Finding Ninee » Sharing our parenting and special needs stories with heart and humor.

The Way Back of 1980’s Station Wagon

Sometimes, I think about how different childhood looked in the 80’s and 90’s from how it looks today. Technology, now so easily accessible, has changed our worlds. It’s changed how we parent, given us reasons to stay at home when our children are young and an equal amount of reasons about how important it is to maintain our careers and pre-baby identities.

The internet and smart phones have gifted us connection in the middle of the night when a newborn is crying and we can’t figure out why. It’s given us hope and it’s given us other people a million miles away.

It’s given us light when we’re struggling with figuring out why our two-year-old isn’t speaking, and community when we don’t feel confidently armed with a diagnosis. It’s given us friends who love our kids and appreciate their silly and huge milestones. It’s given us acceptance and understanding for our superhero kids and it has given us love when we want a real diagnosis, and not just one offered up if “we need it for summer camp or whatever.”

Our sons and daughters have thumb-swipe access to facts and learning and to more video games than we may have imagined back when Centipede and Pac Man were played using quarters at an arcade. Technology has given us safety and news with Amber Alerts, social media, and the ability to maintain contact with friends we went to grade school with. It has also given us over-stimulated minds, Youtube channels that will babysit our kids for us, and statistics about carseats, childhood drownings, and evil across the globe and next door. It has given us fear, and its given us knowledge, and it has given us protection.

I’m grateful for the ability to keep up with people that I may not take the time to write a letter to were this 1985, and I’m thankful that it’s easy to figure out whether my 4’2” five-year-old still needs a car seat.

Sometimes though, I feel a little bit sad that my son won’t experience some of what I did as a child.

Because this one time???

I sat on my dad’s lap while he drove us to the grocery store.  Drinking a Pabst Blue Ribbon.

My brothers and I, in a parking lot, messed around with all of the knobs and buttons in my parents’ car while they finished dinner because we weren’t behaving in the restaurant.

We rode in the back of a pickup truck. Standing up. Without seat belts or a hand hold.

We played Rock, Paper, Scissors to choose which cousins got to chill in the way back of the station wagon my grandma drove.
Riding in the back back of grandma

In order to find a book in a library, we used the Dewey Decimal System.

This one time, we stayed outside all day long. We didn’t have cell phones because they hadn’t yet been invented, and in order to call us home for dinner, my parents rang a cowbell from the summertime laziness of their front porch.

We played in mud and dirt and stepped on nails and got tetanus shots.

Our friends came over when they heard we had chicken pox, because it’s best to get that childhood disease over and done with early.

We had three channels on the television, and had to stand up and click a dial around to change the channel, which wasn’t often as we hardly ever watched tv.

We skied and bicycled without helmets, and we made our own snacks, using the oven to melt cheese onto tortillas and ink onto Shrinky Dinks when nobody was home.

This one time, I even went to summer camp for five weeks and only spoke to my parents once, on visitation day. My friends and I kept in touch by waiting for mail to arrive. Sometimes, that mail came with cookies and Twinkies. Yup, we ate Twinkies and canned ravioli, and are still here to talk about it.

My friend Julie and I hung out in a graveyard, asking for vampires to visit us. Another time, my co-worker had another sort of adventure in New Orleans.

We had to sit in front of the radio and wait for the DJ to play our favorite song if we wanted to listen to it on tape…and we had answering machines and could hear a message as it was left.


This one time? Boys with mullets were cool although our mom bringing one to the beach in a thong was not.

Mullet and boom box 80

While I appreciate technology and advances, I also hope that my now five-year-old little boy has his own “this one time” stories to tell his own children. Or, um, those he chooses to keep to himself. Either way, I kinda miss the 80’s.


This has been a Finish the Sentence Friday post, where bloggers and writers each write an ending to the week’s chosen sentence.
Host: Kristi of Finding Ninee and this week’s”This one time…” sentence thinker-upper, Jennifer of Dancing In The Rain.

  • Sandy Ramsey - Once again you nail it! This was my childhood too. I love to see the looks on my kids’ faces when I tell them how things were when I was their ages, describing some of the very things in this post. It was so different but it was freaking FANTASTIC! Yes, advantages technology offer are nice and often amazing but I wouldn’t trade those good ol’ days for anything In the world.February 12, 2015 – 10:10 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - It really was fantastic, wasn’t it??? I mean REALLY fucking fantastic. Sigh. I wouldn’t trade the good ol’ days either. 🙂February 12, 2015 – 11:06 pmReplyCancel

  • Emily - I kinda miss the 80s too…long live cowbells being rung from the front porch!!February 12, 2015 – 10:29 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Right? I know there is the good stuff now, and that someday, our boys will say to their own children (I hope) “when I was a kid, I had to…” but man, it does feel so different.February 12, 2015 – 11:07 pmReplyCancel

  • Sarah - I wish I could put my kids in the car when they’re misbehaving in a restaurant. Seriously, it worked for everyone back in the day, didn’t it?February 12, 2015 – 10:56 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - It so did! AND!!! I remember my mom running into the grocery store without us. I wish I could do that. Seriously. It’s like 10 minutes and it takes that long to unstrap and go in and talk about no toys or yes toys and bleh. I’d love to leave him in the car for that! Except you know. Safety and arrest and stuff.February 12, 2015 – 11:09 pmReplyCancel

      • Sarah - I know! Grocery store runs are the worst! My mother has this story of the time she left my brother and about five other cousins in the car, and someone released the emergency brake. She saw it rolling into the street as she was checking out.February 12, 2015 – 11:25 pmReplyCancel

  • Marcia @ Menopausal Mother - Yaaaassss to all of these! I love your descriptions—so vivid. I swear, I did every one of these things….and I miss the simpler times.February 12, 2015 – 11:59 pmReplyCancel

  • Lisa @ The Meaning of Me - Man, you rock these! I would never have thought to take it this way. I’m finishing mine and I hope it’s not weird. I got stuck on the band camp thing for like three days and then finally moved off it.
    This is brilliant and yeah, it was a different world. All of those things you list…been there, done that. Except maybe the PBR in the car! But the way back, no car seats or belts, chicken pox…a different world and a different time.
    Our kids will have their own stories, though. They will. I can see it with my youngest sister – I’m fourteen years older than she is and her memories are nothing like mine, but she has awesome ones all her own.
    These kids? Like our Tucker and Kidzilla? They are going to have serious stories to tell.February 12, 2015 – 11:59 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Yours was NOT weird at ALL and I love it mucho mucho! You’re right that our kids will have their own stories. I can’t WAIT to read about Kidz and T’s stories!February 13, 2015 – 10:20 pmReplyCancel

  • Kirsten Jill Robbins - I miss the simpler times and not over-thinking every little detail. So many things. I have early memories of sitting on my moms lap in the front seat. She was probably smoking a Salem…February 13, 2015 – 2:55 amReplyCancel

  • Mike - I absolutely LOVE when you do retro Memory Lane posts, Kristi! This was another smashing success, my dear. Sitting on your dad’s while driving and standing up in the bed of a p/u truck really hit home. Friday and Saturday nights for me were always a huge, intense game of Kick The Can with all the neighborhood kids. We went home…whenever we were all done. Thank you for the feel-good post to wrap up my night with! 🙂February 13, 2015 – 2:56 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Thanks, Mike!!! I love them too. I miss kick the can. Standing up in pickup trucks.February 13, 2015 – 10:23 pmReplyCancel

  • Janine Huldie - I totally miss the 80s and even the 90s too and you just totally brought me back and how, especially the TV only having 3 channels and even with three channels there seemed to always be something to watch.February 13, 2015 – 2:56 amReplyCancel

  • A. J. Goode - Made me feel a bit nostalgic for simpler times. It’s hard to believe we did some of the things we did as children and survived to tell the tales!February 13, 2015 – 3:16 amReplyCancel

  • Ruchira Khanna - I too miss the 80’s Kristi. Although we had to wait up for answers when confused, but the simplicity, honesty, and the pleasures of that time was priceless.

    Loved reading about your 80’s 🙂February 13, 2015 – 4:58 amReplyCancel

  • Kenya G. Johnson - I had to giggle about carseat. Christopher was in his and then a booster seat past needing one I’m sure. Legally (by age) he shouldn’t be sitting up front with me but he looks the part. He’s big enough. If I pick him up from school, I tell him to get in the back. If we go through a drive through he likes to sit in the back. He said it’s easier to eat back there. You listed some good ole times car memories. I can remember laying across the entire back seat floor. It doesn’t seem like there was a hump in it. I also remember a time that we rode from PA to DC for a wedding. It was two adults and me in the front seat, three adults and my baby brother in the back seat. No seat belts. My brother cried the whole way and my grandfather smoked the whole way. LOL. Times have certainly changed.February 13, 2015 – 9:44 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Tucker doesn’t probably “need” the car seat he’s in any longer because he’s SO BIG too but I have a friend who is all about car seats and safety so of course we bought the one that I can’t really see over in the back…
      I remember laying in the back on the floor too. And weird that there didn’t seem to be a hump in the floor right?February 13, 2015 – 10:25 pmReplyCancel

  • Dana - Do you know that I still throw my right arm out when I stop short while driving, even if no one is sitting in the passenger seat. Because that’s how my parents used to protect me. And my sister and I used to pretend to shoot the bad guys driving behind us – with our seatbelts. Which means we didn’t have them on.

    Obviously the fact that we’ve become safety conscious is a good thing, but the fact that we have to be SO vigilant? Not so good. But it’s all our kids know, right?February 13, 2015 – 11:36 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Yeah, it’s all our kids know… and I remember throwing my arm over my step daughter. She was like 15 and thought I was a freak, but well, that’s how we protect. 🙂February 13, 2015 – 10:27 pmReplyCancel

  • Allie - OMG – Kristi! I though we (my brother and I) were the only kids that were sent to the car for misbehaving in a restaurant! My husband was appalled when my dad told him that. I couldn’t stop laughing – it sums up my childhood, perfectly!February 13, 2015 – 11:38 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - REALLY Allie??? You totally sat in the car while your parents thought you were sucking? Awesome!! HAHA to to it summing up your childhood. Me too.February 13, 2015 – 10:29 pmReplyCancel

  • Kathleen O'Donnell - I guess I’ll cross off ‘bringing a boy with a mullet to the beach while wearing my thong’ off the list! LOL. It’s amazing what we managed to live through before helicopter parents took over. I too rode in the back of the truck, drove on backroads before I got a license and learned to shoot clay pigeons at the dump. Those were the days, my friend!February 13, 2015 – 2:09 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - HAHA to the boy with a mullet being crossed off your list and to shooting clay pigeons at the dump. I miss that stuff.February 13, 2015 – 10:30 pmReplyCancel

  • Asd-Dr - This post brought back so many memories for me. I miss Saturday morning cartoons and School House Rock (although we have it on DVD it just isn’t the same.)February 13, 2015 – 2:11 pmReplyCancel

  • Kelly L McKenzie - There was this one time my four cousins joined us for the two hour plus 45 minute ferry ride drive up to our cabin. That meant there were the four of them, the three of us, our two parents and our two dogs. In the station wagon. How did we all fit in? Easy peasy. No seatbelts meant two in the very back back with the two dogs, five in the middle and our folks up front.
    Off to google Shrinky Dinks …February 13, 2015 – 2:32 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - YAY to fitting the kids all over the car – we did that too with six cousins and were on laps and smushed and it was awesome.February 13, 2015 – 10:32 pmReplyCancel

  • Kim - Oh, so many great memories here!!! I loved riding in the back of my grandpa’s pick-up – best feeling ever to sit up on the side (not down in the bottom) and feel the air!!!
    We had a station wagon and I didn’t mind riding in the back but for some reason my parents kept sticking my twin brother back there even though he puked every single time!!!February 13, 2015 – 3:22 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Ah yes the freedom of riding on the side of the back of a pick up truck! Your poor brother 🙂February 14, 2015 – 1:13 pmReplyCancel

  • Grown Ups & Downs - When we don’t know something, from a definition of a word to an actor/actress’ name or even something important, like how to make a cake, we often say, “If *only* there were a devise at our fingertips that could give us every answer! Oh, and make phone calls!” It’s crazy how we have all of this right now. I look at some of my childhood memories and think, how did we live? And that was after we had a microwave. 🙂February 13, 2015 – 3:26 pmReplyCancel

  • Lisa @ Golden Spoons - YES! I love technology and I’m the first one to whip out my phone and look up some random fact that I just have to know right then. But, I don’t want my kids to miss all those experiences I had either – all day playing outside, riding bikes with no helmets, etc. Those were good times.February 13, 2015 – 5:18 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - They were such good times Lisa! But I do love being able to whip out my phone too to look something random up, or to book movie tickets or something!February 14, 2015 – 1:14 pmReplyCancel

  • Scott Hansen - I’ll have you know I rocked a mullet back in the day and it was GLORIOUS.February 13, 2015 – 6:03 pmReplyCancel

  • Tamara - Yes, the “way back” of the car. As one of five kids, we certainly had one. And when they traded in the old station wagon for a GMC Truck, the “way back” faced front! That was strange, but less nausea-inducing.
    We ate so much processed food in the 80’s and 90’s, didn’t we? We had no idea.February 13, 2015 – 6:17 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Writing this made me crave Spaghettio’s a little bit! Gross I know but YUM! Of course, if I ate them right now, I am sure they wouldn’t be as awesome as I remember…February 14, 2015 – 1:15 pmReplyCancel

  • Lizzi Rogers - Heheh well, I JUMPED on *my* nail. And I remember my (forever hopeless-crush) and I sat in the rear-facing seats of his parents car, with him waving at other drivers, and me UTTERLY embarrassed about it. I fell in a fish-pond, and I remember the long, lazy nights of midsummer, where the scent of warm gardens and far-away BBQs and freshly mown lawns floated through into the bedroom with the evening air, and the sound of the swallows in the sky meant that it was the season where everything was perfect.

    He’ll make his own ‘one time…’ memories. They’ll just be different. And that’s okay. Because you’ll still tell him all about yours, and how wonderful they were. He won’t miss out.February 13, 2015 – 9:09 pmReplyCancel

  • Jennifer Hall - Those were the days! I was just telling my daughter the other night that I was her age (14) in 1988. To her, that’s the olden days.February 13, 2015 – 10:29 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Oh man! 1988 being the olden days. Sigh. True though I guess even though it doesn’t feel that way!February 14, 2015 – 1:16 pmReplyCancel

  • Heidi Hotzler North - Oh good times for sure, forgot the fun of piling in the back of our aunt’s station wagon for the ride into town for ice cream!February 14, 2015 – 5:14 amReplyCancel

  • Ginny Marie - What great memories! I actually had chicken pox on Valentine’s Day, and was so upset that I had to miss my class party! I was the lucky one in my family; I got it first and had the lightest case. My sisters and brother had it much worse, and I felt so bad for my baby brother and sister, who were both in diapers at the time! (Now, I feel sorry for my mom who had to take care of all four of us with chicken pox!)February 14, 2015 – 9:07 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Oh no to chicken pox on Valentine’s Day! I don’t think I had it that bad but my mom too had three of us at once to deal with! My youngest brother must have been younger than two!February 14, 2015 – 1:18 pmReplyCancel

  • Nicki - I miss the 80s every day, and now I miss them even more! This was an awesome trip down memory lane, Kristi, thank you :).
    Your last line reminds me of what my son said to me when I switched the car radio to an 80s channel: Mom, we need to listen to music from OUR childhood too!February 14, 2015 – 7:21 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Nicki – I remember that! (your son saying he wants to listen to music from HIS childhood too) love! I believe it was in a post of yours. Ahhh 80’s.February 15, 2015 – 12:16 pmReplyCancel

  • Anna Fitfunner - There were definitely parts of the 80s that I enjoyed. I still enjoy the music, especially the early alternative stuff. I used to listen to the Canadian stations (I spent part of my childhood near the Canadian border), and remember thinking how much cooler their music was compared to the AOR that was all over the US stations.

    My kids are also making their own memories; it’s fun to watch and see what they remember. Although mullets and thongs probably won’t feature in their memories — we’re a currently a mullet and thong-free household! 😉February 14, 2015 – 8:23 pmReplyCancel

  • Angel the Alien - Childhood was more fun back then! We used to stay outside all day running amok in the neighborhood and riding our bikes and stuff. And I sure loved riding backwards in the station wagon! I feel like we lived life to the fullest back then! Although I do like the internet and think video games are fun, I feel bad for kids these days who would rather play a skateboarding video game than go outside and get on an actual skateboard!February 14, 2015 – 11:00 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - I hear you Angel! Here’s to getting outside more and pretending (for most of the time anyway) that there are no video games!February 15, 2015 – 12:50 pmReplyCancel

  • Elizabeth - The station wagon way-back – loved the station wag way-back. And the slot, you know, the narrow space created when the way back seats were up instead of flattened down for transporting big stuff? Great memories, thank you!February 15, 2015 – 1:32 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - EEEP me too. And I SO KNOW that slot!!! Why does the slot no longer exist???February 17, 2015 – 12:02 amReplyCancel

  • My Inner Chick - Kristi,
    I continually connect and identify w/ your words, stories, insights. This is what true “Writing” is.
    —Also, I did need to get a tetanus shot when I was about 8 cuz I was bitten by a monkey at the pet shop! No. I’m serious.

    xxxFebruary 15, 2015 – 8:41 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - For real??? A monkey?? OMG I ALWAYS ALWAYS wanted a pet monkey so so bad.February 17, 2015 – 12:23 amReplyCancel

  • April G - My kids don’t use technology very often and we JUST got him a video game for his birthday. He spent a good amount of time playing it, and I’m already calculating how I will be using it as punishment! LOL! We have some board games that we’ve been playing lately!February 15, 2015 – 10:27 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - LOL I do love some board games – like a LOT. And haha to using it as punishment. It’ll work though, so there’s that.February 17, 2015 – 12:24 amReplyCancel

  • Lisa Moskowitz Sadikman - I miss the 80s too. I so wish my girls could just be outside all day and be safe and I wouldn’t worry. Meanwhile, I make my 12yo text me the minute she gets to her friend’s house two streets over and I fret the whole time waiting for her text. Our kids absolutely need to have their own “This one time…” stories. I just hope they don’t have anything to do with compromising photos on SnapChat!February 16, 2015 – 5:47 amReplyCancel

  • Nina - Oh boy do I feel this. It seriously gets me down sometimes how quickly things have changed. Do you think our parents and grandparents felt this way? It seems faster now but maybe every generation thinks that. I don’t know!February 16, 2015 – 2:44 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - I’m positive that our grandparents felt this way as I remember my Grandma telling me how quickly time passed and how I should pay more attention to my Grandpa telling me about how he grew flowers in his greenhouse (while smoking the whole time). I think she may have also told me a story about how she had to catch a chicken in a bag to eat dinner during the same conversation so um.February 17, 2015 – 12:26 amReplyCancel

  • Kimberly - Oh I love all of this…these memories…times sure have changed and it’s gone from using your imagination to letting a computer do it for you. Like the car rides??
    (Don’t get me wrong though, handheld devices are a blessing on a road trip)
    Also I sat on the centre console because seatbelts were over rated.
    Chicken pox – kindergarten. I think the whole class was invited to party at my place that week.February 18, 2015 – 6:13 pmReplyCancel

  • Christine Carter - I remember so vividly, those Sundays after church listening to the TOP 100 countdown on the radio…. waiting restlessly for my favorite songs to come on and squealing with delight when they did. Turning up the volume and dancing in my bedroom, singing into my hairbrush. I remember SO much of what this post shares. LOVE this walk down memory lane, by Kristi Rieger CampbellMarch 4, 2015 – 3:06 pmReplyCancel

  • Christine Carter - I remember so vividly, those Sundays after church listening to the TOP 100 countdown on the radio…. waiting restlessly for my favorite songs to come on and squealing with delight when they did. Turning up the volume and dancing in my bedroom, singing into my hairbrush. I remember SO much of what this post shares. LOVE this walk down memory lane, by Kristi Rieger CampbellMarch 4, 2015 – 3:06 pmReplyCancel

  • Meredith - Great trip down memory lane with this one! I worry about that too…the things that they’ll miss out on, but I realize, they still experience a lot of the same childhood things that I did, and they’ll be OK. 🙂March 4, 2015 – 5:53 pmReplyCancel

  • Tarana Khan Siddiqi - How things have changed! I don’t think the world has become more unsafe than earlier, but we were probably happier in our ignorance!March 4, 2015 – 7:33 pmReplyCancel

  • Tarana Khan Siddiqi - How things have changed! I don’t think the world has become more unsafe than earlier, but we were probably happier in our ignorance!March 4, 2015 – 7:33 pmReplyCancel

  • Sarah | Thank You Honey - So funny how things change! LOLMarch 5, 2015 – 10:03 amReplyCancel

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