In the eighties, we didn’t have texts or emails to send to our friends
during school. Puh-leeze. When our history teachers were
droning away about the Battle of Hastings and our minds were focused on
anything BUT William the Conqueror, we had just ONE way to let get our
message across that expanse of linoleum flooring.
We passed notes in class.
Here’s the J. Geils Band with their 1981 megahit, “Centerfold,” to help
you remember the drill:
Slipped me notes under the desk
While I was thinkin' about her dress
I was shy I turned away
Before she caught my eye...
Of course, passing notes in class had its share of dangers. Unless the
recipient happened to sit right next to you, you’d need a chain of
accomplices to get your message through. Some might be trustworthy.
Others, not so much, as this late-80s clip from “The New Mickey Mouse
Even if your fellow students were willing to play along with your covert
operation, there was always the risk that the teacher would confiscate
your note. If you were lucky, she’d rip it up and throw it away. More
dire consequences included reading it to the class, making YOU read it
to the class, or saving it and
posting it on the Internet in the far-off future.
“The Wonder Years” (1988-1993) was set in the late sixties and early
seventies. Here, it offers a glimpse of earlier note-writing practices.
Kevin’s torn strips of paper have less finesse than the neatly folded
notes of the eighties, but the feeling is certainly there in abundance:
George Strait’s 1995 hit “Check Yes or No” is a corny, sentimental
delight. True, the song is from the 90s, but we eighties kids can
totally relate. Check out the sweet scenes of schoolroom note passing
and the note that the grown man kept from his childhood. Awww, dude,
Passing notes wasn’t just for kids who were going out together (or wanting
to). Friends passed notes to gossip, plan after-school and weekend
activities, share bits of academic knowledge (NOT that LT80s endorses
cheating!), and comment on topics including fashion, music, who’s taking
whom to prom... In short, notes were how we discussed things that the
teachers couldn’t care less about and in which we had enormous emotional
Of course, note passing, regrettable or otherwise, didn’t start or end in
the eighties. Interminable history classes will always exist, as will
distracted students. Kids today might send electronic messages. These
can’t be taken up by the teacher or immediately intercepted by their
friends, but they CAN be forwarded, copied, and
shared with the entire worldwide web. Which totally makes paper note
passing seem safer, right? Scribble out or shred that baby and all
evidence is gone.
Besides, as George Strait could tell you, a well-written note is a thing
of beauty. We eighties girls treasured the keepers and tucked them away
in our jewelry boxes to read on a rainy day. There’s not much sweeter
than a heartfelt message written in #2 pencil, after all.
There was a real craft to note folding, however. You weren’t supposed to
just fold the paper into sloppy eighths or quarters and send it on its
way. With origami precision, you had to fold the note, accordion-style,
and tuck in that last corner just so. Don’t remember exactly how to do
it eighties-style? No worries – LT80s is here to help. Check out our
informative video below and send a note to your special friend today: