1. We could ride in the open-air bed of a pickup. And stand up looking out over the top of the cab, the wind in our face.
  2. Nobody made us wear helmets when riding our bicycles. None of us had helmets, for that matter. We were lucky enough to have bikes. Helmets were for football players or soldiers.
  3. We didn’t spend half of the day on a school bus.
  4. We didn’t have armed guards at school or even a palsy-walsy policeman.
  5. Dental braces weren’t cool.
  6. Boys owned a suit or sports coat and neckties, which some of us could actually knot properly.
  7. Girls had to wear skirts that covered their knees.
  8. Older kids might have a manual typewriter. Or even electric. Forget smart phones or laptops or social media. Thumbs were for sucking during particularly tough tests.
  9. There were three television networks – plus an educational station in some cities. And network news wasn’t rightwing propaganda.
  10. We all went to Sunday School. And said our bedtime prayers faithfully.


What other differences do you see?


Open up the latest release at THISTLE/FLINCH.


  1. And we played outside after school and on weekends and all summer long. Parents didn’t have to worry about where we were or if we were in any danger. We just had to be home by suppertime, and again in the summers, when the streetlights came on.

    1. Actually I don’t think the dangers are any greater today than they were when I was a child back in the 1950s and 60s. It’s just that society is more aware of them. Perhaps to the extent that at times it approaches paranoia.

      1. I think it depends on where one lives. The dangers where I live now are probably no greater. But the dangers are much greater where I grew up, even if the danger is just more traffic. We could play and ride bikes in streets that today are like speedways.

  2. 1. Only if mothers weren’t around. That’s why fathers were “neat” 🙂
    2. Everyone over 7 had bikes. Nobody had helmets – even football players (Rugby Union Football). Today helmets are mandatory for bikes, Rugby players still don’t wear helmets (but have strict concussion rules).
    3. Our schools have remained the same size, so as the population increases, the distance between schools is actually decreasing.
    4. Still no guards – armed or otherwise. No security fences (many don’t have any fence) or metal detectors either.
    5. Braces still aren’t cool.
    6. Boys wore shorts. Girls wore ties as part of their school uniform. I got my first tie, dress shirt and trousers when I started full-time employment.
    7. Girls skirts were always above knee. For school, hems were a regulation 2 inches above ground when kneeling.
    8. Typewriters were things reporters used. Otherwise there were seldom if ever seen.
    9. No television. I remember when television first arrived in the early 1960s. It would be more than 10 years before we got a second channel.
    10. Less than 20% of children attended Sunday schools in the 1960s. Today it’s considerably less.

    The biggest change I have noticed in Aotearoa New Zealand:
    1. The decline in egalitarianism. Most suburbs and streets included people from all walks of life. Today, even small towns will have distinct socio-economic zones.
    2. No full-time home carers. Back then, one parent – typically the mother, but not always – stayed at home while the other worked. The average family today would struggle to survive on a single income.
    3. Few people had passports back then. International travel was too expensive for most families. Today you’d be hard pressed to find anyone – adult or child – who doesn’t have a passport and hasn’t travelled overseas in the past 5 – 10 years. And the “Big OE” (Overseas Experience: travelling abroad for 6 months to 2 years) has almost become a mandatory part of coming of age for all young adults here.
    4. Recognising and embracing out cultural distinctiveness. The influence of the indigenous minority is being is becoming more noticeable, and for most (but by no means all), this is being welcomed.

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