There’s the stereotype of older generations saying “back in my day” before saying something completely ridiculous that someone wouldn’t ordinarily believe could actually happen. Well, there may be some truth to those statements, as Baby Boomers lived through some of the craziest times. With the Cold War going on and many advancements in technology, it shouldn’t be too surprising. Well, here are some crazy things that Baby Boomers did in the past.
Seatbelts And Car Seats
Strapping in is like second nature nowadays. You sit down and just put on your seatbelt. People that don’t wear seatbelts are actually considered reckless now. However, that wasn’t always the case. When cars were still more of a luxury item as opposed to a necessity, their safety features weren’t exactly on par with today’s standards. There weren’t even car seats yet. A mother would sometimes even put her smaller children in her lap as she drove the car.
Lack of Childproofing
Medicine bottle caps, cabinet locks, special doorknobs, there have been a lot of inventions designed to protect babies from themselves. But during the era of the Boomers, they didn’t have nearly as much childproofing. It was a lot easier for an unsupervised child to hurt themselves. And you’ll see why that was especially bad a little later in this list.
Boy And Girl Toys
This one hasn’t fully disappeared as a concept, but it was especially prevalent back in the day. That is, the idea of toys being specific for boys and girls. Nowadays, kids can play with whatever they want, and their parents will be more likely to accept what toys they want to play with. But back in the 50’s, there was a clear divide between what you should and shouldn’t play with. Girls played with dolls and boys played with action figures.
Fire Hydrant Showers
You just can’t get away with this anymore. In cities and suburban areas, people used to open up nearby fire hydrants to spray water around the block. The primary reason for this was, of course, so that kids could play around and cool off. That is, at least until the police came by to tell you to knock it off.
Walking To School
Walking to school isn’t a too, terribly strange practice in this day and age, at least for short distances. And even then, parents will still be chaperoning their children to make sure they got to school safely. But, things weren’t exactly like this a long time ago. Walking to school was a lot more common, and the distance was a lot farther as well, like one or two miles. There would still be a chaperone, but that chaperone would ordinarily be an older sibling as opposed to a parent.
There’s a strong culture in the present for open communication between parents and their children. That wasn’t so much the case back in the time of the Boomers. It wasn’t that parents didn’t love their children, nor that children didn’t love their parents, introspective, emotional conversations just weren’t openly discussed at the table or between family members.
Drinking From The Garden Hose
Drinking from the garden hose isn’t something that’s completely gone away in the modern era, but it’s not nearly as viable an option. Bottled water was a more recent idea, so kids drank from the tap far more often. And if they played outside and needed to hydrate, they would have no issue taking a sip from the garden hose outside.
In the 60’s, the number of women in the workplace began to increase. However, there weren’t as many institutions, such as daycares, to accommodate children with two working parents at the time. At best, a kid would have an older sibling to watch them and help them make dinner.
Physical punishment has become a lot less common in the last 30 years. As a matter of fact, parents that spank their children nowadays are looked down upon. But back then, if you needed to discipline your child, a common instinct was to bend your kid over your knee.
Did you know that it was published that lead was a toxic substance as early as 1904. That’s 42 years before the Baby Boom actually started. So, why did people still use lead paint throughout that era? Some lead paints were even marketed as “tasting good”. It’s a good thing people finally caught on to how dangerous it is.
There weren’t just latchkey kids staying alone at home, but children were allowed to meander about and play without any adult supervision. They could play around their neighborhood or at the beach, all without parent supervision. Parents now wouldn’t allow their kids to go anywhere unless a trusted adult was watching them.
This isn’t to say that neighborhoods and communities aren’t tight-nit anymore, but most parents wouldn’t exactly like their children being parented by someone else, even if they were a good friend. And this wouldn’t just be giving children life lessons and watching over them, but disciplining them as well. And we’ve already gone over how disciplinary actions worked in the 60’s.
Some of the chemistry sets produced in the 60’s were absolutely insane. It’s always nice for a kid to take an interest in chemistry, or any of the sciences for that matter, but these Gilbert Chemistry Sets were just outright dangerous. They had many flammable materials, yet were intended to be handled by children.
Cycling Without Helmets
If you see a kid on a bicycle without a helmet, your first instinct may be to berate them for not wearing one. However, back in the 60’s this was much more common. People that wore helmets while riding bikes were actually considered to be dorks. If you hit your head, you were just expected to walk it off. Bike helmets became much more popular in later years.
The military draft is still around, at least legally, but there hasn’t been one in a long time. During the Cold War, there were drafts for the Vietnam and Korean War. Additionally, between 1940 and 1973, the Selective Training and Service Act allowed for men to be drafted, even during peacetime. Young men and women might count themselves lucky that they don’t have to worry about being forced into the military in the present.
The art of car making is a delicate procedure. Otherwise, you might just end up with a bomb on wheels. Some cars, such as the Ford Pinto, had a faulty fuel tank which could sometimes cause the vehicle to explode. This was a persistent issue even through the 70’s.
Trampolines Without Safety Nets
Trampolines with safety nets are pretty standard now, and playing on one without one is probably something most parents wouldn’t allow. Especially if more than one kid wants to go on one. However, back in the 60’s, parents didn’t seem to mind too much the lack of safety features, so kids would wind up walking home with many bruises and maybe even a broken arm or leg.
Going Over To A Playdate Alone
Scheduling a playdate for children or just a day to hang out with friends for teenagers can be a headache for both parents and kids. Making sure schedules line up, figuring out who will get where how, it might make someone decide to give up on the whole endeavor. However, if a Boomer wanted to go to a friend’s house, they just had to tell a parent they were going and just walk out the door. It was really that simple.
Boys Couldn’t Cry
This is a part of our society that is still ingrained in the US’s culture today. That’s to say, for a man to be a man, they weren’t allowed to cry. That type of mentality is more frowned upon now, but during the time Boomers grew up in, boys weren’t berated for crying and told to suck up whatever physical or emotional pain they were suffering from.
People just do not pick up hitchhikers anymore. It makes sense, considering that a few have been reported to have murdered their drivers in recent memory. However, in the 60’s and 70’s, hitchhiking was prominent for free-spirited folk who just wanted to travel around.
With online communities in addition to in-person relationships, people form numerous bonds with many friends. However, with some levels of separation, those bounds may not be as tight as some friendship bounds once were. To be fair, how many sworn brothers or sisters do you have? That’s right, some kids back in the day would feel so close to one another they would become blood brothers or blood sisters. Forgetting the risk of blood-borne diseases, that has to be a really tight friendship.
Going Too Fast On The Merry Go Round
The playground has always been a place or childhood fun. It’s also been a place of scraped knee and fractured arms. Apparently, it wasn’t always the kids’ fault if they got hurt. Sometimes the parents would spin the playground’s merry-go-round way too fast. Most often this would just cause nausea, but sometimes the kid might get accidentally thrown off.
Kids Going To The Store With A Note
This once was just looked at as a way to teach your child some responsibility. Now it’s viewed as a way to get them kidnapped. Parents used to send their children to the grocery store with a note. Regardless of the reason why, you would not be able to get away with that nowadays, especially since the grocery store isn’t within walking distance most of the time.
Sunbathing Without Sunscreen
Back before the fear of holes in the ozone layer and the widely accepted concept of global warming, people didn’t care too much about protecting themselves from the sun’s rays. Parents would use baby oil to attempt to protect them, but parents would often just soak up the sun without a care in the world. Now, everyone wears sunscreen whenever they take a trip to the beach.
Not Letting Their Daughters Date
And this is another one that’s still somewhat in the zeitgeist of the US. Parents were often overprotective of their daughters, telling them not to date or chasing off potential boyfriends. Of course, the same was never true for their sons, who were often encouraged to date by their parents. Not only was it a double standard, but it would make it difficult for teens to start dating in the first place if half of all of them weren’t allowed to have a boyfriend.