popular topic of discussion among the mothers of my cohort was whether to let your daughter read Forever. (My parents didn’t ban books so I got to read it.)

  150. Apropos of nothing, have you all seen The Woman In Gold? Terrific.

    Rhett – is it you who loves Helen Mirren so much? Or Meme? Or both? I recently saw her in The 100 Foot Journey, and now this movie. She is perfection.

  151. You might find it hard to believe that Lila Quartermaine was Sister Margaratta, but my DD is still struggling to understand how John Travolta is the mom in Hairspray and Danny Z in Grease.

    I miss the paper passbook savings accounts because I used to like handing my book to the teller, and seeing a higher balance when it was returned to me. The interest rates from the late 70s and 80s seem unbelievable now.

  152. Risley — I’m the one who once admitted to having a girl crush on Helen Mirren, but I’m sure she has other admirers on this board. I’ll have to check out those movies.

  153. Houston and Ada- I’ll reciprocate both dinner dates and play dates. I like to host and I’ll need to learn how to host play dates eventually.

    I’ve been smiling at the Elliot Gould, Alan Quatermain, Cinderella talk. I recognized all the references, but I saw Trapper John, MASH, and Cinderella as reruns.

    I do miss watching GH, All My Children, and One Life To Live on ABC during the summers. And my favorite memory is when ABC reran Dark Shadows one summer. We still try to catch that when it’s on.

  154. Haven’t read all the comments do apologize if repetitive–
    I’m grateful for the availability of ethnic food–when I was a kid chop suey ( from a can–la Choy I think?) was about as exotic as it got.
    And I miss TV dinners on a tray–the big treat when my parents went out. Remember the dessert where you had to fold back the foil on that section while it baked?

  155. Today is Earth Day. All I want to know is whether PTM got his (not Junior’s) bottle project done….or PTM did you just fill it with Coors, hand it in and win first place.

  156. I missed a great discussion yesterday!

    On shared TV experiences the one that always sticks out in my mind is Ken Burns’ Civil War documentary. It was the first of its kind, and it completely captivated everyone in my office. Someone managed to get a copy of Sullivan Ballou’s letter (because, you know, no google) and made a copy for everyone on the floor.

    My take on the fact that my kids might not be able to get into the college DH and I attended is that it is not the same school. We are comparing apples to oranges. We went to a well respected, regional, private, church related college that drew almost entirely from the state where it is located . It is now a national university on every totebag list with only a small percentage of students from in state and has shed its religious connections. It just isn’t the same school even though it has the same name. My kids would not have any problem getting into today’s equivalent.

  157. HFN, That’s true for some colleges, and the challenge of getting into college has not escalated as much as the difficulty of paying for college. I miss being able “to work your way through college”, which is no longer a good option.

    … The average university student in 1979 only had to work 182 hours per year (a part-time summer job) to pay for tuition, whereas the average 2013 student had to work 991 hours (a full-time job for half the year)….

    Related to Earth Day, I agree with Instapundit when he says:  “I’ll believe it’s a crisis when the people who keep telling me it’s a crisis start acting like it’s a crisis.”  He points out the irony in this:

  158. It is also prom season. I knew about the dress, hair, nails, limo/car, pictures, corsages/buttonholes, dinner but I did not know/realize that you had to purchase tickets to attend. Now I know.

  159. “paper savings account passbooks”
    Try a local bank.
    Our Youth Savings Account is a simple, low cost way to introduce your child to banking and the benefits of saving money. If you are between the ages of six and 17, have your own social security number, can sign your own name, and have at least $1, you can have your own Youth Savings Account with Apple Bank.

  160. HFN’s note “because, you know, no google” reminded me of this. Eric Schmidt grew up in my town and spoke at my brother’s graduation about 2 years before Google, when he was CEO at Novell. If I remember correctly, he used to mow the lawn of a family friend/neighbor who had become the university president. Schmidt is coming back for commencement this year. I hope they will live stream it like they did when Michelle Obama spoke – I think it will be cool to hear what he has to say now considering how much the university has changed and how much he has seen Google change the world.

  161. So on a completely unrelated note, my IRA rollover is (happily) done. In the end, I did it the simple way: I filled out the forms for a direct transfer without getting the Medallion signature, and when they called me on it I just had them send me the check, which I then forwarded to the 401(k) provider with a note that it was an IRA rollover (whatever the plan’s magic words were). Got confirmation that it has been deposited into my account. Yay.

    On a less happy note, my mom still hasn’t gotten the letter explaining the reduction in her SS payments, which everyone explains is needed to appeal. But they did at least resume paying her the reduced amount instead of clawing it all back for the past “overpayments” they allege.

  162. LfB – did you call again to ask about the letter? IME it always depends on which agent you get on the phone and what kind of a mood he/she is in.

  163. @L — my mom is now about 5 calls and 2 personal visits into this, dating back to December. At least 4 people have specifically told her they put in another request for a letter. Sigh. My guess is the problem is that this review is being done out of Philly, but we can only communicate through our “assigned” local office, and the local guys have zero ability to tell what Philly is doing.

  164. “Oh, I simply must have a formal dining room!” Oh, FFS, you’re never going to use it.

    Rhett, that’s where I stack the unfolded laundry.

  165. We eat all our meals in the “formal dining room”. We don’t have an eat-in kitchen so that’s the only place to eat. (Aside from when we eat in front of the TV, of course.)

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