Skip to main content

What Life Was Like in 1965

  • Author:
  • Updated date:

How it was back then.........

Anyone who was between 8 and 20 yrs. in 1965 and was cognizant of the world around them knows instinctively 1964-1965 was a turning point. It set the stage for how the world be in the USA. Trying to convey this to those who were not around is difficult. For 1965 was the follow-up year to 1964, when the new replaced the old. Some of the items were simple every day things, others were style and culture.

Anyone who liked Elvis was old. Elvis by this time had become the "Frank Sinatra" of rock, meaning, he was old school (greasy hair slicked back, silly rock songs that appealed only to those 20 yr and older, he was a crooner).

Tweeners and Teenagers only rocked to these bands:
The Beatles (Help, I'm down, The Word, Rain, Paperback Writer)
The Rolling stones (Satisfaction)
The Kinks (You really got me, All the day, All the night)
The Dave Clark Five (Bits and Pieces, Glad All Over)
The Supremes (Stop, In the name of Love, Baby love)

and Many more

TV and other Media:
This medium was in a state of transition. Most homes only had black and white TV because most TV shows were in that mode. However, staring in this year, many more shows were in color and began the demand for color TV. This transition to color broadcasting was completed by 1967, when nearly all shows were now in color and many more homes now owned a color TV, which cost $500 or more (this was a substantial sum when you consider that a new Chevy rear engine Corvair cost $2200, as did the Ford Mustang). Going to a friend's house to watch Hullabaloo in color was an "event", especially when The Beatles were on it!

Most TV popular shows:

Mission Impossible (Spy, action)
I spy (Spy)(with Bill Cosby)
Wild, Wild West (Action)
Man from U.N.C.L.E (spy)
Bewitched (comedy)
I Dream of Jeanie (comedy)
Outer Limits (scary)
Twilight Zone (scary)
One Step Beyond (scary)
My Three sons (single dad with 3 sons comedy)
Secret Agent Man (spy)
Bonanza (western)
Gilligan's Island (comedy)
Gidget (teenage sitcom)
McHale's Navy (comedy)
Shindig (rock show of top bands)
Hullabaloo (rock show of top bands)
Where the Action is (rock show of top bands)

Many of the shows created the sitcom formula still used today and most still remain quite good (like Bewitched, I Dream of Jeanie, Gidget (with a 15 yr old Sally Fields, Mission Impossible etc).
In other media, from Japan, small transistor radios, small tape recorders, hand held hair dryers, clock radios (8 track tapes and Cassettes were still many years away). Eight track tapes for the car started around late 1967. Nearly all imports came from Japan and had a reputation of being cheap and would break (just like today with Made in China).

Tight jeans or bell-bottoms
Beatle hair cuts (meaning, dry hair with bangs, shaggy but not long, no grease, no Elvis look)
New words in the vocabulary: bitchin, boss, far out = very cool
Stingray bikes butterfly handlebars and knobby tires
Surfer shirts (collarless shirts, based upon The Beatles collarless type)
Wide 2-3" belts
Peace signs
Bright colors
Housing subdivisions with new homes for 20K on big lots.
Vietnam War (where every night one could watch combat footage on the news)
Marijuana and joints, lids (at the colledge level only)
The slogan, "Don't trust anyone under 30" (meaning, anyone older will not be cool)
The phrase, "You really turn me on" "turn me on"
The start of the youth movement, where the world was defined by youthful things, the "now generation" (those 25 and under) as Pespi advertised.
The start of instant communication with satellites across the globe. One could tell differences in age groups, those kids in HS, mostly were following the Elvis clean cut or Beach Boy look (watch Gidget on DVD), while kids in the younger grades started to have longer hair and a British rock look. Guys usually wore a type of loafer shoe that you just slip on, madras shirt, jeans. If you lived in California, you were "in". Everyone seemed to look to California for trendsetting styles. The min-skirt debuted much to enjoyment of the male species.

Going steady was shown by the girl wearing the guy's ring or something he gave her around her neck on a chain, at the Tweenie ages, in HS, usually the girl had a guy's jacket or something.

Sony sold small portable BW TV's, but they were a very small time player, it also introduced the betamax video player for television stations.

The hottest were:
Chevy Corvair, Stingray, Malibu
Ford Mustang
Ponitac GTO, Le Mans, Bonneville
Plymouth Barracuda
Dodge Charger
AMC Marlin

Seldom ever see a foreign made car, if you did, it was Opel or VW, not Japanese, although Honda Civic was like a small go-cart when it did arrive. Everyone laughed at it.


Not more than $2.00 an hour for most. But you could have a hamburger and fries\drink for less than a buck. Gas was around .25-35 cents a gallon. professionals, earned as much as $500 a week. The Beatles 1st LP cost $3.50 at K-Mart (which had just started) in non-stereo, stereo cost $4.50. That was a lot of money. Average annual income was $13k.


If you have mint Beatle bubble gum cards in color, they would be worth serious money. They were popular with the Tweenies from 1964 through 65, as was The Beatle cartoons every Saturday.

Hot Movies:

The Beatles Help!, James Bond 007 in Goldfinger, these were especially popular with the 20 and under group.


perrya (author) on December 22, 2014:

Scroll to Continue

Some of the TV shows I mentioned are still great to watch. If you ever wanted to experience a Beatles concert, go to a RAIN concert. This is a tribute band that is spot on from 20 ft away and they go through their periods 1964-69. Like any era, they all have common things about them. The CNN series, the Sixties, captures the essence of it.

Michelle Shaw on December 22, 2014:

I was born 1966 I was just wounding what life was like before I was born it seams awesome time

Jason S (the real one :P) on November 14, 2011:

Sorry a friend got on my computer and typed the previous statement in. Once again sorry!

Jason Silvestrov on April 29, 2011:

I am gay

perrya (author) on August 18, 2010:

By 1968, the first US cars had to be smogged. Cars had to have a padded dash, seat belts,many came with new radial tires, which were just entering the market. Some cars also came with a AM\FM radio, which was rare. By this time, 8 track tapes were on the market and many cars had them.

perry on February 19, 2009:

Thanks, you will also probably love my other hub page, British Invasion into Americana, all about how the british rock bands changed America and rock starting in 1964, hear the Zombies, The Beatles and the DC5! wtch them perform.

Connie Whiting from Columbus,Ohio on February 19, 2009:

Loved this! It brought back a lot of memories :)

Related Articles