Take our user survey and make your voice heard.



Gone but not forgotten

By Chris Betros

The other day I was in a nostalgic mood (I still am, actually), fondly recalling all those customs, products, services and events from my childhood growing up in Australia, that are no longer around because either new technology has left them behind or they went out of fashion long ago.

I’m sure everyone feels this way at times, but come with me for a walk down memory lane and see how many of the following bring back pleasant memories. No doubt, some can still be found in various countries.

Note: Anyone born after 1980 may find some of these puzzling.

1. The milkman. It was always my job to put the milk bottles out at night and no matter how early I got up the next morning, he had delivered the milk and gone. I never understood why the milkman went out of fashion. Milk always tasted better from a bottle than a carton.

2. The ice cream van. Every Saturday afternoon, I would wait in the front garden. He was called Mr Whippy in Australia and as soon as we heard the jingle coming from his approaching truck, every kid in the street would race out to the footpath.

3. Fireworks night. Or cracker night, as we called it in Australia. The night sky was full of skyrockets launched from backyards all over town. I think that custom disappeared because too many idiots injured themselves and others with the fireworks. Japanese still let off fireworks, but they are mainly sparklers, not the firepower we had.

4. Full-service petrol stations. Every time we pulled into a petrol station, the workers would all come running out, in their uniforms. One checked under the hood, while another cleaned the windshield, and so on. It’s nice to see that this still happens in Japan.

5. Double features at the movies. Way before the days of videos, it was fun to go to the movies. I remember the James Bond festivals where you’d see two films in the series each night.

6. Drive-in movies. A dating institution, if ever there was one. But after seeing the movie "Targets," I got a little bit worried about drive-ins.

7. Sunday baked dinner. One of the few times the whole family could be together. Do families eat meals together anymore?

8. Record stores. I used to love leafing through the jackets of vinyl records. Downloading music? No thanks.

9. Photos. We’d hand in our roll of Kodak film and a few days later, eagerly return to the shop to pick up the photos and look at them all before exiting the shop.

10. Handwritten letters. I always looked forward to getting a handwritten letter from a loved one or dear friend, especially when one of us was overseas. Saying "I love you" in an email message just isn't the same. And the postman used to always blow his whistle to let us know there was mail.

11. Typewriters. How many university assignments and stories did I type up, and more to the point, how much white-out did I have to use to correct typos?

12. Tape recorders. These were always fun, especially when it came to splicing tapes – that is, after I could load the damn spool in the first place.

13. Radios with dials. I don't know how many radios I broke by twisting the dials off, but lying in bed late at night, listening to a live broadcast of a cricket or rugby match on the other side of the world was like hearing a voice come from another planet.

14. Hamburgers. Long before there was McDonald’s, Burger King or Wendy’s, there was Greasy Harry’s. Burgers at the local diner were the best and they always gave us poor starving students extra chips.

15. Returning empty soft drink bottles. We'd get the deposit, which I would then use to buy a few lollies.

16. Milkshakes or malted milk. I haven’t had a good one since Johnny Rockets left Japan.

17. Walking on the tarmac and up the steps to board a plane. Doing that always made the trip feel special. And people dressed up to go on planes back then.

18. Dial phones. I had one up until 2001 and I remember a young visitor to my home was puzzled when he saw it. He put his finger on the number, thinking he just had to press it rather than dial it.

19. Tooth fairy. It was 20 cents for a tooth left in a glass of water overnight. I wonder how much a tooth would fetch in today's economy.

20. Coins in plum puddings. I’m surprised that no-one in my family ever choked on 5-cent coins, considering how many puddings we ate in our childhood.

21. House calls by a doctor. Yes, you read that correctly. There was a time when doctors did make house calls, often late at night.

22. Disney comics. Well, I have to admit that I have kept my collection from childhood and they are still in reasonably good condition. I still have lots of Phantom comics, as well.

23. The Phantom Agents. This Japanese TV program probably first got me interested in Japanese pop culture, along with “Prince Planet,” "Astro Boy” and “Gigantor.” The dubbing was atrocious but those ninja stars were great. All us kids wanted them.

24. The whole family getting together to watch a TV program. Fighting over which program to watch was another matter, of course.

25. And last but not least, good manners. Where did they go? Many is the time I got a clip on the ear from my mother because I didn’t show respect for my elders, or I forgot to say please and thank you.

There are so many more, of course (yo-yo contests, jukeboxes, ham radio, telegrams, telexes, evening newspapers, to name just a few), but you get the picture. When I look around me today at all the gadgets and customs that are part of everyday life now, I can’t help wondering what people in 2052 will fondly recall when they look back at 2012. Will they be amused at how we used smartphones, iPads, flew in planes, watched TV and that dentists still used a drill?

© Japan Today

©2024 GPlusMedia Inc.

Login to comment

7 - If I'm visiting home, I always eat with my family. 10 - I still write letters sometimes. And I love receiving them! 18 - My parents have two phones....and one is a dial type! 25 - Or a smack with the wooden spoon....

I don't know about #17....most people in Adelaide didn't seem to enjoy walking on the tarmac to get into the plane, especially in bad weather!

0 ( +1 / -1 )

The ice cream van.

The ice cream van that used to come round our way always played 'eine kleine natchmusik' to tell folk he was here. That tune is still associated with ice cream in my head. When my daughter was born we were given a baby mobile to hang over her cot, that played a selection of lullabies. Whenever it was the turn of the 'eine kleine', I would get a sudden insatiable urge to eat ice cream.

Tape recorders.

My Mum insisted we get one of these to record 'Coronation Street' - she had to work when the programme was on, and didn't want to lose track of the 'story'. We would switch it on with the mike pointed at the telly, and everyone had to be quiet - so much as cough, and she would complain it spoiled the programme. A far cry from today's push-button blu-ray recorders.

Returning empty soft drink bottles.

We still return them, via the recycling skip, but there's no deposit these days.....:-(

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Reel tape recorders.

Reel movie projectors.

Non-electric car windows.

That triangular window on the driver and passenger side to vent the front windshield.

A car engine you could fix yourself.

Score card at a bowling alley.

Columbia bicycles.

Black and white tv.

Slide rule for math and science class.

Tube TV's and Radios.

and the list goes on.

Bazooka Joe Bubble Gum for 1 cent.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

The ice cream van is still in Australia - from time to time it goes past our office and we make jokes about it taking too long to run to the elevator and then wait for it to get to ground floor.

Maybe the real reason you don't see them anymore is that you buggered off to Japan?

1 ( +2 / -1 )

1 The milkman - you can still have them in Japan.. In US natural milk is illegal 2 The ice cream van - seen tons of them in the US 3 Fireworks night - done everywhere 4 Full-service petrol stations - All over Japan and New Jersey, and they don't speak any engish at either. 5 Double features at the movies - buy two tickets? 6 Drive-in movie - still being done, but a bit crap.. nobody watches movies anyway, and it doesn't go well with idling stop campaigns. 7 Sunday baked dinner - not sure what the fuss is all about 8 Record stores - who cares? download music? yes please 9 Photos - err.. not sure what this guy is onto... digital photography is probably the best thing that happened in last decade. 10 Handwritten letters - plain stupid. never written them, hated receiving them, other people's handwriting is the most annoying thing i ever had to deal with. Thank God... or Bill Gates for email. 11 Typewriters - you joking, right? 12 Tape recorders - ever heard of winamp? you get it on Android as well. 13 Radios with dials - ever heard of Shoutcast? 14 Hamburgers - yes, and there are plenty. I personally like the Roti burger 15 Returning empty soft drink bottles - i do this all the time at local supermarket. 10 yen per bottle. 16 Milkshakes or malted milk - alright, maybe... And yes, Johny Rockets was a good place. 17 Walking on the tarmac - huh? 18 Dial phones - huh? are you serious? i hate touch phones, but this was actually the reason why I dislike them so much. Skype is the way to go 19 Tooth fairy - stop taking acid 20 Coins in plum puddings - sounds like a choke hazard. 21 House calls by a doctor - i am sure that can be arranged for a fee. 22 Disney comics - I prefer Asterix 23 The Phantom Agents - No idea 24 The whole family getting together to watch TV - Japanese TV sucked, sucks, and will suck... there is nothing on it for me, so when wife tunes in, I go get on the Internet. 25 And last but not least, good manners - the moment manners got defined by individuals who think they are in charge, instead of common sense, people stop following them.

-5 ( +0 / -5 )

"Handwritten letters"

I still write and mail those.

"Tape recorders"

I still use those.

"20 cents for a tooth left in a glass of water overnight"

Heck, I got a dollar for a tooth left under my pillow!


Put a cold ripe banana, a couple of cups of vanilla ice cream, a half cup or so of milk and a few drops of vanilla essence in a blender/mixer and presto - banana milkshake!

"Good manners"

I still do that.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

"Good manners" I still do that.

Big overestimation of one's manners. lol Serrano, you have to study more how to be nice to women. But it is a tendency in the modern world, men are losing their manners.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

I miss photos. I don't know anyone who makes prints of digital photos and keeps them in an album. My parents and grandparents kept all their photos lovingly preserved in albums, some more than 100 years old. Each photo conjures up precious memories. I never get that feeling with digital photos.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Brainiac. The photos are the same. Print and glue them in an album if you want.

Here is a hint on storing your photos in Japan. Cruise the garbage for those nice smelling Kiyake boxes. I have kept photos both real and digital in them for years. No fading and no mildew. Do not put your photos on the wall.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

LoveNot. You do not know me. If you did, you would know I love do.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

there must be someone out there who misses buggy whips and having a good "bleed" when sick:)

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I cant say I have nostalgia for much of what is listed, thank goodness for progress.I remember life before the washing machine, no fun in that. Everything is better now, from the social media, mobile phones colour T.V transport in comfort, ect I can cheerfully say goodbye to the old days, bring on every new adventure

0 ( +1 / -1 )

No.1 - The Milkman - in the UK they would come by in electric carts (many years before the current fad) - called milk floats. I still remember the whine of the motor, accompanied by the clinking of the bottles. Of course I also remember finding the birds had pecked through the foil top to get at the cream at the top of the bottle.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I miss racy, bawdy and sleazy late night TV shows.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Another big one related to the absence of cellular networks: waiting for your date to arrive (sometimes for a very long time!)

0 ( +1 / -1 )

That triangular window on the driver and passenger side to vent the front windshield.

Phew! Someone remembers those besides me!

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I miss the real men. Where did they go?

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Login to leave a comment

Facebook users

Use your Facebook account to login or register with JapanToday. By doing so, you will also receive an email inviting you to receive our news alerts.

Facebook Connect

Login with your JapanToday account

User registration

Articles, Offers & Useful Resources

A mix of what's trending on our other sites