Living in the 80’s

People growing up during the 80’s will vehemently argue that it was the best decade of their life, before so many things became commonplace that were supposedly going to make life as they knew it ‘easier’.


Experience has since shown that life has not become easier, and in fact the opposite is true. How much that has to do with inventions of the 80’s is debatable. The Rubik’s cube made its way into homes across America, as did the somewhat ugly but much adored Cabbage Patch Kids dolls. While their children listened to music on their Walkman or rode their Mongoose BMX bikes around the neighborhood bored housewives took up aerobics.

Television and Movies

Back to the Future showed to packed theaters and before the night was over every young man was dreaming of owning an iconic DeLorean. The movie was so popular that it wasn’t long before a sequel was released. The Karate Kid movie, though many viewers were probably not aware, had a moral to it but the one thing that is most remembered today is the phrase ‘wax on, wax off’. Another of the great classic movies of the decade was The Breakfast Club, which starred some of the soon-to-become great actors and actresses of their day. For horror buffs there was plenty of entertainment available, with the likes of the evil doll Chucky hitting the screen, and the beginning of the Friday the 13th series of movies, some dub as being the most horrific movies of their time.

The 80’s saw a number of great movies released with Steven Spielberg’s name right at the top of the credits, with perhaps the most widely enjoyed and remembered being ‘E.T.’. Other of Spielberg’s movies to be viewed by many of the kids of the 80’s (and some ‘grown ups’ too) were Poltergeist and the run of Indiana Jones thrillers.

Night-time soaps started airing in the 80’s, with two of the most notable being ‘Dallas’ and ‘Dynasty’. Though little better than their daytime counterparts when it came to quality television viewing, these shows became hugely popular to not only the soap fans who watched while eating lunch but also to those who wanted something to watch after a ‘hard day at the office’.



Rock and roll was alive and thriving in the 80’s and there wasn’t a teenager or young adult alive who didn’t know at least some of the lyrics to Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody. The then outlandish Cyndi Lauper rocked the charts and was to become a leading influence on the likes of Madonna and others who followed. Cyndi’s signature brightly colored hair and clothing was only rivaled by the flamboyant lead singer of Culture Club, Boy George, who also topped music charts during the 80’s before succumbing to drug abuse.
It seemed the days of comfortably dressed music artists focusing on their music were gone and now audiences worldwide were looking for a ‘total performance’ from their favorite music artists. Amazing stage shows, wacky makeup, clothing and hairdos became the norm for a time. These acts certainly were more ready than others when it came time for fans to demand not only audio recordings but video recordings as well not too many years later.
Though just one of the greats to have cultivated an almost cult following, Michael Jackson dominated music charts, producing hit after hit. Kids of the 80’s saw Jackson as a solo artist with great talent but few probably remember him from when he was a small boy joining his brothers on stage as part of the Jackson Five years earlier.



The Walkman was on every kid’s wish list for Christmas but as it was an expensive item (for the time) not everyone was going to get one, so many kids turned to doing paper routes to earn enough for the coveted audio cassette player. It was the ‘in thing’ of the time so if you had one you were most definitely a ‘cool kid on the block’. The Walkman didn’t lose popularity either, because once music transitioned from being recorded onto cassette tapes to CD’s the Walkman adjusted, bringing a new wave of kids a portable means of having their favorite tunes on hand.
Super Mario Bros. in its most primitive form provided kids lucky enough to have their own video gaming system hooked up to the family television hours of challenging fun in what was considered then a ‘neat thing to do’. What gamers then didn’t know is that the Mario Bros. would become iconic and be enjoyed by scores of kids everywhere. Today gamers are still enjoying the two characters’ antics but in a much more advanced format.
Calculators and VCR’s began appearing in homes across America, but it wasn’t until many years later that calculators became acceptable math tools in schools. Having a VCR afforded people the opportunity to more easily have a ‘family movie night’ at home, with Video Rental shops popping up everywhere.


Women accomplished some major achievements during the 80’s, most notably Sandra Day O’Connor, who became the first woman appointed to the Supreme Court. Sally Ride became the first woman to enter outer space, proving to young girls everywhere that a woman can do what had always been considered a ‘man’s job’ just as well.

Sadly, the 80’s had some tragic losses, of note Great Britain’s Princess Diana, who along with her beau at the time, were killed in a horrendous car crash that shocked the world. For a time there was speculation that it was deliberate act to remove her from her son’s lives but it was later ruled an accident. While Princess Diana had provided the tabloids both at home and abroad plenty of fodder during her tumultuous years of marriage to the heir to the throne her death was one news report many wished they didn’t have to write.

HIV/AIDS hit the headlines during the 80’s, with startling statistics coming to light, heralding the new meaning of ‘safe sex’. Where once pregnancy had been the main concern of young lovers, AIDS became the thing to fear most. Despite the warnings too many young men and women chose to ignore the risks and the number of infected continued to grow. The habit of sharing needles during drug use only added to the numbers, and the world became fearful that HIV/AIDS would bring about the end of life on Earth.

For 28 years a wall had divided the great city of Berlin, Germany but in 1989 a decision was made that it was time to end the separation of West Berliners from East Berliners, and so plans began to bring the historic Berlin Wall down piece by piece. Knowing it was of great historic significance people flocked to Germany in their thousands hoping to grab a piece of the wall before it was all taken away.


All the ‘cool’ guys sported mullet hair styles while the girls opted for a ‘perm’ (permanent). Great hair coupled with a leather jacket ‘made the man’ during the 80’s and every girl couldn’t resist the ‘bad boy’ image their male counterparts were portraying.

80-fashionOn hot days it was nothing unusual to find teenage boys and young men strutting around outside in their cut-off t-shirts designed to show off a boy’s abs, whether he had any to show or not, and shorts that left very little to the imagination.

On colder days and at the gym or aerobics class leg warmers were the style of the day, typically in neon colors that demanded attention. The new fashion trend in jeans was ‘stone washed’, soon followed by other efforts to make jeans unique, even to the point where one company lined their new jeans up against a fence and shot at them in the hopes of becoming the latest fashion trend that could command prices upwards of $100. Let’s not forget parachute pants, with their billowy legs and tightly cinched waistbands.


Baseball player Pete Rose sets a new all-time hits record, only to then find himself banned from playing for life when it was discovered that he had been betting on the outcome of baseball games. To this day Rose denies he ever did anything wrong.

Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson dominate basketball, providing crowds both at courtside and watching on television plenty of exciting play. Both men were superstars during the 80’s, drawing great crowds as they both excelled game after game.

In one of the greatest tennis games to ever be played at Wimbledon two of the most vocal players to ever step onto a court, Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe fought long and hard until Borg finally won the match, falling to the grass in what some believe was relief and exhaustion.

In Summary

Kids of the 80’s had no idea what it was like before the advent of television, microwave ovens and Walkman stereo cassette players. They grew up with a belief that these items had always been available and couldn’t imagine what it had been like to live without them. Though AIDS was of great concern, life during the 80’s for the most part was carefree.


A guy goes into a bar, orders twelve shots and starts drinking them as fast as he can.
The bartender says, "Dang, why are you drinking so fast?"
The guy says, "You would be drinking fast if you had what I had.""
The bartender says, "What do you have?""
The guy says, "75 cents."

Retrojunkie's Old Recipes

Aunt Abbie's Cake

1/2 cup butter 3/4 cup sour milk
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon soda
1 cup raisins and currants
1 teaspoon each nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves
2 scant cups flour

A favourite GIF for the Month - Farnsworth