Wednesday, October 1, 2008
While on the way home from work yesterday morning, I started thinking about how travel by automobile has changed just in my lifetime. I was born in 1960 and my parents had a car similar to the one above when I was little, don't remember the exact make and model, but there are pics of me and my next youngest brother on the bumper of it.(sometime I'm going to take my scanner and laptop to my Mom's and scan all her pics or maybe she'll let me borrow them to do so).
What put me to reminiscing along those lines was seeing a service station that recently closed which had a small pavilion built next to it with a picnic table inside. This station was probably built back in the 70's. Made me wonder when was the last time someone had used the table. This caused me to recall times of travelling with my family when I was young down 2 lane roads(there were no 4 lane highways yet) to a place far off enough that we would pack a picnic lunch. We would stop and eat at one of the concrete tables placed strategically in small groupings along the way since there were not fast food establishments at every exit. Heck, there weren't even exits, just intersections with other 2 or single lane roads. If you were unfortunate enough to need to pee before you reached your destination and you just couldn't wait, they pulled over to the side of the road, opened 2 side doors and there you go, instant bathroom privacy! Service stations were only found within town limits and of course were not open 24 hours a day.
Families usually owned only one vehicle thus the byways were not as busy as they are today. No air conditioners yet, so you rode with the windows down in hot weather. Car safety was not such a big issue so no seat belts and I still remember the feel of the air rushing through my fingers and over my hand as it was stuck out the window! My parents have owned several Volkswagons through the years, one when we were just little. I'm sure it was when we were young, because I have a memory of a trip to the Birmingham zoo where my brother, Stan, and I were crammed into the small cubby area behind the back seat. We thought it was great fun, though I do remember that being scratchy upholstery fabric. Also, not safe were the many times we rode in the back of a pickup truck sitting on the edge of the bed or over the wheel or even standing at the front looking over the cab of the truck.
Cars had real style back then in the days before we were concerned with how much fuel we were consuming, actual chrome fenders and trim not possible today. The inside of a car was like being in a small room. If you had a bunch travelling in one car, kids were made to sit down in the floorboard. The seats were so big you could lay down on them and take a nap. Another memory I have is of looking at the radio with push buttons(no digital diplays). In my young mind(I hope I was very young when I thought this), it was a puzzle to figure out how to see the miniature band playing the music inside there.
Going back to the service station that started this post, I'm sure when it was built there were guys that came out and pumped the gas for you, cleaned your windshield, and possibly checked your oil and your tires. If the service station had snacks, they would be in small metal racks by the register in a tiny room and there would either be a big cooler case for the drinks or one drink vending machine.
Time moved slower then, too, I'm completely positive of that. Now it seems to speeding along just like we all do as we zip from here to there on the busy multilane highways that connect us today.