Where Were You When…

The topic for this week’s Friday Flashback is What big cultural event occurred during your childhood/youth that you recall clearly? What was its impact on you?

Several “big” events immediately popped into my mind – the Challenger explosion (I was home sick from 6th grade watching the Price is Right- specifically, the yodeling mountain climber– when the show was interrupted by video images of the fiery explosion), Charles and Diana’s wedding (I watched it in my aunt’s basement in the wee hours of the morning, marveling at Diana’s train floating down the aisle and wishing to marry a prince one day), and Ronald Reagan’s assassination attempt.

However, the most vivid memories I have as a child were pop culture and fashion-related. (C’mon. Does that surprise you? It’s WHOORL we’re talking about here.)

Do you all remember these events as well as I do?

Watching the birth of MTV, with the inaugural video being Video Killed The Radio Star.

Classifying myself as a Valley Girl. “Like, you are tubular to the max.”

Hiding behind a pillow while viewing Thriller for the first time.

Drinking my first Jolt Cola.

My first pair of Jellies shoes.

Wanting to mack down with Charlie Sheen in Lucas. (That makes me cringe a little.)

Mix and matching the “perfect” Units outfit while getting ready for school.

The Three Men And A Baby ghost hiding in the curtain rumor. Freaked my shit out.

Dude, one word. FROGGER. (Also, did any of you play River Raid on Atari? My dad scored the highest score ever. We had to take a photo of him standing next to the good ol’ RCA television to send in. I would KILL for that photo right now.)

I remember distinct details of the above mentioned. What about you, though? What events from your youth are emblazoned on your brain? Anything goes!

Don’t forget to check out these other participants, as I can promise their posts are way more poignant than my banter about Jolt Cola. (Although, that shit was WICKED COOL. Admit it.)

Her Bad Mother
Mrs. Flinger
Oh the Joys

  • Oh, The Joys

    March 21, 2008 at 6:26 am

    No way. I wrote about spending the year in England when the Pan Am flight 103 crashed and I mentioned how my clothes were all wrong – way too bright and just generally wrong – and they were all UNITS!!!

  • Kathy

    March 21, 2008 at 6:31 am

    I wish I could remember the Challenger explosion. I must have been, what, twelve? I remember it happening, but I don’t have that “flashbulb memory” everyone else seems to have.

  • SouthernBelle

    March 21, 2008 at 6:35 am

    Funny! I had forgotten about the Units. I loved them, they were so comfortable and totally “in”. What about those parachute pants? Ahhh…memories

  • Sadie

    March 21, 2008 at 6:50 am

    I remember the Challenger explosion vividly too, because my 2nd-grade teacher Miss Bahnsen wheeled the rickety TV cart into the classroom and we were watching it LIVE. Sweet. I am pretty sure parents would be suing schools for giving 7-year-olds that sort of ‘trauma’ nowadays, but somehow I survived without therapy.

    I also remember hiding behind a chair at my babysitter’s house while her older daughter watched the Thriller video on MTV (we didn’t have cable at my house).

    My first movie in the theater? ‘Real Genius’ with Val Kilmer. You’d think my parents coulda taken me to, oh, I dunno, a kid’s movie, but they were hardcore. I also remember going with them to the drive-in theater to see a double-feature – Gung-Ho and Pretty in Pink. I was psyched for Pretty in Pink but they played Gung Ho FIRST and I fell asleep in the back seat. When I woke up 3/4 of the way through Pretty in Pink I FLIPPED MY SHIT like the mother badger in the Corolla commercial because my parents hadn’t awakened me…

    We didn’t have Atari (I am just a few years behind you) but I DO remember getting the original Nintendo and playing Tetris every day after school until I got to levels they hadn’t even MADE YET, damn I’m good!

  • a madhouse wife

    March 21, 2008 at 6:59 am

    Like Sadie, my third grade teacher, Miss Unruh, rolled the TV in for the Challenger and we watched it live, too. She shut if off right after the explosion and I guess I didn’t really “get” what happened until people were talking about it on the bus.

    Also like Sadie, we didn’t have Atari but got a Nintendo (like, quite a while after they came out; my family was always a little late getting with it) and I remember the days I beat Super Mario Bros. 1 AND 2. We also had Duck Hunt and the power pad to play Track and Field with. I guess that could be considered the very early forerunner to Wii. That Duck Hunt was primitive, yo.

  • Alison

    March 21, 2008 at 7:10 am

    I remember Jolt! My parents wouldn’t buy me any (I wonder why… ;-)

    And I thought I was so cool with the Valley Girl talk. “Gag me with a SPOON!”

  • Rhea

    March 21, 2008 at 7:24 am


    Jelly Bracelets
    Smelly Swatch watches – mine was banana
    Blowdrying hairspray-ed bangs as high as they would stand
    White suburb boys wearing MC Hammer pants
    Z Cavariccis
    Curve perfume

    Ahhh those were the days….

  • Mandee

    March 21, 2008 at 7:30 am

    UNITS! I got an awesome outfit (albeit not nearly as cool as my sister’s red jumpsuit) from Units while visiting my aunt and uncle in Dallas. Apparently, the kids in South Georgia had better taste than we knew since they laughed at us when we got home.

    The Challenger was the first thing I thought of when I heard about this prompt. I was at Pull-Out (our gifted program so named because they “pulled us out” (gross) of our regular school and bussed us to a different location) and we had no TV’s at that school. We were listening to it on the radio. I didn’t see the pictures until I got home that afternoon.

    How about twista-beads? And splatter painted sweatshirts?

  • Jennifer

    March 21, 2008 at 7:36 am

    I vividly remember when Ryan White passed away. They told us over the loudspeaker during lunch in 7th grade…

  • ikate

    March 21, 2008 at 7:45 am

    I remember getting our Atari and when my brother finished the game Pitfall – as in got through the entire game – we tried to take his picture to send it it but the damn Polaroid flash kept making the TV screen black in the developed picture. We have about 6 shots of him with a huge grin on his face standing next to a black blotch with a flash reflection in the middle. Oh well

    I also remember getting our Nintendo and playing Super Mario Bros. and being amazed at the technology.

    I’d rather forget the “fashion” of the day.

    I distinctly remember my first salon perm. After several home perms it was like heaven – until the chemical burn appeared on my forehead.

  • Aimee

    March 21, 2008 at 8:08 am

    My first thought was the Challenger explosion. I was in 3rd grade. I was getting ready to go to school – and my mom and I were at my grandma’s. (probably watching the price is right!) and I was standing in the kitchen next to the dishwasher watching the TV in the family room. That’s all I remember really.

    I LOVED Frogger. And Pitfall. There was something very fun about alligators trying to eat someone scantilly clad. :D

  • am'ti b

    March 21, 2008 at 8:47 am

    with you on the challenger, i was at trinnininny. i also spent hours mix n mathchin’ my units parts. i, like ikate remember my first perm, my mom thought it a good idea to perm my hair while we grew out my bangs, huh? she later convinced me to do it again in sixth grade, i have had curly hair ever since……

  • FK

    March 21, 2008 at 8:51 am

    My Coca Cola rugby – collars up! – LOVED IT.

    And I was *so* jealous of my sister’s LeClick camera. It was purple and so high-tech.

    The Ah-ha video for “Take on Me” was probably the most unbelievable thing I had ever seen!

    I could go on and on…I’ll leave you with a final thought: wearing a leather bomber jacket off the shoulders…because why would I wear it any other way? : )

    Great post – have a wonderful weekend!

  • Her Bad Mother

    March 21, 2008 at 10:31 am

    DUDE. The first music video channels? (In Canada it was MuchMusic) POTENT memory.

    I can also remember the very first video that my family ever watched – Flashdance.

    It was like watching a moon landing, we were so transfixed by watching a new MOVIE on TV.

    God am so old.

  • Melissa Rhinolegs

    March 21, 2008 at 11:00 am

    oh my goodness, i was totally home sick watching price is right when the challenger exploded!

    and units? everything i had from there was RED. all the better to go with my RED FRAME GLASSES. oh yes.

    but one of my clearest memories was being the 100th caller and winning tickets to see new kids on the block. i think it was the happiest moment of my tweens.

  • Dana

    March 21, 2008 at 11:09 am

    Holy cow, JELLIES. I remember those shoes and having to have several pairs in glittery, pastel colors. That took me back!

  • Amy

    March 21, 2008 at 12:15 pm

    I was in 5th grade when they announced the Challenger thing over the PA. And I remember being at violin practice later that afternoon.

    I have pictures of my high score on Pitfall! I put my guinea pig next to the TV so it was more interesting. I’ll have to find one of those and scan it. I loved River Raid and Frogger too.

  • bethany actually

    March 21, 2008 at 11:53 am

    I was in 5th grade when the Challenger exploded. We were lining up to go to lunch when a 6th grader stuck his head in the door and told our teacher than it had exploded. She thought he was kidding at first, but when he insisted, she got serious and ran off to the office where the TV was, leaving us standing in line. She came back and told us what had happened.

    I remember the Statue of Liberty centennial…there was a large billboard in my elementary school across from the cafeteria, and I remember in 1983 or 1984 there being a big display about the Statue of Liberty and how much money was being raised for the restoration project.

    I remember the horrible flop that was New Coke.

    However, I have NO memory of Units. I don’t even know what that is. Off to google it now.

  • Miss Virginia

    March 21, 2008 at 12:10 pm

    Am I the only one who loved Madonna? Those silly black rubber band bracelets? The flashdance “look”. How about Forenza sweaters or Bermuda Bags w/ the changeable fabric. I loved my add-a-beads and reebok high tops!

    We had Atari, but i can’t remember any game other than pong. Actually, was donkey kong an atari game? I was far more into watching something i taped on our BETAMAX, and talking on the EXTENDA-phone!

    Last 3 things: Tickle roll-on, Daisy razors and Vita-Bath.
    AAAHHHHHH….the memories!

  • Angella

    March 21, 2008 at 12:20 pm

    We are the same age, so I remember all that you wrote about! I was *ahem* bowling after school when the Chellenger exploded.

    And Atari! I loved Pong. I also remember when PacMan came out and it was SO COOL.

  • glamgranola

    March 21, 2008 at 1:36 pm

    Oh Sweet Jesus. I almost forgot about Units. I always wanted a strapless tube top but my parents wouldn’t let me. How mean were they? Instead my favorite was a one piece avocado green union suit with,of course, a bandeau belt that was printed. They didn’t last more than a couple of years, did they?

  • JAB

    March 21, 2008 at 3:03 pm

    Wow! I remember all of those things exactly as well (except I saw the Challenger footage when I got home from 6th grade), but I didn’t remember the Three Men & A Baby clip…thanks for the link…freaky!!!

    I also remember rushing home from school in junior high to watch MTVs daily top 10 countdown and lip-synching like a maniac to Bon Jovi’s “Shot Through The Heart.”

    My mom had a “Units” party at our house…kind of like a tupperware party? Where the lady came over with a ton of them and everyone tried them on and went crazy.

    And, I also remember when George Michael’s “I Want Your Sex” video debuted and it was such a big deal that my little brother and I sat with my parents in their room and watched it with them…mortifying!

  • Catlin

    March 21, 2008 at 3:38 pm

    The BIRTH of MTV? Just how old are you??!

    I remember the wall in Berlin coming down and I didn’t have a clue what all the fuss was about but I didn’t dare to ask ’cause I was too embarrassed by my own dimness.

    And I also remember us going from betamax to VHS and nobody in our house cared about the betamax anymore but I had saved 3 betamax cassettes ’cause I thought they were so cute and small and I felt sorry for them. Again I didn’t tell anyone about this and hid them.

    I was (and still am) a bit of an idiot, I suppose!

  • Jennifer

    March 21, 2008 at 4:09 pm

    HMOG Units! I had one jumpsuit and was too much of a dunce to figure out all of its configurations so that was the end of that.

    I was in math class in 5th grade when the Challenger exploded. Does anyone remember that “very special” episode of “Punky Brewster” where they talked about it? Gah.

    Fondly remembered: Mrs. Grossman’s stickers, all things Lisa Frank, paint pens, Poochie (for girls!), winning the “Lost Boys” soundtrack record (!) at a church bazaar, marathon sessions of playing “Dig Dug” with my brother and Electric Youth “perfume”

    Not-So-Fondly Remembered: an Enquirer story on how Cabbage Patch Kids were minions of satan (I slept with my parents for about a month), stirrup pants and perms – not necessarily in that order.

  • gorillabuns

    March 21, 2008 at 6:45 pm

    I’m not even going to “spout” my memories because I’m way older. Then ALL of your commenters. Let’s just say, I remember all of them and all these memories usually included a boy. Several of them.

  • sunny

    March 22, 2008 at 5:27 am

    OP Corduroy Short Shorts! Oh yes!

  • Clairebell

    March 22, 2008 at 6:48 am

    In class in the 4th grade, I think we’d been watching the launch on TV that day, because of McAuliffe. We talked for weeks after that about how they’d found a bone with a sock on it.

  • Where were you when… | The Bean Blog

    March 22, 2008 at 8:20 am

    […] decided to participate in this week’s Friday Flashback, along with Sweetney, Mrs. Flinger, Whoorl, Her Bad Mother, Mamalogues and Oh the Joys. Where were you when…? Our parents’ […]

  • Sue

    March 22, 2008 at 9:08 am

    One of my earliest “significant” memories is when my grandmother sat us down in front of the TV and told us “Remember this. This is history happening right now.” Richard Nixon was resigning. (I think I just dated myself :-)

  • rebecca

    March 22, 2008 at 12:30 pm

    Whoa. Our childhoods are mirror images! I had forgotten about Jellies shoes but MAN those were HOTT. Like, really hot. As in, make your feet sweat buckets hot. Ew!!

  • Mrs. Flinger

    March 22, 2008 at 2:21 pm

    Oh the memories! I remember wearing socks with my jellies. um. Who does that? Right. I did. Total dorkmess.

  • metalia

    March 22, 2008 at 4:37 pm

    Jellies!! I forgot about those.There was a brief, terrible moment when they came back in style in the mid 1990’s, only this time, with chunky platform heels. Good lord, the FUG!

  • Jamie

    March 22, 2008 at 6:52 pm

    Dude, we had “units” but they went by the name of “Multiples,” and I can vividly remember my sister and I wishing that they made them in Hypercolor fabric.

    I was still sitting at the dinner table (alone, in the dark, in front of a cold plate of green beans courtesy of our “eat your vegetables or you can’t leave the table” rule) when Norman Schwarzkopf came onto the 9 o’clock news to announce that we’d gone to war in the Persian Gulf. Which means two things – I hate green beans, and I was WAY too old to be forced to sit at the table.

  • sarah

    March 23, 2008 at 7:05 pm

    i loved the jellies…my sister and i were obsessed with “tap shoes” — which were any shoe/flat/pump that went click-click on the linoleum — so we stuck rocks in the holes of the heels to make them click when we walked. SWEEEEEET.

    tetris…i wish i still had that old nintendo, because i would still totally play tetris. my (7th-grade) boyfriend and i would have competitions over the phone!

    did anyone collect charms? my friend in 3rd grade had the awesomest charm SWEATSHIRT with little loops…so jealous!

  • BeachMama

    March 24, 2008 at 4:58 am

    Wow, I remember all of that and more. But for some reason I thought we were closer in age :) , so perhaps I remember it all a little too clearly!

  • JennyM

    March 24, 2008 at 8:08 am

    Holy crap, UNITS. Wow — I remember going to the Units store when we went to visit my grandparents because apparently our town wasn’t cool enough to have a whole store devoted to them. The walls of boxes of little rolled up pieces of jersey fabric. Just, wow.

    And whoever mentioned the Coca-Cola rugby! I had forgotten about those — I had a red one and a teal one and I wore it with my white coral necklace…

    I was in 3rd grade when the Challenger exploded, and we were watching it on TV, too — and our teacher jumped up and turned it off just after the explosion and we turned back to cursive writing.

    What about Trapper Keepers? Mine had a beautiful photo of a galloping horse on it… :)

    Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go dig out my Commodore 64 and play Frogger.

  • ali

    March 24, 2008 at 9:38 am

    i soooo am in love with this post. mostly because you mentioned the mountain-climbing yodeler from The Price is Right. i love that little dude.

  • gina in sc

    March 24, 2008 at 12:43 pm

    The Berlin wall came down- we lived in Germany then and took a train to Berlin shortly after and hacked off a chunk of the wall and spray painted on it. i think i put something like I love Kirk Cameron in red spray paint ….??

  • The Muse

    March 25, 2008 at 8:37 am

    (Found you from Amalah, by the way! Hi! Love your blog!)

    I remember pretty much everything you mentioned… but the biggest memory from my childhood was a little more of a local event, but huge for our area.

    I lived in Las Vegas growing up, and a rocket fuel plant blew up in May of 1988 (yep, coming up on the 20th anniversary of it) – it was the Pepcon plant, and it caught fire and decimated the building and that of the Kidd Marshmallow Plant nearby.

    Because of the chemicals that caught fire, the entire area was basically evacuated, but surprisingly, only 2 people died in the accident.

    But let me tell you, seeing that HUGE orange mushroom cloud rise up over the city, and being only 7 years old and at school just before lunchtime, is something that will NEVER go away in my head.


    That’s the Wiki page on it – it’s really interesting stuff.

  • JesC

    March 26, 2008 at 6:10 am

    Challenger, oh yes. My elementary school library, all of us gathered on the floor watching the endless news repeat on the jumbo TV strapped to the AV cart…

    And OMG, the Three Men and Baby ghost, yes yes yes!