I was shocked to learn than one of my younger colleagues did not know who John Wayne was - not even when she saw a photo of him. It brought home just how different frames of reference can be.
And my niece and nephew - 12 and eight respectively - are growing up in a very different world to the one her parents and I, Generation Xers all, knew growing up.
Some things come, some things go, and some never arrive at all. Frames of reference change. In anyone's lifetime, change in what we see and use and eat and experience is constant - big and small, sudden and gradual.
I'm not old enough to do earlier changes, significant though they were, justice. So I will stick to my own Generation X timeline. OK Boomers?
I spent most of my childhood and early adolescence growing up in Wagga Wagga. We were so backward we didn't get a McDonald's until, if memory serves, the early 1980s, so Macca's (the nickname came later) was a rare treat on long car trips.
We were warned about stranger danger, but it was not a huge concern: kids still roamed the neighbourhoods freely after school and on weekends, coming home for dinner. We could walk to a milk bar that might be several blocks away and spend time agonising over the jelly beans, red sticks, bananas and other one- and two-cent lollies behind the counter before collecting our selections in small white bags.
And we would play war games or cowboys and Indians with toy weapons - even cap guns - in the yards or on the streets. Some used pieces of wood, elastic bands and clothes pegs to make "guns" that could shoot projectiles.
Inside, there were other diversions - some still popular, like board games, Matchbox cars or Barbie dolls. A ping-pong ball gun or a small battery-operated racing car set was a high-tech toy.
TV was still black and white - upgrading to colour in the mid-1970s was a Big Deal. There were only two channels, the ABC and a local one, and they would sign off about midnight with a brass band performance of Advance Australia Fair and then the test pattern would appear until programming resumed the next morning. Aggregation didn't happen until the 1980s. Nowadays, there's a bewildering array of choices and channels available, especially if you're willing to pay for it: event television, programs to which everyone seemed to tune in, no longer seems to exist.
Smoking ads were still prevalent. And lighting up was still very common: travelling in a smoke-filled railway "dogbox" and the nominally "non-smoking" section of a coach were unpleasant experiences.
Paul Hogan would appear in Women's Weekly (which was published weekly then) spruiking Winfield cigarettes. I can't recall if tobacco ads were still on TV then, but they were certainly still screening at cinemas and drive-ins.
Speaking of Hoges, his TV comedy specials were infrequent but eagerly anticipated. And you had to watch them when they were on - that is, until the VCR was introduced (and even then, if you recorded it, you had to hope nobody would tape over it).
Video stores had a huge array of movies to peruse and to rent - sometimes there was a curtained-off back room for the naughtier stuff - and while these stores survived into the DVD era, streaming and pay TV have almost edited them out completely.
Cuisine changed in my lifetime. Chinese food - the sweet-and-sour-pork variety - Indian and Italian were about as exotic as it got before increased multiculturalism heralded the arrival of Thai, Vietnamese and the many other delicacies we now take for granted. And microwave ovens, now a kitchen staple, came in: food preparation, especially reheating, could be much faster.
At school, the office had a mimeograph machine with distinctive-smelling ink that was used to print notices for kids to take home to their parents (assuming the paper wasn't lost at the bottom of a schoolbag).
History was taught differently: we still learned about Dirk Hartog and Captain Cook and the "discovery" of Australia. Indigenous cultures weren't given their due.
Global warming wasn't a mainstream concern yet: the threat of nuclear war seemed much more imminent, and a few people even built bomb shelters.
Libraries had card catalogues and books had pockets inside, with library cards that had our names and the date of borrowing. And kids could still get the cane.
Blackboards sometimes gave way to whiteboards and computers - at high school - were monochrome and confined to a "computer room". Even when home computers became cheaper and more accessible, like the Commodore 64, they were slow, with tapes or disc drives, and memory was measured in kilobytes.The graphics and sounds on all these computers - and even dedicated home gaming systems like the Atari 2600 - seem laughably primitive today.
Pinball parlours and video game arcades, with games like Pac-Man and Space Invaders, have also been replaced by sophisticated home gaming systems.
Rotary phones were replaced by the more efficient touchpad variety, but landlines are now, increasingly, being abandoned for mobile phones. Landlines are still more reliable (and don't run out of juice) but the onslaught of junk calls makes them less attractive - and their loud rings can be annoying. When they were answered to shut them up, the caller used to know the person who answered was home - until the answering machine and caller ID came in (then the caller might have to hang up or leave a message). If an appointment was made, you were expected to keep it: there was no way to make contact on the run and cancel.
We don't see many (any?) public phones now and memorising phone numbers or scribbling them on a scrap of paper has been replaced by simply typing them into our phones.
Early mobile phones had antennae and were the size of bricks. When I was a university student I went to a law school function, and some of my classmates mocked the early adopters as "yuppies". No doubt the mockers now each have at least one mobile phone in their pockets and rely on it for more than phone calls - texts, the time, the internet.
As for the old White Pages/Yellow Pages phone directories that, depending on where you lived, could be as thick as a dictionary, they're dying out with, I suspect, the last of the non-digital generation. Along, probably, with newspapers and a lot of magazines.
You had to go into a bank to deposit or withdraw money, and cash and cheques were still common currency. ATMs and withdrawal/payment cards, when they arrived, were an enormous convenience.
Encyclopedias like Britannica and World Book were published in large, expensive editions (very useful for school projects) and dictionaries were regularly consulted. While these have largely been replaced with electronic sources, books, despite dire predictions, have remained popular, even if a lot of brick-and-mortar bookstores have disappeared.
Cassettes are outmoded, so the making of mix tapes for friends and loved ones is no more - it's burning CDs or compiling playlists. Vinyl has made a comeback, though this still seems a niche market. Although CDs are still around, JB HiFi no longer sells the equipment that gave the chain its name.
There's no Countdown and no familiar Top 40 with songs everyone knows - mainstream musical tastes seem to have fragmented and multiplied. Rap wasn't around when I was young, for example, and sampling was what you did in supermarkets with titbits on sticks.
We used to have bread and milk home deliveries. I remember running outside to buy a litre of full cream - in a carton, not a plastic bottle.
Large, single-screen cinemas have mostly given way to multiplexes and double features are long gone - they might still exist at drive-ins, of which a few remain to celebrate the joys of in-car viewing (handy during the coronavirus). And even popular movies are soon available digitally.
With postage stamps becoming self-adhesive, stamp collecting just isn't the same. People aren't sending many personal letters any more, or even birthday or Christmas cards. Emails and social media are quicker and can travel long distances almost instantly, but don't feel as personal or as private.
People talk about "Coca-Colanisation", but Australia has not adopted, or kept, everything from the US - or even the longer-established British culture.
A lot of tastes and products are not the same. We have our Vegemite, not the British Marmite, for example, and Tim Tams, not Penguins. Root beer/sarsaparilla and grape flavours like soda from the US don't have big followings here; nor do peanut butter flavours.
Although Halloween has become popular (mostly as an excuse for a sugar binge) we don't mark Guy Fawkes Night - for us the Queen's Birthday weekend is, or was, the traditional evening for sparklers, bangers and the rest.
We've taken on St Patrick's Day - liking a drink isn't confined to the Irish - but not Hogmanay, the Scottish celebration of the last day of the year. New Year's Eve is enough.
Major US fast food chains that tried and failed to establish themselves here (at all or in any significant way) include Arby's and Wendy's hamburgers. Sometimes Australian tastes are different, sometimes the market is already saturated.
Starbucks is declining - Australia already had its own well-established coffee culture. We have our own taste in chocolate, different to the US or Britain.
Customs are often different - tipping isn't obligatory here, and (discounting coronavirus) sitting in the front of a cab is perceived as friendly, not a potential threat.
In societal terms, de facto relationships became commonplace and homosexuality went from illegal to accepted (by most). Marriage equality was eventually achieved.
Our class system is probably closer to that of the US than Britain: money rather than who your ancestors were matters, though these two elements can be combined, producing influential dynasties. Non-government schools are far more mainstream here, and most are faith-based - though Australia doesn't have a state religion like Britain or the overt religiosity and patriotism of the US.
We've gained a lot in terms of choice and technology and access to information, but what have we lost?
Simplicity is one thing. Life seems more complicated these days. Mobile phones have gone from expensive playthings to affordable near-essentials. Kids have playdates and less freedom to roam, and living seems relatively more costly (gone are the days when a one-income family of no great wealth could buy a house). Despite the increased connection ostensibly provided by technology, a lot of people seem to feel more isolated than ever.
Some things are better, some might be worse. It's certainly been almost a half-century of change - the only constant.