In My Lifetime
These are some of the social, cultural, and pop culture experiences I’ve had in my lifetime. Fashion trends, technology innovations, and fads that came and went in my time here on this good earth. Most of these experiences applied to my brother as well, since he was only three years older than me. He was a bit closer to the full-on hippie era than I was but it didn’t affect him much; he was a science nerd, happy to play chess and build electronics in his room. I kind of was too although I aspired to be cool—just never quite got there.
Twelve presidents served in Dale’s lifetime: Harry S. Truman through Barack Obama. So far, I have also seen twelve presidents: Eisenhower through Trump. During the Trump administration I did everything in my power to get Trump out of office.
- Harry S. Truman April 12, 1945 – January 20, 1953, Democratic
- Dwight D. Eisenhower January 20, 1953 – January 20, 1961,Republican
- John F. Kennedy January 20, 1961 -November 22, 1963, Democratic
- Lyndon B. Johnson November 22, 1963 – January 20, 1969, Democratic
- Richard Nixon, January 20, 1969 – August 9, 1974, Republican, Resigned
- Gerald Ford August 9, 1974 – January 20, 1977, Republican
- Jimmy Carter January 20, 1977 – January 20, 1981, Democratic
- Ronald Reagan January 20, 1981 – January 20, 1989, Republican
- George H.W. Bush January 20, 1989 – January 20, 1993, Republican
- Bill Clinton January 20, 1993 – January 20, 2001, Democratic
- George W. Bush January 20, 2001 – January 20, 2009, Republican
- Barack Hussein Obama January 20, 2009 – January 19, 2017, Democratic
- Donald J Trump January 20, 2017-
President Roosevelt (because of our parents generation) and President Kennedy (for us) were the heroic and era defining presidents of our time. The assassinations of John and Robert Kennedy, and Dr. Martin Luther King were also era defining moments for all.
- Black & white CRT and tube TVs, no flat screens yet, no cable just a big antenna on the roof; later color TVs but still no cable, wifi or streaming. NO DVDs, on demand TV, video recorders, or Netflix. Only one TV per household unless you were very, very rich. We had about eight channels including the UHF channels–all broadcast. There was no such thing as satellite TV.
- Computers existed but they were gigantic—occupying huge rooms—and the only people who had them were large corporations and governments. Soooooooo: NO floppy disks, flash storage, USB connectors, CDs, no internet, word processing programs (homework was done by hand or on a typewriter), youtube, social networks, iPods, tablets, wifi, home printers, bluetooth, or cloud storage, or apps. Apple, Microsoft, and Amazon didn’t exist.
- Books were physical things with covers and bindings. You borrowed them from the library or bought them at bookstores. No ebooks, Kindles or ebook apps.
- We had rotary dial telephones tied to the wall by a cable. AT&T was the only phone company. Soooooo NO: cell phones, smart phones, portable phones. If you wanted to communicate with someone you called, wrote a letter, or in an emergency, sent a telegram through Western Union. Usually only one or two phones in the house. One in the kitchen or living room, maybe one downstairs or in your parents bedroom. Teenagers begged for their own princess phone and separate phone line but most parents said no or “only if you pay for it yourself.” The big parental gripes were teenagers talking on the phone for hours and watching too much TV.
- No credit cardswhen I was very young. Then gas cards came along followed by store cards. I think American Express was the first all purpose card. Dad got one of those when I was in high school I think. Mom had a Foleys card and a Shell Oil card for sure.
- No ATMs.
- No microwaves, toaster ovens, glass top ranges, or convection ovens.
- Refrigerators (still occasionally called ice boxes) had freezer compartments but no ice or water dispensers (you filled an ice tray!), no glass top stoves, no digital panels on any electronics.
- Few kitchens had dishwashers (we got one in Stamford), I don’t remember disposals but that may have been because we were back East.
- No blow dryers.
- Music came from the radio or a record player (45 or 75 rpm). No CDs, no iTunes, no digital music.
- Incandescent lightbulbs in the lamps, and sometimes long fluorescent tube lights in garages and kitchens. Dale and I used to take the florescent bulbs and shuffle up and down the hall to create static electricity and make them glow. NO: halogen, small fluorescent, or LED bulbs anywhere.
- Central air conditioning was mostly in large department stores or office buildings. Homes more often had window units.
- Cars: NO electric windows, auto start, electric or hybrid cars, car alarms, the radio was AM/FM only, some car radios were still tube and took a while to warm up and produce sound, ATB brakes, windshield washers, rear window wipers, air bags, auto turn off headlights of with ignition (a lot of people ran their batteries down by forgetting to turn their headlights off!), auto door lock, catalytic convertors, or emissions standards. Few cars had air conditioning even down south, many cars were still standard shift. Bigger was better and since gas was 25 cents a gallon gas mileage wasn’t an issue. Big powerful engine were common and station wagons were the “Mom car”. Kids could sit anywhere in the car and few cars had seat belts. Teenagers “super up” their cars into hot rods (50s) or muscle cars (60s).
We saw the invention or introduction of:
- Transistors and transistor radios, 8 Track tapes & players, cassette tapes & players, portable cassette players like the Sony Walkman, big, portable “Boom Boxes”, digital music, iPods, nano pods, music on smart phones, blue tooth speakers running off a phone app, Pandora, satellite radio,
- Push button phones, slimline and trimline phones, huge car mobile phones (you had to make and receive calls through a mobile operator), then huge hand held mobile phones, portable phones, and smart phones with cameras, video recorders and streaming etc., VOIP phone calls, Skyping and Chatting. Pagers and text messaging, tape answering machines and digital answering machines.
- Giant screen TVs, projector TVs, flat screen LED TVs, flat screen plasma TVs, stereo sound, dolby surround sound, betamax video, VHS video and player/recorders, DVDs and DVD recorders, cable tv, streaming video, Roku and iTV streaming boxes, Amazon Stick, Youtube, Hulu, Netflix, Amazon Prime, “cutting the cord” shifting from cable to all streaming for TV.
- Personal computers, portable computers, the DOS command line interface, the Windows GUI interface, word processors, home printers, video games, electronic pinball, computer games, flat screen monitors, touch screen, tablets, software turning into apps, operating system “ecosystems”, iTunes and Google Play Store, iOS, Blackberry, and android operating systems for phones, cloud services and “device syncing”, 25-75 mb large hard drives, 200 mb hand size hard drives, gigabyte hard drive, terabyte hard drives, flash drives, media drives, personal clouds, networks,wifi everything, buying and researching online, social networks, email.
- SUV s, ATB brakes, auto everything (windows, seats, doors), computer monitored electronics, fuel injection, auto sun roofs, minivans, more compact cars (in the USA), electric and hybrid cars, power steering, power brakes, rear window defoggers, satellite radio, stereo then surround sound speakers, tinted windows, collapsable fenders, child seats, children in back seat laws, seat belt at standard equipment and seat belt laws, roundabouts in America, and 55 mile and hour speed limits come and go.
- Lots of people smoked and you could smoke anywhere you wanted to. The 40s and 50s were the big smoking era and by the late 50s and 60s our parents generation were all beginning to quit. Few of my friends parents smoked, most had quite by then, Mom and Dad never smoked and drank only socially.
- Cocktail parties were the rage.
- Our High School had several dances a year and usually one Sadie Hawkins dance (girls asked the boy) and maybe one 50s retro sock hop (poodle skirts, bobby socks, and saddle shoes). Gym class had coed dance lesson classes which were always very embarrassing and most everybody hated them. You were taught slow dances like the waltz, box step etc, or square dancing.
- Girls were limited in what they could do in gym. No rope climbing or football. Generally we learned badminton (which I loved), golf, archery, volleyball, track, and field hockey. By high school girls could play basketball. Teenage boys amused themselves with pickup basketball (Dale played this with friends in the neighborhood).
- By high school drugs were pretty common place but neither Dale or I took much interest. Psychodelics like LSD were popular with the hippies as was alcohol and weed. “Turn on, Tune In, and Drop Out” was the catch phrase of the time.
- Civil Rights, black power, anti Vietnam war and apartheid protests were common by junior high.
- As children we played Cootie, Checkers, Chinese Checkers, Milkman, Candyland, Scrabble, Monopoly, Risk, and Equations. Dale rarely played games but did enjoy chess to some degree.
- I wore sun suits (onesies for five year olds) much of the time when we lived in Pasadena.
- For special occasions patent leather Mary Jane shoes and dresses with big petticoats. Hats and a special dress for church every Easter.
- Jeans for Dale and I, cute jean overalls when we were little. Boys rolled the bottoms to make cuffs. One dress suit for Dale for church and funerals.
- Keds. Red Keds for me, black high tops for Dale
- Ankle socks with dresses all the way through elementary school. Dressy ankle sock had a little lace at the cuff.
- Cotton pedal pushers for me (similar to capri pants). Mom almost always wore dresses except when we were camping.
- Low slung hip hugger bell bottoms.
- mini skirts (cool) or maxi skirts (hippies).
- Psychedelic (neon) colors.
- Leather belts.
- Leather fringe vests.
- Paisley shirts for men.
- Really light lipstick. Most of us used erase which was actually a concealer but it gave us the pasty fleshy-white we were going for.
- Long hair for boys – boy was that new. It threw our parents generation into an uproar.
- Long, straight hair parted in the middle for girls. We used to iron our hair to make sure it was super straight. Yes we did.
- Penny and tassel loafers for the nerdier among us (like me).
- Tortoise shell glasses for women.
Ahhhh… the disco years. I had a lot of fun with this era.
- Shiny fabrics like fake satins.
- Women wore large, satiny men’s suit style jackets with the sleeves pushed up. In fact, everybody pushed their sleeves up.
- Big rounded padded shoulders for women. Big.
- Big hair. I mean big hair! Women’s hair was fluffed out as far as it would go and the bangs were pulled up high and sprayed in place. We used a lot of hair spray back then.
- Aviator and half tinted glasses.
- Dig?, Can you dig it? (understand, agree)
- Groovy (really cool)
- Far out!
- Gross (yuck)
- It’s a gas (it’s neat, fun)
- Heavy – that’s heavy (very deep thought)
- Bad trip (a bad experience, a reference to a bad drug experience)
- Trip, tripping, trippy (weird experience or LSD trip)
- Hang loose
- Bummer, bummed out
- He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother
- Lay it on me
- Outta sight
- Pig (very derogatory term for a policeman)
- Narc (a police drug informant)
- Bitchin’ (really cool)
- Man – cool man, bitchin’ man (followed everything and drove my mom nuts)
- Padiddle/Padunkle (car with one headlight working)
- Hacked off (mad)
- Hairy (scary, out of control)
- Cherry (a car in pristine, beautiful condition)
- Crash (go to bed)
- Barf (throw up, used for anything you didn’t like)
- Cooties (anyone you didn’t like had them)
- It’s/that’s a drag (anything unenlightening)
- Gnarly, that’s gnarly man (awesome, really cool)
- Hip (cool)
- Pad (someone’s house or apartment)
- Righteous – righteous ride, righteous babe (extremely fine)
- Square (nerd, geek)
- Thongs (flip flop sandels not underwear)
- Truckin’ – truckin’ to Dave’s house (to go somewhere)
- Wiped out (tired)
- Make Peace not War!, Make Love not War! Flower Power!