MCF's Old School 100

I don't think I look it, and I certainly don't act it, but I am getting old. A lot of signs point to this, from my thinning hair, to the fact that my married friends with kids outnumber my single ones. Perhaps the biggest sign of aging however, are nostalgia threads, discussions with my contemporaries about what we consider “old school”, what we remember from our collective childhood. The older we get, it seems like we take more walks down memory lane. My memory lane takes place largely in the ‘80s, although bits of the ‘70s and ‘90s invariably sneak in there. In no particular order, following pretty much my own unique stream of consciousness, here are 100 things I remember from my youth:

1) Breakdancing competitions in my elementary school gym/cafeteria. A version of the Worm was named after me because I could never do it right.

2) Kids calling Channel 11 and shouting “PIX! PIX! PIX!" over and over to shoot aliens on the screen and win some kind of prize.

3) Popping wheelies with ease on my banana seat bike, sometimes with too much ease leaving me sitting on my asphalt while the bike kept rolling down the street.

4) Watching Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends every Saturday morning, often followed by The Incredible Hulk, both narrated by Stan Lee.

5) All ‘80s cartoons. Voltron and The Mighty Orbots which first stirred my love of transforming gestalt machines. The Transformers, greatest of those robot shows which became my favorite, and its natural companion G.I. Joe, with whom it shared some voice actors and background music. I remember racing home after school each day to watch an hour of those two shows back to back. He-Man and the Masters of the Universe was one of my first ‘80s cartoons, and taught me many moral lessons, while Thundercats represented the ‘80s cartoons at their peak. And of course they were all toy commercials in disguise.

6) Woolworth's, which my mom called the “Five and Ten”, because she was really old school.

7) Odd-Lot, a now defunct chain of discount stores for clearance items that I got mad cheap, like the next item on my list...

8) Intellivision, my first game system. Not only did I get a console for less than 50 bucks, but by the time I was getting cartridges from Odd-Lot they were only two for a dollar!

9) Selling my mom's plants out of a little red wagon down at the end of my block, and using my cut to buy the aforementioned video games.

10) 75¢ comic books. They went up to $1.00 shortly after I started collecting, and were twice as much by the time I stopped 8 years later. I think now they're $3.99 or something absurd.

11) LOGO, my first drawing software which I studied in 7th grade. You'd type a command like “CIRCLER” and a little turtle on the screen would draw a clockwise circle. The computer didn't even have a mouse yet.

12) In elementary school, the computers were connected to tape recorders and regular audio tape was used to store data. If you put it in a regular tape player, it made a horrendous sound.

13) And of course I remember BASIC. 10 PRINT “MCF”, 20 GOTO 10....

14) Caps. My mom thought the realistic silver pistol my friend gave me for my 6th or 7th birthday was too realistic and she hid it, but not the rolls of caps, red paper with black dots of gunpowder on them. My friends and I used to hit them with a rock to make them go off.

15) A few years later, Snaps took their place. We'd prove how tough we were by flicking them with our fingernail rather than throw them to the ground. Occasionally we'd unwrap a few and put the contents all in one piece of paper for a bigger snap.

16) In home economics class in 7th or 8th grade, we weren't interested in sewing but we were interested in the combination of pins and floor outlets. We'd drop a pin in and jump back to avoid the blue spark that would shoot out. Kids do dumb things.

17) In high school, since I commuted by train to a private school, the other kids and I would occasionally place a nickel on the train tracks, then retrieve it after it was pancaked. Again, kids do dumb things.

18) Shouting “CAAAAAAR!” any time a vehicle interrupted our game of football, frisbee, or whatever else we played in the street. Often in baseball a manhole cover would serve as homeplate, a tree in front of a neighbor's yard would be first base, and so on.

19) The new Volkswagen PunchDub commercial is great, but I remember when it only pertained to one model and was called Punch Buggy.

20) A spiral of neon letters resolving into the word “SPECIAL” right before CBS would air A Charlie Brown Christmas, Puff the Magic Dragon, or some other animated show in prime time.

I'm just getting started! I'll have another 20 items from my good old days next week!



Blogger Lorna said...

You definitely have a handle on your nostalgia

2/23/2010 3:14 AM  
Blogger Kev said...

Great list! I'm right there with you on several of them!

2/23/2010 12:02 PM  

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