Turn Back Tuesday – 1986

So what were you doing in 1986?

As part of my ongoing attempt to recreate a lifetime of memories, I’m focusing this week on the year I turned 14.

My dad's first restaurantAt this point in my life, I was already working. He owned his pizza restaurant and wanted to instill upon me the lessons of “hard work pays off”. So I was folding pizza boxes in the back storage room at five cents per box. They came in bundles of 50, so I would make $2.50/bundle. It would take awhile, but after a couple of hours I would have enough to go to the high school dance or buy myself a cassette. The boxes were flat and perforated, but I got a LOT of sliced-up fingers after a couple of hours. It wasn’t fun work, but it was my first job.

I entered 8th grade, which was my first year in high school (later, both 7th and 8th grades made up junior high…so high school didn’t start until Grade 9). I remember trying my best to fit in, but being overwhelmed by all of the people I didn’t know. It certainly helped me be closer to my friends.

I joined the band and played trombone. I actually wanted to be a percussionist, but my father thought “playing the drums was too easy”, so I had to pick a more difficult instrument to play. I picked trombone, which ended up being one of the easiest instruments to play. I’m glad I did, because my high school years are filled with fun memories of being in band (stories to come, I’m sure).

My 8th grade high school photo was horrific (as were all of them, actually). This was the beginning of both my bad acne and my bad hair. Y’see, my father wanted me to part my hair in a certain way and look more like him. My hair, unfortunately, was more like my mother’s and simply wouldn’t cooperate. This was the first year I started uses hair gel. It certainly wouldn’t be the last…


The #1 song on the Billboard Hot 100 chart was “When I Think Of You” by Janet Jackson. I’ll be honest, I wasn’t a massive fan of Janet’s at this point. I mean, I enjoyed a couple of the songs off of “Control”, but it wasn’t until “Rhythm Nation 1814” came out that I started to really dig what she was doing. I loved her 90s stuff, too, and was always impressed by just how talented she was both as a singer and as an overall performer. While Michael went downhill fast, Janet was there as a steady hit-maker for a long time.

CHALLENGER EXPLOSION1986 was the year that the space shuttle Challenger exploded during launch, killing all seven astronauts on board. It was weird…I remember coming home from school and seeing my mom glued to the television. She explained to me what happened and we both watched the television coverage together. It was one of those things that you didn’t ever really expect could happen. It was definitely a disturbing image that stuck with me for a long time.

Geraldo - Al CaponeI remember watching television promos hyping Geraldo Rivera’s opening of Al Capone’s secret vault live on television. My parents didn’t watch it, so that meant I didn’t watch it, either (it may have been on too late for me to watch, anyway).  The potential was there to find bodies or great riches, and this was actually a TWO HOUR event! Turns out, there was only debris and a bottle of moonshine inside of the vault…leaving the world very disappointed in the hype machine.

Top GunThe top 5 box office films of the year were:

  1. Top Gun at $176 million
  2. Crocodile Dundee at $174 million
  3. Platoon at $138 million
  4. Karate Kid Part II at $115 million
  5. Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home at $109 million

How crazy is it to think that Crocodile Dundee almost was the #1 movie of 1986? I mean, look back at that movie now (or TRY to) and see if it stands the test of time.  Of course, having said that Top Gun doesn’t really hold up all that well, either. I’ve seen all of the movies on this list and, no word of lie, I think that Karate Kid Part II might be my favourite of the bunch.

ChernobylThe Chernobyl disaster took place this year. This was a nuclear disaster that ended up killing over 4,000 people and forced over 350,000 people to move away. I’ve seen programs filmed in Chernobyl over the past few years (including Destination Truth) and the “ghost city” that it turned into is simply fascinating to look at. A horror movie was even filmed using Chernobyl as a background due to the possibility of it being haunted.

the-cosby-showThe top 5 television programs of the year were:

  1. The Cosby Show
  2. Family Ties
  3. Cheers
  4. Murder, She Wrote
  5. The Golden Girls

golden girlsThere wasn’t a huge change in the Top 5 from 1985, though Golden Girls was new. Sunshine, to this day, still LOVES that show. I can watch it but I was never a huge fan. It was okay, but just not my cup of tea.  As much as I loved “Must See Thursdays” on NBC, my attention was also turned to other new shows like Who’s The Boss, Growing Pains, Moonlighting, and Alf. It really was a pretty good year for television.

Also in television this year, The Oprah Winfrey Show made its syndicated debut. Who would have predicted the world domination this woman would eventually have when the show first debuted?

That’s 1986 in a nutshell for me. What do YOU remember about 1986?



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