Home Featured Looking Back At Summers Of My Youth: The 80’s Baby’s Version of Summer

Looking Back At Summers Of My Youth: The 80’s Baby’s Version of Summer

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Everyday started with a game of Super Tecmo Bowl versus the computer. At this point, it had become pretty much only out of routine or habit. After spending countless afternoons playing against my friends, I’d gotten to the point that I never lost to the computer in any video game. The next order of business was breakfast; fruit loops, milk and the big spoon. I sat at the dining room table by myself and changed the television to X-Men. I wondered, “Am I the only one who feels X-Men is a lot shorter than the thirty minutes the TV guide says?” The phone would ring at 10:30 and I already knew who it was, it was anywhere from three to twenty-one of my friends on “three-way.” I maneuvered to stretch the phone cord from the kitchen into the dining room where I was finishing my bowl of cereal.

Greg: You trying go outside?
Me: Yeah.
Eric: What y’all trying to do?
Me: Ride bikes?
Greg: Nah, my dad said I could have company. Trying play Super Tecmo Bowl?
Everybody: Yeah, young! I’m bout to come over that joint now!

My all-time favorite pair of summertime shoes.

I ran upstairs, threw on some clothes, and grabbed a toothbrush from under the bathroom sink and quickly cleaned my shoes. As I dried off my shoes, the only thing that could hold up the process happened… My grandmother is standing in the bathroom door, “You gonna take a shower today?!”

I wish we had instructions back in the day.

Damn, life so short.

I did what every other ten year old would, turned on the shower, jumped in, turned around three times, got back out and got dressed again. I peeked my head in my grandmother’s room and asked a question that I had already answered, “Can I go outside?” She nodded and came to lock the door behind me. On my way down the steps, she reached out and grabbed my head. That was her way of letting me know that she knew I didn’t really take a shower because my hair was still dry.

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After we all got to Greg’s house we’d play video games until we got tired or an argument broke out. After that it was time to watch Friday for the 80th time this summer, the 4th of July hasn’t gotten here yet. Of course we knew all the words…

Don’t front, you know all the words too.

Mr. Jones: Every time I come in the kitchen, you in the kitchen… In the goddamn refrigerator, eating up all the food… All the chicken, all the pig feet, all the collard greens, all the hog maws. I wanna eat some of them chit’lins. I love pig feet! Now, when I went to bed last night, didn’t I tell you to take out the trash?
Craig: Yeah.
Mr. Jones: So why didn’t you do it? I fell asleep. I wish you was sleeping right now. I’d knock you upside your head with a left, make your ass wake up and take out the trash!

Once Friday went off it was always quiet in the room because we had to decide what we wanted to do with the rest of our day. We had a few options:

We could go here. Good place to cool off and act a fool.
We could go here. The Court.
We could here. PG Plaza, there were always some girls in there worth talking to.
We could go here. Beltway Plaza. Second best place to meet girls, plus there’s a movie theater here. Great excuse to explain why you’re there.

Our parents were at work, which means we didn’t have a ride to the mall. We’d have to find someone to drop us off and that’s always the hardest thing to do. Riding there on our bikes meant we would have to cross that street that your parents told you would be your ass. It was two things that was a guaranteed whipping: crossing South Dakota Ave. and not being in the house when the streetlights came on.

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We went to the pool for a few hours. The pool was the best place to be in the summertime. I grew up in a house that only had an air conditioner in a few rooms. Remember how back in the day all the air conditioners were in the window? Yep, that’s how my house was setup. We broke every rule at the pool; we had on gym shorts, we ran across the patio, jumped off the edge, struck a pose and made a big splash. This behavior would continue for at least two or three hours. After we got tired of the pool, we hit the basketball court to dry off and play pickup ball with the other neighborhood kids. It really wasn’t pickup ball, it’s best described as about fifteen boys playing the longest game of “21” you’ve ever seen. The problem was, there were allegedly no rules in “21,” which included fouls, but didn’t include double dribble, travel or carrying.

As dinner time neared, we all rushed back home for dinner. I’m not exactly sure what time dinner was, but I’m sure it was between 5:30 and 6:45 every night. The only reason I know is because right after dinner, the phone would ring and the same three to twenty-one people would be on the other end.

Everybody: You bout to listen to the Hot Seven at 7?!

If you’re wondering why anybody born in the early to mid nineties is a natural at deejay’ing, it has nothing to do with rap, it was those radio shows from 7-8 each night. The goal was to record the “Hot Seven at 7” on 93.9 and during commercials switch the channel to 95.5 to record the “Top 5 Songs of Day” starting at 7:30. Never mind the fact that we were practically recording the same songs over and over again. Do you know how hard it is to do that on this?

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We would record those tapes each day, playing them back almost immediately after recording them. That’s how we memorized songs back in the day, we played them constantly. The same five to seven songs over and over until the tape deck popped. As night fell, if we didn’t have a sleepover, we spent the night on “three-way” daring someone to request a song on… The Box!

Back when people used to watch music videos for hours.

As we watched those music videos for hours each night, we wondered what the summer would be like when we grew up…

What we thought summer would be like when we grew up…
What summer is really like after we grow up…

It’s Friday, pretty much every city on the East Coast is flirting with the high nineties in the hundreds! Stay hydrated and please party responsibly. I’ll see y’all next week!

– Dr. J

New mix from Carver The Great, this one is called, 80’s Baby R&B Mix, Vol. 1:

I’ll drop the playlist in the comments in a bit.

Comment(41)

  1. That’s so crazy. I remember when my mom and dad would go to work everyday and the whole neighborhood would be at my house…. fun times!

    And tapes… I only had a single cassette player so I would put it up against the tv when my favorite song would come on and record it. I would be hell to pay for the person who talked while I was recording.

    1. lmao @ hell to play for whoever talked

      This was a great post. Something about summer always makes everyone so nostalgic.

  2. Today's Tracklist:

    1. Come & Talk To Me by Jodeci

    2. Just Kickin It by Xscape

    3. Call Me by Tweet

    4. Can We Get Kinky by Missy & SWV

    5. Rather Be With You by Bootsy Collins

    6. Lady by D'Angelo

    7. Wanna Be Your Man x Computer Love by Zapp & Roger

    8. Between The Sheets by Isley Brothers

    9. Your Body's Calling by R. Kelly

    10. Touch Me Tease Me by Foxy & Case

    11. All Night Long by Mary J. Blige

    12. Welcome by Maxwell

    13. I Wanna Be Down by Brandy & MC Lyte

    14. Sweet Love by Anita Baker

    15. *Bonus* Think Good Thoughts by Drake, Phonte, & Elzhi

  3. Summer is sooooo nostalgic! People – make sure to have fun like you used to when you were younger!! I had to slow myself down and tell myself not to get so caught up in the hustle of life that I don’t enjoy myself!

    I know we got bills and sh*t, haha but sometimes recognizing that today is a gift can put a little more pep in your step! Hope y’alls weekend is like my summer ’00! 🙂

  4. It's sooo weird…. I grew up out in Nigeria and I expected to not be able to relate to any of this but I do!! THe 30 people on a phone call. The running round harassing community property. THere was a hotel we used to go swim coz they'd let the kids in the pool area for free and they had white tourists so we'd always dare someone to go talk to one or pull somebody's hair. THen all the girls would end up at somebody's house and practice the butterfly or shoop or some randomness like that… thats if my older brother's didn't have us playing lookout for my actual girlfriend while your "aunty' is in my room "folding laundry" and if she does come round make her play games with y'all till aunty can sneak out the back door.

    Sigh I wanna be young again.

  5. darn, in the eighties i was a teen and working during the summer. from 13-15 i was in my hospital volunteer candy stripper uniform pushing the Candy/Magazine cart at University of Penn Hospital. from 16-19 at mcdonalds actually worked my way up to shift manager. lol, my dad didnt believe in the lazy summer.

      1. My first gig, 16, was at a movie theater…. I got free movies, passes for friends and family, and the women came to you by the droves every Friday and Saturday? … Young WIM?

        FLOURISHED!

  6. I’m a 90s baby (born in 80s) and my summers didnt vary much. Hell even now. We would want to go ride bikes somewhere and someone always broke theirs (these days we want to go out and someone never has club clothes/ID/money) or we be in the crib playing NBA Jam and Mortal Kombat (not much difference but the graphics). All the girls were at the mall or summer school let outs, these days they are at the mall and club let outs. We would clown whoever was the first one to had to in the crib, these days we clown whoever is the first to get that “where you at” text from their shorty (or his mother for one of them…if this still goes down when we’re 25 we cant kick it no more). Crazy how things change but they don’t.

  7. "We would clown whoever was the first one to had to in the crib, these days we clown whoever is the first to get that "where you at" text from their shorty"

    Things that didn't happen to 80s babies… I didn't have a cell phone until college. People with cell phones in High School, sure enough weren't texting. Them old school Nokia joints with the replaceable fronts.

  8. I grew up in an all-white neighborhood, so there are some differences.. I didn’t even discover WPGC/WKYS until I was what… 12-13? But there are some overlaps… We hung out at Wheaton Mall and Lakeforest lol.

  9. This is so close to what my life used to be, especially since I grew up in a neighborhood with all boys! lol I miss this so much.

    And I have to admit, I've never seen Friday in it's entirety. I know just enough references to be relevant in conversation 🙂

  10. This took me back. Those were simpler times. I had to live by the 'in when the lights came on' rule too, which I never understood because it seemed like the lights came on at a different time every night. I got my bike stolen more than a little bit in my youth too. That seemed like a rite of passage during the summer. I even stole it back a few times, which is messed up because you knew it was one of your "friends" stealing your bike.

    PS. That black/white pool party picture is hilarious.

    1. I forgot to mention, I HATED 3-way. With your boys, 3-ways was the ultimate tool. You could mack whole groups of women AT THE SAME DAMN TIME. But in the hands of women, 3-way was nothing but a tool for the Devil's idle hands bro! For a while, 3-way became the anti-thesis to any interaction with women from like 97 – 2000…

      *ring*

      WIM: Hello.
      GF: Who Keisha?
      WIM: Who?
      GF: Keisha.
      WIM: I dont know no Keisha.
      GF: You dont know know Kiesha?
      WIM: NO!
      GF: YOU DONT KNOW KNOW KEISHA?!?
      WIM: I DONT KNOW NO DAMN KEISHA.
      *Keisha who's been on 3-way the whole time*: So you dont know me?
      WIM: *hangs up phone and unplugs phone*

      ******

      Curse you, 3-way! *shakes fist*

        1. LMAO that he actually thumbs downed you! I almost thumbs upped your comment @oH_NiCk_KeY, but I couldn't bring myself to mess up the visual lol

          Side note: does it take you 20 minutes to type out your jumbled up, upper case/lower case, symbol name like it did me?

          No? Oh.

      1. I'm quite sure I would've died without 3-way as a teen, LOL!

        But, I'm a girl, lol..so it was acceptable…

  11. Dang, boy summers are so different from girl summers! My summers before sixth grade consisted of a long list of chores and then when we could go outside, we had to check in every thirty minutes. I used to love riding bikes though. I thought I was something when I learned how to stand up and ride it. lol Anybody else have a bike with a banana seat? lol
    That's a dope mix, got me in here singing along!

    1. I don't know if it's boy/girl, city/country or just a case of the lames, but I never had this sorta stereotypical, fun summer adventures. I spent my summers playing softball, which was fun, but not like every summer, feel good, buddy movie ever. Shoot we didn't even HAVE street lights, lol. I came home a) when the game was over or b) at curfew or most likely c) my lame @ss was already home.

      But I sure relate to that list of chores!! And they'd all get done in the time between me hearing them pull in and them walking in the door….the procrastination was strong in me, even then. *smh* If my brother was being really nice to me or more often, I had blackmail on him he'd go outside and run interference for me, but me some time.

      Banana seats, mixed tapes stolen from the radio, and water hoses FTW!!!!

  12. Right in time for this 92 degree weather in NYC. From 3 to 12 I would spend the first 2 weeks of my summer in Brooklyn with my gma and the rest in VA with my other grandma. All we did was ride bikes, go to camp, swim in the lake and beg for someone to take me and my cousins to Kings Dominion. Once I was 14 and old enough to work , I spent all summer in Ny and acted a fool . The best part of summer were the summer league bball games , all the cute guys from high school or who went to college and came back for the summer, played , great eye candy.

  13. Thank you Dr. J for that great trip down memory lane! Whew.. good times I tell ya. I'm also from the DMV, but the malls closest to us were City Place (back when it had Nathan's, Nordstrom Rack, an arcade, and AMC Theatres) and Wheaton Mall. My summer days were similar and in the evening I'd be glued to the radio with my two fingers ready on Play & Record. Remember the Live Squad? "Its time to get live, live, live like the squad, always on the job no doubt.. who this on the phone and what you all about?!" We stayed trying to call in and rep our crew!

  14. Great post…my summers were similar and different all at the same time. Me and my twin were tomboys so we were always running with the boys. Bike riding all around Bklyn, going to St. Johns pool at the rec center, wrestling in this big arse circle behind our buildings, playing skelly on the blacktop.
    We also was in alot of summer camps too. Pine Bush Bible Camp is the place where you learn about God and that people give bjs and hjs in the chapel..going rafting or hiking and running from chipmunks in the woods, bonfires and ghost stories. Laying on the court and watching the stars and realizing you never saw them like this in the city.
    Damn I wish I were young again…

  15. Aw. I really like this post Jay. I wish I could reminisce with people but I always had educational summers.

    When I was with my dad we'd go to the Baltimore Aquarium or make a day trip and lesson out of a musuem. To this day “Touch Me, Tease Me” is the ultimate summer jam because of the happiness I felt pulling up to the aquarium feeling all in awe of it and cool cuz my sister was nice to me that day lol. She let me wear one of her shirts…a halter top. She used to be so mean to me; I was always sneaking her clothes on pretending I was sexy but her entire wardrobe still had tags and she used to chase me around for playing dress up. She finally decided I was cool enough to have “our” favorite shirt.

    1. Most of my summers were spent in the country though because of my grandma. They used to leave her in my care — she *hated* me. I had such a smart mouth. I wouldn't season her food. I always made her take her medicine and monitor her insulin. I was that know-it-all who took her job as grandmasitter way too seriously because….she was NOT gonna die on my watch. When my Mother and my aunts got home….it went down. and let me tell you, southern dinners are twenty course meals. Every night. Piggly Wiggly is an all day excursion. 45 black people in a house with one bathroom, two couches and a single level is the ultimate good time.

      1. While they were in the kitchen I'd get to walk around the neighborhood and feel grown cuz I wasn't scared of dogs…..cuz I got the hang of running on gravel…..I had to take clothes down off the line first though and then it was to this lady who's house was a grocery store of snacks. I'd listen to all her stories cuz I couldn't go far enough to get a pickle out of a barrell from this old dude who told the teens ghost stories. After a day of this the men would come home and gather outside and loudly proclaim their manliness in the form of 'fetch me a hamhock while we talk about car parts and steel mills and callouses and murders we may or may not have committed.' The hearty laughter of men and the celebration of some unseen joy in life is hands down the best memory. Warmth. Love. This summer though, I'm gonna kick it. I like FINALLY watching Saturday morning cartoons like everyone else got to do and I agree, cuz three 5-minute commercial breaks during the Legend of Korra is just ridiculous.

  16. Dr. J won my respect with the uptempos. Those, the flightposites, the vrooms and the grand mama converse react juice boys my favorite all time kicks

  17. love this post!

    bike riding was THEE thing to do when i went to my dad's house on weekends. used to be like 20 of us. crazy. and my friends and i had a whole radio show we'd do from recorded songs on the stereo. ah, those were the days! and we'd ask to go outside and "get wet" lmao. some neighbor would have the sprinkler set up or we'd pull out the slip n slide and effectively, get wet. lol

    and The Box was great. i'd sneak and request Boyz II Men and TLC songs all day and wait anxiously to see it in the queue. fun times.

  18. THE BOX!!! LMBO! Yes, YES!

    Man, I was a girlie-girl who was not interested in running up and down any street sweating and such, lol. I spent most of my summer days in the AC…talking on the phone…to the same people, lol. I watched video/talk shows/stories. I used to go out on the porch and watch the boys in my neighborhood play basketball in the street (row house living, lol). My bff and I used to sync our VCRs and watch Menace To Society together, LMBO! Multiple times per week. I loved playing with the super soaker (still do). We went to Outdoor World every summer. My evenings were spent singing around the city with a youth choir…joy nights/concerts/services…good times.

  19. This was funny and quite relatable even though back in the day my peer group summer time shoe was the rebook Classic’s. High Top with the “multi”slouch for the girls and lows for the guys. #YIKES. Hate to say I still frequent Beltway Plaza …the Inside #DJM :0) The Mix was on point this week. Glad to see those issues are worked out!

  20. SOn, let me write a reminiscent post like this and I may shed more than a few thug tears.

    Lets not even bring up when you pressed your luck staying out when the sun went down and granmama came after you. Blowing up spots in front of the friends that it was time for you to go inside.

    Of the classic conversations on the stoops of america.

    The Box. Music Television YOU control! Yeah buddy!
    My recent post The Best Dilemma To Have

  21. It's interesting the subtle differences between people who grow up in houses or apartments, projects, or other housing situations that were more close quarters. I barely ever used the phone. I yelled out my window, or peaked out to catch a glimpse of who was out in the playground already lol. We were creative a$$ kids. Played all types of sports, video games, and ish like cops & robbers. I remember one time, some of the older kids in our complex got a hold of some golf clubs and fashioned up a damn golf course. In our little backyard play area. For like 2 weeks we were in there. Who said colored kids can't play golf!? Lol. Remember knocking on peoples' doors and running? Why was that funny? Smh. And then we got older… *sigh* Nice post.
    My recent post Dentist pulls out all of her ex-boyfriend's teeth

    1. geez. *blinks quite a few times while clearing my throat* Pressure relieved. Guys dreaming big while I'm growing up violating child labor laws <3

  22. this made me happy and sad… happy because i feel like i got to experienc the last of the good stuff… and sad because little kids today have no idea what they are missing and how lame things are today…. blame it on the swag i guess

  23. I love every part of this post. These lil lame kids don’t know crap!!! Tell me about putting that piece of scotch tape on an already recorded tape to record off the radio!!!

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