Generation Smackdown: Whose Childhood was Best?

Good morning peeps

Welcome to Way Back Wednesday. This is usually the day we set aside to take a look back at history and the people and events that have shaped our world.

Today, however, I just want to argue with my mother. Look away if blood sports make you squirmish.

A couple of weeks ago my Mum said, quite out of the blue, “I feel sorry for you. Your generation’s era wasn’t very good, and it’s even worse for your kids. We had it best (she’s kind of an early baby boomer). We had the best childhood.”

Now, because I’m not so quick on my feet, I replied with an assertive, “Oh,” and walked away feeling very sorry for myself. Why was I born in such an awful time in history? What was so wrong with it? Is it time to start believing in reincarnation and try to regress to some past life memories of a former childhood in the Victorian period? Surely that couldn’t be any better?

But then I got to thinking. I’m a child of the 70’s and 80’s and that period in time actually ROCKED. I mean, we had hypercolour clothing for goodnesss sake! So, I thought I’d take a look  back and see if childhood then really was so bad.

Please join me as I strap on my white rollerskates with red wheels (I always wanted a pair of those) and go skating back in time:

Source: Steve Snograss, Flickr
Source: Steve Snograss, Flickr

In Defense of a 70’s and 80’s Childhood:

Really, I could win this debate with only one point:

1. TELEVISION: Boom! Case closed. That’s right baby boomers, we grew up with television – beautiful, shiny, engaging, colourful television! We had The Brady Bunch, Family Ties, Happy Days, MASH, Cheers, Welcome Back Kotter and The Dukes of Hazard. I could go on and on (and probably will). Do you have any idea how good it was growing up with television? Let me tell you, it was awesome. We learnt how to deal with siblings while chewing Bubble Yum in front of Eight is Enough, had ethics classes during Little House on the Prairie episodes and subconsciously absorbed how to ignite a shipboard romance with episodes of The Love Boat (OK, this one hasn’t turned out to be that useful, but you never know what might happen in our twilight years).

The only reason I didn’t end up married to some deadbeat bad boy was because I had Mike Brady and Mr Keaton as my husbandly inspirations. How nice was Mr Keaton? I loved that man.

Not only that, but with only a few channels to choose from, we all watched the same shows and could talk about them endlessly with each other. Did my girlfriends also have a crush on Beau from The Dukes of Hazard and did they think I could pull off the Daisy Duke shorts (Yes to Beau, no to the shorts). Were Krystle’s shoulder pads too high or did she need them to square off against Alexis (Dynasty is the instigating reason I hate the word bitch so much). Would we ever get to go to the performing arts high school from Fame (your chances at this point are not looking good girls).

I think I’ve made my point.


But wait, there’s more!

2. Toys: Granted, the baby boomers had some super cool retro toys (which weren’t retro at the time), but we had some great ones too. We had Bionic Woman dolls (remember her cute handbag?), bikes with flowered baskets, Pez dispensers, the Sunshine Fun Family, Cabbage Patch Kids and Fashion Plates. We also had that gorgeous little family who lived in a treehouse that you could carry around with the handle at the top. And of course, we had Barbie. Sure, she gave us body image issues and low self esteem, but she had a rockin’ campervan and a cool blow up pool – and it was fun to cut her hair.

Photo source: Steve Barry on Flickr via TV Cream Toys
Photo source: Steve Barry on Flickr via TV Cream Toys

3. Books: Hello? Judy Blume? I can’t imagine a childhood without her. Are You There God, It’s Me Margaret singlehandedly taught me about puberty and how to deal with periods. I’m not sure I would have made it through adolescence without it. The Sweet Valley High books didn’t really help, but they were very entertaining. I still think of Elizabeth fondly and wonder if Jessica ever got her act together to appreciate her sister.


4. Food: Restaurants! We got to go to restaurants. Sure, there weren’t many, and most of them had golden arches on their roofs, but at least we got to eat out. Also, it wasn’t just meat and three veg. We had pasta! Yippeee! As time went on, we had more and more exposure to different cuisines. It was fantastic! We also had fondue, M&Ms, Smarties, Doritos, Whistle Pops and Spurt bubble gum. There were also little variety packets of cereal that were so darn cute and yummy!.

5. Fashion: What a time for fashion. Who didn’t love wearing jelly shoes or plastic bangles ( were they BPA free?). We had bodysuits, fluorescent socks, Wake Me Up Before You Go Go t shirts, Madonnas bustierres, shoulder pads and parachute pants. Let’s not forget leg warmers – who didn’t slip their top down their shoulders, pull on some leg warmers and bust a move to Flashdance. Oh, what a feeling!

That brings me to:

6. Music: Yes, I agree, the Beatles and Elvis Presley etc were revolutionary, but we had Devo! More impressively, we had Michael Jackson, Bon Jovi, The Police and Madonna, to name a few.

We were revved up by Eye of the Tiger, got fit with Olivia Newton John’s Physical ( we had aerobics!) and cut loose with Footloose. Even Elvis would have been impressed with Kevin Bacon’s footwork. And of course, we had music videos and MTV.

Things I am willing to concede:

1. Hairstyles: Whoever invented the 80’s perm should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. I’m not entirely sure what that would entail for such a crime, but it should hurt. Never before have so many adolescent girls looked like poodles. Really, we looked bad. I suffered horribly during this period and still have perm related nightmares. I get nervous going to the hairdressers. I don’t want to call it post traumatic stress disorder, but the sight of fluffy hair makes me sweat.

2. Flowers in the Attic: How a generation of adolescent girls (who were already dealing with hormone related mood swings) were allowed to read these books is beyond me.  As if puberty isn’t bleak enough, V.C Andrews thought she’d introduce us to emotional and physical abuse, incest and severe familial dysfunction. The series was so disturbing it’s amazing we made it out of the 80’s at all.


So, is that it? Have I missed anything that made a 70s and 80s childhood awesome?

Hope everyone has a beautiful day


7 thoughts on “Generation Smackdown: Whose Childhood was Best?

  1. Cara Turner

    Kate, oh, Kate. How were you able to sum up my entire childhood in so few paragraphs. Loved going down memory lane with Eight is Enough and Bionic Woman. And, for the record, I was in love with Luke Duke:) I love what you said about how were had three channels and all watched the same shows. We did, and it was our way of processing them–making senses of funny and tough topics. And, let’s face it, you nailed it on the 80’s hairstyle. What were we thinking? Really?


  2. Teri

    You probably weren’t ALLOWED to read VC Andrews Meredithfrancesross! Mom probably never knew about it – thank GOD! Those books were so disturbing. Even for a 60’s 70’s kid! We had the best years I think though! Yours I think was the last of the kids with imagination. We had boxes! Yes! Boxes to play with! AND we loved them! At least you had remotes for the tvs! We had to walk all the way across the room to change the channels. We at least had UHF channels! And we LOVED CB’s, and clackers, and Skipper Chuck and Captain Kangaroo. We were too old for Sesame Street. But I got to watch Star Trek (before “TOS”), Mod Squad (in reruns) – god I loved Pete!, and perms came out when we were in our young adult years. (yes, those were a miss!). We had mini, midi and maxi skirts. I found Country music at a young age, so I wasn’t really into all the “latest” music of the time (what really was it anyway? Too late for Beatles and Elvis, and way before Madonna – loved her!). Later on I liked Madonna, The Bangles, Debby GIbson, and some of those. But we heard Gloria Estefan when she was part of The Miami Sound Machine. (liked her in those early years). We had Mork from Ork, Happy Days, I was watching a TON of soap operas at one time – let’s see: Ryan’s Hope (tail end), All My Children, One Life to Live, General Hospital, Dallas, Knots Landing, Dynasty, The Colby’s, Flamingo Road, and Falcon Crest. Yes, I was a soap addict. We also had Carol Burnett (my absolute favorite was “Went With the Wind”) we had the original Battlestar Galactica, Space 1999 (no we never colonized the moon!), original Planet of the Apes movies, Soap (the beginning of Billy Crystal), and Bosom Buddies (Tom Hanks wore a dress, folks!). We read Are You There God?, but we grew up on the original Henry Huggins, Beezus and Ramona, and The Boxcar Children. (LOVED that series – got my kids reading them too!). Back then we looked forward to certain times of the year for certain movies – Ten Commandments on Easter Sunday, at Thanksgiving there was The Wizard of Oz, and I think it was Christmas time we always had Cinderella (with Lesley Ann Warren and who I found out later was Alan Quartermain from GH – Stuart Damon), and The Sound of Music. Now we get to watch those movies whenever we want, but it still gives me a thrill at Easter to plan my night of watching Charlton Heston in all his muscled glory grabbing Nefertiri and planting a kiss on her! Sigh. You kids missed out on a lot! But don’t get me started on my kids’ generation! LOL Love you Cara! Fun to get to know Kate!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. ktmacdessi

    Hi Teri
    Fun to get to know you too! I had forgotten about knots landing – I loved that show soooo much. Thanks for taking a trip down memory lane with us


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