I’ll be 40 in September, and to celebrate this milestone I want to have a little fun and talk about my favorite childhood memories of growing up in the 80s and 90s. I remember the days when I had to visit the library and look through encyclopedias to do research. But I also remember the excitement I felt as a teenager when my parents first set up dial-up Internet in our house during my senior year in high school. Here are my top 20 childhood memories from growing up in the 80s and 90s. 1. Breakfast Cereal and Saturday Morning Cartoons This was one of the best things about my 80s childhood. On Saturday mornings, my grandmother and mom were already up and I would eat cereal while watching cartoons such as Garfield, Thundercats, Transformers, Smurfs, and Muppet Babies. Some of my favorite cereals were Apple Jacks, Honey Smacks, Honey Nut Cheerios, and Corn Pops. 2. Going To Church With Grandma I have a lot of wonderful memories of going to church with my grandmother and great-grandmother. My great-grandmother sang in the choir every Sunday, and when the service began, I used to enjoy seeing her march with the choir down the aisle and sing her heart out to God. It was during these formative years that I learned a lot about what it meant to be a real Christian even though I didn’t come to Christ until as an adult. I also remember the special musicals that the church put on throughout the year. When I would visit my great-grandmother, she sang traditional hymns around the house. 3. ABC Wide World of Sports As a kid, one of my favorite things about growing up in the 80s and 90s was watching the ABC Wide World of Sports. On this program you didn’t just see the usual sports such as football and basketball. You also saw other sports such as skiing, swimming, gymnastics, and my favorite, ice skating. I absolutely loved the announcer’s famous intro. 4. Watching Soul Train While Getting My Hair Combed At 11:00 every Saturday morning, I turned on Soul Train just to watch my favorite artists perform on stage and learn new moves from the Soul Train dancers. While watching Soul Train, my mom would spend a good chunk of time on my hair to make sure it looked fabulous for the day. There were certain Saturdays when my mom took a lot longer and this was when she permed, shampooed, blow-dried, and styled my hair. Thankfully Soul Train made the hour go by fast. 5. Jumping Rope With Friends It is usually the simple things about growing up in the 80s and 90s that I remember. One such memory was jumping rope both at school and with girls in the neighborhood. I thought it was a fun experience and we would sometimes shout fun sayings while jumping. Jumping rope is a great form of exercise and it is a cool bonding experience. 6. Creating Mixtapes With Blank Cassettes By the time the early 90s came around, I was in middle school. This was during the golden era of hip-hop and a lot of the landmark hip-hop classics from artists such as Outkast, Dr. Dre, A Tribe Called Quest, and De La Soul were being released. My parents didn’t buy the latest CDs too frequently so the next best thing was to buy a few blank cassettes and record my favorite tunes from the radio stations. Before long, I amassed five to ten cassettes’ worth of cool 90s jams. 7. The Moment I Decided My Life’s Calling Here is some backstory to this moment. I was 12 years old and it was on a boring school night. I already finished my homework and chores, so I had extra time before going to bed. I turned on the TV but there wasn’t anything interesting on. I turned on the radio but I still wanted something fun to do. I then grabbed a pen and loose leaf paper and started writing a fun story. I showed it to my grandmother and she encouraged me to keep going at it. This was my defining moment, and it was that night when I wanted to keep writing and choose it as a career. 8. Convenience Meals For the most part everyone in my family prepared delicious meals from scratch on most nights, but there were occasions when I ate boxed convenience foods such as Hamburger Helper and boxed macaroni and cheese. My aunt made a lot of Hamburger Helper when I was growing up in the 80s and 90s, and they tasted delicious. 9. I Watched Many Movies on VHS Tapes If you visited my grandmother’s spare room today, you would find a host of VHS tapes on the shelves. In the 80s and 90s, a lot of Millennial kids watched movies on these tapes inside of a bulky VCR. You could even purchase some blank ones and create funny home videos featuring the family. I still remember gathering in front of the TV and watching kids’ movies while eating snacks with my brother. 10. It Was The Decade of Mega Pop Stars I can’t discuss my 80s childhood without mentioning some of my favorite mega pop stars. I enjoyed Whitney Houston’s amazing voice and Michael Jackson’s cool dance moves were out of sight. I still remember watching a lot of Prince’s eclectic performances on MTV and VH1, and who can forget Madonna’s trendsetting fashion style? Other singers I listened to as a child include Luther Vandross, Anita Baker, Patti Labelle, and Bananarama. 11. Going To The Skating Rink I didn’t do this a lot as a kid because I was a terrible skater, but I always had fun whenever I went to the skating rink on field trips with my class. I enjoyed watching other talented skaters dancing to the latest tunes with little effort. I still remember falling on my butt quite a few times and one of my classmates helped me by giving me extra tips for doing better. 12. I Watched Cooking Shows on PBS Before they had the trendy and overhyped Food Network, I was watching more sophisticated cooking shows on PBS. I was a big fan of Julia Child’s cooking shows and was fascinated with how she prepared her meals. I even checked out one of her cookbooks at the library and made one of the recipes with my grandmother. Other cooking shows I liked were Great Chefs, The Frugal Gourmet, and Yan Can Cook. The cool thing about these shows is that they discussed the history and culture behind the recipes. 13. Mardi Gras Every Year! I’m from New Orleans and still live here after almost 40 years. I have so many Mardi Gras memories I can’t mention them all in this post. The best thing about the parades here are the high school and college marching bands. They know how to warm up the crowd and get them pumped up for the rest of the parade. I also enjoy king cakes during Carnival season. When I was little, everyone in my class took turns bringing a king cake to class during Carnival season. The kid who got the plastic baby inside of one of the pieces of cake had to bring the next king cake. 14. I Used Floppy Disks to Save My Work Before there was cloud storage and long before the USB drives, there was the floppy disk. I first started using these in high school and all throughout college. The floppy disks came in handy during times when power outages almost caused me to lose my work. I would always save my work on the disks before I started typing. 15. Hip-Hop Was Better Back Then Growing up in the 80s and 90s, I liked a lot of the hip-hop artists that used to come on the radio. Some of my favorite hip-hop artists were: Main Source A Tribe Called Quest De La Soul Eric B and Rakim Hieroglyphics The Pharcyde Pete Rock People Under The Stairs Tupac Shakur The Fugees Hip-hop had a lot more diversity regarding the content of the music, and the dance styles were a lot more creative. I have a hard time with today’s hip-hop music although some of today’s music is decent enough. 16. I Learned How To Write Out a Check My mom and grandmother taught me how to write out a check. Throughout my early adult years, I wrote out checks to pay bills and to get cash from my bank. I knew that if I mailed out the check when I was low on funds, I can avoid the overdraft by depositing more money before the check arrived to a certain creditor. One of my favorite things about checks was ordering new checks and they had nice designs on them. 17. Board Games Were Fun My favorite board game was Scrabble, but I also played Monopoly, Trivial Pursuit, Clue, and Sorry. The good thing about these games is that it promoted critical thinking and analytical skills in a fun way. In addition to board games, I played UNO a lot. 18. Little Golden Books When I was a child, I used to read a few Little Golden Books. These books were easy to read, and they helped me a lot with my literacy skills. I know we live in the age of educational Youtube videos and cute ebooks for kids, but I still believe that there is nothing like physical books to connect with in a meaningful way. My daughter loves it when I read stories to her before bedtime. 19. Sugary Fruit Candies These days I’m all about the chocolate, but while growing up in the 80s and 90s, I ate a lot of sugary fruit candies such as Starburst, Nerds, Airheads, and Now and Laters. These weren’t the healthiest snacks but they were really delicious! 20. Visiting The Library Whenever I visited the library, I always checked out a few cookbooks in addition to the kids’ books. I loved the glossy pictures of the recipes and they made me want to go home and try them. These 20 memories will forever be a part of my life and I’m grateful to have grown up in an amazing time in history.
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