Old Photos Highlight the Difference in Our Daily Lives

Old Photos Highlight the Difference in Our Daily Lives

Recently I saw this image and it prompted me to think how readily old photos highlight the differences in the way we go about our daily lives. Also to ponder if the changes have been improvements or if things really were better ‘back in the day’.

Lady with shopping on a Sydney suburban electric train in 1960

Photo: David Moore
Source: David Moore Photography

I have noted 4 Main Differences and how I personally feel about them (positive or negative)


Probably the most obvious difference is the location itself. She is on the train. With groceries. Not something you see often now days. In the 1960’s people shopped regularly for fresh produce buying just a little of what they needed each day. Now, most people do large shopping trips once a week and need a car to carry everything home.

  • Positive changes
    • I personally do prefer the convenience of only tackling the shops once a week. I meal plan a week in advance to ensure I only get what I need.  I save time each day because I know exactly what is on the menu and am confident that I have all the ingredients.
  • Negative changes
    • If I had the time to shop each day and buy fresher produce it is highly likely that I would do so. This highlights a negative impact of having such busy lives!


There are a number of things of note in regards to condition;  The train itself (old red rattler as Sydneysiders called them) looks to be in great nick!  There is no graffiti or torn seats.  Only a small amount of litter, although the litter shown here (cigarette butts) highlights another point of difference in itself! I note that the windows in these old trains opened (sometimes) to let in fresh air, no air conditioning. Something else that struck me immediately was that not every surface was covered in advertising posters.

  • Positive changes
    • I can’t think of anything worse than sitting in a train with cigarette smoke billowing around me, reminiscent of clubbing in the 90’s, so the ban of smoking in public places is most certainly a change for the better
    • I recall how slow these old red rattlers were.  So at the risk of being condemned as a now non-commuter with no idea, I would say we have faster more efficient trains
  • Negative changes
    • With the amount of rubbish you now see on public transport it is obvious there has been a significant reduction in the lack of respect shown for public property. Something I find very sad
    • She might look sad but to me she also looks kind of peaceful and introspective. I love the idea of reducing information overload. With so many images and messages to process each day the idea of a blank wall on the train is highly appealing to me
  • Neutral
    • In regards to the air conditioning, I have to take a neutral stand – I dislike AC (a lot!). So for me personally I would prefer fresh air. Although I do recall some extremely hot trips on red rattlers that left me sweaty and uncomfortable but ah the relief of each stop when the doors opened and then better still a swim at the end of the work day so much more greatly appreciated.


You can see here that our protagonist is dressed smartly for going out, even just the grocery store. Stockings, heels, necklace and hair done. A most distinct difference to me dashing out in my trackies, messy bun or even cap to cover dirty hair. Her other accessory is a brown paper shopping bag and shopping bag from home.

  • Positive changes
    • I will be the first to admit that I look pretty scruffy doing errands some days. But I love that there has been a change in the expectation of the way we dress and present ourselves.  I would certainly not have the time to get this ‘gussied’ up to hit the shops!
  • Negative changes
    • You see here the shopping is being transported home in brown paper shopping bag, no single use plastic. Although the other bag is also plastic, it is custom designed for shopping which lasted and were used for many years.


I always notice this in old photos. People of the day stood taller and prouder. In this picture we see perfect posture, knees together.

  • Positive changes
    • I couldn’t find a single positive about this one, maybe you can help me out?
  • Negative changes
    • Collectively I would go out on a limb and suggest that our posture as a society today is terrible. From the hunched shoulders from hours at a desk to faces buried in a smartphones I see a long and lucrative career ahead of our children as I push them towards physiotherapy or chiropractic careers.

Photos tell such rich stories and prompt such wonderful conversations.

Do you ever notice things like this when you look at an old photo? What else did you notice in this one?

  • Kathy Stone
    Posted at 08:09h, 12 May

    Great suggestions for things to compare when looking at an old photo – great additions to the description of the photo besides “Gramma on the Train”. A great way to illustrate what times were like when the photo was taken.

    • admin
      Posted at 16:54h, 12 May

      thanks Kathy, glad you liked it

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