Smoking Everywhere, Bringing Kids To Bars, And 32 Other Things That Used To Be Normal But Wouldn't Fly Today

Comedian John Hodgman once said, "Nostalgia is a toxic impulse," but that's not always true. Sometimes, it's fun to look back on our childhoods and wax poetic about simpler times.

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Recently, Reddit user u/AnalysisFrequent asked, "What was normal when you were a kid, but you never see anymore?"

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The question brought back memories for over 7,000 commenters who jumped at the chance to share stories about how back in their day, they walked to school uphill both ways. Here are some of the best responses:

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1."Cassette tape innards strung out along the highway, glimmering in the sunlight."

A cassette tape
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2."Using a set of 20-year-old encyclopedias as my reference for homework. JFK is president!"



"I remember buying a set of encyclopedias one volume at a time at the grocery store. A the first week, B the second week, etc."


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3."Quicksand in movies and TV shows."

John Mulaney


"Dog catchers, too. With those huge nets."


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4."Memorizing phone numbers!"

A payphone


"Not to mention, pay phones and answering machines."


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5."Phone books. I remember my elementary school had an entire assembly where strong men ripped phone books in half. Kids these days will never know the joy."

Someone looking at a phone book

"Pretty sure they were the guys in this post."


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6."Everybody smoked everywhere: restaurants, the office, airports, everywhere. There's a picture of my grandma holding me when I was a baby in one hand and a cigarette in the other. Nobody thought that was the least bit strange."

People smoking


"I remember Burger King having branded disposable ashtrays."


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7."Parents smoked with their kids in the car and the windows rolled up."

A woman smoking in her car


"And cars came with those squeaky metal ashtrays."


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8."Smoking and non-smoking sections. I remember being on a plane where my side of the aisle was SMOKING, and 3 feet away, the other aisle was NON-SMOKING. I smoked around 15 cigarettes on a 6-hour flight and still remember the blue haze...and people coughing. SORRY! (I quit smoking, btw.)"

A woman sneezing on a plane
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9."Candy cigarettes are now called candy sticks, and they don’t have that little bit of red dye on one end to make them look like they’re lit."

A man in a store
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10."The McDonald's play place ball pit was a festering den of communicable disease. Good ol' days."

People standing outside McDonald's


"I found a bullet in a McDonald’s ball pit once."


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11."Printing out directions from MapQuest before a trip. 😂"

A digital map
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12."I’m from the (pre-internet) AAA TripTik generation. We’d order a TripTik from our local AAA, and they gave us a little spiral notebook with pages and pages of highlighted maps. And we flipped the pages as we drove."

Aerial view of a car driving in a forest

"We literally used this to drive from Richmond, Virginia to Miami, Florida. That was a thick TripTik. 😆"


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13."Asking people for step-by-step directions to their house."

Men talking and pointing


"'Get off the freeway at the exit by Home Depot, then drive until you see the Burger King, then turn into the neighborhood that’s right behind it. So, once you're in the neighborhood, make a left, then make a right. After you pass the pool, make another right. When you’re in front of the park, make a left, then make a right at the next stop sign. My house is the one with the blue mailbox.'"


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14."Randomly knocking on friends' doors to see if they were home and wanted to play."

A little boy knocking on someone's door


"And if they weren't home, you had no means of finding them — an entire day's plans lost, like tears in rain."


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15."We used to see thousands of monarch butterflies and bees during the summer. Now, my wife and I get excited when we see ONE monarch in the backyard where we planted a bee- and butterfly-friendly garden."

Monarch butterflies
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16."Bike jumps. The neighborhood I grew up in had a vacant lot that we turned into a dirt track with jumps. Kids would voluntarily mow the grass, repair damage, and pick up litter. It was kept in great shape from 1975 until around the late-1990s. Now, there's no evidence of the old dirt ramps or the track left."

A kid jumping over teddy bears on a bike

"Sometimes, when I drive by, I glance over remembering when my friend caught some huge air off the largest hill and everyone cheered. He became a hero that day."


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17."Renting DVDs. Or, even better, renting VHS tapes. Nothing more infuriating than when the asshole before you didn't rewind. 'Be kind, please rewind.'"

A family in a video store


"The local mom and pop video store we went to had three or four tape rewinders behind the counter for the people who forgot. They charged $0.50 if they had to do it for you."


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18."Video games only working on Channel 3."

An old television set


"Or, needing a VCR to connect your gaming system to the TV."


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19."Just walking right in to an airport terminal."

A plane in the sky


"And being able to wait right at the gate for your loved one to arrive."


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20."The Apple computers with the clear, colorful backs."

An older Apple computer
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21."White dog poop. Back in the '60s and '70s, dog food had more bone meal than it does now, which changed the properties of dog poop."

A dog's behind
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22."Buying stuff with green stamps and trying to collect the whole pattern set of dishes with them."

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23."My mom and stepdad used to bring me to the bar with them and give me money to play video poker so I wouldn't annoy them. I couldn't have been more than 12 at the time, and absolutely no one thought anything of it. If it was even legal for me to try that now with my kids, my mom would be the first one to say I'm a bad parent and I'm raising those kids wrong. My, how times change..."

A father drinking while holding his baby
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24."Reading the TV guide to know what day/time your favorite show was on so you wouldn't make any other plans."

Dan Aykroyd and Steve Martin


"Excitedly waiting for your mom to be done with the Saturday paper so you can steal the TV guide, circle everything you wanted to watch, and see who was hosting SNL next week."


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25."TV show theme songs. A ton of them used to have lyrics that would tell you briefly about the show, and even if they were instrumental, they were almost full songs. You hardly ever see this anymore."

26."The constant AOL free trial CD-roms you would get in the mail."

AOL logo
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27."Truant officers. Kids think I'm bullshitting them when I say someone would come pounding on your door if you didn't show up for school."

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28."The middle class. You can thank Reagan for that one."

Ronald Reagan
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29."Wood panel walls and waterbeds."

A wood-paneled wall behind a television set
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30."The AV cart with the television on top that teachers would roll in on a movie day."

A cart with a TV on it
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31."There was a lot more riding around in truck beds. You might see a whole crew in the back of a truck bed on the freeway. Did they start cracking down on that?"

People riding in the back of a truck
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32."I was born in 1987, and our car seats were made of wood and had one lap belt across them. Our family car also had no seatbelts and bench seating in both the front and back. Kids are in booster seats until they're 13 now. It's wild how much can change in such a short time."

Older cars
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33."When I was young, there was a concept here in Sweden known as 'gubbe i keps,' translated to 'old man in cap.' These were usually old men driving cars very slow on the highway, and they would annoy the hell out of everybody. They were always wearing peaky blinder-style caps, and this was before it became cool. Nowadays, it seems that this is no longer a thing...which is sad/good."

An older man's reflection in the rearview mirror
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34."There used to be litter everywhere. Nowadays, it is taboo to the point where you barely see it. Congrats to the US for fixing that problem, at least!"

"No litter please!"
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H/T r/AskReddit

Some replies have been edited for length and clarity.

What normal things from your childhood do you never see anymore? Let us know in the comments! 👇