The Bad Old Good Old Days

What if you had to use the bathroom in a hurry?

Every now and then I get an email from a Boomer waxing rhapsodic about the good old days and lamenting the disappearance of nickel candy and the ability of kids to play outside without being kidnapped.

These emails can only have been composed by men, because here’s what I remember:

*Sanitary belts that slipped around and chaffed your behind (because they hadn’t invented that post-it note adhesive yet)

*Garter belts, because pantyhose hadn’t been invented yet

*Girdles were required, because a decent woman didn’t jiggle unless she was in a Dean Martin movie.

*White-out and carbon paper.

*Men were bosses and women were grateful (the series Mad Men is not exaggerated)

*Women weren’t welcome as police or firefighters, astronauts, or commercial pilots (but we were welcome to work as a “stewardess” if we were pretty, single, and didn’t go over a maximum age or weight limit, in which case we were fired.)

*Using the designation “Ms.” often earned you a sneer, because it was clear evidence you were one a them bra-burners.

*Sports were for guys, cheerleading was for girls

I’m so happy to be doing all these dishes by hand while wearing high heels!

*We didn’t go to the gym. We watched Jack LaLanne on TV, except for a privileged few women who could afford to go to Venus deMilo women’s exercise salons.

And my personal favorite: at my job in a public school district, the union contract permitted new fathers to take three days’ paid Paternity Leave but new mothers received no equivalent (when I pointed out the unfairness of this, my fellow administrators teased me. Then they got annoyed.)

Next time I get one of those geezer emails I think I’m going to send them my list. You can add to it. What do you remember about the Bad Old Good Old Days?


  1. Betsy says

    Excellent reminder of the bad old days. I think the relationships between males and females at a young age is a good indicator of change. My mother (born 1926) couldn’t have a boy even come into the house – my grandmother always met my mother’s dates at the door; I (born 1952) wasn’t allowed to have any boys upstairs to my room and my daughter (born 1987) had and has lots of friends and I do mean friends who are male who and who spent a lot of time at our house, including upstairs.

  2. says

    Boom! Pow! You knocked this out of the park. Haha. Obviously I’m too young to know what it was like back then. But as an openly gay man, I do know that the old days were not at all good for gay people. It really is the best time in the history of this particular country to be gay. I am grateful for that and will not go back. I agree with you as well that this is the best time for women too, and I would hate to go back to the “good old days.” Not to mention that minorities, blacks, latinos, and asians were all heavily discriminated against back then.

    I guess its only old white straight males who want the good old days back. Haha.

    • says

      I think you might be right about that, Ollin, re who is really missing those “good old days”! But it wasn’t all Norman Rockwell back then, even for them; they had no other options than to be the breadwinner. Feminism seems to be reviled today but it did open doors for men to be whatever they wanted, just as it did for women. Thanks for the attagirl!

  3. says

    Good points, Lynne — interesting how quickly we forget those things in light of how far we’ve come. Of course, many cultures around the globe haven’t progressed at all, and to me that’s sad. To fail to benefit from the gifts and talents of all segments of a population not only wastes those gifts and talents but also deprives everyone of a chance to progress.

  4. says

    How easily we forget this side of those good old days. Pat is so right “we’ve come along way” indeed! It makes me realize how hard we had to fight our way out of the boxes that defined us. That makes the victories we have achieved so much sweeter. When I was 18, there were three career choices- nurse,secretary or teacher. Luckily, that has evolved into “be whatever the heck you want to be” and enjoy every minute. There are still some residual gender-equality issues in the workplace but it is better. I have enjoyed seeing this evolution through my daughter’s experience.. “Back then” girls only played basketball in gym class(half-court) even though we were itching to have at it. But, I got to cheer my daughter all the way through college as she played her heart out on the court (full court). Great post Lynne. You are so good at striking chords :-)

  5. says

    Being sexually harassed at work and having to quit because of it. Wearing a maxi dress to work and being told by a male boss that it looked ridiculous, but it was okay to wear a mini dress so short you could see a girl’s rear. Going to a girl’s boarding school where I learned how to serve tea in the parlor (that has been extremely helpful in my life)

    • says

      Laura, I remember the days (sexual harassment)? I was 16 and worked doing cold calls with 3 other girls. Our boss referred to us as the Call Girls and one girl in particular as Legs. All the guys thought it was funny. Us girls just kept dialing. We figured it was just the way they were – trash.

  6. says

    Being sent home from public school for wearing pants instead of a skirt, and a nun at a Catholic high school telling me no man would ever want me after I went down for the count with menstrual cramps.

    • says

      Oh, the pants rule! Even at my public high school they had that rule. I broke it one day when it was snowing (yes, Nanci, in Riverside @ 1700 feet!) Administration looked the other way.

  7. says

    Mandatory gloves and hat, washing diapers in the washing machine, and ringing them out in the ringer, Spoolies, being asked to take shorthand no matter your job title, Tonette permanents!

  8. says

    I remember when teachers would measure the length of our skirts if they suspected they were too short. But I also benefitted from those days of EEOC because I got my first job in broadcasting because they needed a female and I was thrilled to get in. Once in, though, I worked at proving that my gender made no difference in my abilities.

  9. says

    Oh so true. What I remember is that girls were sidelined completely, not only confined by under garments, but by rules that forbid “strenuous” exercise, the type of movement that they encourage us to participate in now for our health!!!

  10. says

    A great post. You’ve reminded me of other Bad Old Good Old Days items, and that sink was the actual one I used until recently in the 1912 house I’m living in. It’s easy to romanticize any past era, although I sure would like to re-experience a Congress in which “compromise” wasn’t a dirty word. I just noticed you book reviews. What a great idea!

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