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Pop Culture

People born before 1990 are sharing their now-useless but 100 percent nostalgic skills

For instance, recording songs on tape from the radio while yelling at the DJ to shut up during the intro.

red wired telephone, map partially folded, crayons

From holding the phone on your shoulder to folding a map to knowing what "cornflower" and "goldenrod" are, here are pre-Y2K skills at their finest.

Hey there, millennials! Welcome to the "Holy crapoly, I have real-life memories from 20 years ago!" club. It's a strangely disorienting milestone to reach when you find yourself starting sentences with "When I was young…" or "Back in my day…" isn't it?

Your Gen X elders have been here for a while, but even we have moments of incredulously calculating how the heck we've arrived at this place. Time is a tricky little jokester, isn't he?

To highlight how much has changed for middle-aged folks since we were young, a user on Reddit asked people born before 1990 what useless skills they possess that nobody has a need for anymore. It's both a hilarious trip down memory lane and a time capsule of life pre-Y2K. (Do kids these days even know what Y2K was? Gracious.)

If you're down for some good-old-days nostalgia, check out people's responses:


Making brown paper bag book covers

"I can cover a textbook with a brown paper bag." — sourwaterbug

Oh goodness yes. And there was always that one girl in class who had the art of the brown paper bag book cover perfected. (They're probably Pinterest influencers now.)

Folding a map—and knowing where to find a map

"I can re-fold a map correctly."JungleZac

"Man remember actually using maps…I had an atlas with the road system in my car to navigate other states during road trips. Crazy." – jagua_haku

How did we ever figure out how to get anywhere before GPS and Google Maps? (Two-inch thick road atlases in our car and stopping at gas stations to buy local maps while traveling, that's how. Positively primitive.)

Memorizing phone numbers and answering the house phone

For real, though, kids these days don't even know.

"Remembering phone numbers." — greatmilliondog

"Not only that, having to speak to your friend's parents for a few minutes when you call their house." Logical_Area_5552

"How to take a message when the person they want to talk to isn't there." — Amoori_A_Splooge

How about dialing on a rotary phone, using a pay phone and making (or taking) a collect call?

The skillful phone shoulder hold

"Using your shoulder to hold a telephone up to your ear while doing multiple other things at once. Now, the phones are so damned small I drop them." – Regular_Sample_5197

"100 ft phone cords 🤣" – mrch1ck3nn

"I got in sooooo much trouble for stretching the phone cord into the bathroom for some privacy. Accidentally clotheslined Grandma 😬 She laughed about it but Mom was pissed!" – AffectionateBite3827

Knowing the exact name of every Crayola color because we only had so many

"I know what the color “goldenrod” is." — ImAmazedBaybee

"That and burnt sienna were the crayolas of choice." — Signiference

"Cornflower would like a word." — cps12345

The art of the mixed tape—especially from the radio

I don't think kids these days fully grasp how revolutionary Spotify and the like are for those of us who spent hours in front of the radio with our cassette tape recorder queued up at just the right spot waiting for the song we wanted to record to come one. And they will never, ever know the frustration of the DJ yapping right up until the lyrics start.

"Record to tape from the radio. Trying to make sure to not get the DJ/presenter talking sh-t or an ad" – Gankstajam

"'Shut up, shut up, shut up!!! I'm trying to record my song!!!'" – tearsonurcheek

"Haha yeah and trying to tell others so they don't make random noise or knock on the door.

How about making cassette-based mix tapes, trying to figure out to the second, how many and which types of songs in which order, that would still fit perfectly on the length of tape per side.

People who make digital recordings do not have to worry about 'running out of tape.'

Having the first side be tempting enough that they'd flip the other side to continue listening. That's before continual playback machines existed. Had to flip the cassette." – CrunchyTeaTime

And there were many more, from rewinding a cassette tape with a pencil to writing in cursive to tearing the sides off of printer paper without tearing the paper itself. (Oh and of course the ability to count out change and understand what you're supposed to do if something costs $9.91 and someone hands you $10.01.)

Gotta love it when the things that used to be totally normal now sound like historic artifacts found in a museum. Kind of makes you wonder what normal things from today we'll be laughing about in another 20 or 30 years.


This article originally appeared on 6.22.23

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