The Eighties

I grew up in the Eighties when the kids wore bright pastel colors, listened to music that had a happy vibe, and the girls wore outfits with shoulder pads as the de facto fashion statement. Our hair was tall and our walk was light. We didn’t have to worry about texting, messaging, blogging, skyping, tweeting, facebooking or pinning. We led simple lives and had simple dreams. I didn’t have Freedom Friday to write about this.

The Police
The Police

If we wanted to talk with anyone, we’d call them on the phone, land lines no less. If we wanted to have a more substantial conversation, we’d meet for coffee, sometimes until two or three in the morning. Our yes was yes and our no was no. Our principles meant something.

There was also an unwritten rule: take a penny, leave a penny. If you worked in a gas station in Canada, you already know what I mean. A little tray sat on the counter next to the register, sometimes empty, sometimes filled. If you needed a penny, you simply take one from the tray. If you had one or two to dump, place them in the tray. Some gas stations still have them to this day.

Our Christmases were easy to digest. There were no iPods, iPads, tablets, Kindles or Kobos. We’d received books, cassettes, CDs for gifts. The most we’d splurge on was the Sony Walkman. Tops.

Buying books cost a small fortune at the time. Luckily, I worked in a library giving me the ability to read newly released books for free.

We purchased our music on cassette tapes. If we really liked the album, we’d purchase it as a special edition chrome or metal tape. Many of my friends made a fuss over the quality of normal and chrome bias tapes. I could never hear the difference. Besides, LPs sounded better.

Culture Club's Boy George
Culture Club’s Boy George

Some of the bands that were hot were The Police (the hardest working band of the early Eighties and my favorite), Utravox, J. Geils Band, Culture ClubDuran Duran (incredibly hot), and Bobby McFerrin. Our anthem in our neighborhood was Sunshine Raggae by Laid Back. The radio was what brought us together and the concerts were what made our summers.

We wore baggy pants at the thighs with belt buckles that nearly covered our belly buttons. Our shoes were practical, designed to slip off easily.

Everything was expensive. For a student, it took so much to save for anything, but when we finally purchased it, we appreciated it more. At least the movies were cheap. Four people could go to a matinee for under twenty dollars. Unbelievable, isn’t it?

I suppose the best part about the Eighties was knowing we had our whole life ahead of us. Not much different from what it is today for those growing up.

RANGER MARTIN AND THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE, on sale October 22.

If you lived through the Eighties, what is your favorite part?

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25 thoughts on “The Eighties

  1. I was born in 1983 and really cannot relate to much that you have in your post except for a few things. I had cassette tapes all the way up until 1996. I had velcro sneakers and those horrid hard jelly sandals when I was a little girl that I still see once in a while. I will NEVER have my daughter wear them or recommend them for anyone daughter for they always result in blisters. I remember having a corded phone on the wall. My grandparents had a rotary phone for many years. I had a multi-colored windsuit. My mom had bangs and her trademark long hair and the big glasses. My favorite movie was ET. I don’t remember the penny thing but they have them lots of places around town here still at the gas stations/convience stores and I alway leaves pennies and sometimes nickels and hardly ever use pennies but usually every where I go Ieave pennies for the next person or if not I tell them to put it in their drawer so they are not short or too short at the end of their shift. Mainly, I just remember how my hometown was and the small changes it went through over the years. I had some things happen to me, some bad things, and those memories are blocked, as well as other things around that time. I had a Cabbage Patch Kid doll. I still have her in fact. I think, but don’t quote me, my mom has the bag of a few stuffed animals from when I was a toddler. *I hope* she kept it when she redid my room which is now my babysisters room…. They no longer make those…the puffalump, etc…I had a Teddy Ruxpin. Rainbow Bright and her horse. I had a Holly Hobbie doll my mom had from 1975. I see things now from the eighties and the music and fashion/hairstyles and just cringe LOL 😀

  2. This is AWESOME! Can relate to everything in it, and had totally forgotten about the chrome bias tapes!! Thanks for the reminder! 🙂
    Also, thanks for stopping by my blog today – I would have missed this had you not 🙂

  3. Being 25 years of age I was born at the tail end of that infamous era. The 80’s are one of my favorite decades for movies, music and fashion. I am an avid collector of vintage records and my on my favorite bands is The Cars. I discovered them along with many other New Wave artists by rummaging through my dads old albums in the basement one day. Great read Jack 🙂

  4. I dug The Police, and saw them in 1982 at Day on the Green in Oakland, but I wonder if — from 80 through 83 — whether The Clash might have been the hardest working band in show business. Obviously the duration of The Police earns a big nod. And yes: check out Rob Sheffield’s books — *Love is a Mix Tape* is also great.

  5. Thanks for stopping by my blog. These memories are dear to the heart of a girl who puts an 80’s tune at the top of every post! I was a little sheltered going to private school, but I grew up in Miami and some of us would walk down to a little theater after school where they had a long-running showing of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show”. Good times.

    • I remember “The Rocky Horror Picture Show”. I used to watch that back-to-back with Led Zeppelin’s “The Song Remains the Same” at the Roxy in Toronto on Friday nights with friends. I loved Tim Curry in it. Good times, indeed.

  6. Ah, The Police. Love them.

    Even the nineties were a simpler time. Smart phones didn’t become popular until I was out of high school. It’s crazy how quickly things have progressed (or digressed). I love technology, but I miss face-to-face interaction and the quality time spent just talking or playing board games. I’m thankful that my mom made family dinners a priority in our house. (God help us if we answered our phones during dinner). It may age me, but I think technology is slowly stealing our imagination and ability to build relationships.

    Then again, I’ve met a ton of amazing people through blogging communities and Twitter who I’d never have the chance to meet otherwise.

    Maybe it’s just all about balance….and this comment quickly got deep. Sorry. Haha!

    • Yeah, nothing quite screams intelligence than a song going by the title “De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da.” 😉

      I hear ya. All this technology and it feels like those who are physically with us are the ones who are the most distant from us. Thankfully, I don’t let technology get in the way too much. We don’t answer the phone during dinner either. That’s why we have a splendid little device called the answering machine that kicks in when we want to kick out intruders from our humble dwelling.

      Ditto on the meeting new people.

      LOL! All good getting deep on my site–you have my permission!

  7. oh god, shoulder pads…. you know I’ve seen shoulder pads on Pinterest lately. IT’s HORRIFYING!!!
    Oh and I like those take a penny/leave a penny things, I will stand there and dig through it looking for old copper pennies, exchanging them for the new crappy ones in my bag. LOL I’ve found some really old pennies in those things.
    thanks for the flash back…now I feel old
    ; )

    • I still can’t believe those shoulder pads were so popular. Remember Flashdance? Gosh!

      It’s funny how those little things will bring us back to where we were growing up. Nowadays, the penny in Canada is no more. And I’ve seen those trays in gas stations disappear. Miss the shiny new pennies!

      • Thats right, Canada got rid of their penny. I forgot about that.
        I have plenty of them mixed in with the US pennies in my kitchen countertops.
        (Yes i tiled my countertops with pennies…. Weird I know.)

  8. Ahhh, the ’80s. I worked in a record store to support my clothing habit–the ruffled socks with high heels! The zippers! The ripped up fishnets! The off-the-shoulder sweats! Those giant belts! The colors! Though I must admit, even at the time I thought the shoulder padding was a little extreme. (I already have broad shoulders, I didn’t need the boost.) Bonus: the discount I got in the record store was boss, and I now have a rather impressive record collection that at one point seemed nerdy (why don’t you just buy cassettes?, I’d get asked) but now is retro-cool. I’m still sentimentally attached to the music (though I’ve become far more critical of what constitutes a “good” song, and the songs I loved don’t necessarily hold up). The clothes? Not so much, LOL!

    • Wow! You were one of the cool chicks in our school! The record store job? Classic! Loved the fashion back then too. The colors and the music were my favorite. Everything was so new and different. Madonna and Prince ruled the airwaves. Oh, and your discount you got, fabulous! Nothing sounded like vinyl! Let’s not talk about the shoulder pads! 🙂

  9. Loved this: “our hair was tall and our walk was light”.

    Also, I have a book you might enjoy:”Talking to Girls About Duran Duran: One Young Man’s Quest for True Love and a Cooler Haircut” by Rob Sheffield. The author talks about how his memories of growing up in the 80s are intertwined with music – it’s excellent! http://www.robsheffield.com/book-1-1-1

  10. Class of 79. The summer after I graduated, Donna Summer’s “Bad Girls” was steaming up the airwaves. Disco…and leisure suits…

  11. Love this post, Jack. 🙂

    I graduated high school in 1984. I was one of those girls that wore leg-warmers with puffy-sleeved dresses and heels. I lip-synched to Duran Duran and Michael Jackson’s albums on the radio and bought my favorite bands on cassette tapes for my 1969 Oldsmobile (a tank, but a great first car). When I got a phone in my OWN ROOM, I thought life could not get more luxurious.

    The best part about the Eighties was that though the world where I was placed a lot of value on “stuff”, we were still largely innocent. It was a great time to be a teenager.

    Thank you for the Friday smile.

    • I remember when I got my first phone in my room too. It was the same as getting wireless internet access throughout the house. My, my, my, how things have changed. And you were one of those Duran Duran fans? Gosh, I’ll never forget how hot they were back then with all the girls.

  12. The clothes were frightful but thankfully I never indulged in that fashion. I was more into bands like New Model Army which meant I went for a more ‘worn’ look with a shaved head plus scalp lock. They were some of my favourite years though….ahh nostalgia

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