Is This Normal? 19 Insane Things Baby Boomers Were Doing

baby boomers
Photo by Sergio Photone from Shutterstock

So you’re probably very familiar with older generations saying “back in my day” before any given sentence. It’s fine, I think it’s something that will happen to all of us. Get used to it. But it’s pretty funny when you hear this and then something completely ridiculous follows, something that no one could actually believe to be true.

Yet, there is some truth to these statements, as Baby Boomers, for example, were the ones that lived through some of the most insane times. With the Cold War and the ongoing advancements in technology, it shouldn’t surprise anyone. Here are some of the craziest things Baby Boomers have ever lived:

Seatbelts and car seats

Nowadays, strapping right after getting into the car is like second nature. And that’s how it’s supposed to be, as you sit down and immediately put on your seatbelt. In fact, those who don’t wear any seatbelts are seen as extremely reckless, especially now.

Even so, as you probably have guessed, things weren’t always this way. Back in the days, when cars were still considered to be more of a luxury item than something that’s necessary, these safety features weren’t the same as today’s standards. In fact, there weren’t even car seats. So a mother could even put her toddler in her lap while driving her car.

Lack of childproofing

As time went by, people considered more and more that babies need to be protected from certain objects that might be harmful to them. Medicine bottle caps, cabinet locks, protected doorknobs, there have been many inventions especially designed to keep babies safe and protected from themselves.

But do you think that baby boomers were raised in such a safe environment? Well, think again, because they didn’t have as much childproofing as we do now. Back then, it was much easier for unsupervised kids to hurt themselves. In fact, it wasn’t even considered such a tragedy, at least not the way it is now.

Boy and girl toys

While this one still lingers up to this day, at least as a concept, it was especially prevalent in those years. The main idea was that boys needed to have their specific toys, such as cars and soldiers, and girls their specific Barbie dolls and such.

These days, kids are free to play with whatever they see fit, and their parents will definitely be more likely to accept their decision. But back then, in the 50s, there were clear boundaries when it came to what you should and shouldn’t play with. Girls had to stick to their dolls and the boys with their action figures.

Fire hydrant showers

While it was probably super fun, nowadays you can’t get away with this. Back then, in some cities and suburban places, people were having fun by opening up nearby fire hydrants, just to spray water around the block and entertain themselves around it.

The primary reason for doing this was that the kids could play around and cool off when it was too hot outside. But then the police came by and shut the whole thing off. Now, we can only see this happening in movies, as no one really does this. Or perhaps there are still some places around the world that kept the tradition?!

baby boomers
Photo by Indiagramin from Shutterstock

Walks to school

Walking to school isn’t such a terrible and dangerous thing to do in this day and age, at least not if you’re only walking a short distance. But even back in those days, parents were trying to make sure that their children arrive at school safely.

But in a slightly different manner. Back then, kids walking to school by themselves were a lot more common, and the distance they had to walk was even farther than now, at least one or two miles. However, even then, there would still be a chaperone, but it would ordinarily be an older sibling as opposed to a parent.

Family communication

While now there’s a strong culture for open communication between family members, things weren’t always like this. Perhaps this is one of the things we forget the most, that our parents weren’t used to communicating so casually with their parents, and maybe that’s why they have such a difficult time adjusting to this.

This doesn’t mean that parents didn’t love their children, nor the other way around. It’s just that introspective, and emotional conversations weren’t on the table back then, so no one had a culture of healthy communication and understanding. This is perhaps one of the reasons why we should be glad that things have evolved the way they did.

Drinking from the garden hose

Well, let’s be honest, drinking from the garden hose isn’t completely gone away in these modern times, neither is eating snow, as a matter of fact. However, it’s not nearly as viable as it was back then, and just like the hydrant, kids have one less fun activity on their menu.

But as children are endlessly creative, there’s definitely something to replace this activity. If you remember well, a couple of years ago we had Ice Bucket Challenge, but also all sorts of water fights from which our kids used to come home SOAKED, to our own joy and delight. NOT.

Latchkey kids

So back in the 60s, there were more and more women who were hired in the workplace. Even so, there weren’t as many institutions and companies, such as daycares, to accommodate kids with two working parents. In the best-case scenario, a kid would have an older brother or sister to watch them and help them prepare dinner.


You have to admit it, in the last 30 years, physical punishment’s popularity has rapidly decreased over time. In fact, if today you see a parent that spanks his child, they are definitely looked down upon. But back in the day, if you needed to discipline your kid, the most common instinct was to bend your child over your knee.

baby boomers
Photo by Mama Belle and the kids from Shutterstock

Lead paint

Did you ever know that back in the day, lead was considered to be a toxic substance? In fact, it all started in 1904, so it was a REALLY long time. If you think about it, that’s 42 years prior to the Baby Boom era.

So given all that, why did everyone ignore the fact that it was toxic and they were still using lead paint? Even more, there were some lead paints that were marketed as being “tasty and good”. How come? While we might not know the answer, it’s still a good thing that people finally understood how dangerous it is.

Unsupervised children

In the baby boomer times, being a child meant having all the freedom in the world. So back then, kids weren’t just staying alone at home, but they were also allowed to meander about and play without having any sort of adult supervision.

Maybe it all changed when the Home Alone series got released?! Anyway, back then, children could play around the neighborhood or at the beach as much as they want, without having any sort of parental supervision. Now, this isn’t such a regular thing to see. Parents would never let this happen unless there’s a trusted adult who’s constantly watching them.

Community parenting

You’ve probably seen this in many movies. While today most parents would never accept having their children parented by anyone else besides them or family, back then this was actually very common. Neighborhoods and communities took care of the children, especially if the parents were out working for twelve or 16 hours a day, every day.

And taking care of children didn’t mean only watching them over, but also giving them life lessons and disciplining them. And we already know how disciplinary actions were working back in the day, as we’ve mentioned before. Well, what can I say? I guess people trusted each other more.


Chemistry sets

I don’t know if you’ve ever seen one, but the chemistry sets that were produced in the 60s were absolutely crazy! While it’s amazing to see a child taking interest in chemistry, or any other science, as a matter of fact, these Gilbert Chemistry Sets were extremely dangerous.

Even if they were LOADED with flammable materials, they were especially meant to be used by children. Just to have an idea, an “Atomic Energy Lab” had three radioactive sources of “very low level” (alpha, beta, and gamma particles), a U-239 Geiger counter, a Wilson cloud chamber, four samples of uranium-bearing ores, a spinthariscope, and an electroscope to measure the radioactivity.

Cycling without helmets

Now, if you see a kid riding a bike without a helmet, the first instinct that you might have is to berate them for not wearing a helmet, which is perfectly understandable. But all the way back in the ’60s, this thing was much more common.

In fact, if someone wore a helmet while riding a bike, he/she was considered to be a dork. If you had an accident and hit your head, you were just expected to shake it off. Bike helmets have become much more popular later. What can I say, they had stronger heads back then!

Military draft

While the military draft is still available, or at least it’s legal, there hasn’t been one in a very long time. While the Cold War was still a thing, there were drafts for the Vietnam and Korean Wars. Even more, between 1940 and 1973, the Selective Training and Service Act were allowing men to be drafted, even if it was during peacetime.

So young men and women should consider themselves to be lucky that they don’t have to worry about being forced into the military. Even so, now we supposedly have ONU and diplomatic resources to avoid wars, even if 2022 has proven otherwise so far.

Exploding cars

It’s no easy job to make a car, and that we know for a fact. It’s an extremely delicate procedure because if you’re not careful, you might end up with a bomb on wheels. In fact, some cars, like Ford Pinto, had suffered from a faulty fuel tank, which sometimes made the vehicle go BOOM! in a matter of seconds.

In the ’70s, this was an ongoing issue among Pinto owners. In 1971, Ford sold over 328,275 cars in the United States, from which Pinto crashes caused the death and mutilation of 900 customers after their cars completely burst into flames after a rear-end collision.

Trampolines without safety nets

Now, you won’t see a trampoline without a safety net, not unless the owner is completely crazy. Also, you won’t see parents allowing their kids to play on a trampoline without a safety net unless they’re crazy.

However, back in the days, parents actually had no problem with the lack of safety features, so their children would wind up walking home full of bruises, and maybe even a broken arm or leg. And again, not because they didn’t love their children or anything, but because bruising and having a broken arm was considered to be a normal thing, whereas today, it’s not.

Going out to play alone

So scheduling a playdate for children or a day to hang out with friends for teens can be a headache, both for parents and for the kids. You have to make sure that schedules are lining up, to figure out who’ll get where and how, so it might happen for someone to change their mind, giving all the fuss.

But when it was the baby boomer era, going out with friends was much easier. All they had to do is tell their parents they were going out and just walk out the door. Everyone was staying in the neighborhood, and it was impossible not to meet someone you knew.

Boys never cried

This part of our society is still lingering in the US’s culture today. If a man is a man, he can never cry. This type of mentality is pretty frowned upon today, but when baby boomers were growing up, boys weren’t berated for crying, and they were told to suck up any sort of physical or emotional pain they were suffering from.

If you enjoyed reading this article, we also recommend reading: 16 Items You Don’t Need in Retirement

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