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#MicroblogMondays 11: Missing Childhood Items

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Last week, the kids and I were talking, and via this very convoluted path which included a discussion of Keith Haring and the Pop Shop, I mentioned address books.

“What’s an address book?” the ChickieNob asked.

WTF?  Do you realize that kids today don’t know what an address book is?  Their only reference point is the contacts app on their parent’s phone.  They have no clue that we used to have paper books — usually with a hard cover — that we bought in museum shops and filled with the address and telephone numbers of our friends and family.  And if we wanted to make a phone call, we had to drag that sucker out and flip to the correct page using the gradational tabs on the side to jump to the correct place in the alphabet.

What else from your childhood will kids never know about?


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1. Mali (No Kidding in NZ) 22. Itty bitty liddy 43. A.
2. Mali (A Separate Life) 23. Infertile Girl 44. LAM
3. Turia 24. Mrs T 45. Cynthia Samuels
4. Just Heather 25. Elizabeth 46. Laurel Regan @ Alphabet Salad
5. Persnickety 26. S 47. stephanie (Travelcraft Journal)
6. Jen (Days of Grace) 27. Isabelle 48. torthΓΊ il
7. Karen (River Run Dry) 28. Vidya Sury, Collecting Smiles 49. Suzanna Catherine
8. Uma S 29. Tara 50. Loribeth
9. Grateful Mondays @ Nabanita 30. Shail 51. Delenn
10. obsessivemom 31. Lovely Transitions 52. # Microblog Monday Haikus
11. D 32. Usha 53. This Caring Heart
12. Lori Lavender Luz 33. Stacie 54. Northern Star
13. lostintranslation 34. Amber 55. AHalf Baked Life: Migration
14. Sadie 35. Brooke 56. Middle Girl
15. Fran 36. Running Nekkid 57. Conceptionally Challenged
16. Kasey 37. dennasus 58. Vinitha
17. No Baby Ruth 38. Lisa 59. Corinne Rodrigues
18. Emma (Muddy Boots & Diamonds) 39. Geochick 60. deathstar
19. Rachel 40. Waiting for Baby 61. Keanne
20. Mary Francis 41. Daryl
21. JB 42. Karen


1 Mali { 11.10.14 at 5:30 am }

I grew up in the country with a telephone that still had a party line! And the phone was both connected to the wall with a cord, and a rotary dial ( and I think in NZ our numbers were reversed compared to yours).

2 TasIVFer { 11.10.14 at 5:43 am }

Typewriters, where when you hit a key on a keyboard a little hammer hit ink onto a page. And if you didn’t hit with the same force, they were different shades of grey. And you couldn’t undo!

3 Turia { 11.10.14 at 6:23 am }

I still have (and use) an address book, although not usually for phone numbers.

Encyclopedias. We used to have this massive one in our living room which was out of date in all sorts of ways by the time I was old enough to peruse it.

4 JustHeather { 11.10.14 at 6:46 am }

Rotary phones! (Although you can still find look-a-likes of them in toys.) Dictionaries and encyclopedias. Records and record players. Cassette tapes. Roller skates.

5 Persnickety { 11.10.14 at 7:01 am }

Calculators. And computer disks for games that loaded and then you waited 2 minutes and then played. Floppy disks I mean.
And having to plan ahead to meet someone because you couldn’t text each other once you were at the mall.

6 Jen { 11.10.14 at 7:05 am }

Memorising people’s telephone numbers. The idea that you can only watch a TV programme at the time it’s broadcast. Making plans and having to stick with them because you couldn’t reach someone once they left their house!

7 Karen (River Run Dry) { 11.10.14 at 7:20 am }

Books on records. A REAL phone (attached to the wall with the long cord, which stretched all the way to the bathroom from our kitchen) – we only have our cell phones. Encyclopedias. Books on records. Calendar books.

8 Karen (River Run Dry) { 11.10.14 at 7:20 am }

(Did I mention the books on records??) πŸ™‚

9 Katherine A { 11.10.14 at 7:22 am }

Well…I grew up with a wood stove as the only source of heat in the house. The house was an old one and had never had central heat installed.

I second the person who said rotary phones, I remember dialing on those. And then remember talking with a younger co-worker who asked me how in the world one dialed those things…

10 UmaS { 11.10.14 at 7:24 am }

That is so true…but I do maintain an Address book even now. So my guess is my kids are aware of it.
But they wonder how we lived without mobile phones or internet or even television….

11 D { 11.10.14 at 7:41 am }

I think about this subject all the time! I actually feel sad for kids growing up today because it seems like everything they do is on a computer or electronic device. I think that soon, writing and most definitely cursive will be obsolete. Everyone will type. God forbid the electrical grid goes down at some point…everyone will be screwed!

12 obsessivemom { 11.10.14 at 7:45 am }

What an interesting thought Mel. Actually there are lots of things – music records, even music cassettes for that matter.

13 tigger62077 { 11.10.14 at 8:19 am }

The connection between a cassette tape and a pen/pencil. Records. Sending a letter and having to wait two weeks for a reply. Long distance charges on the phone bill that go with the phone that is attached to the wall. Dial-up. The sound of a modem connecting. A: drives. Floppy disks – both the big and littler ones. Rabbit ears. Having only 3 channels. Being able to be outside by yourself after dark (I lived in the country and now I live in the city).

14 lostintranslation { 11.10.14 at 8:23 am }

All of the above, plus VHS tapes and photo cameras with real film (no way I would let my 5-year old waste a roll of film while now he can snap away and I just delete all the blurry stuff)!

15 Fran { 11.10.14 at 9:17 am }

Phones with screens that don’t slide!

16 Jill A. { 11.10.14 at 9:23 am }

Vacations road trips with no A/C and no seat belts. Delivery men for bread, milk, dry cleaning, eggs. Carving bar soap. Hiding from your parents as a joke and getting in trouble instead of having to call 911 because they panicked. Free school evenings, when homework took 20 minutes, not 3 hours.

17 No Baby Ruth { 11.10.14 at 9:27 am }

I still keep an address book! But I also still keep a paper calendar in my purse. So I’m kinda old school…

Encyclopedias is what came to mind. Growing up (in the 80s) we used my grandparents’ old set from the 50s. It was old and still so useful!

18 emma { 11.10.14 at 10:01 am }

I STILL have an address book, so I hope that my kids will be aware of them πŸ™‚ And a paper calendar. And an actual planner.

I’m worried about board games and books. I hope they NEVER get completely replaced by phones and e-notebooks. But the one thing my kids probably won’t learn about: dialing the line to find out the time.

19 Brid { 11.10.14 at 10:22 am }

I was in high school Shakespeare class last week and the word ‘spinster’ came up. None of the teenagers knew the word, so the teacher declared it dead! Progress? I think so!

20 JB { 11.10.14 at 10:24 am }

I loved my address book πŸ™‚ I honestly wish I still had one. My sons will never know about popples. It’s silly, yes, but I LOVED my popple. And to echo some comments above, encyclopedias for sure. And cameras with real film! Oh man, so many things πŸ™‚

21 Mrs T { 11.10.14 at 11:01 am }

So many things! I found myself attempting to explain what live TV was the other day – E usually only watches OnDemand or DVDs.

22 Sharon { 11.10.14 at 11:19 am }

I could echo many of the things that others have said. My sister and I also played a lot of card games with my grandmother growing up (not just Go Fish and Uno!, but things like spades, gin rummy and bridge), and I don’t see many kids doing that these days.

Also, we grew up in a small town and often stayed away from the house playing unsupervised for hours at a time. I don’t see us doing that with our sons, living in a larger city and a different era.

23 Isabelle { 11.10.14 at 11:30 am }

I agree with everything above. I am a speech language pathologist and do evaluations with kids. In one of the standardized tests, there are pictures of the telephone, calculator, calendar, and stuff like that, many kids don’t know what they are. Last one one kid called the calculator an iPhone. The following is slightly different. I went to an occupational therapy workshop the other day. The OT said that one of her kiddos did not know how to turn on the faucet or pump soap out of the soap dispenser in her clinic because all the faucets and soap dispensers at home are automatic! You just put your hand under the spout and you get what you need. So this kid did not know how to turn on the old-fashioned faucet.

24 Vidya Sury { 11.10.14 at 11:36 am }

Almost everything we used during my childhood, Mel! Our first refrigerator came home when I was 24 πŸ™‚ In fact, we did not even have fans or a dining table or enough chairs during my childhood! We lived in a large house that was well-ventilated and didn’t need fans. Did not think it odd to use a hand held fan when it got warm! πŸ˜€
We did not have any kitchen appliance that ran on electricity.

Very interesting question! I am only sad that they don’t get to go hand around libraries, thanks to the Internet πŸ™‚

Happy MicroblogMonday!

25 Justine { 11.10.14 at 11:50 am }

The card catalogue. Remember how those used to smell? I would type out the cards during the summers I worked in the library. It was good physical organization practice. πŸ™‚

26 staciet { 11.10.14 at 1:39 pm }

Things that have come up with my 8th graders:

1) They have no idea what the sitcom “Friends” is. (OMG!)
2) Floppy disks – I showed them a 3.5 inch one and they were amazed.
3) modems – what the world didn’t always have wireless?
4) Walkman – they didn’t know anything other than an iPod
5) vhs – they only know dvd players

That’s all I can think of right now. Blows my mind every time I come across one. lol

27 Amber { 11.10.14 at 1:51 pm }

Cassette tapes and a Walkman, plus everything the above ladies have already shared!

28 celeste { 11.10.14 at 2:23 pm }

I am LOVING this comment thread. So many memories! Books on record, card catalogs, rewinding a barfed-out cassette tape with a pencil. These are all so great!

29 Lisa { 11.10.14 at 3:33 pm }

I was recently cleaning out a patient’s chart and there was dot matrix paper in there! I promptly pulled off the edges and folded them together, making a beautiful paper chain a la middle school. I was fidgeting with it and my GRADUATE STUDENT had no idea what it was. When I used the words “dot matrix” she looked even more confused.

They will also never know the joy of sniffing fresh purple ditto sheets. I can smell the memory right now.

30 dennasus { 11.10.14 at 3:37 pm }

The cassette tapes would have been my first thought and of course records and record players. I don’t know how it has been in US or even other European countries, but when my generation here in Germany talk about these things (and reminisce *g*) we always mention that there were only 3 TV stations and that they signed off for the night and only transmitted a test pattern πŸ™‚

31 Lori Lavender Luz { 11.10.14 at 5:01 pm }

I’m not the first one to say MEMORIZING all the phone numbers you need (because you’re too lazy to carry around that address book, which you do keep).

Even before cassettes — how about those little reel-to-reel audio recorders? Or the HUUUUGE videocameras that came decades later?

32 loribeth { 11.10.14 at 5:23 pm }

Oh, don’t get me started…! πŸ˜‰

I still have an address book (it’s part of my paper Filofax planner).

I recently heard that some kids don’t know what a busy signal on the telephone is.

Re: not remembering “Friends” — I had two coworkers at one time named Kate & Ali. And I said their names together and I started giggling and they looked at me, and I said, “Kate & Ali — you know, that old sitcom with Jane Curtin & Susan Saint James…?” They both looked at me with these completely BLANK expressions, and Ali said to me, very politely (like she was talking to a very old lady), “I’m sorry, but I have NO IDEA what you’re talking about.” Yikes!! I slunk back to my cubicle & stayed there for the rest of the day. :p

My nephew registers for all his university courses online. He will never know the joy of having to walk all over campus to get the prof’s signature/approval on the courses you wanted to take, then standing in a huge lineup to hand in your paperwork and pay your fees with a cheque (which also involved computer punch cards at some point — now there’s something that’s obsolete…!).

They will also never know what it’s like to draft a term paper, longhand, and then staying up all night the night before it was due to type the final copy (cursing when you had to add whiteout & then align the letters back EXACTLY where they were…). I’ve often said I would love to go back to school, if only to be able to write an essay on a computer. πŸ˜‰

33 L.A. { 11.10.14 at 6:31 pm }

Saturday Morning Cartoons & mixtapes! 24-7 cartoons and Spotify playlists cannot compare!

34 Cynthia Samuels { 11.10.14 at 6:48 pm }

The first thing that popped into my mind was Bucky Beaver! How weird is that? Of course there’s also white-out and carbon paper – and the great smell of things straight off the ditto machine! OH and feel free to disqualify my post – I treated the entire quote as one sentence.

35 Laurel Regan { 11.10.14 at 7:34 pm }

It never would have occurred to me that kids today wouldn’t know about address books, but it makes total sense! Thinking about the stuff makes me feel ancient, LOL.

36 Stephanie (Travelcraft Journal) { 11.10.14 at 7:37 pm }

A friend was doing a workshop for elementary school kids and asked one to draw a phone on the blackboard. He was surprised when the picture was just a rectangle with a circle near the bottom. It was an iPhone. Not what I think of first when I picture “phone.” But I don’t even have a landline anymore.

37 a { 11.10.14 at 8:16 pm }

Sigh – all the stuff people mentioned, minus the rotary phone and a typewriter, I pretty much still have and use. I had all the Disney movies on VHS, and never saw a need to buy them all again, so we have a VCR. I have a bunch of cassettes, although I don’t know if my girl has ever heard them played. I use my address book all the time, because it’s easier to write stuff in there than type it into my phone. We have had a set of rabbit ears in our perpetual quest to find an antenna to get over-the-air channels that don’t pixelate. It’s a mix of generations in our house!

38 K { 11.10.14 at 8:51 pm }

A few things come to mind…
1. Summer vacation when no one went any where.
2. Christmas vacation being called Christmas vacation.
3. TVs with dials.
4. Non-digital clocks
5. Oral thermometers with mercury
6. Newspaper boys
7. Neighborhood boys doing the lawns.
8. Seeing a movie once in the theater.
9. Stores being closed on Sundays for the Blue Laws.
10. Easter parades where everyone wore their new Easter clothes and bonnets!

39 torthuil { 11.10.14 at 9:48 pm }

I can remember when there wasn’t internet – kids now have no idea!!

40 Middle Girl { 11.11.14 at 12:46 am }

When my daughter was a child I remember being slammed with the realization that she only knew how to read time via a digital clock. Half past one, a quarter to two were foreign concepts. A condition I worked to correct. Friends who have young children now lament the disappearance of cursive writing.

41 Vinitha { 11.11.14 at 5:49 am }

The list will go on. Life is different now.

42 sharah { 11.11.14 at 11:06 am }

Paper maps and the yellow pages. We still gave both in the house, but we never use them.

43 SRB { 11.11.14 at 5:31 pm }

Tapes. Specifically, the intricacies and politics of making someone the *perfect* mixed tape.


44 loribeth { 11.12.14 at 8:15 pm }

Have you seen the “Kids React to…” videos? Here’s a link to one on YouTube (with links from there to others). I’ve seen ones of them with a Sony Walkman & a typewriter. Both hilarious & horrifying!

45 Shail { 11.14.14 at 1:35 am }

I am as bad as my children, I don’t have an address book anymore, everything is digital. I have accepted the newfangled appliances wholeheartedly πŸ™‚

46 Caryn { 11.14.14 at 2:22 pm }

Waiting with a blank tape whole listening to the radio for your favorite new song to be played on the weekly top ten and hitting record at just the right moment.

After School MTV video countdown and after school specials.

(c) 2006 Melissa S. Ford
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