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You Know You Were Part of the 1980s When...

By Edited May 20, 2016 2 4

The 80s were fun, wacky and bizarre -- all wrapped into one decade. If you were a teen, you were likely asked to follow U.S. Army Chief of Staff General William Westmoreland's lawsuit against CBS1, cut out newspaper clippings on the case and write weekly essays for your English class on libel. You did this with your Jordache handbags draped over your desk, and you wore three pairs of socks to match your purse and pulled all these socks over your jeans. And your hair may have been sticking straight up in the air, having been glued by almost entire can of hairspray earlier that morning.

1980s hairdo with hairspray
Credit: Ashley Webb via Flickr/CC by 2.0 https://www.flickr.com/photos/xlordashx/4651211473

In the 1980s, the higher your hair could hold up, the better.  Some people used cans a week to maintain their styles.

After school, when you were supposed to be clipping Westmoreland-related articles, instead you were secretly reading S.E. Hinton's "The Outsiders" because after you saw the movie you were obsessed with the story. You were probably often distracted though because Nancy Reagan's "Just say no" slogan was drilled into your head and it was blasting on the TV in between Gilligan's Island and Flinstones re-runs.

If you were a teen, you'll also probably recall a Lieutenant Colonel by the name of Oliver North and something about the country Iran, but you might not have the foggiest idea of what it was all about. You know that Iran was at war with some country called Iraq and your social studies teacher told you that Iraq was a U.S. ally. You also remember everyone talking about "Reaganomics" and "Star Wars", and, while you maybe weren't sure exactly what that meant, you knew the latter was not George Lucas' masterpiece.

You couldn't wait for the school week to end because it meant you got to watch cartoons on Saturday morning! All week you waited to find out what mess Smurfette and the other Smurfs would get into before they were reprimanded by Papa Smurf. After the show was over, you'd flip through your sticker album and scratch your smurf "smelly" stickers that smelled like bubblegum after running your fingernail across it.

Smurf
Credit: Manav Sharma via Flickr/CC by 2.0 https://www.flickr.com/photos/me-manavsharmaca/18537152750/

Kids and teens in the 1980s were digging the smurfs. No one was too old or too cool to like them.

You were definitely a part of the 80s if you remember how badly you wanted your MTV. When you got it, it actually played 24 hours of music videos that kept you mesmerized for days at a time. It could be days before you remembered to eat a meal or go to sleep.

Some of your friends were spinning on their heads trying to be break-dancers. Those not spinning were desperately trying to emulate Michael Jackson's (MJ) moonwalk steps while wearing a gem studded white glove. Everyone was dancing to MJs "Beat It" and sat glued to the television waiting for the "Thriller" video to play on the aforementioned MTV.

Yes, MTV actually did play videos back then. A few years later, "hair band" music blasted from your radios and cassette players and, while you still liked MJ, his styles were changing, and besides Dokken and Motley Crue were way cooler now anyway.

Bon Jovi and Madonna were the favorites of many boys and girls -- some of who wanted to look just like them. And maybe you couldn't wait to see Madonna's "Desperately Seeking Susan" movie.

Vinyl records were a part of your music collection and you collected "albums". Covers were cool. Anyone who was anyone collected all the old Led Zeppelin albums from the 1970s and blasted the Rocky III theme (on a '45 of course!) "Eye of the Tiger" from their record players. A few of your friends had "boom boxes", and when CDs came out you thought they were stupid because nothing was as cool as bringing home a spanking new record with a beautiful album cover. (You also vaguely remember those 8-track tapes because your parents still played them).

1980s vinyl
Credit: Leigh Goessl

Music collections in the 1980s were very different than they are today. Most people have digital collections in some shape or form. Teens in the 1980s saved their pennies to buy albums not downloads. That J. Geils Band record was the first album I ever owned.

If you hung out at the mall, you were a "mall rat" and your Big Mac came in a non-environmentally friendly Styrofoam container. It didn't matter if you ate it as an after school snack every day because fast food wasn't bad for you. You also excitedly took the "Taste Test" to decide which was better, Coke or Pepsi. Ketchup was considered a vegetable in your school lunch, so you were getting two servings of veggies a day between your lunch and your Big Mac.

The coolest cars, like the 65 -66 Mustangs and 67 Chevelles, were still popular cars – at that time not quite "classics" or viewed upon as antiques just yet – and kids in school either drove, or wanted to drive, these types of cars. You remember when cars were still made of real metal like those old 1970 Ford Torinos that still graced the roads, but are rarely seen today.

1970 Ford Torino GT Sportsroof
Credit: Sicnag/Creative Commons license-Attribution/Share Alike

Rarely seen today on the open roads, Ford Torinos were once popular cars, not the classic they are today. My Torino was not as nice as this one, it had a white top, had some tears in the seats and was full of rust. Still, I loved that car...

 You also know you were from the 80s if more than a decade later you were feeling all sorts of nostalgia and glory as you blasted Prince's popular single on New Year's Eve singing, "Tonight I'm gonna party like its 1999" as the new millennium began.

After all, you waited well over 15 years to do it!

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Comments

Oct 9, 2014 5:31am
shar-On
This must be the week for going down memory lane. You with this great walk down the clothing', hairstyles and music of the 80's and me with the old games article. I love these sort of articles and it is amazing what memories come back as you start writing.
When we got married in the 60's I had my hair plasted at the hair dressers and it just would not hold, they could not believe that it would not hold. Rated up
Oct 9, 2014 1:37pm
LeighGoessl
It is! I just submitted another 1980s one and have a 1970s one planned for a later time. It is fun to reminisce isn't it? Thanks for reading, commenting and rating!
Nov 14, 2014 10:23am
javrsmith
We were fascinated by Mount St. Helens. We remember where we were when it erupted. The area has changed a lot in the past 34+ years.
Nov 15, 2014 2:05am
LeighGoessl
Javrsmith, thanks so much for sharing your thoughts. I can only imagine how much the region has changed (this is one region I would love to visit someday). I do kind of remember the eruption happening, but since it was earlier in the decade and I was on the east coast, I don't remember it as much.
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Bibliography

  1. "Westmoreland files libel suit against CBS." New York Times. 14/09/1982. 6/10/2014 <Web >

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