It’s hard to believe, but I graduated over 40-years ago. 40-years! It’s weird because it seems like yesterday. Time really does fly kids. The old folks who say that aren’t kidding. Anyhoo, things have, shall we say, changed quite a bit over that time. With your permission (except not really because I’ll do it anyway) here are my impressions of the differences between 1974 and 2014.
Bottled water is a huge thing in 2014. Buy Pure Sparkling Spring water! It’s from the cold, bubbly spring of a remote stream on Prince Florkendork Island in beautiful upstate New Jersey! Good Lord. The water could be from a kitchen sink in Poughkeepsie, NY and nobody would know the difference. In 1974, there was no such thing. We drank from the faucet, or sometimes the garden hose. If somebody would have asked me to buy water in 1974 I would have first laughed, then slapped them right in the temple.
Hey kids, believe it or not in 1974 there was a difference between school clothes and regular clothes. Dead serious. There was no way you’d be caught dead wearing your school clothes while out playing in the yard or something. If you did and your mom found out you’d be whipped with a tree branch or something. More on that later. In 2014, there is no difference. Kids wear whatever they want, whenever they want. Doesn’t this sort of show a lack of respect for school? I believe it does.
Here’s the deal. In 2014 anybody can buy a letterman’s jacket. You just go to a store and buy one. Any style, any combination of your school colors, doesn’t matter. In 1974, letterman jackets were earned. You never dreamed of going out and buying one. When you earned a varsity letter, the athletic department presented you with a letterman’s jacket, and you were damn proud to own it. I still remember Mr. Johnson handing me my jacket. I couldn’t wait to wear that baby, and I did all the time. To reiterate, in 2014, letterman’s jackets are bought by anyone. In 1974, they were earned and given to you by the school.
In 1974, I went to get my senior picture taken at a local studio, and I was in and out in 10-minutes. One head shot. That was it. I think it cost maybe $9.99, and I looked damn good with my feathered hair and white tie. In 2014, senior pictures are a whole big ordeal. Hours of photos taken at several locations, multiple costume changes and props, all for a cost of anywhere between $500.00-$1,000.00. See, the photography folks have you right where they want you. Graduation is a once-in-a-lifetime event, and when they show you the proofs you simply have to have them all for your kid. You don’t have to buy them all, parents. Your child will somehow survive without a 40-page album of photos of him or her posed around hay bales, leaning on fences, standing under a covered bridge or holding a squirming hedgehog.
In 2014, sometimes kids buy class rings in 7th grade. Doesn’t matter that you may not be alive in 6-years, let alone graduate, they want a damn class ring! And what if you move to another school? I’m perplexed. In 1974, nobody dared buy a class ring before the summer prior to their senior year. It just wasn’t done, partly because it was being a bit presumptuous. Note: Do kids even buy class rings at all anymore? I’m second-guessing myself now.
Let’s keep this simple. Here are the top selling artists of 2014:
2. Eric Church
And here are the top selling artists of 1974:
1. Paul McCartney & Wings
2. Elton John
3. Deep Purple
Do we even need to discuss this? We do not. ‘Nuff said.
In 2014, our phones are our lives. Our phones have a GPS system, the internet, games, music, and we can even text or, God forbid, talk to people. In addition, our phones talk to us. In 1974, we only had landlines, and we only used them exclusively to talk to people. That’s it. If you were in your car you had to find something called a phone booth along the road and make a call after putting coins in it. But let’s be honest. How many of you older folk long for the day when you could get in your car, take a long drive, and have a 0% chance that anybody could contact you? I know I do.
In 2014, we simply input our destination into our smart phone and wait for the disembodied voice to tell us where to go. In 1974, we had giant maps that were impossible to refold correctly and we had to actually follow the roads with our finger and, you know, read road signs and stuff. On a related note, I was once looking at a map while driving down I-75 towards Florida when it flew out the window, causing havoc and mayhem amongst the heavy traffic behind me. Good times.
In 1974 we had dangerous child killing contraptions called see-saws and slippery slides and monkey bars and merry-go-rounds on our playgrounds. Shoot, we used to do backflips off the top of the monkey bars onto the hard ground while the recess teacher rated us on a scale of 1-10. In addition, I’ve seen kids fly off of merry-go-rounds and into poles, trees, and random kindergartners. In 2014, all of this equipment is being phased out for being too dangerous. Future students will be required to wear helmets and those inflatable sumo wrestler get-ups before going out for recess. Sigh.
In 1974, cars had dashboards full of metal pointy things and nobody ever wore a seatbelt. Hell, I once rode from Ohio to Colorado in the back window of our 1971 Pontiac Catalina Brougham and dad used to hit the breaks just to see me fly into the back of the front seats. And you know what? I loved it. In 2014, dashboards are made of soft, cushy stuff and everyone has to be strapped in like you’re taking a rocket trip to Mars.
In 2014, hardly anybody hitchhikes. Everybody worries that the hitchhiker might be a serial killer or the hitchhiker is afraid a serial killer might pick him up. In 1974, hitchhikers were everywhere. I had a buddy who used to hitchhike back from college in Tennessee a couple times a month. On a related note, I picked up a soldier a couple months ago and got to hear him deliver this line: “Hell, I’m more scared of that dog of yours than anything I ever saw in Afghanistan.” Guess Sparky thought he was a hobo.
You’ve heard me harp on this enough, so I’ll keep it simple. In 2014, paddling your kid too hard can literally get you arrested. It’s nearly disappeared as a teaching tool. In 1974 and before, not only did my parents whip me, any adult could beat my ass. I was smacked by my barber, the neighbor, and the guy who ran the gas station. But hey, I kept riding my bike over that wire/tube thingy that rang the bell in front of the station so I deserved it. In addition, I didn’t tell dad because he would have throttled me again. And look at me, I turned out alright. So to speak.
To be fair, not everything was better in 1974. You know, there were a lot more racists and sexists around and whatnot. Plus there was the Captain & Tennille, so there’s that (Google them, but you have been warned). I guess everybody thinks life was better when they were a kid, and in 2054 today’s kids will probably be saying things like, “Can you believe they couldn’t teleport back in 2014? Absolutely barbaric” or “Wow. People actually ate pigs back then? Eww.” I also bet they’ll be saying stuff like, “Hell yes I love The Beatles. Who doesn’t?”
Because thankfully, there are some things that will never change.