Memorizing Phone Numbers
We’re quite glad not to have to memorize phone numbers, honestly. Some people were really good at it, but most of us had those fancy flip-up record books that we kept next to the landline. Now that you have a minimum of 10 digits to remember, good golly, isn’t it a relief we have cell phones to store them all?
Of course, it’s important to remember the most essential numbers, like your own! You have no idea how many people don’t know their own digits! Partners, children, parents, best friends, all these people’s numbers should be at least ingrained in your memory. You never know when an emergency will strike and you won’t have your phone nearby.
Using Rotary Phones
Watching kids today look at these phones in utter confusion is quite hilarious! They were so simple, and the noise as the dial returned was quite unique. Ah, memories!
Of course, it took ages to actually dial a number, and button phones very quickly became all the rage when they were invented. Plus, if you had a manicure, there was NO WAY you were going to stick your finger in that hole! Pens worked well in that instance, though.
Once a year, the phone company would print a book listing every client’s home or business number and deliver it around said clients’ homes. Everything was listed in alphabetical order for ease of use.Those phone books were so thick that, sometimes, people had strength competitions to see if they could tear one in half!
It wasn’t an easy feat then, but it probably is now. Phone books, if they’re still around, are so thin because very few people have landlines these days. Plus, you can just Google any phone number you might need.
Sewing at Home
As far as we’re concerned, sewing is a skill best left to those who were born with it! Clothing was very expensive in the old days, so making your own was something you had to do.
Thankfully, times are better, and dressmaking can be left up to the professionals who can work their magic and be paid for it. Although, sewing on a button should be something we should all know, right?
Posting Seasonal Cards
Christmas, birthdays, travel postcards, it was always exciting to get a card in the mail, especially if there was a crisp note inside for you! With the internet, though, it’s just easier to send a wish online.
Plus, if you want to add a gift, there are places like Amazon that will do it all for you. We don’t know about you, but we would love to get a Christmas card. Then again, it might get lost in the mail…
Reading a Map
Summer vacation coming up? Wanting to attempt a road trip? Well, get out your maps and compass because that’s how Boomers used to travel! Yes, those huge pieces of cartography would be well-worn with all the new folds by the time the destination was reached.
Consider yourselves very lucky to have all of that and more on your phone or even built into your car. You can find a gas station very easily now. Back then, you would have to plan your route to each stop or pray you’d find one along the way.
Using an Encyclopedia
If you walked into someone’s house and saw the entire Encyclopedia Britannica on a shelf, you would think — no, know — that the residents in this house were wealthy. They were a set of so many books, all filled with facts and information about anything and everything.
You’ve seen the meme: be nice to your Boomers because they grew up without Google. Yeah, they had super heavy books to search through for stuff. Hey Google, where can we pick up some Encyclopedias?
Reading a Newspaper
Once upon a time, most newsworthy information was relayed via printed newspaper, and if the news were especially important, newsboys (boys who sold newspapers) would stand on a little box and shout the headlines to get people to buy the paper.
With everything moving online and being reported at a rapid rate, it makes sense that printed newspapers are, perhaps not obsolete yet, but are certainly not as popular. Why would you spend money on news that was online yesterday?
Using Print Dictionaries
Again, the internet has taken over this tool. While some schools do insist that students have a paper dictionary, opening your browser window and Googling is just so much quicker and simpler.
Of course, having an actual dictionary with you while playing Scrabble is vital because you need to make sure Grandpa isn’t making up that word over the triple letter! And you know Grandpa won’t want confirmation of his cheating from a phone or computer!
Writing in Cursive
Cursive is such an art and very pretty to look at, especially if done neatly. Of course, now you have all those fancy fonts at your fingertips through your computer, but it’s just not the same.
We think it’s pretty sad that schools no longer deem this skill necessary to teach. Yes, it’s not as important as Math or English, but it’s a nice skill to have regardless.
Using Library Card Catalog
In the olden days (less than 15 years ago), if you had a project or assignment to do and you didn’t have access to those expensive Encyclopedia Britannicas, your best option was to visit your local library.
All books within a library are cataloged, and a card was made up for each one and placed inside a cabinet consisting of a lot of super-long drawers. You would search for the card like you would search Google, which would give you the book number, and then you would go and find that book.
Changing Your Oil
Cars need regular maintenance, and even more so back in the day. There weren’t that many mechanics around, so if you owned a car, doing the maintenance fell on your shoulders.
This is one thing we’re glad has changed. Changing your car’s oil is a messy business, and who wants to do it anyway when there are people you can pay to do it for you?
We won’t lie, this one makes us feel very old. We’ve never driven an automatic, and yet, here we are, being told driving stick is out of fashion!
But perhaps we should look at it positively instead, as we have a skill that people are losing or won’t have anymore. We’ve been informed that automatic is the way to go, and it would seem so if the car manufacturers are anything to go by.
WHY?! Why are we losing the battle for correct grammar?! This just makes us sad. Yes, we know, texting is the way things are done today, and texting is quick and to the point. But that shouldn’t come at the expense of using good grammar, does it?
We are, however, super grateful that sentences like this never took hold: “Any1 4 a nawti nite at the club?” Even if you have to use emojis, please never ever write like that!
Balancing Your Checkbook
Since we’re talking about obsolete Boomer life skills, we could even just say “write a check” here because checks are really out of date! So many countries have done away with them! Balancing a checkbook is definitely a thing of the past, as most people do all their transactions online.
At least most people we know. If your Granny is still writing checks, maybe take her under your wing and show her the simpler life. She will thank you for it — or might not if she’s stuck in those old ways.
Meeting your significant other these days is done online. It’s quite rare to meet someone face to face and ask them out on a date.
You just have to open your phone’s app store, and you’ll see numerous dating apps to download, promising you’ll find your soulmate amongst their users. It’s not only dating apps; people meet on all sorts of social media platforms, too, and decide, “hey, you’re my person — let’s get together.”
Let’s be honest; ironing is the worst household chore EVER! We’re so happy that clothing material has improved to the point where you simply wash, dry, and fold, and that’s the end of it.
Back then, ironing clothes for any type of function was a must, and some clothes had to be ironed in a specific way. Shirt collars had to be crisp and perfectly starched. Dresses and slacks had to be crease-free. This is one we think the Boomers don’t mind losing.
With social media the way it is, we’re connected to old friends and family more than ever. For people we would write a letter to, we can simply drop a line via Facebook.
Even if letter writing was still a thing, it’s just a waste of time and effort to place it in an envelope, write the address, add a stamp and post it when you can type something up and email it. But, perhaps once in a while, it would be lovely to receive a nice letter. Not a bill, Mr. Postman, a letter. Thank you.
Using a Fax Machine
Back in the day, businesses and some homes had a second phone line connected to a fax machine, where documents would be sent. You would place a document in the feeder, dial the number, and the feeder would copy the document, and a facsimile of the document would come out on the other side.
It’s pretty obvious why this has become obsolete. Email, instant messaging, and all these things are just so much easier and better today, thanks to the evolution of technology.
Using an Analogue Camera
Ooh, what a pretty sunset! Grab your phone, open the camera, press the button, and presto! You have a pic of your sunset. Before things went digital, getting that perfect sunset shot was no simple task! You had to buy a roll of film, open the back of the camera, carefully and quickly insert the film (because if you exposed the film, it was ruined), wind it, and then you were ready to take that shot. By then, the sun had probably already set.
On top of that, you had to wait until the film was full before taking it to a specialized developer to get your pictures. Only then would you see if your sunset came out correctly, and more often than not, it didn’t. These days you get to take 100 shots and can pick and choose which one would be your new Facebook cover picture.
Getting Up to Change the TV Channel
Remote controls for the TV were every kid’s breath of fresh air. It meant they no longer had the job of getting off the couch and changing the channel when Dad got bored with the news and wanted to watch football.
That said, Dad had control of the remote, and you could probably guarantee it would get lost in the recliner at some point. In which case, it became your job again to find it. Things are so much easier today.
Calling the Phone Operator
Back in the early days of landlines and home phones, you couldn’t just call your friend. You had to call an operator (as in an actual human) who would physically connect you to them.
These days we just ask our phones to call whomever we need to chat with, so in a way, we still have an operator. Her name is either Siri or Hey Google, depending on your phone.
Some things are better left in the past. Like this one where everything, and we mean everything, that could be put in a Jell-O was put in a Jell-O!
You’re probably thinking of fruits and sweet things, but you would be wrong. Things like celery and cucumbers also ended up in Jell-O. It was a bizarre time, we won’t lie. Pretty but bizarre.
Using a TV Aerial
You know when you’re camping, and there’s no signal on your phone, and you’re crying to your parents because you can’t call your boyfriend/girlfriend? Yeah, that happened with TVs too!
Yup, those old massive boxes with a screen required an aerial to receive a signal so we could watch Johnny Carson on The Tonight Show. Sometimes, to improve that signal, the aerial would be wrapped in tin foil!
Using a Typewriter
Typing is a necessary skill as we all use keyboards today, but before those keyboards were attached to PCs, they were an all-in-one machine called a typewriter.
A ribbon was placed inside, and it lay against a crisp sheet of paper. As you hit a key, a hammer with that letter would bang against the ribbon, leaving an imprint on the paper. Making a mistake was frowned upon because there was no such thing as a whiteout, and you would have to start over.
Looking Through the Sears Catalog
Who remembers flicking through the crisp pages, drooling over all the new items Sears had in store? No, we neither, but we can imagine it elicited much excitement. Sears had it all, watches, clothing, baby wares; you name it! It was the department store for everything you could ever need, and you could order via the catalog too!
What a dream! Sadly the company went bankrupt, but not before being replaced by similar mail-order companies. Although no longer mail-order, online ordering is the new way to buy things, so as much as Sears is no more, they remain a trendsetter.
Math. Yes, we hear your collective groan, and we agree. But Boomer cashiers needed to know math and how to calculate change in their heads. Cash registers didn’t have built-in calculators like they do today.
Adding up all the items, adding tax, taking your money, working out the change, and all in a matter of seconds, because time is of the essence. Thank goodness for calculators on our phones now!
Planting Veggies by Moon Phases
Yes, moon phases. While planting veggies in your backyard is encouraged, doing it by following the phases of the moon has faded into insignificance. Perhaps rightly so, as there’s really no scientific data to support the theory that your vegetables will grow better.
However, you did become more aware of Nature and her nightly loveliness. An added bonus was that nighttime gardening had a better result than any expensive “mindfulness spa.” We think we’ll stick to seasonal gardening, though.
Using Cassette Tapes
Remember on the weekends when we listened to the Top 40 on our favorite radio station, holding our finger over the record button, waiting for the DJ to stop speaking so we could catch and record the latest songs on cassette? Yeah, those were the days. It was a proper skill to get the song without any interruption from the DK or an ad!
These days we can simply open an app on our computer or phone and search for our song of the moment. Gone are the days when you’d have tape cases filled with “playlists.” Now they’re so easy to create!
We can’t talk about cassette tapes and not mention VHS tapes! Going to your local video rental and renting the latest movies was a great family activity on the weekend!
This, young readers, was also the original Netflix and Chill! So don’t give the Boomers in your life a hard time – they didn’t have it easy to pick a movie for a quiet at-home date night. They also had to REWIND said movie before returning it!
Now, this was a skill! You’ve heard it said that people need to keep the minutes of meetings? Well, in the old days, the way they recorded those minutes was by writing everything down. Yes, we know what you’re thinking. Writing everything down in a meeting with more than five people would be quite challenging, and it was.
So shorthand was invented. Shorthand was a language of symbols and helped secretaries keep track of important meetings. They would later type these out using a typewriter. Nowadays, people can easily record meetings on their phones.
Do you remember the days when you would answer your phone with your telephone number? To this day, we have no idea why we did this, but we suspect it was in case the person calling had dialed the wrong number.
Still, today some people don’t even say hi or bye. It’s most frustrating! Granted, today, anyone in your contacts calling you would appear on the screen, and you would answer accordingly. But not saying bye before you hang up? That’s just rude!
Using Fine China
Now, this isn’t to say Fine China is completely obsolete. Quite the contrary. If you’re someone who enjoys fancy dinner parties, you’re probably someone who has Fine China amongst their crockery.
Back in the day, when young Boomers got married, one of the first things they did was get a fancy Fine China set. Dinner parties were a measure of your standing in society, and the better the China, the higher your standing. We’re glad it’s not a thing nowadays; man, that stuff is expensive!
Putting Up Wallpaper
Wallpaper is actually so pretty, but it’s quite a hassle to put up. You have to get the right paste, make sure you’re putting enough paste on the sheet, and then, with the pasty wallpaper sheet with a mind of its own, attempt to stick it against the wall so that it’s perfectly aligned with the rest of the wallpaper.
These days, painting is just so much quicker and easier if you’re doing it yourself. If you want a wallpapered room or accent wall, it’s just better to call in those experts who are Boomers or who have been taught by Boomers how to properly place wallpaper.
Using Home Shopping Channels
Boomers had the Sears Catalog, but they also had home shopping channels. If you didn’t feel like going to the store, or you didn’t have access to some stores, shopping on your TV was where you went.
You would see something you liked, pick up your phone (definitely a landline), call the number on the screen and place your order and pay by credit card. So much easier today, isn’t it? Especially when some things can be delivered on the same day!
In the early days of the internet, we were all introduced to Yahoo! This was the biggest and best search engine and email platform of the time, and the Boomers in your life might still be using it.
Most of us have moved over to Google and Gmail, but we all know some Boomers who refuse to change and stick with what they know. Although, when needing answers, “Yahoo it” doesn’t roll off the tongue quite as nicely as “Google it.” Sorry, Yahoo!
Installing Shag Carpets
Shag carpets were all the rage for perhaps 10 years, and, thankfully, they disappeared forever. Well, mostly disappeared. They may feel soft and cozy and welcoming in the colder months, but the maintenance on those things just makes them horrible.
These days, there’s underfloor heating, which allows you to have any type of flooring in your home that you want. So, just stick to a nice, low-maintenance area rug from now on.
Placing Toilet Seat Covers
Oh, joy! Grandma made us another toilet seat cover! Can you think of anything more gross?! Sure, like the shag carpets, it might feel cushy on your tushy, but what happens when an accident happens?!
Ugh, just the thought of the men in your life missing makes us want to gag! Sorry, Grandma, we’ll stick with the uncovered seat we have; thanks.
Record players and vinyl records were the way you listened to music before CDs arrived in the ’80s. Vinyl records and their players were often considered an aesthetic piece of your decor. You even had special cabinets for your records.
Sadly, these records were easily damaged, and you really had to look after them if you wanted to keep them around. They’re making a big comeback, though, which is great to see, even if it is at a price.
Typing on a Phone
We all text these days, but when cell phones first appeared, they had keypads that weren’t on the screens. You really learned how to type on those old phones! See if you can decipher this: 444026066 666802022666 666 633777 (spaces are just between letters in the same word).
Today you just have to press the key once, and the phone can usually pick up what you’re trying to say. Although autocorrect has been known to get us into trouble… (Answer: “I am not a boomer”)
Using Bar Soap
Bar soap is seriously old school and, well, just gross. With all the shower gels, hand wash, and body wash around, bar soap is really obsolete. Well, it should be, in our opinion!
We get it, times are tough, and bar soap is cheap, but it also gets messy and ugly after a while. Especially if you leave it dirty; talk about a bacteria collector!
Times sure are different today than it was when our parents and grandparents were young adults. We hear them talk about walking to school barefoot in four feet of snow all the time, don’t we? While we sincerely doubt they did actually walk that far, they definitely did some things that were common at the time that are completely useless in our current times. Let’s travel through time and see what Boomer things are practically obsolete today.