While change is inevitable, there are certain things that were once commonplace in American life that have now become rare or even obsolete.
A user asked the forum, “What has gradually disappeared in America that no one noticed?”. Here are the top responses.
“Those kids’ rides that take a quarter outside of stores.”
TAPES FROM CASSETTES
“Tape from cassettes strewn all over the highway. It was a common sight to see tape on the side of the road, caught up on a bush or something, but because nobody uses cassettes anymore, it has all disappeared.”
“Newspaper boxes. Put a quarter in the machine, and take a newspaper (or ten).”
“Radio DJs that choose the songs or do phone call-in requests. Every radio station I listen to, you can tell they are just playing what the computer puts on; even 10-15 years ago, they would give out phone numbers for you to call in your requests.”
“In-store photo printing.
Costco/Sam’s Club both largely phased it out in favor of mail-order services during the pandemic. I don’t notice until early 2022.”
“Salespeople in stores. A lot of old-style department stores and even things like electronics stores would employ salespeople who worked on commission. Some places still do, but it’s rare.
In the 90’s and even into the 2000’s, you could work at the camera section in a store like Circuit City and make a good living as a salesperson.
I know someone who worked in a women’s shoe section of a dept store and was clearing $50,000 per year working part-time, and this was 20 years ago.
He told me there were people at the store making six figures as salespeople. But the equivalent today would be someone getting a job at Best Buy in the home appliances section and making $100,000-$160,000 per year.
I remember someone working at Sears in the 90’s selling Craftsman tools made enough to buy a home in Southern California.
A lot of these retail stores have been replaced with big box stores where people are just paid some wage (and usually a fairly low one). Between eCommerce and big box stores taking over, commissioned salespeople have largely disappeared.”
“I rarely see lightning bugs anymore, and I remember seeing them constantly in the summers as a kid.”
“Receptionists at offices. Post-pandemic, lots of companies have permanently unmanned reception areas which clearly used to be set up for someone to be at the desk.”
ALIVENESS OF PUBLIC PLACES
“I don’t know how else to describe it, but the aliveness of public places. Growing up, you used to go to a department store, and there would be someone there, making a comfortable wage, to help you. A tailor, a shoe salesman, an interior designer, etc.”
“Small cars, it’s all giant SUV’s and pick-ups now.”
TOYS IN CEREAL BOXES
“Toys or games in cereal boxes. Had them as a kid 20 years ago, but now you don’t see them.”
TEENS HANGING OUT
“Large groups of teens hanging out outside.
You used to see groups of young people like this everywhere. Like everywhere. Today you rarely ever see this. At best, you might see a group of 3 teens hanging out at best.”
“1-Hour Photo Labs. These (and their signs) used to be EVERYWHERE in the 1980’s. They started disappearing about ten years ago.”
“I’d start with Payphones. The widespread use of public payphones in America has gradually disappeared over the years with the rise of mobile phones. Their disappearance has gone largely unnoticed as people rely more on cellphones for communication.”
VACUUM TUBE TESTING MACHINES
“Vacuum tube testing machines near the front entrance of grocery stores.”
“Cashiers. Only one or two with cashiers in my big Krogers; it’s all self-checkout. Same with the big Walmart close to my house.”
People used to all know each other and interact. Now it’s a bunch of strangers living near each other. Meanwhile, everyone is more political and divided on nearly every topic that comes up. Likely not a coincidence.”
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This article was originally published on Mrs. Daaku Studio.