May 14, 2024 | Sarah Ng

36 Things Only Baby Boomers Will Understand

Where Has The Time Gone?

If you're a baby boomer, this list is sure to lead you down memory lane. From going to drive-in movies to witnessing some of the most poignant moments in history, these are things that only boomers will understand.


Experiencing Beatlemania

Though Taylor Swift might be the ultimate pop star of today, The Beatles caused a similar sensation during their heyday. During the 1960s, the band had their fan base in a tizzy—their popularity sparking a fan culture that became known as "Beatlemania."

The Beatles - Fabulous (24th October 1964)Bradford Timeline ,Flickr

Watching "I Love Lucy" On The Television

The popular series I Love Lucy aired from 1951 to 1957, making Lucille Ball a household name. Her character Lucy Ricardo hilariously got herself into the most ridiculous, yet entertaining, situations. Following this sitcom, people could watch Lucille Ball by tuning into The Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz Show.

I Love Lucy 1956CBS, Wikimedia Commons

Going To Drive-In Movies

Though some drive-in movie theaters still exist, today, it's more of a nostalgic novelty. However, boomers experienced these theaters in their glory days. There was nothing quite like watching a double feature with the family or having a first date at the drive-in.

drive in moviesEverett Collection, Shutterstock

Using S&H Green Stamps

S&H Green Stamps were trading stamps used in the US until the late 1980s. Folks used these stamps to redeem products from the S&H catalog. There was so much to choose from—from housewares to toy guitars.

S&H Green StampsCayobo, CC BY 2.0, Wikimedia Commons

Witnessing The Outcome Of The Loving Versus Virginia Court Case

If you were a boomer, you might have grown up during a time when interracial marriage was against the law. However, one case turned the tables. In 1967, Mildred and Richard Loving ended up in the Supreme Court, fighting for their rights.

Thanks to them, June 12th is known as Loving Day, which honors the termination of anti-miscegenation laws.

Graves of the LovingsSer_Amantio_di_Nicolao, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons

Dialing A Number On A Rotary Phone

Oh, the days where cellphones were but an impossible fantasy. Growing up as a boomer, you had to use a rotary phone, making dialing a much longer process.

red rotary telephoneSuzy Hazelwood, Pexels

Watching The "Miracle On Ice"

In 2004, Disney made a film called Miracle for new generations. However, many boomers got to experience the game firsthand. During the 1980 Winter Olympic, the US hockey team won the semifinals against the powerful Soviet Union team.

USA - Soviet Union matchHenry Zbyszynski, CC BY 2.0, Wikimedia Commons

Tuning In To Watch "Bonanza"

Bonanza was a very popular program on television—and for good reason. There weren't many shows you could see in color. However, not all of us were lucky enough to have a color TV... Well, that's what friends are for.

Bonanza ScreenshotNBC, Bonanza (TV Series 1959–1973)

Checking The Mail Twice A Day

If you were an early boomer, you might have seen the postman deliver your mail twice in one day. Up to 1950, some carriers delivered to residential areas twice a day.

MailboxMemoryMan, Shutterstock

Attaching Baseball Cards To Your Bike Spokes

For one, kids aren't into collecting baseball cards anymore. This also means that they're not clipping the cards to their bike wheels. Riding with cards in the stokes always made the most pleasing sound. It's the little things.

Baseball CardsRyan Hyde, Flickr

Lighting Up On Planes

Back in the day, traveling on an airplane was a very different experience. It wasn't out of the ordinary to see people lighting up their ciggies on the plane. However, the practice was officially banned in the 1990s.

Man boarding United Air Lines Boeing 247 airplaneUniversity of Washington Libraries Digital Collections, Picryl

Using An Encyclopedia

Forget Google! If you needed the answer to a question, you had to hit the encyclopedia. These were often sold in sets by door-to-door salesmen.

EncyclopediaStewart Butterfield, Flickr

Digging Into A Swanson TV Dinner

TV dinners are still going strong, but only boomers will remember what it was like when these quick and convenient "meals" first hit the shelves. One of the first Swanson TV dinners you could buy was Thanksgiving fare—complete with turkey, sweet potatoes, peas, and cornbread dressing.

TV dinnerCharles Knowles, Shutterstock

Having Your Milk Delivered

In the 1960s, around 30% of milk got delivered by milkmen. During even earlier decades, this was the most widespread practice.

milkmanUnknown author, Wikimedia Commons

Watching TV Channels Sign Off

Today, we're spoiled with all the streaming channels available to us. We have access to them 24/7—but that wasn't always the case. As a boomer, you might remember how TV channels would end the night with a sign-off, or even broadcast the National Anthem to signal the end of the day.

Old tvHuỳnh Đạt, Pexels

Visiting A Five-And-Dime Store

Five-and-dime stores still exist, but are no longer as popular as they used to be. And why would they be, considering we have Walmart, Amazon, and Target to meet our every desire.

Five and Dime General StoreThe Image Party, Shutterstock

Speaking To An Operator

Do you remember having to dial 0 in order to talk to an operator, so that they could direct your call? No? Well, then you probably aren't a boomer.

Woman speaking on old rotary phoneVladison Alves, Pexels

Seeing Tobacco Advertised On Billboards

Today's culture is more health conscious than ever before. However, boomers probably grew up seeing scores of tobacco advertisements: the Marlboro Man, Joe Camel, Lucky Strike, etc. Luckily, once the public became more informed about how bad this was for people's health, the billboard ads got the axe.

Tobacco Advertised On BillboardsWikimedia Commons, Picryl

The Fascination With Jell-O

Back in the 1960s, housewives were encasing everything in Jell-O—a trend that I'm sure nobody misses. These Jell-O molds could be filled with yummy ingredients like fruit... but also more questionable ones, like lamb, ham, salmon, and cottage cheese.

Lime Jello MarshmallowJosh Graciano, Flickr

The Civil Rights Act Of 1964

In 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This forbade discrimination in its many forms: gender, color, religion, race, and national origin. Growing up, many boomers witnessed how this change in policy changed the world around them.

Lyndon JohnsonCecil Stoughton, Wikimedia Commons

Watching The Very First Episode Of SNL

Saturday Night Live is one of the most iconic shows of all time—and some boomers were lucky enough to watch the very first episode that ever aired. On October 11, 1975, George Carlin hosted, while cast members like John Belushi and Gilda Radner cracked the jokes.

Gilda RadnerNancy R. Schiff, Getty Images

Using A Phone Book

Imagine a world where you didn't carry your contacts around in an app on your phone. Boomers had to look up numbers in a very heavy phone book.

phonebookBojan Milinkov, Shutterstock

Covering The TV Antenna With Tin Foil

In order to improve the image quality and get a better signal, boomers will likely remember putting tin foil on their TV antenna.

old vintage TVFer Gregory, Shutterstock

Riding Around On A Banana Seat Bicycle

Most kids rode around their neighborhood on banana seat bicycles, which were reminiscent of choppers. Nothing like taking on the world astride one of these bikes, with your hands grasping those high handlebars and the wind whipping through your hair.

Banana Seat BicycleAnthony Catalano, Flickr

Seeing Black Athletes Protest During The National Anthem

At the 1968 Olympics, Tommie Smith and John Carlos took a stand by raising their fists during America's national anthem, wearing black gloves. It was a "human rights" salute.

Smith said, "If I win I am an American, not a Black American. But if I did something bad then they would say 'a Negro'. We are Black and we are proud of being Black."

John Carlos, Tommie Smith, Peter NormanAngelo Cozzi, Wikimedia Commons

Listening To Music On A Transistor Radio

The transistor radio was one of history's most popular electronic communication devices—and were all the rage during the 60s and 70s. Of course, once devices like the Walkmen were invented, the transistor radio slowly faded into obscurity.

Transistor RadioRon Lach, Pexels

Gas Shortages That Caused Long Lines

During the 70s, there were some gas shortages in America—once in 1973 and 1979. Gas had to be rationed out depending on the last number on your license plate. For instance, if it ended with an even number, you could only pump gas on a even-numbered day, and vice versa.

Gas stations abandonedDavid Falconer, Wikimedia Commons

Using A Typewriter

As I sit here writing this list on a computer, I'm reminded how many boomers used typewriters growing up. Remember the world without a backspace button? The struggle was real.

Royal Typewriter turquoiseMolly Sauter, Flickr

Switching Channels With A Knob

These days, we can search for movies and shows with our voices. Boomers had to use knobs. Before remotes became commonplace, people had to approach their television and switch the channel by turning a knob.

Old TvArkitektur- och designcentrum, Picryl

Purchasing Your Very First Record

When it comes to music, today's generation has every option available: streaming, CDs, tapes, and vinyl. However, boomers born in the 50s likely bought vinyl records. That's why the experience of going to a record shop to purchase your very first record was a pretty big deal.

Woman Choosing Vinyl RecordTima Miroshnichenko, Pexels

Protesting By Attending A "Sit-In"

During the Civil Rights Movement and the Vietnam war, many decided to make their voices heard by protesting. A sit-in was one of the most popular ways to do this.

Protesting By Attending A State Archives of North Carolina, Wikimedia Commons

Relying On Pay Phones

Without cell phones, boomers had to rely on pay phones—and in the city, they were actually quite accessible. Today, the pay phones that were once found on almost every street corner have mostly disappeared.

Pay PhonesSquirrel_photos, Needpix

Your Family's Wood-Paneled Station Wagon

The 1930s gave rise to wood-paneled cars, but they became extremely fashionable in the 1960s and 1970s. If you're a boomer, you might have taken more than one family road trip in one of these vehicles.

Wood-Paneled Station WagonChristopher Ziemnowicz, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

Hearing About The Assassinations Of MLK And JFK

Young baby boomers might have memories of some of the most tragic moments in US history, including the assassinations of President John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr.

President John F. Kennedy in suitU.S. Embassy New Delhi, Flickr

Owning A Howdy Doody Doll

The Howdy Doody puppet might look a little terrifying to younger generations, but it was very popular during the 1950s. As a result, many boomers got to play with their very own Howdy Doody doll.

Howdy Doody DollAlan Levine, Flickr


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