15 Things Most Baby Boomers Remember

“Recording vinyl to CD” by rocknroll_guitar is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Baby Boomers have seen a lot of changes in their lives—like going from black-and-white TV to streaming shows online. A calculator was a big deal back then, but now they might have a smart speaker like Alexa. Now, these people are getting older and becoming grandparents. They have memories of a time that won’t happen again. Here are 15 things most baby boomers remember!

Test patterns on TV

“Digital TV Test Pattern” by Bernie Goldbach is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Back in the ’50s and ’60s, TV stations used to stop broadcasting each night—usually around midnight. They’d play the national anthem before going off air. Then, instead of shows, they’d show a test pattern on the screen. It basically meant the TV was still working, but there wasn’t anything on. Sometimes, you’d hear a fuzzy sound or simple music along with it.

Milk delivery straight to your doorstep

“Guida Siebert Dairy Milk Delivery Truck tractor trailer!” by JeepersMedia is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Back in the 1960s, around 30% of milk was delivered straight to people’s homes, where baby boomers enjoyed it with their Froot Loops. Milk delivery folks, often called milkmen (or women), had set routes and would bring not just milk but also cream and other dairy stuff. Nowadays, a few special dairy companies still deliver to homes, but having a milkman visit every house like before is a thing of the past.

Popping open cans with pull tabs

“Pull tab on a can of Coca Cola” by MoHotta18 is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

When you open a can of soda nowadays, the metal tab just stays put on the can. That’s called a push tab, a tidy improvement over what baby boomers dealt with when they were younger. Back then, cans had “pop tops,” also known as pull tabs. You had to fully remove the pop top to open the can—and folks would just toss them on the ground or drop them into a half-finished can. 

Watching Neil Armstrong step onto the moon

“24. A television split-screen shot shows President Richard Nixon in the Oval Office speaking with the Apollo 11 astronauts on the moon as Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong walk on the lunar surface, on July 20, 1969.” by manhhai is licensed under CC BY 2.0

On July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong made history by taking one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind. Many young baby boomers and hundreds of millions of others watched in amazement. Later on, younger generations have seen the Apollo 11 moon landing on old TV reruns or in movies. But since most Gen Xers were too young to remember it happening—it’s mainly up to baby boomers to share this incredible event live.

Being part of “The Mickey Mouse Club” craze

“The New Mickey Mouse Club – Front Cover” by rharkness is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

“The Mickey Mouse Club” aired from 1955 to 1959, and many baby boomers wished they could join the show as Mouseketeers. They dreamed of singing and wearing mouse-ear hats and shirts with their names on them. Only a handful of the original Mouseketeers became famous in Hollywood, but all of them are remembered fondly by baby boomers who watched them on TV. The show was later brought back for newer generations to enjoy.

Getting swept up in Beatlemania

“y2.d63 | beatlemania” by B Rosen is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0

If you were part of the excitement of “Beatlemania” in the 1960s, you’re most likely a baby boomer. Is there a group of names more famous than John, George, Paul, and Ringo? The Beatles shot to worldwide fame around 1963—and their massive fan following became legendary. Since then, Beatles fans have never stopped loving their music.

Witnessing the thrilling ‘Miracle on Ice’

“home of the miracle on ice.” by row4food is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

The 2004 Disney movie “Miracle” might have filled in younger folks—but nothing compares to witnessing the “Miracle on Ice” as it unfolded in 1980. On February 22 of that year, the U.S. hockey team pulled off the unimaginable by defeating the seemingly unbeatable Soviet Union team in the semifinals of the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid.

Playing with your Howdy Doody doll

“Howdy Doody Sat on a Wall” by matthewrlee is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Starting on NBC’s Puppet Playhouse TV show in 1947, the Howdy Doody puppet quickly got his own show and became a big name in households throughout the ’50s and beyond. Howdy Doody’s fame led to lots of stuff you could buy, like a doll with his name that you might have had fun playing with in your childhood.

Tuning in to your transistor radio for tunes

“Vintage Emerson 838 Hybrid Pocket Radio (2 Transistors & 3 Subminiature Tubes), Broadcast Band Only (MW), Made In USA, Circa 1955” by France1978 is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Back in the early 1950s, big changes happened in how people used radios, especially because TVs started showing up in homes. Smaller radios came out so people could listen wherever they went. But then, when Walkmen and other gadgets became popular, these radios weren’t as cool anymore. Still, some people remember how everyone had a transistor radio in the ’60s and ’70s.

When Cassius Clay became Muhammad Ali

“Public Domain: Muhammad Ali in Chicago by John White, 1974 (NARA)” by pingnews.com is licensed under CC PDM 1.0

Everyone knows the famous boxer Muhammad Ali, who died in 2016 at 74. However, only baby boomers and their parents’ generation remember when Ali was known as Cassius Clay. He changed his name in 1964 when he joined the Nation of Islam and later converted to Sunni Islam in the 1970s. Ali became a huge global figure, winning the world heavyweight championship three times.

Spinning your first vinyl record

“Vinyl Record Player” by nan palmero is licensed under CC BY 2.0

If you were born in the ’50s, chances are you remember getting your first vinyl record, whether it was by The Beatles or the Beach Boys, and playing it again and again. While younger generations have brought back the love for records, vinyl was the main way to listen to music for baby boomers. Since 2007, vinyl records have become popular again, with sales going up by 85.8% in just one year in the United States.

Seeing those cigarette ads on billboards

“Selling point” by Andrés Diplotti is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

In the ’60s and ’70s, you couldn’t miss cigarette ads—they were all over the place. Everyone recognized characters like Joe Camel, the Marlboro Man, and the famous Lucky Strike slogan: “It’s toasted.” But as people learned more about the risks of smoking, they pushed for a change. Thankfully, tobacco ads on billboards were banned after that. 

Using traveler’s checks for peace of mind

“Air travel in the 1970s” by StartAgain is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0

When baby boomers started traveling, they often went to their bank and got traveler’s checks. You’d sign the checks when you got them and then again when you used them to buy something (hopefully, the signatures matched!). The big advantage was that if you lost a traveler’s check, you could easily get it replaced, unlike cash.

Trying your hand at macrame crafts

“cortina de macrame” by E l i a n a R e i n a l d o is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0

Tying knots for decoration has been around as long as there’s been the rope. But in the 1970s, macrame—which is the fancy art of knotting rope into all sorts of things like coasters and swimsuits, was super popular. The trend faded away before the ’70s were over, but even now, just seeing a macrame plant holder might bring back memories for baby boomers.

Making calls with a rotary dial phone

“REMEMBERING THE OLD ROTARY DIAL PHONE” by roberthuffstutter is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Remember the old days of making calls with a rotary dial phone? Those chunky machines were as sturdy as boulders and as dependable as the sun. They used to bring families closer, helped with business, and even allowed long-distance love to blossom. But eventually, push-button phones took over—and now we have smartphones. It’s been a while since we heard that brrrr-ing sound!