1) Your Parents Were Still Hippies
This was both good and bad. They were embarrassing and annoying and sometimes they made you eat lentils. But their friends always brought guitars along when you went camping and you sang “This Land is Your Land” with gusto around the campfire.
2) The Stadium of Fire Was Osmonds-Only
The 4th of July spectacular that is now one of the largest fireworks displays in the country had much more humble beginnings. Provo’s Stadium of Fire began in 1980 with the Osmond family as the evening’s entertainment. The Osmonds entertained solo for the first four years, then added Lee Greenwood to the mix in 1984. Osmond family members continued to perform during the show through 1990.
3) You Had to Make Your Own Skate Park
Today’s kids have got it good — they just head to the nearest park to find a specially-designed skate park. Even Utah’s small towns have skate parks. But back in the day, if you wanted to learn cool tricks on your board, you had to beg, borrow or steal some lumber and build your own skate park.
4) Girls Wore Dresses to School
Kids growing up in the 1980s in Utah often wore dresses to school, with tights and patent-leather shoes. Then we were expected to go out to recess and play four square and tag without getting mussed up.
5) Huge Satellite Dishes Changed the Lives of Rural Utah Kids
Rural Utah kids were kind of cut off from the rest of the world in the early 80s. But then, along came technology that changed everything. Kids got access to satellite television when their parents bought huge dishes and installed them in their backyards. Now even kids in small Utah towns could waste entire afternoons watching MTV.
6) You Witnessed the Early Magic of Stockton-to-Malone
John Stockton joined the Jazz in 1984; Karl Malone came to Utah in 1985. The two newbies, along with Mark Eaton (who was named the NBA Defensive Player of the Year for the 84-85 season),Thurl Bailey and Adrian Dantley ruled the court at the Salt Palace.
7) You Played Pac-Man at Home or at the Local 7-11
When Utah inventor Nolan Bushnell created Atari, Utahns lined up like everyone else to get a game console. Utah kids spent hot summer days down in the basement sitting on the shag carpeting and playing Pac-Man, Frogger and Asteroids. When you got bored with that, you went to the local 7-11 to play the arcade version. Lucky city kids lived near a REAL arcade, where they could lose their allowances in a single afternoon.
8) You Knew Where Your Friends Were By Cruising the Neighborhood
If you called your friend and he wasn’t home (or his big sister was on the phone so you just got a busy signal), you hopped on your bike and cruised the neighborhood to find out where everyone was. If they weren’t in the driveway playing basketball, their bikes were all thrown on the lawn and they were inside playing Atari.
9) Mountain Bell Offered Call-Waiting
Before call-waiting came to Utah, when your big sister talked on the phone with her boyfriend for an hour, no one else could get through. In the 1980s, call-waiting was popular throughout the state and teenagers began to get their own phones. Most 1980s kids still had to sit on their bed to talk, though...only the really cool kids had cordless phones.
10) Shopping Malls Were the Rage
Shopping malls existed in Utah before the 1980s, but several opened during the decade. Layton Hills Mall opened in 1980; Newgate Mall in Ogden opened in 1981; SouthTowne in Sandy opened in 1986. The mall was the perfect place to get a new record album and flirt with boys at the food court. It was often the place you went to get your first job. St. George teens didn’t get Red Cliffs Mall until 1990.
11) When Thistle Flooded and State Street was a River
The spring of 1983 brought flooding to Utah. Residents in the town of Thistle were evacuated and the town was completely flooded. When City Creek jumped its banks in May, sending water down into Salt Lake, thousands of volunteers placed sandbags along State Street to divert it into a river. The State Street river drew spectators from all over the state. If you were a kid in the 1980s, you might remember going on a road trip with your family to Salt Lake to see the city street river. Later, when the roads were open near Thistle, Utah families visited to see the buried houses.