by Nicole Loughan

Starter Mom Nicole Loughan with her mother Kathy Tirrell 1981

Starter Mom Nicole Loughan with her mother Kathy Tirrell 1981

Our mothers had it tough. The other day I came across an article called “If 70s moms had blogs.” It is filled with old visions of parenting that included mass smoking and Formica countertops, but my mother-in-law assures me it was not all Bon Bon’s and Harvey Wallbangers. Parenting in the 1970s and 1980s was a different experience. Our mothers had a lot more leg work, like going into the gas station to pay, getting up to change TV stations and adjust the antenna, not that there was much to watch anyway. They had to run to the wall phone to get a call and stay tethered there. Our moms had to wrestle with car seats that had to be strapped in each and every time, because car seat bases did not exist. They had to deal with poorly designed strollers that frequently lost their wheels. In honor of the tough times and the sacrifices our moms made I want to say thank you to my mom this Mother’s Day for her years of service and for getting through all of the inconveniences that my generation will never know.

Thank you for helping me through illnesses all by yourself – Now that the internet is around, parents can easily get information on illnesses at places like WebMD or Circle of Moms, but back in the day our moms had to go it alone. My mother-in-law said “I can tell you the internet has made it much easier to get information and share experiences. We used to have to talk to each other. It can be very reassuring in the middle of the night to find out your kid is cranky and feverish because he has Roseola, not because he is the spawn of Satan.”

Thank you for not getting into car accidents with the relaxed seat belt laws and metal car seats – How we managed to stay alive while riding in the bed of pickup trucks or lying across the back window of a Buick while trying to get truckers to honk their horns is beyond me. My friend Denise shared that car seats back then were a little terrifying anyway, “Car seats and boosters for the kids were not great. When they fell asleep their little heads would fall forward and I thought for sure their little necks were gonna break. We didn't have the little neck pillows like today.”

Thank you for wearing those horrible maternity clothes – In the 1980s maternity clothing was extremely conservative. Almost everything for a pregnant woman was a tunic or jumper. The other option was to wear their husband’s oversized flannels. For a reference to what was the best of the best maternity wear for our moms think back to Princess Diana’s oversized powder blue frock with the big white bow. She was carrying what would become one hunky young prince under that hideous blue tent dress. Today she could be wearing a stylish wrap dress that hits just above the knee like the Duchess of Cambridge.

Thank you for dealing with those giant diapers that always leaked – I look at old pictures of diapers and see that I was sitting on a mound of cotton with hard white tape on the sides, also the diaper hit just above the belly button. There weren’t tons of diaper sizes like there is now. Old diapers came in newborn and not newborn. According to in 1970 they were just replacing the pin with tape and perfected the toddler sized Pamper. Well into the 1980s they finally got a diaper with Velcro. I vaguely recall the diapers of the 1980s, when I helped my brother and sister, and you had to get the tape right the first time, because it could not be reattached. You might end up with one tab up top and one down low leaving a lopsided line across the belly but you would never dream of separating the tape again because it wouldn’t work and diapers were too expensive to waste. 

Children of the 1970s and 1980s had a set of shared experiences that will be different for our children. Frozen yogurt is the new ice cream and children’s museums are the new roller skating rinks. Some of my Bucks County friends shared their experiences growing up Bucks. Many of these good times are as long lost as feathered bangs.

  • “We would get ice cream cones and Dairy Delight on Rt 13 in Bristol and then head down to the Penn Warner Club, right next to the landfill to eat it. Smelly, but fond memories.” – Genevieve LaVo
  • “In Bristol my dad used to take us to Maple Beach along the Delaware river. As kids we thought we were at the beach. It's closed now.” – Lorriana Dix
  • “Sunday morning breakfast and ice cream at Goodnoe’s Restaurant. Goodnoe’s was the place to go after our 7th and 8th grade monthly dances, which were held in the rectory basement.” – Kristy Newman Scribner
  • “Root beer floats at the Woolworth lunch counter at the old Levittown Shopping center.” – Genevieve LaVo
  • “The best was getting Halloween costumes at Woolworth on Mill Street. Remember the plastic ones in a box? I was strawberry shortcake.” – Lorriana Dix
  • “I grew up in Chalfont and remember a few things about growing up locally. There were 2 drive-in movie theaters; one on 309 where Whole Foods is and the other down 611 in Warrington that is now the site of Target/Lowe's.” Vince Caperelli, Jr.
  • “Spent a lot of time in Tyler Park, and that's still there. Minus the barn/maze playground which (I believe) isn't. Riding bikes down Second St Pike. Good luck doing that today with all the traffic.” – Steve Prekup

 Happy Mother's Day to all moms – old & new!



This article received generous contributions from a heartwarming bunch of moms and dads. Much thanks to moms Denise Davis, Linda Utter, Kathy Tirrell, Kristy Newman Scribner, Genevieve LaVo, Lorriana Dix and dads Vince Caperelli, Jr. and Steve Prekup.

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