What do you miss most about the time you spent growing up?

I heard a line the other day from a movie that made me stop and think about that very subject. I’m sure I have a few words twisted, but it went something like this : “The hardest part of getting old is remembering what it was like to be young.”

growing up
An early photo of my older brother and I in our backyard. Poor tackling form on my part!

For one reason or another, that line has stuck in my head all week. And, I have to say, it certainly made me stop and think about a few things I miss most from being a kid in the 1970’s and 80’s.

One of the best things about growing up during that time was that the cell phone had yet to be invented. In addition, activities for me like Little League Baseball and Pee-Wee Football were limited to simple games played on Saturday mornings or afternoons – with perhaps a single practice during the week.

There were no all-star teams, travel teams, or crazy mind-boggling practice schedules. That left a lot of time to simply be a kid. And did I ever enjoy that time!

And, since the weather won’t seem to cooperate yet this Spring for planting or completing outdoor projects – I thought I would take the liberty this week of writing about a few of the things I miss most about growing up on Mudhouse road in the 1970’s and 80’s. Hopefully, it jogs a few memories from your own childhood as well. If so, be sure to share them in the comment section at the end of the article.

5 Things I Miss Most About Growing Up In The 1970’s and 80’s

#1 Playing Outside Til Dark. So what did we do when we weren’t in school? We played outside until dark. You name it and we played it. Cops and Robbers, Cowboys and Indians, Tag, Bloody Mary, Kickball, Baseball, Football – and countless other games we simply made up on the fly.

Whether it was with my neighborhood friends, my brother and sisters, or even my nieces and nephews later on, we simply had fun. Yes, we had our occasional arguments of who was on what team, or that so and so was tagged out, but we always figured our way of the disputes on our own. And we certainly knew better that to go complaining to our parents for fear they might just end the game!

#2 Riding My Bike – Everywhere.  No wonder I was a skinny kid. I probably rode my bike 100 miles a week – whether it was in circles around the driveway, or to a friend’s house down the road. I still remember my first bike like it was yesterday. It was an old, hand-me-down blue beast with thick tires. I loved that bike!

growing up
Back in the day, nearly everyone rode to school in the school bus!

#3 Supper – Family Dinners  What I wouldn’t give for just one more time to sit down with my brother, 4 sisters, and mom and dad for one more family meal. It was a nightly occasion, and included of course the chores of setting the table and doing dishes.

My favorite memory of all was Saturday night, which was always hamburger night in our house. My not so fond memory – coming home to the smell of Liver and Onions. I would always use that time to attempt to see if any of my friends might invite me over to dinner at their house :). See : Bring Back Family Dinners

Who can forget the school bus…

#4 Riding The School Bus – Remember the day when every student wasn’t driven to school by their parents? Maybe this one is a little weird for some, but I actually enjoyed my time as a child riding the school bus. I had a 30 to 45 minute ride to and from school every day, and it was a great time to have fun and talk to all of my friends. I still remember my bus driver, Mabel Campbell. She piloted Bus 19 every day, rain or snow. I still think about her almost daily (and probably more than well-deserved) threats to “stop this bus and make us all walk home!”

#5 After School Snacks And TV.  Who didn’t love after-school TV? I still remember watching episodes of the Brady Bunch, Happy Days, Andy Griffith or Sanford and Son with my brother every afternoon. And it was usually with a bowl of Captain Crunch, Lucky Charms, or a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

growing up
The only Lawn Jarts available today are of course the ones with safety tips. Who ever thought back then that letting kids play with huge metal spikes might be a good idea?

Yes, I know, they probably were not the best things to be consuming as a child – but wow, they were good! And it would be a complete lie if I said I didn’t sometimes miss those sugar-loaded cereals and some other things that might be taboo today.

How did we survive?

Truth be told, my generation survived a lot. After all, we rode our bikes without helmets, played with Lawn Jarts, and rode in our parents cars without seat belts. And yet, I am still here to write this today!  On a whim, I looked up Lawn Jarts on Amazon, and the only Jarts you can buy today are of course – “safe” versions. Lol. See : Lawn Jarts

I hope you enjoyed this little trip down memory lane. Be sure to share any of your childhood memories with our readers in the comment section below. We would love to hear from you.

Here’s to old memories! Jim and Mary. To receive our 3 Home & Garden, Recipe and Simple Life articles each week, sign up for our free email list. You can also follow us on FacebookTwitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. This article may contain affiliate links.

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43 thoughts on “Growing Up – 5 Things I Miss Most About Being A Kid In The 70’s and 80’s

  • April 17, 2018 at 10:51 am
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    So interesting reading everyone’s comments. I grew up in Brooklyn, NY in the 50s and 60s. My dad was a New York City fireman and my mom was at home raising us 6 kids. I can’t remember a time when i wasn’t surrounded by people – my own siblings or the neighborhood kids. And my days were full. Summer days were spent at the municipal pool. It felt like it took forever to get there because we had to walk 10 city blocks in the blazing heat. There was no such thing as “organized” activities. WE were the organizers and planners: stickball games, stoop ball, putting on plays, coloring in coloring books, (how rich I felt when I got my new box of 108 Crayola crayons), hopscotch on the sidewalk, endless hours of jump rope, roller skating and my favorite – riding my bike along Shore Road before the Verazzano Narrows Bridge was built.

    We learned how to navigate the city streets as kids. Trial and error along with a huge dose of problem solving was our curriculum. Nothing seemed impossible. All you needed was your imagination and a few good friends.

    • April 17, 2018 at 5:17 pm
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      We couldn’t agree more – the creativity was endless back then!

  • April 16, 2018 at 8:37 am
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    My cousins the McCormicks lived on mudhouse road during that time I wonder if it was the same one

    • April 16, 2018 at 8:39 am
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      Wow, too funny! We knew them well and went to school with them and Mr. McCormick was my little league baseball coach! Great family and wonderful memories

  • April 11, 2018 at 3:53 pm
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    I grew up in the 90’s and had similar experiences. Running playing on my bike all the time . I didn’t use a smart phone or the internet until I was 18 years old. I have 3 kids of my own now and dread the world they have to grow up in !!! I am going to use all my power of their mother to give them a similar child hood experience that I had which includes to smart phones and only use computer for home work and nothing else .

    • April 11, 2018 at 11:56 pm
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      That’s funny. I didn’t have an Iphone until I was 60!! I am 67 now. We grew up without cell phones, pagers,etc. Hells bells, we had freaking party lines!! Can’t believe what’s happened to our kids.

      • April 12, 2018 at 11:20 am
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        Oh yes, the party line….where you pick it up and heard another conversation going on. Forgot about those! Thanks for the memories

    • April 12, 2018 at 11:22 am
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      Yes, the internet is very helpful for homework but your right…there is so much more in life to experience than technology!

  • April 9, 2018 at 10:12 am
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    Somewhere we were in the past week I saw some new lawn dart games and they were the actual pointed darts. I was surprised because I thought they had been “outlawed” as dangerous. There were several sets of them. I almost took a picture because I thought I was seeing things LOL

    • April 12, 2018 at 11:31 am
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      I thought they got rid of those pointed metal ones too! Looks like they are making a comeback lol

  • April 9, 2018 at 9:09 am
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    HAHA – we still have our original Lawn Jarts with the metal spikes! I will never get rid of them! Thanks for the memories!

    • April 12, 2018 at 11:32 am
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      It was our pleasure taking a trip down memory lane!

  • April 9, 2018 at 8:03 am
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    Fantastic post! I grew up during the 70s and 80s. It strikes me, looking back, how satisfied we were with the little things in life. Just going to the beach for the day. Running around on the lawn in our swimsuits trying to avoid the water sprinkler spraying us. Playing the life threatening Swing Ball. Kids playgrounds were surfaced in concrete back then, not the soft recycled tyres they have now days. I got hit by a swing in the face once and got a bloody lip- all just part of childhood back then, no one got sued in court.

    As you say- no mobile phones, no internet, no computer games. We made friends with our next door neighbours, we had buffet parties and street parties in our gardens- nothing fancy, just snacks on paper plates. We played outside, running around for hours climbing trees- I lived up trees when I was little, my legs were always covered in bruises and grazes. We played Robin Hood, the Famous Five, all sorts of imaginative games that we just made up on the spot.

    Simpler, easier and maybe happier days?

    • April 12, 2018 at 11:33 am
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      I agree….simple, easier and yes, even happier!

  • April 9, 2018 at 7:49 am
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    Thanks for the great article! I just wanted to mention…we have 3 girls (ages 10, 8 and 6) who love to play outside. Right now they have set up an “Indian village” in the woods. They put on their boots and play by the creek, dig in the yard doing “archeology”, and whatever else they can think of. Their dad helped them erect an Indian longhouse, made from saplings and a large tarp. When we have enough snow, they love to sled ride, try to build igloos or make snow sculptures. They don’t have phones, tablets, or TV. We don’t do organized sports. But ask them about honeybees, or chickens and eggs, or sassafrass, huckleberries, henbit and redbuds. You can raise kids who are curious and imaginative and who take delight in simple things, even in today’s world! It involves choices made by dad and mom.

    • April 12, 2018 at 11:34 am
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      Sounds like the girls love the outdoors!!! That’s awesome!

  • April 9, 2018 at 12:16 am
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    As a teen, we would walk around the block after dark, multiple times all night (home by 10 or 11), just kicking it and smoking cigarettes, LOL. The Sheriff would stop and talk with us on his rounds, just making sure we weren’t up to any shenanigans…our shenanigans consisted of moving ‘for sale’ signs from one yard to another…one time, we moved a guy’s little foreign car from one side of the driveway to the other, didn’t take much for our ‘group’ to pick it up and move it…things were so much simpler…

    • April 12, 2018 at 11:35 am
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      Sounds like you had some harmless fun back in the day. Hate to see what would happen now if the local Sheriff found teens picking up a car these days!

  • April 8, 2018 at 8:05 pm
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    My parents owned a resort with 8 cottages in upstate NY. I helped deliver dairy orders to the guests every morning, riding on the tailgate of a truck down bumpy dirt roads. Us teenagers would get in row boats (girls against guys) and try to sink the other boat(s). We were all great swimmers but looking back, it was a tad dangerous. I used to love walking the half mile from my house to the lake through the woods at night. No flashlight. And I would bike to my friends a mile away. Life was pretty great in the 60’s.

    • April 12, 2018 at 11:36 am
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      That sounds like an amazing time! Thanks for sharing!

  • April 8, 2018 at 4:40 pm
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    I grew up 20 years earlier, in the 50’s and 60’s, but have many of the same memories. What a great trip down memory lane – thank you for sharing!

    • April 12, 2018 at 11:38 am
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      Our pleasure Ronda!

  • April 8, 2018 at 3:42 pm
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    This made me smile. Oh all the games of Kick the Can in the dark or playing in the creek until Mom called us home for supper. Catching lightening bugs, running through the sprinklers in the summer, roller skating through the neighborhood on metal adjustable skates. Kids just don’t know what they’re missing now days. 🙂

    • April 12, 2018 at 11:38 am
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      Oh I forgot about the metal adjustable skates that you put on the bottom of your shoes. Thanks for the memory!

  • April 8, 2018 at 3:07 pm
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    Grew up in a big city, but remember playing jump rope, double Dutch, hopscotch, wall ball, hide and seek, and roller skating or ice skating, bike riding, and being able to walk to the library and bring home lots of books, or spend some my allowance at the dime store or the ice cream store, even for the movies and popcorn. Neighborhoods were similar to small towns in that the necessities were within walking distance, schools, churches, grocery, bakery, clothing, shoe store, drug store, hardware, etc, were all small businesses; even a small department store. Plus public transportation was easy to access, affordable, and reliable if needed.

    • April 12, 2018 at 11:39 am
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      I too remember being so excited after I worked for my allowance to ride my bike to the local store to buy baseball cards – you know the kind with the stale bubblegum.

  • April 8, 2018 at 12:20 pm
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    Hi Jim, thanks for your trip down memory lane! It reminds of similar experiences in the 50’s and 60’s for me, in Essex Co, near Windsor, ON (south of Detroit MI) Back then we had the old “stop, drop and roll” routines in case we had an “A-bomb” attack from the Ruskies! In our town of Essex, we had an old air-siren which was tested every Saturday at exactly 12-noon. This gave us kids an idea of how long we had to play outside, before we trudged home after day of exploring : an old abandoned brick Yard and adjacent ponds; hiking down the “plug-tracks [old rail line from Essex to Amherstburg] and playing in a ‘bush’ that was on the side of the tracks; playing shiney -hockey on “Hutches Pond”, where wayward pucks would end up in the open water portion near the Ice House. Slabs of Ice were cut in winter , then put into the Ice House, which in summer was delivered to homes. We’d follow the ice-wagon and sneak splinters of ice to use as early popsicles (we never worried about WHERE that ice came from!) LOL; raking leaves in the Fall, into HUGE piles, then diving headfirst into them! Later, with our parents, we’d rake the piles to the boulevard and burn them…ahhh, that sweet smell fo those burning leaves stays with me , after all these years1 We’d go to the local furniture store and nab the refrigerator shipping cartons, which we’d transport on our “Lil Red Wagons” to a small field and wooded are, near our homes and proceed to make forts out of them ..until the Town Works truck came by and scooped them up as trash!! 🙁
    I could go on, but am not sure how much space I have here. Thanks agin for your post this time. Always enjoy your column here in Old World Gardens.
    Scott Clare, Brantford, ON. CANADA

    • April 12, 2018 at 11:42 am
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      Thank you so much for sharing all those wonderful memories Scott!!! Sounds like an amazing childhood!!

  • April 8, 2018 at 11:24 am
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    Oh yes! Flying down the hills on my bike, wind blowing in my hair, riding my neighbor’s horse and playing with her pet racoon, swimming in my friend’s pool until we were water logged, hiking for hours in nearby wildwood park, pretending my brother and I were spies evading capture. True freedom. Great memories.

    • April 12, 2018 at 11:43 am
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      Truly wonderful memories….even the pet racoon!

  • April 8, 2018 at 11:21 am
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    Now I’m feeling all nostalgic & weepy! I’m old now but I still remember how it felt to just take off running fast as I could for no other reason than because it felt good. Now I couldn’t run fast if a zombie was after me. haha You hit the nail on the head when you said “no cell phones & sitting down to dinner. I have great grandkids now & you have to force them to go outside & once there they don’t know what to do.So sad.

    • April 12, 2018 at 11:44 am
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      I always look at young toddlers running just because they can. And at what age does that love for freedom stop? I love seeing teenagers outside playing in their neighborhoods…wish there was more of that.

  • April 8, 2018 at 10:33 am
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    Loved the articles and the comments – they brought back such good memories from my childhood in the 50’s and 60’s. Have to say, I wish I could give my grandkids the gift of a trip back in time for a month in the middle of summer.

    • April 12, 2018 at 11:44 am
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      I think we would all like that for the kids to experience.

  • April 8, 2018 at 10:10 am
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    Grew up in the 60s and 70s and wonder/worry about how today’s kids will turn out. They don’t play in the dirt, build things like forts, go carts, rafts; they have no time to daydream, always in front of a screen or texting. Yes, we played out until dark every night in the summer, didn’t carry plastic water bottles everywhere for fear of dehydration and we ran and rode our bikes all over the place. We swung (well into our teens) on flat wooden swings, sometimes one sitting, one standing, we played on wooden see-saws, banging down hard to make the kid at the other end “bump.” However did we survive? We learned to solve our own problems, were inventive game creators, fought our own battles, made our own decisions and grew up with more independence. So glad we did, sorry for the over-protected, over-scheduled kids of today.

    • April 12, 2018 at 11:45 am
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      I forgot about the see-saw plan of bumping the other kid off….Thanks for sharing your memories as well!

  • April 8, 2018 at 9:16 am
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    I miss those days. For me, it was growing up in the sixties and seventies, as I was born in 1959. Riding my bike and being able to walk anywhere I needed to go was freedom. Having friends and neighbor kids galore to explore places and play with was heaven. I loved my little sleepy town. Street dances, sock hops, the roller rink and the neighborhood pool were all a part of growing up there. Taking the city bus over to the “city” for a dime was another form of freedom. Movies were 50c and afterward, ice cream at the local dairy bar or listening to the latest album or 45s at the music store with headphones on was just the best. So grateful for those days and nostalgic for them.

    • April 12, 2018 at 11:46 am
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      Thank you for sharing your memories Donna. I loved going to the skating rink!

  • April 8, 2018 at 9:07 am
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    Very interesting article, thank you. As I read the name of the street you lived on, I thought an article could likely be written just on the names of the streets your reader’s lived on many years ago. My was “the Cowpath Rd”. Across the street was Cherry Lane” just as examples.
    Have a blessed day.

    • April 8, 2018 at 9:12 am
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      That would be very interesting! Love the street names – maybe a future article! Thank you for the idea.

    • April 8, 2018 at 11:03 am
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      South winding Dr. and Eagle Rd. Truly best times in my life 60’s & 70’s. Yes, it made me nostalgic and weepy too!

      • April 12, 2018 at 11:42 am
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        Good memories!

  • December 31, 1969 at 6:00 pm
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