Take a quick look back through time. What do you remember the feeling of —that the younger generations will never know? An online forum recalls plenty. Here are their top-voted memories.
Many people recall experiences with records, like walking into a vinyl store and browsing the wall of the latest albums. Or the laughter that ensued if you forgot to change the turntable speed from 45 to 33 1/3 for the album because it sounded hilarious.
A user adds, “Putting the little yellow plastic thingie into the middle of the 45 record.” The incredible sound is another experience most will never know.
Dropping the film from your camera off at the local pharmacy and waiting a week before picking them up is a long-gone experience. Then, of course, the one-hour development came along. Some fond memories from the forum include “Buying flash cubes for your Instamatic and burning your fingers trying to get the flash cube off after the fourth flash.”
Another reminds members, “Pushing 27 exposures out of a 24 exposure roll.” There was also the unfortunate experience of dropping the film after opening the container and exposing the entire film roll.
Do you remember the sound of a dial tone when picking up your telephone? Today’s generation wouldn’t even know how to dial using a rotary phone. Other historical phone experiences include having phone booths everywhere that had you scrounging for quarters and the feeling of using a phone book.
Remember those white and yellow pages? Memorizing people’s phone numbers is a lost skill. Don’t forget — calling the operator and the time, weather, and movie time phone lines. “Dialing POPCORN!”
Remember “Hearing the other person talking on the ‘Party Line.’Or not hearing them listen in.” Do you remember running to pick up a ringing phone with no idea who is calling? Or having to talk to your friend’s parents while you waited for them to come to the phone?
The younger generation will never know the satisfaction of slamming down a phone or the peace that came along with being unreachable sometimes instead of attached to the tracking device we call cell phones.
4. Street Lights
Would today’s parents allow their elementary school-aged children to leave the house in the morning and not return until dinnertime? I remember it was still dark outside in the winter when I hit my mile trek to school.
It didn’t come with the “Barefoot, uphill in the snow” that my father’s generation knew (haha). But it was an experience that the younger gens — will never know. Once those street lights came on, your bum better be home, or it was meeting the backside of a belt.
5. VHS Tapes
“Be kind. Please rewind.” The classic Video Home System (VHS) has many experiences that come with it that these kids will never know — the joy of browsing your local video store to find a movie for your Friday night.
The flack you got and the extra charge that came with not rewinding — the fear when you heard the sound of the VCR started eating the tape and the process of rolling the film back into the videotape. They will also never know what it’s like watching a movie and having it distort where the film had been eaten.
The younger generations will never have the experience of watching an old black-and-white TV. Or do everything you can to get a TV channel to come in, like putting aluminum foil on the rabbit ears.
A user clarifies, “Rabbit ears. Click the dial—coat hanger. Hold the dial. Moving the TV. Banging on the top of the TV. Making the youngest child hold on to the wire and hold their hand out in any given direction.” Remote controls were only for rich people. The rest used their kids to switch it up. Do you remember “Waiting for the white dot on the TV screen to disappear to prolong bedtime to the last second?”
With dozens of streaming services offering unlimited content 24 hours a day, no one will ever know the excitement of a TV Special like The Wizard of Oz or Peter Pan. Or the feeling of missing an episode of your favorite show and being unable to view it again.
If you wanted to watch a show, you had to watch it as it aired. We lived for Saturday morning cartoons, with all the cereal commercials promoting the toys in the box — now you can stream them. Forever gone is the feeling that comes with the TV station signing off for the day, playing a tape of the National Anthem, then going to a test pattern or static.
Newspaper experiences range from the smell and the feel of it in your fingers. Going outside to grab the paper. Looking forward to the larger Sunday edition with the Sunday Comics.
An avid fan reminds us, “Reading through 8-10 pages of full-color, full-size cartoon strips with your kid. Tarzan, Prince Valiant, The Phantom, Peanuts, and the list went on.” Don’t forget about doing the crossword puzzle!
And on a more sobering note, one person writes, “I hope they will never know the feeling of checking the newspaper to see if your birthday is high on the list to be drafted — scary — Vietnam. I remember the nightly counts of soldiers killed in action during national news.”
Gone are the days when you give people directions to your home while drawing a map on a party invitation or napkin. Paper maps are less prevalent and are lost on the younger generation today. Buying a map, knowing how to use it, and how to FOLD it are experiences they will never know. Thomas Bros. and Thomas Guides.
While older schools may still have chalkboards, they’ve been largely phased out by whiteboards, and newly designed schools are moving towards digitized classrooms. Students today will never experience that chalk squeak on the chalkboard that causes a visceral squirm as it pierces right through you.
A forum member reminds users, “The most desired and coveted classroom job for students was taking the erasers outside near the end of the school day and clapping them together to get the chalk dust out of them.”
10. Not Having Public Records
Can you imagine being invisible, with no public record of you that others can look up? Those times are long gone as we’ve advanced into a time of posting everything you think, say, and do online. We were allowed to make mistakes (as we all do growing up) without text or video accountings of these offenses.
Driving a manual transmission is disappearing with the older generation, in America, at least. There will never be another generation that experiences paper driver’s licenses without photos.
Or “Going to a gas station and having an attendant pump the gas, clean the windows, and check the oil.” Remember the feeling of manually rolling up your car windows or the fact they had no seatbelts? How about when people regularly hitchhiked without a care in the world? Those days are over.
12. Cassette Tapes
The days of cassette tapes and all the experiences that came with them are long gone. Flipping it over to listen to side two. Winding the tape back in with a pencil after your player eats it. Waiting with your finger on the record button for your favorite song to come on the radio to hit the record.
Then, being annoyed when you missed the first few seconds because it wasn’t announced, or worse, the DJ talking over its beginning or end. The joy of making mixed tapes for friends or your crush. All of those feelings will die off with the older generations.
Some other nostalgic feelings they will never experience include drive-in theater two-movie specials, saving files to floppy disks, writing a check and hoping it won’t clear before your next deposit, having to use card catalog systems at the library, and using encyclopedias to research school papers.
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Elizabeth Ervin is the owner of Sober Healing. She is a freelance writer passionate about opioid recovery and has celebrated breaking free since 09-27-2013. She advocates for mental health awareness and encourages others to embrace healing, recovery, and spirituality.