Back to the 1970s you pampered brats!

My children refused to be impressed by tales of riding a bike six miles to catch a school bus and trecking through the frosty grass on a cold winter morning to get milk from the cowshed. I hope a later generation of  young people get to see this program about life in decades gone by, not many decades, but a lot of progress.

There are three episodes; “The 1970s”, “The 1980s” and “The 1990s”. Each covers a period of ten days, one for each year, with a counter over the front door showing the current year. New devices and amenities – as well as clothing and interior designs – are provided as appropriate as days go by (for example, a home computer in 1982, and a VCR in 1984), and sometimes removed as they go out of date. The programme follows the family’s adaption and reaction to being thrown back in time to a more technologically sparse period; and how their pastimes, social interactions and attitudes change in response to both landing in the early 1970s and coming up-to-date.

That came up in a comment on a post at Coordination Problem, contesting the claim that the US is in the grip of a Great Stagnation.

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51 Responses to Back to the 1970s you pampered brats!

  1. C.L. says:

    Check this out, Rafe…

    Father shows his daughter LP for the first time:

  2. Sinclair Davidson says:

    What’s this riding a bike? I had to walk barefoot through the snow up hill against the wind in both directions …

  3. Sinclair Davidson says:

    When my kids saw a dial telephone in an antique store (!) They didn’t know what it was or how to use it.

  4. JamesK says:

    GC: House? You were lucky to have a HOUSE! We used to live in one room, all hundred and twenty-six of us, no furniture. Half the floor was missing; we were all huddled together in one corner for fear of FALLING!

    TG: You were lucky to have a ROOM! *We* used to have to live in a corridor!

    MP: Ohhhh we used to DREAM of livin’ in a corridor! Woulda’ been a palace to us. We used to live in an old water tank on a rubbish tip. We got woken up every morning by having a load of rotting fish dumped all over us! House!? Hmph.

    EI: Well when I say “house” it was only a hole in the ground covered by a piece of tarpolin, but it was a house to US.

    GC: We were evicted from *our* hole in the ground; we had to go and live in a lake!

    TG: You were lucky to have a LAKE! There were a hundred and sixty of us living in a small shoebox in the middle of the road.

    MP: Cardboard box?

    TG: Aye.

    MP: You were lucky. We lived for three months in a brown paper bag in a septic tank. We used to have to get up at six o’clock in the morning, clean the bag, eat a crust of stale bread, go to work down mill for fourteen hours a day week in-week out. When we got home, out Dad would thrash us to sleep with his belt!

  5. Forester says:


    They still used horses to snig logs in 1975 where I first worked.

    I enjoy recounting my early career to todays yoof finishing with “then personal computers were invented”…

    “You wrote your university essays by hand!”

  6. ar says:

    Father shows his daughter LP for the first time:

    Larvatus Prodeo?

  7. Jim Rose says:

    thanks rafe, I saw at least the first episode, which was the best.

    In the 1970s, kids often had morning paper-runs on a bike.

    the family looked into a paper run for their teenager, but the idea did not go anywhere because no one would allow a child of the middle class to walk the streets alone before dawn these days. stranger danger.

  8. Jim Rose says:

    see for the ‘you where lucky’ monty python skit where 4 well-dressed men sit drinking Chateau de Chassilier wine and reflect in their poverty stricken chidlhoods

  9. dover_beach says:

    I used to be up at 5am, out the door in 5min, and off to the newsagent to collect the papers for delivery. Absolutely loved it. Although, I would occasionally scare myself half to death the day after seeing some horror movie and then taking the short-cut through a laneway on those cold wintry mornings. But what teenager wouldn’t want to be out on his bmx tearing it up on the mean streets? Things were much simpler then.

  10. Samuel J says:

    It shows how out of touch today’s kids are – they can sprout all sorts of nonsense about global warming but don’t know what a record player is let alone a ancient plough.

    There were a couple of great series from England – the 1900 House and the 1940 House. It really showed how bad life really was.

    Around 1900 there were 200,000 horses living and working in New York City. Each horse produced 11 kg of dung a day, that’s 2.2 million kg of dung a day. Imagine the smell on a summer day!

  11. Splatacrobat says:

    I have a wind up 78rpm player at home and countless 78’s from the 30’s, 40’s, 50. Back in the 90’s I ran out of needles for so I went to the Parlings store to see if I could get replacements (as each needle is only good for 5 or six plays then needs replacing).

    I asked the 20 something girl behind the counter if they had a box of needles for a 78 player and she said “what is a 78 player”. I said that they are wind up record players that don’t require batteries or mains power. She questioned “why would you have one of those?” , just kidding with her I said so I can play records at the beach.

    She burst out with WOW! that is very cool but they must be very expensive these new powerless players? With that I asked for the manager who found a box of needles next to a huge board of record stylus’s and I went on my way.

  12. Bunyip says:

    If you want to see something genuinely funny, hand a fountain pen to a youngster — that would be anyone under 40 — and watch the bafflement. Just don’t stray too far. Chances are the nib will be ruined, so you will need to stand ready to snatch it back.

    The world took a turn for the worse when ballpoints arrived.

  13. Infidel Tiger says:

    Remember when milk bars used to sell mixed 1c & 2c lollies and you could make up your own bag? Struth we sure did get away with some dodgy arithmetic.

  14. H B Bear says:

    Was this post ghost written by Greg Rudd – owner of the burning underpants?

  15. Poor Old Rafe says:

    I think Sinc is having me on. Snow in South Africa?

    OK Live and learn!

  16. C.L. says:

    I love listening to oldsters tell the real I Remember stories. Old bloke was telling me a few weeks ago about how great it was when you could get all your sharps sharpened by the sharpener man. He went around with horse and cart and ladies brought out their knives and scissors for sharpening. This was before the Goo-Ga Archipelago – so they were at home looking after their own children.

  17. Bunyip says:

    Samuel J: Horse poo has a reputation it doesn’t deserve. It doesn’t stink anywhere near so much as cow or human excrement, wipes easily from the shoe, does wonders for roses and, according to some, has the power to stimulate the brain and inspire the creative urge. Alfred Krupp, founder of the German armaments empire, was so convinced of that theory he built his stables into the basement and installed ducted fans to waft the aroma throughout his Cologne mansion. Mind you, his son, Friedrich, topped himself, so the jury remains out in the matter of its overall benefits.

  18. Gab says:

    I was 21 yo when I was shown an LP record for the first time. It was a Jeanette MacDonald & Nelson Eddy album and listened to it being played on a gramophone. A real treat.

  19. JamesK says:

    Krupp obviously didn’t rate the Herculean cleansing of the Augean stables

  20. JamesK says:

    LPs Gab not 78s.

  21. Gab says:

    It was large and thick, James. And from memory had paper or cardboard sandwiched between the black playing surface (which I don’t think was vinyl) and that was also hard.

    I’ll now go and google the difference between LP and 78.

  22. Yobbo says:

    They still do that IT, but most places do it by weight now.

  23. Yobbo says:

    My favourite story is from my Uncle, who is in his mid-60s.

    Back in the 70s he used to ride his horse (on the trotting spider) to the pub.

    It wasn’t that he didn’t have a car, it was more that the horse knew the way home in the likely event that he went home shitfaced.

    Growing up in the country was awesome.

  24. Gab says:

    trotting spider

    What the heck is that?!

  25. JamesK says:

    78’s were thick and hard and 10″, supposedly Gab.

  26. JamesK says:

    What the rider sits on in harness racing Gab.

  27. JC says:

    …supposedly Gab

    wow, some people have never seen a 78. yes they were thick and they also cracked if you dropped them. they made decent Frisbees, provided you were trying to cat them, as they hurt.

  28. Gab says:

    Oh, of course. I know what that is – just not the nomenclature. Thanks, James.

  29. Gab says:

    You threw frisbees at cats, JC? That’s bad.

  30. JC says:

    lol… I really should read this stuff. In fact I should really concentrate on what i ought to be doing rather than this blogging crap.

  31. JC says:

    however it really fun getting stuck into leftwing idiots. At the end of the day all they’re looking for is money and how to hound it out of people. But it’s not theirs!

  32. Gab says:

    Material, 78s:

    Around 1895, a shellac-based compound was introduced and became standard. Exact formulas for this compound varied by manufacturer and over the course of time, but it was typically composed of about one-third shellac and about two-thirds “mineral filler”, which meant finely pulverized rock, usually slate and limestone, with an admixture of cotton fibers to add tensile strength, carbon black for color (without this, it tended to be a “dirty” gray or brown color that most record companies considered unattractive), and a very small amount of a lubricant to facilitate mold release during manufacture. Some makers, notably Columbia Records, used a laminated construction with a core disc of coarser material or fiber.

  33. Bunch of bloody old farts.

  34. Pete of Perth says:

    In 75 I used to walk to the local deli (Flynn Canberra) and buy cigs for my Dad. Not bad for a 12 yr old.

  35. mareeS says:

    Hmm, pampered brats, indeed. I was feeding chooks before Joh made it fashionable. Best revenge on those bloody things was when the old man weilded the axe. Wet feathers in boiling water is a smell you never forget, especially when you grow up to be a chook occasionally fed by Joh.

  36. Winston SMITH says:

    MareeS, yes the smell of wet feathers and fresh chook guts still has the ability to bring a tear to my eye, and a lump to my throat.

  37. I don’t understand why they only started at the 1970s. That’s a mere blink away.

  38. Bunch of bloody old farts.

    No blood or farts here.

  39. H B Bear says:

    Bunyip @11.48pm Walking past one of those horse drawn carriages dragging tourists around the Melbourne CBD after the horse has dumped some green manure into its arse bag will never feature on a Tourism Victoria ad. Regardless of what it does for the garden.

  40. Jim Rose says:

    I remember drying the dishs, knives and forks as a small kid with my brothers as my mum washed them. the kids of today know how to pack a dishwasher.

  41. Jim Rose says:

    samuel J, the 1900 House was the best of them. housework was a full-time job back then.

    I really like tony’s robinson’s worst jobs in history too. great front-man, but he misses the point about why these jobs disappeared. the rise and rise capitalism

  42. Jim Rose says:

    Yobbo, great story about the horse and your uncle at the pub.

    the children of today would want a google driverless car

    do people go to pubs these days, or do they go to bars?

  43. Steve D says:

    The other example of a horse-drawn vehicle as an autonomously-driven vehicle. I can just remember the sound of the horse coming up the street in the early ’70s on the milk delivery run.

    Of course the reason it persisted was that the horse could move along on its own while the milkman ran alongside distributing the milk to each house and collecting the empty bottles…

    Wait, what?!? Milk was home delivered daily?


  44. Pedro the Ignorant says:

    “Turf” brand cigarettes were one penny each. My dad used to send my 8 y.o. sister to the local barber shop to buy him three cigarettes.

    He would probably get a dozen years in prison for doing that today.

    We truly live in a ridiculously over regulated society.

  45. Splatacrobat says:

    When I was 11 my school teacher used to send me across the road to the corner store to buy Craven A. Back then it was not a punishment but an honour as you got out of class for a bit)!

    I also had the honour of being a Coal Monitor as we had coal heaters.The job entailed taking a bucket down to the coal pile behind the wet weather shed and filling it up for the days use. I did not get to reach the dizzy heights of Ink monitor as they were made redundant a few years before my time.

    Chalk Monitors had to clean the boards, refill the chalk, and tap out all the chalk dust from the chalk dusters. This job was not very popular as you always ended up sneezing the rest of the day with the dust. Then there were the milk monitors whose job it was to collect the milk for the classes and restack the crates. Now I come to think of it school back then was a lively little slave trade for our teachers.

  46. I remember those days too, Splat. Especially being the ink monitor. You had to make up the ink and pour it into the inkwells in the desks.
    On a slightly different subject, even though I live in the Bowen Basin, you can’t get a bag of coal for the outside fire for love or money! Does anyone know where I can get a trailer load of the stuff?

  47. Keith says:

    Our telephone got a dial on it in the early 80’s. Up to that point you merely lifted the receiver and someone would say “number, please”. Unless it was mum using the phone and got connected to one her mates at the exchange. In which case we got caught up with all the news and events around the district. All for the price of one phone call.
    One day soon digital assistants and social media might be able to offer a similar level of friendly interactive service.

  48. dover_beach says:

    I really like tony’s robinson’s worst jobs in history too.

    Did you see the leather-making episode? Amazing stuff.

  49. Jim Rose says:

    DB, I did see the story about traditional leather making. robinson did a good job of explaining the smell.

    most of the jobs were either very dangerous or smelly. all were back-breaking

    for another scene, making something or another, he and the crew all had to flee the room at top speed because the smell was quickly far too dangerous.

  50. Splatacrobat says:

    I still have my dad’s old 3 band medium and short wave radio. When we were kids he would get it out and we would tune into it for hours searching radio stations overseas like the US armed forces radio beaming out from Vietnam or Japan. Depending on what sort of weather was around sometimes you could get the BBC or Europe.

    Nowdays you can download podcasts but back then as a child it was magical to think you could listen in to the world like you were there.

  51. Jim Rose says:

    in the 1980s, when young people took holidays in Europe, they took months off work because the ticket was just so expensive. they had to stay a long-time.

    sometime in the early 1990s, that all changed: the time off work was more expensive so short overseas holidays in Europe suddenly became common.

    my sister paid $2000 for air ticket from Australia to Europe in 1973. that was 6 to 9 months wages.

    only in the past few years has a ticket to europe exceeded $2000 – now $2,500?

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