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

A Long Long Time Ago, Back in the 80’s…

A long long time ago, back in the 80’s… (and 70’s), kids ran feral all day until their parents rang a cowbell at dusk from the front porch signaling supper-time. For pee-breaks and snacks, they popped in at whoever’s house was closest. The older kids looked out for the little ones between giving important life lessons. You know, on things like how to swing from the monkey bars better, what to do with a loose tooth, and what the word “fuck” meant for-real.

If another kid mooned you, nobody had recording devices or the ability to show his butt to the world on social media.

Talking and teasing was done face-to-face.

They rode bikes without helmets, and rolled around in the back-back of Grandma’s station wagon.

A Long Long Time Ago, Back in the 80

On the luckiest of days, they sat on their dad’s laps and helped drive to the grocery store. On others, they played a game called Padiddle and got to punch their siblings when they won the game of spotting cars with a headlight out.

They babysat neighbor kids when they were 11 years old for $1/hour, and let them stay up too late because the kids were friends with a younger sibling. The kids promised not to tell and always did.

On dares, they drank Coke and ate Pop Rocks, and waited for their stomachs to explode.

A Long Long Time Ago, Back in the 80

They made paper fans and sold them door-to-door for two cents each, jumping up and down on deep shag carpet shaking a piggy bank. They were rich.

They had everything they needed.

They watched an hour of TV each night and when they did, the entire family watched with them. The TVs had rabbit ear antennas and sometimes, one of the kids had to stand and hold them so that the rest could watch the show more clearly.

When the news announced that a new channel was coming out, people were in awe. “Five channels and PBS,” we said? “But what more can there be to watch?”

The television was off during supper and phone calls after 6:00pm meant an emergency or a guy trying to sell Mom a vacuum that was easier to lift.

Saturday mornings meant that parents slept and kids woke up early and ate cereal while trying to decide which was more scary – Sleestacks or living in The Land of the Lost with dinosaurs.

Some kids went to summer camp for five weeks at a time and only saw their families once, on family day. They didn’t text because texting wasn’t yet invented, and when their moms missed them, they made brownies, wrapped them, put them in a box, and sent them in the mail to arrive days later.

When the kids at summer camp missed their friends, they didn’t Snapchat because that wasn’t invented yet, either. They wrote letters on paper and drew curly words and smiley faces on envelopes. They waited days for a reply to arrive stamped with postage and hand-drawn hearts.

Those kids didn’t know anybody with peanut allergies or talking devices or wheelchairs because back then, those kids were somewhere else.

Today-me really wishes we would have known them. We’d all have been better for knowing one another. 

Families were afraid of Russia instead of guns at school, and kids were taught drills where they hid under their desks. They were on the lookout for windowless white vans and strangers with candy although they went trick-or-treating alone. When they ran away, they waited up the block and went home when they got hungry.

Kids got in fights on playgrounds and May 1st was for leaving flowers on the doorstep of somebody you loved. The last day of school meant scrubbing and getting tricked by the cute neighbor boy who said “Who scrubbed you?”


“There’s a mark, here,” he said, touching your cheek. “And another here.” It took you hours to realize that he’d been the one to leave the marks.

When it snowed, kids wore newspaper bags over their socks, Moonboots on top of them, and walked to school.

A Long Long Time Ago, Back in the 80

Once there, they peeled off the bags and put carried tennis shoes over their dry socks while the bags and the boots dried in the hallway.

School fundraisers meant lugging bags of canned goods into the classroom and when there were Field Days, one kid actually was the winner. Another, came in for-real last-place.

Later, as the kids grew, if they loved a song, they rode their bicycle (helmet-less) to the store and purchased an entire album for $9.99. If you hated the rest of the songs on it? Too bad. But you never did.

Your other option was to sit in front of your ginormous stereo system, finger hovering over “record” until the DJ announced that Your Song was up next. Sometimes, he just started playing it and his voice messed up the beginning of your awesome mixed-tape.

If people called you, and you weren’t home, they called back or left a message on your answering machine. You talked on the phone that was tethered to a wall.

A Long Long Time Ago, Back in the 80

Maybe this is how smart phones were invented?


A long long time ago, back in the 80’s…, I wondered at what else could possibly be invented.

After all, we had everything.

kristi rieger campbell finished post for finding ninee

Finish the sentence Friday writing promptThis has been a Finish the Sentence Friday post. This week’s sentence is “A long, long time ago and very far away, there lived…” (or “There once lived…” or “A long time ago…” or similar – you get the idea).
Your hosts: Me (Kristi) as always from and this week’s sentence-thinker-upper, Deborah from Life is Like a Hand Grenade.


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  • Lydia - Lookit me with a real name! I don’t even know how that happened. Oh well. I too grew up in the same era. Everyone in our neighborhood would come out to play kick ball or Kick the Can. it was maybe a crew of about 18 or 20 kids all at once because we lived in the projects and everything was situated around a circular sort of driveway parking area. But the rule was you had to be home when the street lights came on.May 5, 2016 – 10:06 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Well look at you fancy weeniebutt with a real name that links to nothing so kinda fake for all that aren’t in Your Inner Circle Of Trust and Love but YAY to real names and lol to not even knowing how it happened. I miss those days and sometimes think our kids are missing out. When Tucker says “I want to go scootering” my first reaction is like groan but then, I’m like OUTSIDE YES, and of course have to look for cars coming in a way that didn’t seem to happen back then. Less people, maybe.May 5, 2016 – 10:16 pmReplyCancel

  • JT Walters - There once was a time when at midnight the television showed the flag, played the anthem and was off for the evening.

    There was always to top 40 music hits on Sunday that I would listen too.

    If kids beat the crap out of each other parents were okay with it. It was considered training for adulthood. So was eating dirt.

    I did know disabled people as a child. They were segregated and I wished that they had been in my class.

    When I was sent to New York for a month I missed my Mom and Dad and was told to grow up. After all I was in the big Apple living in an apartment off central park.

    Once upon a time children could live their dreams and be shown the path to achieving them and not all the barriers that stood in their way.

    Also we always had games at night. Our parents would have dinner with us and if everyone behaved we played games after dinner. Everything from Scrabble to backgammon to Bridge.

    Once upon a time there was an emphasis on family and values and I miss that most of all because people think we are strange because of this emphasis.May 5, 2016 – 10:38 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - We used to play games after dinner too. That was such fun and LOL to eating dirt because so so true!!!May 6, 2016 – 5:31 pmReplyCancel

  • Echo - Sometimes, I long for the simpler times. The late 80’s and even the early 90’s seemed so much more carefree! I remember us riding our bikes EVERYWHERE and the streetlights were our curfew enforcers!May 5, 2016 – 10:55 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - They did seem more carefree Echo and I have to wonder why…. too much technology? I don’t know. When it’s not raining, I try to take my son out on his scooter every day so he knows what it’s like to play outside until dinnertime (he’s not so good on a bike yet). xoMay 6, 2016 – 5:40 pmReplyCancel

  • Emily - Ahhh…I LOVE the nostalgia of this post! And of course your picture at the end made me laugh out loud!May 5, 2016 – 11:08 pmReplyCancel

  • Janine Huldie - Yup you just totally brought me back and still can’t believe how far we have come and yet it feels like yesterday still at times that I am back there though!May 6, 2016 – 2:03 amReplyCancel

  • Kelly McKenzie - Pssst. I remember when my family got … wait for it … a coloUr tv! Yes! Huge excitement in our house as the day approached. Then we had to simply talk our parents into getting cablevision … We managed it. Took a few years but we managed it.May 6, 2016 – 2:11 amReplyCancel

  • Ruchira Khanna - Gee…you brought back my childhood, Kristi 🙂

    I have a similar take on this!May 6, 2016 – 2:35 amReplyCancel

  • Tamara - We did, didn’t we?
    I wonder if our parents were worried or excited. I wonder if they thought about Donald Trump starting a world war, and Lyme Disease killing moose, and global warming get worse and worse.
    Or maybe one day we realize – to the kids – it’s playing and rainbow sprinkles and pancakes.
    Sorry, I’m cranky today – not sure where that went!May 6, 2016 – 11:17 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - I think our parents were worried. About everything. Russia, Lyme Disease… but when you’re a kid, you’re right – it’s playing and rainbow sprinkles and pancakes.May 6, 2016 – 6:14 pmReplyCancel

  • Christine - I could NOT love this more… oh my GOSH THIS IS THE BEST POST EVER!!

    You brought me back, girl. Just such a brilliant piece with those vivid descriptions- written in your own unique way. Ah…

    You are SUCH a gift.May 6, 2016 – 12:03 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Aw thank you Chris! I love that it brought you back (me too!). And you. You are a gift. A huge amazing gorgeous one.May 6, 2016 – 6:14 pmReplyCancel

  • Julie Martinka Severson - Moonboots!!!! Ok, this post swirled up so many memories and IDEAS FOR BLOG POSTS! The waiting for days for snail mail replys, the riding our bike holding a big, flat, square cardboard package with a big round record in it that has 10 songs on it, of which we only like one as you said!! That image cracked me up! So true! I loved this blast to “the olden days.” I gotta start brainstorming things I remember from that era. These are priceless.May 6, 2016 – 12:37 pmReplyCancel

  • Jena - You had me at feral and cowbell, waaaaaaaaaaay back in the 80s. I loved this.May 6, 2016 – 1:18 pmReplyCancel

  • Lana Lindgren - Yeah, we did have everything, didn’t we? Honestly, I’ve wished so many of these things for my boys. Adults have made growing up so much more complicated now. Sigh. Although selfishly, I’m glad I’ll be able to text my son whenever I want when he goes off to college in the fall. I don’t know how my mom did it back in 1985 when she couldn’t check in on me!May 6, 2016 – 3:07 pmReplyCancel

  • Frances Best Stanfield - OMG…. *tear* at the nostaglia that this brings back for me. Great job on this. I played hide n seek; went to vacation bible school; loved my grandmother to the moon and back; walked to town cuz we didn’t have a car; smoked fake cigs; listened to Casey Cason; was a military brat in Germany; ate bad good and now or laters; wore black patant leather shoes and said my Easter speech. OMG..

    Thanks so much for taking me back there when life was simple.

    FrancesMay 6, 2016 – 3:38 pmReplyCancel

  • Susan Zutautas - I grew up in the 60’s and we thought we had everything too 🙂 Enjoyed reading about time in the 80’s!May 6, 2016 – 4:23 pmReplyCancel

  • Paul D. Brads - Spot on!! Great times, but I wouldn’t want to go back.May 6, 2016 – 11:54 pmReplyCancel

  • Micky Crawford - Once again – you nailed it! awesome you ARE. Love from Mombo!May 7, 2016 – 2:18 amReplyCancel

  • yvonne - You do have such a lovely way of writing Kristi – lyrical as well as fun.
    I grew up even earlier than you, and way in the back of beyond and we had only one television channel and only black and white! I smiled at: ” “Five channels and PBS,” we said? “But what more can there be to watch?”” We thought that when we had 4 channels, and I’m sure my mum even said it about one!

    One funny thing – you didn’t get phonecalls after 6, but that’s when we got most calls, because in the UK, it was much cheaper then than during the day.May 7, 2016 – 6:25 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Thank you Yvonne! That means so much to me coming from you! 😀
      What a huge difference our few channels were compared to live streaming on Netflix today of just about anything in the world you want to watch. It makes me nostalgic for the old days to think about having to get up to change the channel and what a family activity that watching TV was.May 7, 2016 – 7:29 pmReplyCancel

  • Dana - I just wrote a post last night about things my kids’ generation will never know, and it echoes many things you touch on. Our heads are in the same place! Some things they won’t know make me sad, but there are so many good things now that didn’t exist then. Medical advances. Human rights advances. We still have work to do, I hope we will get there.May 8, 2016 – 8:46 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Here’s to great minds (or like minds anyway). You’re right – the medical advances and human rights have come a long long way…May 8, 2016 – 7:56 pmReplyCancel

  • Cynthia - I was riveted as I read. I think about where we are now: kids don’t really play outside anymore; they hardly get recess at school.
    When I was a kid and fell off my bike, I had to figure out how to doctor myself. I didn’t even usually tell my parents for fear they’d scold me for not being careful. lol.
    What a wonderful nostalgic post. I hope you’re well!May 8, 2016 – 10:45 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - That’s funny that you didn’t tell your parents when you got hurt! Even scrapes back then were less of a big deal. Thanks so much for your kind words – I’m doing pretty well and love seeing you here. Hope everything’s going really great for you!May 8, 2016 – 8:18 pmReplyCancel

  • Scott Hansen - Those were the days, weren’t they?May 8, 2016 – 12:40 pmReplyCancel

  • April Grant - the world has changed os much in the last 20-30 years than any time on the planet it seems. We’ve gone from paid long-distance calls to people in the next town to people around the world for free. I have no idea what is coming next.May 9, 2016 – 12:08 amReplyCancel

  • Corinne Rodrigues - Oh yes! Life seemed so much simpler then, didn’t it? Since we were in India, we didn’t get movies or music as fast as you did – we listened to the radio, read about the movies and hoped that they’d come to a theatre near us soon.May 9, 2016 – 3:01 amReplyCancel

  • Allie - Oh Kristi! What a perfect post. Makes me long for the “good ole days.” Btw, I know have a phone, with a super long cord, tethered to my kitchen wall. It is way cool!!!!!!!!!!!!!!May 9, 2016 – 9:32 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - You for real have a phone on your wall with a long cord? ? Does it work? I long for them, too…May 9, 2016 – 10:51 pmReplyCancel

  • Monique Raymond - Love this!May 9, 2016 – 7:25 pmReplyCancel

  • Lizzi Lewis - Beautiful, memories. Thank you for sharing them.

    Selling 2c paper fans sounds awesome. You’re still rich though 🙂May 9, 2016 – 9:15 pmReplyCancel

  • Kenya G. Johnson - Oh I loved going back in time with your for this post. I remember everything (except for the scrubbing and snow references). There are Land of the Lost videos on Youtube and they are hilarious!!! But yep I’d be up all by myself on Saturday morning. Mom had poured milk for me in a Tupperware cup that had a lid and left the cereal and a bowl out on the kitchen table. I know I had to be really little because my brother wasn’t born yet and we are seven years apart. I mostly bought 45’s and of course there was only the one song that was good. The B side never had a song that was played on the radio. I’m recalling a 45 by Lakeside that I think I liked both songs. My record player could stack several 45s to play back to back so that was pretty cool. There is no fun in going for music on iTunes like it was to go to the music store which was also a family affair. Those were truly the good ole days. It’s so crazy to think about leaving my phone at home to enjoy the freedom of being out without it. And then I thought, “But I’d have so much to catch up on when I got home.” Wow huh!?May 10, 2016 – 8:36 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - No scrubbing in NC? I think that’s a good thing and I sure hope it no longer exists today. It felt fun then but looking at it now, it also felt scary and weird and today would be probably bullying-ish???
      Aw to little you with your bowl and your mom pouring the milk for you before-hand (DING DING that could work here). OOOOH the 45’s. DId you have those little yellow things to hold them steady? I wish I’d have saved more of my old albums. I have some but… And yeah, wow, to the catching up and leaving phone at home… ditto. Also phone is how I survived baseball practice tonight. Or, not. Maybe I’d have liked it more???May 12, 2016 – 8:03 pmReplyCancel

      • Kenya G. Johnson - I do remember those yellow things but I don’t think I knew that is what they were for. LOL!

        I ended up staying at basketball camp for almost the whole time on Wednesday because I left my purse at home. Ugh – that goodness for my phone. THAT I would have gone back for.

        As for the sort of getting breakfast ready for the next day, I can’t tell you how many times I did that and Christopher wasn’t hungry until I got up. It did make him stay in his room though because there was nothing else to need from me but he didn’t want to “make” his own breakfast.May 13, 2016 – 1:34 pmReplyCancel

  • Sara - Great memories! Great post! ….Was reminded the other day of how we used to use jelly jars as glasses. Do you remember doing that? Hadn’t thought of that in years. Now it seems so quaint and faraway. …Last weekend I started the enormous task of going through Dad’s LPs b/c I want to sell them. Wow was THAT a stroll down Memory Lane…
    Huge hugs!May 13, 2016 – 2:18 amReplyCancel

  • Linda Atwell - Out One Ear - We did have everything. It was like living in Mayberry. And when the teenage boy told my teenage self that we were going to the lake to watch the submarine races, it took me a long time to figure that one out too. 🙂 You remember so much good stuff.May 18, 2016 – 7:25 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Living in Mayberry. THAT. I wish I could trust this town like that one and I still don’t know what the submarine race thing is… is it something else??May 19, 2016 – 10:47 pmReplyCancel

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