Five Things That Were Way Better Way Back When

Monday, February 22, 2010

"'Cause the good ol' days weren't always good, and tomorrow ain't as bad as it seems..." - Billy Joel

Sorry, Billy, but I have to disagree. There are *some* things that were much better generations ago then their modern-day incarnations. Don't worry, I'm not about to sound like the old man with his horse and buggy lamenting about how the automobile will never catch on. There's no disputing that time and technology has made some things better, like cars, computers, and medical procedures. I just think there are some things that shouldn't have been tinkered with, and those would include:

1. Air Travel

Flying the friendly skies once meant sitting back and stretching your legs out in front of your spacious economy seat, while miniskirted stewardesses brought you free cocktails and food. No patdowns, no luggage fees, no paying for food. This type of flying as most Americans knew it is now extinct.

Truth be told, I'm actually one of the few people who admits she loves to fly - maybe because I don't do it that often - but I am also one to agree that modern air travel today sucks compared to 40 years ago. Besides the ridiculous homeland security measures that treat even new mothers and their newborn babies like they're shoe bomb smuggling psychos, we now have to pay for everything - checked luggage, crummy processed food, and even headphones to watch the in-flight movie or listen to music - perks that all used to be FREE. It seems like the airline industry nickels and dimes us more than our banking institutions. Legroom on commercial airplanes has also shrunk during the past 30 years, and continues to get worse. There's something to be said for trains, which are actually my favorite way to travel. Let's hope Amtrak doesn't mess it up.

2. TV Sitcoms

I've said it before and I'll say it again that the last half hour comedy sitcom that I made a point of watching every week was "Everybody Loves Raymond." I could laugh at just about anything that aired during the 70s, 80s, and 90s. To name just a few favorites, "Alice", "Cheers", and "The Golden Girls" were staples of my childhood and teenagehood growing up. Look at the variety there - these were programs about a single mom working in a diner, senior women living together, and the patrons of a Boston bar. While there's still some gems to be seen on cable TV, current-day network shows are for the most part, in the crapper. Most sitcoms revolve around unfunny storylines involving parenthood, horny men, bratty children, and...did I mention parenthood? Yeah, we get it already. Hollywood, try a little imagination why don't you.

3. Gas Stations

Remember the scene in "Back to the Future" where Marty McFly is in his hometown in the 1950s, and we watch as several uniformed gas station attendants eagerly come rushing out to a driver to fill the car's tank, clean the windows, and check the oil and tire pressure, all to the tune of "Mr. Sandman"? It's hard to believe during a time where we hand over $3/gallon for gas that we often must pump ourselves, but this used to be a reality for drivers beginning in the 1920s. Gas stations used to be called "service stations" due to the perks provided.

Harry Smith of CBS' The Early Show wonders what happened to service stations as well. I'm not sure of the answer myself except the turning point was probably the oil crisis of 1973 which started a chain of events that led to several gas stations going out of business and decreased competition in the business. Today's high speed world where most drivers don't want to waste time getting gas is probably another contributing factor. Sure, you can get sandwiches and lottery tickets at gas stations today, but once in a while, wouldn't it be nice to get squeaky clean windows and have your tires checked - for free?

4. Children's Extra-Curricular Activities

I bet you've received an email that was circulating a few years ago addressed to "all the kids who survived the 1930's, 40's, 50's, 60's and 70's." A few of the lines went like this:

"We did not have Play stations, Nintendo's and X-boxes. There were no video games, no 150 channels on cable, no video movies or DVD's, no surround-sound or CD's, no cell phones, no personal computers,
no Internet and no chat rooms. WE HAD FRIENDS and we went outside and found them!"

Consider this: these were kids that grew up during the golden age of television, but even that didn't distract them from going outside and getting some physical activity. And recreational drugs? Smoking pot is mere child's play compared to the "games" that these bored little cretins dream up today, such as "huffing" and the "choking game."

5. Glamour Magazine
I was a long-time subscriber of Glamour in the 90s but if my sisters brought over any used copies in the 80s I ate those up, too. In a way, I came of age reading Glamour because it was aimed at the type of woman I always imagined I'd be: smart, career oriented, and classy. The articles were written with this demographic in mind - along with the usual fashion pieces, you'd find job and health advice along with pieces on purchasing your first home and there was even an awesome recipe included each month. It wasn't just for college age women, either - women in their 20s through their 40s were well represented. It was this type of intelligent content that separated Glamour from the very sinewey and sex-oriented Cosmopolitan on the stands (not that I didn't read Cosmo as well and learn a thing or two.)

And then there was an editorial change sometime in the late 90s/early 2000s, and Glamour became essentially Cosmo's twin. No longer was the copy aimed at mature women - the magazine became a dumbed down version of itself. They kept the dos and donts section, but gone were the recipes and job advice, instead replaced by way too much fashion and sex advice aimed at 20-somethings. Even their horoscope - which used to be quite sophisticated - turned seriously lame.

I know in time I'll come up with five more things that are worse now than back in the day. But for now, these are the five that grate at me the most!


  1. Make that a second Amen!

    So much of the good stuff is no more. I've watched my favorite magazines turn into nothing more than rags. It's sad.

  2. What a great post - don't you wish some things were still the same as "the good old days?" Sigh.


  3. Almost without exception the Sitcom is dead...except for Big Bang Theory, I love that show!

  4. Even though I wish I'd discovered this blog sooner, I love that there is still oodles of content for me to pour over.

    I agree with pretty much everything you said. I also really agree on the sitcom sitch. The first show I thought of was What's Happening!! which was a comedy about poor kids and the whole thing usually took place at Rog's house. It was simple and it worked. There was not trickery or fancy writing, it was just written and performed by people who understood comedy. I mean, there are other shows which I did like more (although What's Happening is definitely a fave), but I think the fact that it was so bare bones just shows how good television was back then.

  5. When we look at the past it is ALWAYS selective. It is what is in our nature. What ever we fondly like, we view with our rose colored glasses.

    Take T.V. for example. I agree that there were some great shows in the past, and I agree with your choices. But right next to "Cheers" was "We've got it Maid" about two bachelors and their sexy maid. For every "Automan" there was a "Manamal." For every "Hill Street Blues," there was a "Cop Rock."

    I will agree with you that most of what the 100+ cable channels churns out today is standard formula. You would think that TBS would try SOMETHING different. But how many "That Girl" clones do you remember in the 60s?

    That is the real way of the entertainment world.


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