It is always fun to look back at what life used to be like. When I was a kid, Reagan was president, we had Hamburglar, Grimmace, and Ronald telling us how cool it was to hang at McDonalds before they got rebranded. I totally rocked crimped hair and leg warmers. I also had things I couldn’t live without. Here are the five things I couldn’t live without that made the 80s rad. Yes, I said it. I said rad! Ha!

  1. Mix Tapes.

I come from the mixed tape era. I would buy those 5-pack bundles of the Maxell blank cassette tapes of 90 minutes each and record songs from the radio. I was just so cool! It was an art form to get the mix tape just right. I would listen to the DJ announce which song he would play and then determination and drive set in. Just as soon as the DJ came back from commercial, I would be in anticipation of pushing the record button on my boom box at the perfect moment to get the DJ introducing the song and the cool transition into the song.

  1. Kodak 35mm film rolls.

I could not live without my film. I loved taking pictures even back then, back when nothing was digital. We had to either send in our film to be developed and it would take at least a week to have our prints or we would do it ourselves and have our own experience in the darkroom. I remember developing film at speed lightning. I learned how to do it because I was on our high school publications team. We would have reel wars to see who was the fastest at loading film to be processed by the smelliest chemicals that soon became a welcomed and familiar sulfur-like scent. Gross, right?!

  1. Vintage Sesame Street.

We still had Snuffleupagus, a giant anteater-like mammoth and Barkley, the full-body muppet dog. We had Luis and Maria. It was a magical place of learning and song.

  1. Saturday morning cartoons.

Carebears, Jem, Thundercats, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, The Smurfs, He- Man, She-Ra, Looney Tunes; there were some great ones. We would grab our Corn Flakes with sliced bananas with a ton of sugar added to it, and watch those vintage cartoons which took up most of our morning.

  1. MTV when it was actually MTV.

I love music! The music from the 80s was especially fun with those synthesizers and big hair. You would see a variety of hot pink spandex and tie dye outfits with crimped hair and side ponytails with jelly shoes and jelly bracelets. It was the total vibe! The coolest thing was having those music videos to jam to, when mom would wake us up to start cleaning early on Sunday mornings.

For those of you who grew up in the 80s, what are some things you couldn’t live without? I know that rotary telephones with the longest cord that would wrap all the way through the kitchen to the living room has to be somewhere at least in the top ten. Let me know what you couldn’t live without in the comments! And rock on telling stories about the good ‘ol days back in the 80s! Ha!

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Jessica Montalvo
Jessica Maria Montalvo has dedicated her life to the diverse field of education for over 19 years. She knows the importance of cultural inclusivity and diversity, equity, and inclusion as a part of what she stands for as not only an educator, but a life-long learner as well. Jessica is a native of Fort Wayne, Indiana. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish from Indiana University, and from Indiana Purdue Fort Wayne with her teaching Certification for Secondary Education. Later she earned a Master of Education from Indiana Wesleyan University and is currently a Ph.D. candidate at Indiana Tech in the global leadership program. Her passion for service has translated to her involvement in creative projects which include roles within an original musical theater production about mental illness written by James Wesley Williams, since its full-cast production opening premiere in 2014. She is also a producer for the recent film short, Grummy. Her greatest work of art is when she became a mother in 2020 to her beautiful baby girl, Lara Juliana Montalvo.