Can You Pass This Baby Boomer Spelling Test?


By: Monica Lee

6 Min Quiz

Image: izusek / Hemera Technologies / E+ / / Getty Images / Getty Images Plus

About This Quiz

Ask a kid what a rotary phone is, and you're sure to get a puzzled expression. And since they don't know what one is, they probably can't spell it either. 

This quiz will take you back to a world in which the vocabulary of Baby Boomers ruled. From Swanson TV Dinners to pagers and drive-in movie theaters, the latest and greatest inventions seemed to appear on a daily basis. Not to mention the excitement about the moon landings, Space Sticks and Tang. 

It was easy to be a kid back them. Doors could be left unlocked and if you were home before dark, parents didn't worry. Spelling at that time required a dictionery (or is it dictionary?). It's hard to imagine, but it was a world WITHOUT spellcheck. And if you wanted to know the background on any topic, the good old encyclapedia (or is it encyclopedia?) was your World Wide Web.  

Millennials may know their way around bitcoins but when it comes to real coins, many can't even make change without a calculator. And they don't have an opportunity to learn since they pay with debit and credit cards. Yep, it's a whole new world out there, so enjoy taking this spelling quiz while getting back into a Boomer frame of mind.  

Superman would change in a ____________.

It would be awkward for Superman to change behind a cellphone these days. Yes, there are still some phone booths out there, but a Millennial wouldn't know what to do with one!


The candy bar cost $1.27. I had the dollar but didn't have any __________.

Ask a Millennial for spare change and you'll get a funny look. They only carry debit and credit cards. Nothing for the tip jar with these kids.


If you needed to get in touch with someone immediately, they would have to carry a _______.

Once you got a page, you needed to find a phone (or a pay phone) to respond to the page. It was not as efficient as cellphones. Pagers were first used by doctors and important executives until they were mass-marketed.


Oh, how times have changed! Do you remember when people smoked on ____________?

It wasn't until 1988 that inflight smoking was prohibited by almost all airlines. Today you can't be within 15 feet of a building's entrance and smoke.


Before the internet, to look something up, you would use an ______________.

Wow, it's amazing all that knowledge fit into the pages and volumes of an encyclopedia. And no electricity was needed to access the information.


Do you recall putting ______________cards in the spokes of your bike?

All you needed were clothes pins, baseball cards and spokes to make the awesome sound that accompanied your bike riding.


What's the name of the person who delivered milk, cream, and butter right to your door step?

Millennials might have said Peapod or Grub Hub. But you can recall it was the milkman. Remember how good the milk tasted out of those glass bottles?


What did the TV screen look like when the station signed off for the night?

First you would see the color bars and then the screen would become all static. Back then you couldn't watch television 24/7.


Today you may shop at Walmart, but back then you shopped at the _________ store.

Was there a time before Target, Amazon, and Walmart? Yes, and you could bring a quarter and actually buy more than one thing at the five-and-dime store.


When you dialed "0" back then, what actual person were you calling?

Back in the day, when you dialed "0" for Operator you actually spoke with a person who sat in front of a switchboard and physically connected your call.


A movie star who raced cars and stopped hearts. What was his name?

Millennials know Paul Newman as the guy on the pizza or popcorn box from the grocery store. But he was quite the looker, a thrill seeker and a great performer.


This guy was known for smoking a certain brand of cigarettes. What's his name?

Because tobacco advertisements could be everywhere, boomers were familiar with Joe Camel and the Marlboro Man.


You could count on this dish being served at home or for company. What is it?

When boomers were growing up, they had no idea what would be in the next slice of Jello. It could be bananas in strawberry Jello, or salmon and asparagus in lemon Jello. Yuck!


Ring the __________when you get to our house, and I'll come out.

Millenials don't use a doorbell any more. They just text that they are outside waiting for you. Some of these kids have never used one!


Once _____________________ was introduced, Saturday evening didn't start until after the show finished. What was it?

"Saturday Night Live" reflected a non-traditional approach to television comedy from the start. It was funny, political and featured the latest in the music scene. "Saturday Night" Live first aired in 1975 on NBC and is still going strong today.


Prior to the internet you used a ___________to look up a telephone number.

The phone book has gone the way of phone booths and encyclopedias, no longer used. Simply look it up online and call right from the screen.


Today you would use spellcheck but a ________________ was used back in the day.

What would happen if spellcheck didn't exist? It's a scary thought. Back then, you actually had to memorize how to spell words so you could communicate properly in letters, on tests, and to write papers.


What might your parents put on your television antenna to get better reception?

Sure, it looked stupid, but wrapping aluminum foil around the antenna actually increases the surface area and conductivity of the antenna to boost the signal and get a better picture.


Back in the day, you were especially cool if you rode a ________-seat bicycle.

Always imitating adult things, the banana-seat was designed to look like a chopper, with the seat, high handlebars and smaller wheels.


Did you listen to a ______________ radio when you were young?

You never heard of the transistor radio again after people started using portable CD players and other personal devices, but it was big in the 1960's and '70's.


Do you recall the round-the-block lines due to the gas ________?

In 1973, and again in 1979, there were gas shortages with long lines around the gas stations. There was even rationing where, if you had an odd-numbered plate, you could get gas on odd-numbered days.


In pre-computer days, you had to use a _______________ to get a typed paper.

Accuracy was the end-all and be-all when you had to work on a typewriter. That's because you couldn't backspace and correct the typo; liquid paper was your only solution.


________ was the only canned meat product that needed no refrigeration.

Every baby boomer tried this at some point. This canned, cooked meat product was used in dozens of recipes.


Remember having to change the channel using the dial on the TV, and not having a ____________?

Usually if there was a child around, they would get up and change the channel for the adult. Because the remote wasn't invented yet, neither was the coach potato.


If you had a _____________ you could listen to your favorite records.

Turntable, record player, LPs .... all of these words are rarely used in our vocabulary today.


You might want to look through the Sears ______________ to find everything you need.

This was a catalog that made dreams come true. It had everything you could possibly need or want. It was a favorite catalog to read and could be found in most homes across the U.S.


How wild is this? You were probably drinking water from a __________.

Bottled water? Why? When you can get water from a faucet. Who would PAY for water when it's free from the tap?


To make coffee your mom would use a _____________.

No Keurig or espresso machine back then; you used a percolator which cycles water through the grounds multiple times to make a strong, bitter cup of coffee.


Back in the day, you would never hear ___________ on TV.

Relaxed censoring standards today permit some profane language on TV, but many shows and channels still don’t allow it.


Your grandparents called it the "ice box" but what was it really?

When your parents and grandparents were growing up, they had actual ice boxes. So even when refrigerators came into popular use, they still called it an ice box.


Phone numbers started with words like Sycamore and ________________, back in the day.

During the mid-20th century, phone numbers were preceded by words to denote the telephone exchange service area or area code.


During school, if you had to get under your desk you were probably doing an __________ drill.

During the height of the Cold War, air raid drills were common due to the threat of nuclear war. This drill was also used for tornados.


Road trips were more fun if you read the ______________ Burma-Shave road signs.

Burma-Shave became famous for its advertising gimmick of posting rhyming poems on sequential roadside signs.


All you needed was a ticket, car and rented ________ to watch a drive-in movie.

In-car speakers were sold in the early 1940s and by 1958, the number of drive-ins peaked at 4,063. Drive-in movies were a family activity and sometimes there would be a play area for kids and picnic tables.


What song was played before a TV station signed off for the night?

When a channel’s daily programming came to an end, the station would play the National Anthem. The actual song is called the “Star-Spangled Banner.”


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