Dopers b1981: Get in here and discuss your pop-culture memories from childhood

I’m curious to see how strong the pop-culture ties that bind a specific age-group really are. Wouldn’t it be cool if we found a lot of common ground just because we were born in the same year? Conversely, if we don’t have much in common at all, then doesn’t that really take the wind out of the sails of generational labels, such as “Baby-boomers”, “Generation X” (which we are technically a part of), etc.?

I know you had an awful lot of fun building that fort out in the woods, but so did the kids back in the 1930s, and maybe even the 1830s. Let’s try to stick to things that would be very specific to us.

Some of my earliest memories were from the pre-Kindergarten days, watching cartoons like Superfriends, Rocky & Bullwinkle, Dudley Doright, and - my absolute favorite - Underdog on our little 13" black and white TV. The only TV we had at the time. I also remember the huge campaign to tell kids to “Dial 0 for operator” during an emergency (this was before 911.) This led to the neighbor kids talking me into dialing 0 on our old solid-black rotary phone at least once. I also remember my very first Big-Wheel from those days: it was blue and white and had a Smurf’s head between the handle bars. These were also the days of Atari, but those were for rich people! We didn’t get one until the NES debuted and the price of Ataris dropped drastically.

Moving on to Kindergarten (1986) - I really don’t remember much specifically relating to pop-culture in this time period. I played outside a lot. My cartoon of choice was now Ducktales, and yes, I sang along with the theme song.

First grade - I got an NES for xmas this year. My dad said he’d never play it because there was no joystick, no River Raid, no Pitfall Harry, and too many buttons. Within 3 days he was better than us at every game. Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom came out this year if I’m not mistaken. I got in trouble for humming the theme song in class.

Second grade - Curiously, I don’t remember a lot about second grade. I believe it was this year that the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles debuted, but I didn’t like them at first because everybody else liked them. God I was recalcitrant.

Third grade - I fell for the TMNT in a big way. Drew them constantly at school. Made my own nunchuks in the garage (without adult supervision, of course) out of chain and broomsticks. “U Can’t Touch This” debuted this year, and I somehow didn’t hear about it until its popularity was winding down. I managed to memorize all the words while it was still semi-cool though. Slap-bracelets were HUGE. I got my ear pierced.

Fourth grade - More Turtle-drawing. “Ice Ice Baby” came out, this time I got on the bandwagon early. The Simpsons made their “full-length” debut. We all sang Bart’s version of “Jingle Bells”. I watched “In Living Color” during the Super Bowl commercials. Everybody else and their cousin got their ear pierced, so I took mine out.

That’s all for now. Since I was born during the summer, I was the same age throughout each grade (e.g., 5 in Kindergarten, 6 in First grade, 7 in Second grade, etc.), so I won’t go beyond age 10 for now. I should be back to continue my adventures at least through age 15 or so later.

I find it hard to believe that I’m the ONLY doper that was born in 1981.

my older brother was born in 1981…sadly hes not a member :slight_smile:

I was born in '81!

Let’s see, what sticks out?

TMNT definitely. Loved the show, along with the toys. also huge into GI Joe. Not so much the cartoon, as it was on way too early (6:00 am)m but my friends and I had all of the little plastic action figures. The kind with the little plastic guns that didn’t do anything, I might add. Nowadays, they shoot, make noise, and blend frappacinos. Back in my day, if you got the figure to actually hold onto the gun for more than 5 seconds, you were filled with pride. And none of those barbie dolls with guns either. Our GI Joe’s were small, hard, plastic, and held together with an elastic band. They were also fun to blow up with firecrackers.

I remember going to Expo 86 in Vancouver

I remember Hammer Pants

I remember hating the Power Rangers
That’s about all that I can come up with right now though

Well… I was born in 1980… so I guess our memories should be pretty close
…considering I was brought up on American cartoons anyway…

I remember shows like Voltron, M.A.S.K., Thundercats and TMNT. Some sprinkling of Sesame Street here and there. A bit of Robotech.

Hmm, I remember the Simpsons coming out, and all my schoolmates thinking it was cool, but I didn’t really get it. We all sang “Do the Bartman” though. That was cool. :o

Oooh, on preview, yes! I remember G.I. Joes. Loved the metal minis (I think it was the only action figures that were metal). Those were great!

You could probably expand this out to 1979-1983 or so. I might have been born in 1980 (yeah, yeah, oldster barging in :wink: ), but I remember the Smurfs, TMNT, the original NES (and finally getting one after begging forever), Ice Ice Baby, the debut of the Simpsons, GI Joe, MC Hammer, slap bracelets, and other stuff. (A lot of what I remember is the girl stuff – Jem, Strawberry Shortcake (the first time around), Care Bears (ditto), Teddy Ruxpin, etc.)

I wonder how this list will vary depending on what country someone grew up in. I grew up in the US.

It’s true that you kids born in 1981 remember black and white TVs? I was married in 1977 and we had color TVs way before that. I’m still in shock here that people born in 1981 are now adults.

Yeah, I’m wondering that, too. I was born in 1970, and we had color TVs, with a remote, even. Plus I watched Rocky & Bullwinkle and Underdog. WTF is up with black and whites and the same cartoons? I don’t think we ever had a black and white TV.

I assume thats a question.
But, yes, I do remember having a black and white TV. I think that was the time when a changeover from B&W to color was happening, because I had both.

The B&W one was really old. It had two knobs (ha ha) which I never understood how to work, and you would have to use them to tune the picture (I think).

Yep. It’s all we had when I was very little. Then we got a 27" Curtis Mathis cabinet-style TV (my dad bought it because it was American) and that lasted up until after I moved out of the house a couple years ago. They finally had to get a new tv because - although they had a lifetime warranty on the Curtis Mathis - all the shops that worked on them went out of business.

Well, I don’t know if I’d call myself an adult…:slight_smile: I will be 24 this summer though.

The technological aspects have more to do with economic class than age bracket unless the technology is either an antique or hasn’t been commercialized yet. B&W TVs are antiques now, but they were obviously in active use in the early-mid 1980s in some households.

(By antique, I mean something so old it’s actually more expensive to acquire and maintain than a more modern alternative. Finding parts for a B&W TV is an expensive proposition these days, as well as finding someone qualified (and interested enough) to fix it.)

Mine had 3 knobs: One was on/off and volume, on was UHF, and one was VHF. I remember that most of the UHF channels didn’t come in, and I think the one that did sucked.

I’m not saying that black and white TVs were the norm for established familes in the early/mid 80s, but my parents were young; my dad was only a couple years out of the Marines, and even though they both grew up in Los Angeles, they were sort of hippies at heart, having briefly lived in Colorado with no electricity just a couple of years before I was born. I guess that little 13" black and white was all we needed at the time.

I watched a lot of the same cartoons, but I’m nearly a decade older. Those were just the cool shows! :smiley:

Re: B&W sets, even though we had the big color set in the living room for the whole family, as did everyone else I knew, I was way geeked to get a 13 inch B&W of my very own in 1983 or 84. They were definitely still around and still selling new, primarily for cheap secondary sets.

1977 here. My middle brother is a late 1980 and I remember some of his favorites from then.

TMNT: I pretended to be too old for but managed to watch all the time. Lil’ bro had many of the figures.
jngl watching TMNT: “That’s not how a reeal ninja would punch.”
bro: “Ya it iiiss!”
jngl: “No, its more like this…whump
bro: “Mooo-ooommm” Sobbing
jngl: snicker

M.A.S.K.(Mobile Armored Strike Kommand [sic]). I remember not really liking the cartoon but the toys were soooo cool. I still want a gull wing doored car so I can pretend to fly around like Camero/figher jet Thunder Hawk. Machine guns on the wingtips are a nice touch, too.

M.U.S.C.L.E. men I never got into…until I heard what happened when THEY got into the microwave…sorry, Mom.

WWF wrestling. Was not big in our family before or after but for about a one year period, Macho Man was king.
jngl: “That’s not how a reeeal wrestler would hit.”
bro: “…Um…”
bro: “Moooooo-ooommm!” Sobbing

Micro Machines had the fast talking spokesman but I never got into them.

I liked Duck Tales but thought Tale Spin was dumb.

NES was huge and swept up the three oldest of us four Massiv kids. I still like to sit down and hit up a little Tetris, Bionic Commando, Golf, The Legend of Link, SMB1-3, Duck Tales (great game, music is still stuck in my head), Tecmo Bowl/Superbowl…I could go on and on.

I remember a lot of PBS, particularly 3-2-1 Contact, Square One, and Reading Rainbow. I complained visciously about the dumbing down of PBS programming when Barney made his loathsome debut.

I wore gigantic barrettes made of feathers and/or neon shoelaces throughtout most of elementary school. I always wanted my hair crimped. My wardrobe consisted of gigantic sweatshirts, leggings, slouch socks and white Keds. Everyone had a Trapper-Keeper except me. Jordan Knight was my One True Love.

I had no cable, so never got Beavis & Butthead, or Ren & Stimpy. Our TV didn’t have a remote control until I was about 12. You could almost guarantee that either The Goonies or The Karate Kid would be on somewhere on Saturday afternoons.

It was the Golden Age of After-school cartoons, with stuff like Tiny Toons, Animaniacs, and Batman: the Animated Series.

From about grade 8 to 11 I wore nothing but flannel shirts and ratty blue jeans. I wore knockoff combat boots, until I got a job and spent one of my first paychecks on Doc Martins. I wore my MTV: Unplugged Nirvana CD completely out. The X-Files was the coolest show ever, with Homicide: Life on the Street a close second.

The summer after I graduated High School, I saw the first Matrix movie and thought it was so original. The I went to college and I simultaneously discovered anime and Freshman Philosophy majors.

I feel very old now. Thanks.

No, you’re not the only one (by a long shot, actually).

Going over your OP it looks like the only things we have in common are Smurfs (I used to have the book The Astrosmurf) and Duck Tales. Yup, I still remember the words to Duck Tales. :smiley: I also remember Jem and Care Bears but never actually watched them… also the fast talking Micro Machines guy but never was into them, nor the Transformers that all the cool kids played with. I did, however, have a collection of Hot Wheels and several Lego outer space sets.

Ren & Stimpy, Tiny Toons, Animaniacs - check. Also some really odd shows such as You Can’t Do That On Television, and classics like Looney Tunes.

Did anybody else have Glo Friends? They were these insect themed toys that glowed in the dark, and each one came with its own little pouch. They even had at least one book, The Great Blanket Mix Up or something like that. I was saddened to find out that they had discontinued them around 1986 or '87.

For me the '80s were mostly about the music, especially later in the decade, but I rememebr songs from at least as far back as the summer of 1982. :cool: In fact, I’m fairly certain I even remember hearing Juice Newton’s “Angel Of The Morning” on what may well have been the day I was born (it was on the charts at that time).

I loved all the shows that Bruce Timm worked on. Jayce and the wheeled warriors, The Real Ghostbusters, Tiny Toons. I recall cataloging all the reasons why Barney was harmfull to little kids. I wasn’t a little goody two shoes christian junior preacher, heck, I was( and still am) atheist, and nowhere near the age of the barney devotes, but I recall explaining in detail to my younger brother why barney provided a unrealistic outlook on life. I was so concerned about the issue.

Im a 1981er myself, and I sure do remember most of the above mentioned cartoons and TV shows. My favorite toons were Thunder Cats, Sliver Hawks, Swat Cats (The guitaring in the opening credits, WOW!) and lots of others…

I also used to enjoy the old British programmes on TV like Rent-a-Ghost, Think of a Number, Eureka and Some Mothers do 'ave 'em.

I had one of these! They had light-up faces. There were also Popples, which were these multi-cloredlittle fuzz ball things that could roll up into their own pouches. And of course we can’t forget Rainbow Brite. And Strawberry Shortcake.

Hey! I may be “old” (born in '77), but I remember all these things, too. In fact, I’d be willing to bet I had/saw some of them first! So there. :stuck_out_tongue:

Anyway, I just wanted to remind everyone of the Wuzzles and Cabbage Patch Kids. Do you remember another cartoon that had animal characters … maybe the “something” Gang? I had one of the stuffed animals. Her name was Dotty Dog and she had roller skates.