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Posts Tagged ‘1980s’

This weekend I began watching the old detective show, Cagney & Lacey, on Hulu.  The show premiered in October of 1981.  While watching earlier tonight, I had to laugh at some of the things that were shown then as opposed to now.

First, Detective Mary Beth Lacey (played by Tyne Daly) is a chain smoker.  She smokes at home in the presence of her two young sons.  She smokes in the squad car.  She smokes in the office.  She smokes at crime scenes.  While visiting a fellow detective at home, she smokes in the nursery and in the presence of two pregnant women.  She smokes at the table in a restaurant.  No one says anything to her.  It was an acceptable thing then, I guess.  I don’t remember it being acceptable to that point but then again, I’ve never been a smoker and other than an occasional cigarette smoked by my father, I grew up in a home where smoking wasn’t acceptable.  They couldn’t get away with that now.  Smoking is so unacceptable that you can’t do it in public places or at work and people really frown on smoking in the presence of children and pregnant women. 

Then there is the use of phones.  Yes, we use phones now and they used them then but in those days there weren’t cell phones.  Everyone used regular wired landlines.  Not even a cordless phone in those days!  It made it difficult, in terms of this police procedural, for police to be in constant and timely contact with the station when they were out in the field.  There is one scene in which there is a detective at a crime scene.  He is calling into the station, using the victim’s home phone and a handkerchief to keep from leaving fingerprints.  You don’t see that now.  Now everyone not only has but is expected to have a cell phone to keep in constant contact and I don’t think any detective would use the phone at a crime scene ever!

And while on the subject of phones, there were phone booths all over then.  Police used them.  Victims used them.  Criminals used them.  They were almost on every corner.  Do you see phone booths now?  I don’t think I have seen a phone booth any place in the United States in over fifteen years.  We just don’t have them anymore.  Why?  Because everyone has cell phones now!  Actually, I do remember some time ago, maybe about eighteen years ago, on a drive home from visiting my mother.  We were having car problems so we got off of the freeway to find a phone booth to call AAA.  We couldn’t find a phone booth.  We drove for miles and couldn’t find one.  We stopped at a McDonalds to ask if there was a phone booth nearby and were told they had all been taken out because they kept getting vandalized and because criminals used them for illegal activity. 

Of course there are a lot of other differences between then and now.  These are just a few that called out to me while watching this show.   What differences do you see between then and now?

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