"It Blows My Mind Thinking About It": 23 Boomers Are Revealing The "Wild" But Common Everyday Practices From The Past That Ceased To Exist Over Time

As an older Gen Z'er, I sometimes feel bad that those younger than me will never know the excitement of going into a Blockbuster or Hollywood Video, combing through all the tapes and DVDs, and looking for one to rent. Of course, no younger folks I know even know what those stores are, so I suppose it's a one-sided feeling. Even still, it's one of many experiences I reminisce about — and I'm not the only one. Recently, BuzzFeed Community members shared unique but everyday experiences from "back in the day" that younger generations will never experience now. Here are some responses that will either have you feeling nostalgic or 100% fascinated:

1."In the '50s and early '60s, there were x-ray machines in shoe stores. As a kid, I would wear my new shoes and put my feet in the machine so that my mother and the salesman could see how they fit."

Vintage coin-operated viewing machine with dual binocular-like viewers
YouTube: Wyoming State Museum

2."We had party lines for our phones! The party line people were allowed to talk as much as they wanted, and all we could do was interrupt them until they got tired of it and hung up. It was a necessary thing to do if we wanted to use the phone!"


3."We couldn't wear pants in elementary or junior high until the year before high school. Since we had gym class every day, I wore a pair of shorts under my skirt every day. When the school district finally allowed girls to wear pants, I jumped up and down joyfully. Nothing was worse than going to school in 40-degree weather in a skirt — I was freezing all day!"

Three women in skirts and shirts walking on a sidewalk with vintage cars in background
Picture Alliance / picture alliance via Getty Images

4."I got my dream vehicle a few years ago — a Jeep Wrangler. The doors come off, so many Wranglers still have crank windows to save weight. My wife and daughter took the car for a ride, and my daughter, who was 13 then, had no idea how to roll down the windows. She'd never heard of, let alone seen, a roll-down window before. I never realized it until then, but I bet a lot of kids these days haven't seen it, either."


5."Fresh milk was delivered to my house three times a week. The milk wasn't homogenized back then, so we had to mix the cream from the top of the bottle with the milk by hand."

Man in vintage delivery outfit with milk bottles by a red van


Tv Times / TV Times via Getty Images

6."I lived in the country. When kids in junior high and high school had afterschool activities, they could sign up for 'late transportation' to get home. Late transportation was basically when bus drivers would take students home using their personal cars. One time, we had 13 kids stuffed into a mid-sized car, including a heavyweight wrestler. I had to ride 20 miles on another kid's lap, tightly pressed against the dashboard."


7."No one really used helmets. Now, everyone uses a helmet when they're skiing or cycling. Somehow, our generation survived."


8."When I was in high school, from 1977 to 1979, you could be hired as a schoolbus driver as soon as you turned 16 and had a driver's license. Who thought that was a good idea? And buses used to go to everyone's house and park right there in front of it. It blows my mind every time I think about it!"

Children lining up to board a yellow school bus on a suburban street
H. Armstrong Roberts / H. Armstrong Roberts/ClassicStock

9."In the '50s and early '60s, my uncle and dad attended a high school that had a pistol and rifle club. Twice a week, they would bring guns to school and on the school bus, and would keep them in their lockers during the day. No one thought differently about it. Plus, their high school was in a decently-sized metro area, not out in the country. The school was right by a lake, so the janitor would go out on a rowboat and set up the targets."

A group of scouts in uniform practicing marksmanship outdoors with an instructor observing
David Turnley / Corbis/VCG via Getty Images

10."I'm going to be turning 67 this summer. When I was a kid, if there was a death in someone's family, the family would place funeral wreaths on their front door so that everyone in the neighborhood knew. It was an alternative to having to do a whole funeral announcement."


11."I'm 55-years-old. As a kid, I remember hanging out the station wagon's back window while the adults drove 60mph and over down the interstate. (It kept kids entertained on a trip.) When I was 10 years old, I'd walk one mile to our country store to buy my pop-pop cigarettes for him. Then, when I was a teen, I started buying cigarettes for myself, saying they were for my pop-pop! I remember sitting in my first college class in the fall of 1987 and smoking since our desks had built-in ashtrays! Oh, and I remember smoking on airplanes in my late teens/early 20s!

Person extracting a cigarette from a pack with a blurred background
Irina Marwan / Getty Images

12."I was born four days after Pearl Harbor and grew up during a time of war. All through the war years, sugar, gas, tires, and many other items were rationed for the war effort. Throughout the '40s, our milk was delivered to our home, a bakery delivery truck came by once a week, and there was a horse-drawn cart with bells called the 'junk man,' which picked up any unwanted or broken items. And because most families only had one vehicle, I'd have to walk over a mile to and from school, regardless of weather."

—Lorraine, 82, Florida

13."When I was 13, I had a paper route. Usually, I'd carry papers around the neighborhood using canvas bags over the handlebars of my pink bike. Sometimes, my mom would flip down the tailgate of our Chrysler station wagon (yes, it had fake wood panels), and I would stand on the back of the tailgate as she drove 15-30mph, and I would fling the papers into the driveways of houses. Oh, and I wouldn't wear a helmet either."

A paperboy in vintage attire throws a newspaper while riding a bike

—Danamichele, 60, California


14."In the '70s, before EPA regulations really took effect, most of the bigger streams and rivers in our town wildly stank because industrial plants were allowed to dump their untreated waste in them."


15."Even in the 1980s, it wasn't easy finding non-smoking seats in an airplane. We had to bring our boys — who were seven and four — back from the airport because the airline couldn't provide guaranteed non-smoking seats for unaccompanied minors."

Sign on airplane seat reading "SMOKING PERMITTED AFT OF THIS ROW" with date March 20, 1984, from WTVJ Miami

16."My brother and I had a $2 allowance, so we'd go to the corner store and get a pop, chips, a chocolate bar, and a bag of penny candy with no problem. This was around '88 and '89. It's wild that the same amount of stuff would run me about $10 or more today."


17."Before mobile phones, there were pay phones everywhere. If we didn't have any change and needed a lift home from somewhere, we'd use the reverse charge service and say where we were so that our parents didn't have to pay."

Two traditional British red telephone booths with a person visible in one booth
Harvey Meston / Getty Images

18."There were no remotes for the one console TV in the house. The kids were the ones who had to get up and change the channels using the TV knobs. When remote controls did arrive, they were attached to the TV by a long wire, and everyone had to sit closeby to use it."

—Denise, 66, Illinois

19."People used to buy traveler's checks before going on trips, and that was how they spent money. So you had to try and guess in advance how much money you wanted/needed to spend. During road trips, when my parents were ready to retire for the night, my dad would stop at each motel so my mom could run inside and get the price. It was cheaper to get a one-bed room, so they'd put two chairs together and make me sleep on that instead."

Vintage photo of people by classic cars in front of Algiers Motel with retro signage


Aladdin Color Inc / Corbis via Getty Images

20."My elementary school in the '60s had an incinerator on the playground's edge. Every day, the janitor would collect the trash from the classrooms, dump it in the incinerator, light a match, and burn it up! Students weren't supposed to go near it, but it was too interesting to stay away from. Through a little hole at the bottom of the incinerator, I could look through and see pieces of lead or graphite that'd remained after a pencil had burned. Once, I reached through for one and got caught by the principal. He was a nice man; he told me to wash my hands and go back to class. Can you imagine a school playground with an incinerator on it today? It seems strange now, but no one thought much about it at that time."

—Steve, 66, Texas

21."I started working in a major television newsroom in 1980. I remember all the reporters pounding on typewriters and smoking cigarettes and cigars. There wasn't a computer in sight. Also, all the news stories were shot on film. They had a film lab in the backroom, and all the film was edited by hand, one splice at a time."

Person typing on a vintage typewriter, hands visible


H. Armstrong Roberts

22."Our family doctor was a chain smoker and kept an ashtray in every exam room. He would advise my grandpa to stop smoking while simultaneously puffing away on his own cigarette. Our doctor eventually succumbed to lung cancer."


23.Lastly: "There was a time not long ago when we had NO sunscreen. As a fair-skinned ginger kid with a ginger mom (who'd already had skin cancer removed in her 20s), I had to either really limit my time outside or wear long sleeves and pants — even during the summer. In Oklahoma. Finally, due to my mom's skin cancer scares, she was eligible for a trial, then later a prescription, for sunscreen. She'd slather me in it! It was sticky and kinda stunk, but it let me play outside four times longer than I could before — and in summer-appropriate clothing — without burning up! My mom and I were so excited when sunscreen became an over-the-counter item because it'd become so much cheaper!"

Child with sunscreen on face holding a juice box and sunglasses, wearing a sun hat and T-shirt at a sunny outdoor event

—Lisa, 60, USA

Mirrorpix / Mirrorpix via Getty Images

I don't know about you guys, but I'm still stuck on the foot x-rays being used in shoe stores. If you're an older adult, what are some unique but common experiences you had growing up that younger generations will never get to experience? Let me know down in the comments, or you can anonymously using this form!