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When we were kids

Posted May 06, 2015 in Adel

Many children born in the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s spent daytime hours running and playing outside and evenings with family, either playing board games or watching television shows.

Mike Haynes of Adel, who grew up in Dexter, spent most of his childhood days this way.

“I was usually outside playing baseball or football or riding bicycles around town,” he recalls.

The same was true for Rebecca Hillmer, who grew up in Sac City with her two brothers and sister.

“Back in those days there were a lot more kids in the neighborhood,” says Hillmer, 58, who was born in 1956. “We played a lot of outside games. There was always a pick-up softball game going on and ‘kick the can.’ ”

Another popular game in Hillmer’s childhood neighborhood was “Annie Over,” in which children would throw a ball over a shed, another child would try to catch it, and then try to get out or tag the initial thrower.

Dolls, board games, TV shows, movies make up rest of entertainment

Diana Haynes, Mike’s wife, remembers Monopoly and other board games being popular toys in her childhood home. She had Sunshine Family dolls, Barbies, and Donnie and Marie Osmond dolls that she and her friends or cousins played with. She had two older brothers.

Diana Haynes of Adel holds the Merlin electronic game and her Mrs. Beasley doll she had as a child. Photo by Melissa Walker.

Diana Haynes of Adel holds the Merlin electronic game and her Mrs. Beasley doll she had as a child. Photo by
Melissa Walker.

Hillmer played a lot of Barbies in her youth. Her mother made most of the clothing for her dolls. Her brothers were big into G.I. Joe. The family played board games that included Monopoly and The Game of Life.

Hillmer was an early reader and was interested in “The Hardy Boys” series and classics such as “Little Women.” For Diana Haynes, it was Judy Blume books.

In Hillmer’s childhood home, the entire family watched television together. Shows such as “The Outer Limits,” “The Twilight Zone,” “The Ed Sullivan Show” and “Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-in” were family favorites.

The family’s television only received three stations and was black and white. Television was only watched “in the evening because we all would have been outside to play during the day,” Hillmer recalls.

Mike Haynes, 44, recalls his family not getting cable until 1986 or 1987, right before he graduated from high school in 1988.

“That’s when we got out first television with a remote control,” he says. “Otherwise, I was the remote control.”

Merlin was a popular hand-held game in the 1980s. Photo by Melissa Walker.

Merlin was a popular hand-held game in the 1980s. Photo by Melissa Walker.

Mike Haynes and his family were huge fans of the television show “Dallas.”

“Dallas was very popular,” he recalls. “That was one night when I knew my dad would get out of the field was Friday nights when Dallas was on.”

Mike Haynes also watched “All Star Wrestling” on Saturday afternoons.

“You never missed that,” he says.

The initial “Star Wars” trilogy came out during Mike Haynes’ youth, and he recalls going to the theater to see each movie.

In Diana Haynes’ childhood home in Waukee, the family watch Disney movies and television shows on Sunday evenings and “Simon & Simon.” “Nancy Drew” and “The Hardy Boys” also had television series she liked to watch.

As Diana Haynes grew older, she became more interested in electronics and music.

“That was back when MTV had just come on, and we would watch more TV once cable came in,” she recalls. “We’d watch MTV and listen to music on the radio. Cassette players were huge.”

She later had a Walkman.

Technology was limited during childhood, but slowly emerged with early handheld games

Mike Haynes’ first video game was a handheld device with five or six buttons that he played football games on. He also had a Merlin, which looked like one of the first cell phones, but was an electronic handheld device with LED lights that allowed players to play six different games either against the computer or another player. As he got older, his family had a Sega Game Gear system.

Diana Haynes says her brothers played with handheld games, but she played with the Merlin, which she still has today along with her Mrs. Beasley doll.

“That’s back when new things were just coming out,” she recalls. “Anything that was battery operated and obnoxious, we were after.”

Her family also had a Lite-Brite. The Etch A Sketch and Spirograph also were popular among kids and in her household.

There were no microwaves or computers during Hillmer’s childhood. Her family lived in town, so they had their own telephone line but had a rotary dial phone.

She wasn’t introduced to the concept of a computer until high school. Hillmer graduated in 1974. There was a unit in science class where students built diagrams using punch cards to design a computer program. At the time, computer programming was created with circles, diamonds and oblong shapes.

Hillmer’s class drove to a college to see a computer. The computer mainframe was the size of a room, and the students put their punch cards into a tray that was then fed into the computer.

In college, she took computer-programming classes. She remembers learning FORTRAN and COBOL (common business-oriented language) programming systems for business use in their early years.

From long hair to pixie cuts to big bangs, hairstyles change throughout the years

Mike Haynes’ only recollection of fashion trends was the emergence of button-down collar shirts.

“I wasn’t part of any” fashion trends, he says. “I’m not in fashion today. I still wear what I wore in high school: blue jeans and T-shirts.”

Hillmer remembers having a really short pixie cut in late elementary school and junior high. The girls would put little bows in their hair. She wore horn-rimmed glasses and mostly dresses. In high school during the 1970s, mini-skirts were all the rage. Dresses were so short they were called sizzlers. Girls wore matching underwear because the dress was short enough that it showed the bottom of their underwear. She saved wearing those until she was in college, though she says her parents were pretty liberal and relaxed with her and her siblings because they were good students.

Rebecca Hillmer remembers having a short pixie hair style in elementary and junior high. Photo by Melissa Walker.

Rebecca Hillmer remembers having a short pixie hair style in elementary and junior high.
Photo by Melissa Walker.

Elephant leg pants or palazzo pants — which are now coming back into style —went straight down but had yards of fabric to make the legs wide. They were paired with platform shoes. Skirts were also worn with colored tights in bright, obnoxious colors and patterns, Hillmer recalls.

Hillmer’s brothers went from butch haircuts to growing their hair out as they got into high school. Her parents weren’t fans of the longer hair.

Sit-ins also were something Hillmer remembers about high school. She says students would decide to protest after lunch. They would sit in the hallway and refuse to go to class until some teacher who didn’t mind exercising authority came, and then the students meekly went back to class. What they were protesting, Hillmer doesn’t recall.

Diana Haynes says she sees a lot of shirts in stores today that remind her of the 1980s. She graduated in 1987.

“We went from the prairie fashions with the prairie skirts and the blouses to when I was in high school, it was more designer jeans,” she recalls.

Rebecca Hillmer, then Rebecca Larsen, in her high school senior picture from 1974. Also pictured is her band letter. Hillmer’s high school in Sac City did not offer girl’s athletics until her junior and senior year. Photo by Melissa Walker.

Rebecca Hillmer, then Rebecca Larsen, in her high school senior picture from 1974. Also pictured is her band letter. Hillmer’s high school in Sac City did not offer girl’s athletics until her junior and senior year.
Photo by Melissa Walker.

Cowl neck tops also were popular, as was big hair.

“The higher the better, the more volume the better,” she says. “Volume was everything.”





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