15 Reasons We’re Glad We Grew Up in the ’60s

The days of Schwinns and Sean Connery.

15 Reasons We’re Glad We Grew Up in the ’60s

Some people might say that if you remember the ’60s, you weren’t there. To that, we say, “Hogwash!” If you were a child in the ’60s, you remember every last moment as if it was in technicolor. From the British invasion to shaking it like a Polaroid picture for the first time, here are 25 reasons why we’re thankful that we grew up in the best decade of the 20th century when everything was so very groovy, baby.

We learned dances on American Bandstand.

American Bandstand, the twist, 70s Alamy

Every Saturday afternoon, children of the ’60s would tune in to see the endlessly youthful Dick Clark introduce us to all the new music that mattered, and all the crazy new dances we had to learn immediately. Learning how to do “The Twist” wasn’t just a fun way to pass the time, it was more important than our actual homework.

There was a candy renaissance.

now and laters, 60s candy Shutterstock

We’re not suggesting that previous and prior generations didn’t have candy, but there was nothing as marvelous as your first taste of Starburst and Swedish Fish, or Lemonheads and Now & Laters. Candy of the 1960s was so groundbreaking and sugar-tastic that it continues to be a favorite among kids with serious sweet teeth today. Sorry, everybody else, but our generation basically invented the sugar high.

The Brits invaded.

Photo of The Beatles with Ed Sullivan from their first appearance on Sullivan's US variety television program in February 1964. From left: Ringo Starr, George Harrison, Ed Sullivan, John Lennon, Paul McCartney. Alamy

There isn’t a ’60s kid who doesn’t remember exactly where they were when The Beatles appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show for the first time. It was February 9, 1964, and, whether it made you want to pick up a guitar or just start dancing, it changed your world forever. Next came The Rolling Stones, The Kinks, The Dave Clark Five, Herman’s Hermits, The Zombies, and The Animals, and American kids everywhere were fully converted to that swingin’ U.K. sound.

The special effects in Mary Poppins were mind-blowing.

Dick Van Dyke, Karen Dotrice, and Matthew Garber in Mary Poppins (1964) IMDB/Walt Disney Productions

We loved everything about the 1964 movie starring Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke, but it was the “supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” scene in particular that made us almost leap out of our seats. Kids today can become jaded when it comes to cinematic animation and special effects. They’ve seen it all before, and nothing really surprises them. But when we saw human actors interact with dancing elephants and flying horses in the 1960s flick, well, you could have knocked us over with a feather.

We were captivated by Capture the Flag.

Capture the Flag, 60s

Video games? We never heard of ’em. And honestly, we didn’t need ’em. Us kids of the ’60s had plenty of games to keep us enthralled, and they involved actually making eye contact with other kids and breathing some fresh air. We could spend entire weekends playing hopscotch, Red Light, Green Light, or even that perennial favorite Capture the Flag. All we needed was a flat surface, some free time, and our best friends.

Getting your first Schwinn felt like a major milestone.


Like kids today beg for their own smartphones or video game consoles, we pleaded with our parents to buy us our very own Schwinn Stingray Bikes. With that stylish ride to get us around, we didn’t need anything else—other than maybe some old wood and bricks to fashion a makeshift ramp. Yeah, it was a hospital visit waiting to happen, but we were having too much fun to care.

TV shows were G-rated.

When kids today turn on the TV or scroll through YouTube, they can easily stumble into something that’ll traumatize them for life. (Hello, anything on HBO.) But in the 1960s, we never had to worry about becoming emotionally crippled by television. We had shows like Bewitched, Gilligan’s Island, The Andy Griffith Show, Bonanza, Flipper, and Ozzie and Harriet, all of which made pretty convincing cases that we lived in a gentle world with nothing to fear.

Astronauts were our heroes.

neil armstrong first man on the moon, biggest cultural event Alamy

We didn’t just idolize men like Alan Shepard, the first American to make it into space, or John Glenn, the first American to orbit the Earth, or Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, the first Americans to walk on the Moon. We wanted to be them, to walk (or maybe float) in their footsteps and make our own small steps for man and giant leaps for mankind.

Peanut butter and mayonnaise sandwiches were the bee’s knees.

Peanut butter and mayonnaise sandwiches, 60s Wikimedia Commons/SGT9hJGI

Today’s kids may find the very idea of this sandwich disgusting, but we knew better. As one ’60s-era ad described this inventive combination, it created a “brand new flavor” guaranteed to “make any sandwich taste doubly delicious.” Hey, don’t knock it ’til you’ve tried it!

We had old-school encyclopedias.

encyclopedia, 60s Shutterstock

Wikipedia didn’t exist in the ’60s. When we needed knowledge, we went to the library and did research with an encyclopedia. And if we were lucky and our parents had a little extra cash, we might’ve even had a leather-bound set of Encyclopedia Britannicas at home! Was it better than the free online service kids use today? As Britannica president Jorge Cauz once explained, “We may not be as big as Wikipedia. But we have a scholarly voice, an editorial process, and fact-based, well-written articles.” Take that, Gen X!

We were still impressed by “instant” photos.

Polaroid instant camera, 60s Alamy

When the first Polaroid instant cameras became available in the early ’60s, we were pretty sure it was space-age technology. By today’s standards, it would seem incredibly complicated. After all, there was nothing “instant” about it. You had to pull the film out of the camera and peel apart the negative and positive ends after it developed. The whole thing took several minutes, and there was still no guarantee that the photo would even be in focus. But to us, it was nothing less than sorcery, and proof that marvels like jetpacks and robot maids couldn’t be far behind.

Sean Connery was the one and only Bond.

As far as we were concerned, there was only one James Bond, and he was played by Sean Connery. The effortless cool of his secret agent dazzled us in movies like Goldfinger, Dr. No, and From Russia With Love, among many others. Sure, he drank a little too much, and was probably misogynistic, and definitely had some white privilege issues. But he sure was handsome and smooth.

Trick-or-treating was unsupervised.

Halloween pumpkin head jack lantern on wooden background - halloween jokes, halloween puns Shutterstock/Alexander Raths

Imagine kids in the 21st century being allowed to venture out into the night in costumes that obstructed their vision to knock on the doors of complete strangers? Yeah, not gonna happen. But that was just a typical Halloween night in the ’60s. The only thing we worried about was avoiding houses where health-nut neighbors passed out apples instead of candy. What kind of monster does that?

We listened to tunes in their intended form: on records.

Vinyl records Shutterstock

Spotify may have more options and be more convenient, but it’s nothing like the feeling of slipping a 7-inch 45 rpm record onto a turntable and listening as the needle dropped onto the first groove and started playing those beautiful sounds. Listening to a song like The Beach Boys’ “Good Vibrations” or The Animals “The House of the Rising Sun” on a record player was, for many of us, akin to a religious experience.

We were allowed to be bored.

A black boy and Hispanic boy play with homemade go cart wagon in the inner city mission district of San Francisco in 1960s/70s Bob Kreisel / Alamy Stock Photo

We didn’t know it at the time, but this was one of the biggest gifts we got from our ’60s childhoods. There was no expectation of being constantly entertained. There wasn’t always some new show, new YouTube video, or new video game ready to keep our brains occupied. Being bored was a reality for the majority of our days. It was left up to us and our under-stimulated brains to figure out what to do with that empty space. And it was amazing what we could cook up with a weekend and a little imagination. And for more from the greatest decade of last century, here are 20 Photos Only Kids Who Grew up in the 1960s Will Understand.

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