Letting go of the past is hard, especially when it may seem like things aren’t going so great in the present. We can lament former presidents, lost loves, even our younger days; but like it or not, time will always keep moving forward. Luckily, there’s a way for us to relive our past in the present — and it doesn’t take a time machine to do so.
Whether you’re a baby boomer, a member of Gen X, or even a no-good millennial, these 20 photos are sure to stir up a sense of nostalgia. Even if the past really isn’t your cup of tea, you’ll be surprised at some of the things history has forgotten all about…
1. Some fast food chains like Sonic still keep this tradition alive, but wouldn’t it be great if all restaurants had car hops to bring your food? At least the cashiers at McDonald’s would have to work for it whenever they let you know the ice cream machine was broken.
Sonic of CT
2. Sun-soaked strips of asphalt and flag girls in tight tank tops have come to define drag racing since the early 60s. Though it may not generate NASCAR-level buzz, drag racing is still widely popular among professional hot rodders and street racers alike.
3. Back before airlines practically seated passengers in the overhead bins just to squeeze a few more dollars out of their planes, the skies were pretty classy. Now all you get on an economy flight is a half-opened bag of peanuts and a stranger fighting with you over the armrest.
4. If you weren’t at Woodstock in 1969, then what were you doing, man? The significance of the muddy gathering of peace and love still resonates in today’s popular culture, serving to inspire modern counterculture movements and the new-age hippies of the 21st century.
5. If you were a 13-year-old boy in 1976, then chances are you had Farrah Fawcett’s iconic poster hanging in your bedroom (or maybe hidden under the bed where your mom wouldn’t find it). Farrah’s poster still remains the best-selling pin-up of all time.
6. Before they were flashing the big “M” up and down every highway in America, this quaint little burger joint was slinging all-beef patties for just 15 cents a pop. Hopefully, they weren’t using the phrase “all-beef” as loosely as they do now…
George / Flickr
7. Though the show only lasted three seasons, the original Batman series remains a classic for comic book fans everywhere. No, it didn’t have the mass appeal of the DC and Marvel blockbusters of today, but one thing’s for sure: spandex will never go out of style.
8. Once a common sight along most freeways, drive-in movie theaters faded into obscurity thanks to the introduction of the VCR. Now, families had the luxury of fighting over watching E.T. for the tenth time or Ferris Bueller’s Day Off for the twelfth. Thanks, 80s!
9. Any father who’s never once quoted this famous scene to their children is doing something wrong. The cultural phenomenon that is Star Wars has brought a galaxy far, far away to us for over 40 years, and Disney has shown no hesitation in churning out films for the next era of Jedi.
10. Who could forget the rush of cracking open the seal on a fresh pack of baseball cards? It’s almost a rite of passage to hand down an old shoe or cigar box filled with cards to your kids. In all likelihood, though, they probably won’t understand why the pictures aren’t moving and go looking for an iPad.
11. If the outfits alone don’t bring you back, then the film and its soundtrack definitely will. Grease remains one of the most beloved musicals of all time, and the songs “You’re the One That I Want” and “Summer Nights” still rank among the 20 best-selling singles in music history.
12. Before Times Square became the suffocating mess of humanity and knock-off Mickey Mouse costumes that it is today, the 7th Ave strip between 42nd and 47th was once the perfect place for a leisurely walk through Midtown. Then the 60s rolled around, and things went from picturesque to XXX.
13. Ah, the early days of suburbia. What a thrill it must’ve been for this family to pull up to a brand new home that looked exactly like every other house on the street… and the ones on the next block over.
14. Andy Warhol’s 1967 painting attests to the fact that, like it or not, pop culture shapes everything. A single shot of Marilyn Monroe is enough to take anyone back to the days of Hollywood starlets, but this piece of artwork stands as a constant reminder of the many shapes and forms our culture has taken.
15. And wouldn’t it be nice if we could just go back and relive the days of yesteryear? Not only does Back to the Future make us nostalgic for both the 1980s and the 1950s, but it also reminds us to enjoy our time in the present. After all, it’s only a matter of time before we start reminiscing about the days we’re living right now!
Back to the Future
16. It’s impossible to mention the last 50+ years of popular culture without bringing up the most influential music group of all time. Not only did the Beatles prove that pop music could go beyond catchy lyrics, but they also helped fuel the counterculture movement that forever changed American history.
17. Before the wealthy among us flaunted golden iPhones, they had the luxury of a personal telephone in their cars. One can only imagine how they must’ve mocked their landline-bound friends as they casually drove past their homes.
18. Sin City has always been known for its bright lights, but in its early days, the desert glowed with neon instead of LEDs. In a land tinted with golden light, its no wonder that even then people were willing to drain their bank accounts for a chance to strike it rich.
Exodus Las Vegas
19. Speaking of Las Vegas, the Rat Pack remains one of the most iconic acts to ever grace the stages of the silver strip. Sure, they may not have performed with white tigers, but these Hollywood heavyweights are nonetheless responsible for the lasting impact of swing and big band music today.
10. Xboxes and Playstations are cool, but nothing beats grabbing a handful of quarters and heading down to the arcade. True, kids spending their afternoons gaming in a dimly lit space remains the norm, but, hey, at least it’s not Fortnite…
It’s amazing to see how different the past seems when compared to our present. Let’s see what the next 100 years have in store!
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