Then a few weeks ago I noticed Slate did a whole article on the demise of the fade-out in pop music, and BAM, I can't talk about this now.
Slate has a way of capturing what we used to call the zeitgeist: things you were thinking or almost thinking yourself which means probably everyone was thinking them. Right there now are articles about how the internet has made us constantly "obsessed" with things ("cultural manias"), how popular Taylor Swift is, and how we should not attempt to bring back extinct species (in case you missed it, some guy wants to bring back dinosaurs, as if Jurassic Park never happened).
Anyhoo, then in the last few days I've been playing with a post in my head about listing all the ways that life is different now compared to when I was a child... Well, I know that's not hugely original. But still, now I see Neil deGrasse Tyson has just done the same thing. What's more, the first thing in his list is about toothpaste tubes, which was one of mine. So therefore, before I have to delete all my draft posts and come up with something new (of which I have nothing), I'm just going to NOT read any more of Neil's list and I'm going to go ahead with my list as it is.
Things that have changed since I was a child
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Toothpaste tubes were made of metal, and would develop very sharp points where you squeezed them, which could give you a nasty scratch. They were also messy, because they had screw-cap lids which also tended to roll lazily off the benchtop and onto the floor while you cleaned your teeth.
Telephones had three sounds that don't exist anymore. The lovely soft brrrrr made by the rotary dial, which I loved, the lovely soft brrrr-brrrr made by the telephone ringing at the other end while you waited for the other side to pick up, and the horrible, jangly, nerve-wrackingly loud ring at your end when someone called. From the time I was little until the fairly recent advent of soft-tone phones, I HATED the sound of the telephone ringing. Remember that tiny little sound it made right before it started ringing, almost as if it was taking a breath before screeching? Like nails on a blackboard.
Classroom work-sheets from mimeograph machines (mmm, that lovely purple smell...) *
Teachers thought schoolyard bullying was an inevitable part of childhood and didn't do much about it.
Corporal punishment in schools - remember that? We didn't have "the strap" from my parents' days, but boys got a slap with a wooden ruler on the back of the legs, and girls on their open palm. Or girls were told to "touch your toes" and then a slap was delivered to the bottom. Creepy. I still remember a teacher on the first day of class showing us a wooden ruler with black marks on the back which she said were made by "boys' legs".
More things were made of wood. Rulers, strawberry crates, even some kids' pencil cases (thanks Mum for reminding me of that one). Strawberries were only available once a year.
Our parents and teachers sharpened our pencils with a knife.
We ate less. I'm pretty sure I passed most of my childhood in a state of mild hunger, being fed only with three square meals and two small snacks daily; my poor deprived childhood....
Takeout every Saturday. Fish and chips, occasionally hamburgers, Chinese dim sims with rice and soy sauce, or my favourite, Kentucky Fried Chicken (that's KFC to you, kids). We rarely ate McDonald's, but when we did, I always had the box of fried chicken. No nuggets in those days.
In school I learned that brontosauruses were real, dinosaurs were covered in scales, and there was this ridiculous new theory that a meteor might have wiped them out. As if! We also learned that the global temperature was cooling and we were headed for another ice age.
Expensive, special-treat colouring books made of white paper instead of the normal scratchy brown paper. Expensive, special-treat comic books made of white paper with the occasional coloured page in them, when Dad shelled out for the 75c one.
Two-colour printing. Common in children's books, flyers, and posters. This was still a thing, just, into the early nineties, when in my early twenties I worked briefly for a university printing and publishing office. People would bring in their floppy discs, let us know if the work was formatted or not, and we would book in some desktop publishing followed by some thrifty two-colour printing.
Book pages that had visible wood shavings in them.
I remember when toast-slice bread became available. It was so decadent! A sensible friend eschewed toast-slice bread on the basis that you will always eat two slices of bread so with toast-slice bread you are eating too much bread - thus giving me a lesson in moderation which I remembered but alas, have rarely practiced.
No one I knew got up before 7.00 am. That left ample time for breakfast and the work commute.
If you were lucky enough to have a trampoline or a friend with a trampoline, then you were unlucky enough to pinch the skin of your palm in between the springs around the edge. OUCH!
There was hardly any air-conditioning. Summers were spent sweltering in unbearable heat and bathed in a constant film of sweat. Car rides were torture. School days spent in boiling hot portable class rooms, where the only air came from louvered windows right up near the ceiling that the teacher had to open with a two-metre pole.
We drank less water I suppose, because we didn't carry water bottles around. Or we drank hot water out of drinking taps. Make no mistake, I don't miss this. When I was a kid I used to wish you could buy water in a can (soft drinks were my only reference for purchased drinks).
Homemade clothes. My mother made many of our clothes, even doing a Knitwit course and making us t-shirts and sweatshirts. So when I grew up I made myself skirts, dresses and once even a pair of cuffed trousers. Then suddenly, at some point in the 1990s, it became more expensive to make clothes than buy them.
What else has changed in your lifetime?
* As Andrew points out in the comments, I might be thinking of a roneo/spirit duplicator (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spirit_duplicator) which I have for years thought of as a mimeograph (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mimeograph) - similar, but different.