Answering these questions was definitely a trip down Memory Lane! It also was a wake up call how different our world is now, yet probably the same in a lot of ways. Here is what I sent Da Ray Ray, and I'd love to hear how you would have answered!
Slang words we used:
Rules in school:
No hats, no sports jackets, no red or blue jackets (to avoid gang problems – we had fraternities in high school which were really just gangs).
We couldn’t be in the halls without a pass.
There was no rule against us having cell phones in class – because they didn’t exist yet!
Respect toward parents:
We were generally respectful towards parents. We would never yell at or say bad words to our parents or anyone else’s. Growing up (far before high school) it was commonplace that any parent could discipline anyone else’s kids if they were being bad in public, including spanking or hitting.
We broke a lot of rules and definitely were wild and rebelled against authority, but it was behind the scenes and we treated it like a game and tried not to get caught.
Respect towards authority:
No one dreamed of cursing at teachers or ever fighting a teacher or anything like that. You said yes sir and no sir to police or other authority figures because we understood there were consequences to our actions. No one though they had “rights” in respect to authority and no one had a sense of entitlement.
During my senior year of high school, we had so many gang fights and race riots that the Guardian Angels came into the school to provide security. That was the kind of authority no one messed with, but we always tested and rebelled when we were on our own.
Drugs and alcohol in high school:
Most kids drank alcohol during high school.
I’d estimate that about 75% of my high school smoked weed.
LSD (acid) and psychedelic mushrooms were around but not many people did them.
There was a small amount of cocaine use but not too prevalent at all.
There was no real pill use or prescription painkiller abuse, and ecstasy and meth hadn’t even been invented yet. Crack cocaine was new in the 1980s and an epidemic in the inner cities, but I don’t remember ever seeing it in or around high school.
There were plenty of kids drinking in the parking lot after and even before school.
Can you believe that the high school had a special courtyard for all the kids who smoked cigarettes?
High school kids dated plenty and it ranged from innocent crushes and hanging out to serious boyfriends and girlfriends. We had a whole lot more free time and were not supervised nearly as much as kids these days. But there was still a bit of a stigma against sex, perhaps due to religion or just conservative or traditional values. I have no way of knowing, but I’d say most kids lost their virginity in high school, though it wasn’t all crazy and so young like in schools now.
What you did when you hung out with friends:
After school, we would go hang out at friends’ houses, go drive around and get something to eat at a burger joint, go to the movies at night, etc. We always played basketball a ton and would play street ball outside like ¾ of the year.
At night or on weekends, there were a ton of parties: house parties when someone would be left home alone or we’d get a keg and carry it onto a golf course or way out by the rail road tracks and party there until the cops came to bust us and everyone ran. I had a fake driver’s license at age 15 and started going to the bars in New Haven, and was a regular at any bar or club downtown from 17 on.
Major world events, and how these events affect our daily life:
The space shuttle Challenger exploding
Chernobyl nuclear reactor meltdown in Russia
Iran-Contra scandal in Reagan White House
New York Stock Exchange drop on “Black Monday”
Massacre in Tiananmen Square in China (Google: Tank Man)
Nelson Mandela freed
A couple years after high school (1992) the LA Riots went down, sparked by the Rodney King video. But we’d seen the growing tension of those issues all the way back in high school.
But there are three big things that stood out:
- The fall of the Berlin Wall and the eroding of Communism
- HIV and AIDS
After high school, in 1991 Magic Johnson was diagnosed with AIDS and that was a big deal.
- The rise of computers