With all the Holiday decorations and events in New Bern, it triggered childhood memories of what life was like growing up in the 1970s and 1980s. So I decided to write about the things that I remember in hopes to spark fond and fun memories for those who experienced them. If you weren’t born yet, you may learn something from what life may have been like then.
I was born in the 1967, but my earliest recollections were in the early 70s. My folks were 40 when they had me and my late Brother, Warren, was 3 years my senior. I was very fortunate as I grew up on Grand Island between Niagara Falls and Buffalo, NY. My Dad worked at the Chevrolet plant and we grew up in a working-class family.
We spent our early years playing outside until sunset in the Summer or until our folks hollered for us to come in during the Winter. Snow, rain, heat…nothing stopped us! We spent countless hours ice skating and playing hockey on frozen over ponds.
We caught fireflies in jars, watched “Sea Monkeys” grow, played board games, built tree forts, and played with the neighborhood kids. I can’t recall ever being “bored” as our imaginations kept us busy!
Although we didn’t have the amenities that are taken for granted today, like dishwashers, snow blowers, leaf blowers, etc., I believe that’s how we learned our work ethic. My brother and I were assigned daily chores and given an allowance at the end of the week. If we didn’t finish all the chores, we didn’t get paid, usually $1 – 2 a week. As the daughter, my Mom taught me how to sew, dust, sweep/vacuum, wash dishes and windows, etc. My brother mowed the lawn, took out the trash, and helped my Dad. Back then, my folks thought boys were the only ones who should use lawn mowers so l raked the leaves…I would rather mow the lawn!
We were taught to respect our elders and expected to cut/rake their lawns and shovel their driveways for free.
When I was old enough to babysit, the usual pay was about 50 cents to $1 per hour.
Family vacations were spent camping, usually in Allegany State Park in NY’s Southern Tier. The weather didn’t impact our trips as we pitched a tent or stayed in a cabin when it was snowing. These memories are so precious to me! Warren and I would spend hours walking the creek to see what creatures we could find. When we were old enough, my Dad taught us how to fish and that’s one of my favorite things to do. He was a naturalist and taught us everything he knew about the plants, animals, camping and respecting the environment. My Mom taught me how to cook when camping.
One day, one of us was complaining about something and my Mom drove us to the Hospital in Buffalo and took us to the children’s wing. The kids were very sick and dying and until then, I really had no clue how fortunate I was to be healthy and happy. I’m so thankful that my Mom showed us what real suffering was. You can see pictures and read about it, but you won’t truly know until you’ve seen it or are stricken by a deadly disease! I believe that day may have been a turning point in my life without knowing it. Years later, I joined the Navy and became a Hospital Corpsman. Although some people may think this is a bad idea, if I had children, I would’ve done the same thing, as it’s so easy to take life for granted.
Reminiscing about Christmas as a child, the “Big Wheel” was one of my favorite presents as it was my first mode of transportation. Then came the yellow banana bike and finally the ten speed! I remember sitting on my Dad’s lap and steering the wheel of the car. I really believed that I was driving the car, until he taught me to drive with a stick-shift years later. I realized how important it was to pay attention and use caution.
When our parents had company, we were sent out of the room. We weren’t allowed to take part in their conversation as we may have been seen, but not heard. We also sat around the dinner table for family meals. That’s when we learned our manners.
Television time was very limited and supervised. That encouraged us to read.
The closest thing to a computer was an Atari game that we connected to the TV. If we wanted to learn something, we would read the encyclopedia or the dictionary, or go to the Library. In the 90s, I found out first-hand how addicting computer games can be, that’s why it’s important to limit time playing them.
Here’s some more childhood memories that you may relate to:
– Didn’t lock the doors
– Pictures needed to be sent off to be developed
– Drank Tang and Kool-aid
– Rode our bikes everywhere
– Flew kites
– Drank from the hose and cooled off by running through the sprinkler
– Listened to record players
– Roller skated
– Fingers did the walking with rotary dial telephones
What are your memories?
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