Wednesday, March 30, 2011

A Comprehensive Guide to the Past for Generation Z, Part Dos

Time for another trip in the Way Back Machine, which if it was built prior to the late 60's, may not have any seatbelts.  You see kids, people weren't always horribly paranoid about having proper safety gear and killing their entire family in a car wreck. There were less distractions in those days so parents just left their kids roam around the car whilst mobile. My husband fondly recalls trips in the old Malibu with his family where he layed on the back dash.

Cup holders were not standard features in cars back then. No one ever just thought to themselves as they were driving, "Hmm, I think I'll swing in here to the Piggly Wiggly and pick me up a Coke, I'm thristy!!"
No. If you were thirsty you waited till you got home.

Anyone brave enough to stick their hand under the smelly vinyl passenger or driver's side front seats would probably find the following items: An old 8-track tape of the Eagles (left behind by the car's previous owner), a mystery car part that no one was quite sure about, a handful of change, a ten year old stick of stale Black Jack gum, and a roach clip (also left behind from the car's previous owner.)

As for car seats- those were only used on days you had time to strap your kid into them. If you were in a hurry the kid got socked onto the back seat & told to hang on honey! You could even hold a baby in your arms in the front seat of the car. Imagine!

There were no automatic windows back then either. You had to put your hand on this little knob and roll the window up and down yourself. This is how we used to fight off the obesity epidemic (that and not having cupholders for our Cokes.)  

Most car interiors were made of Hot Vinyl, usually black for maximum hotness. And I don't mean sexy hot, I mean, scorch-the-back-of-your-legs-with-third-degree-burns-if-you-were-wearing-shorts-hot. That made for a fun family vacation! Pile in the car kids- we're gonna drive you around till you're hot, sweaty and cranky!

Then there was the smell. It may have been from the asbestos stuffed vinyl seats or it may have been from  the previous owners (the one with the roach clip) but there was an unmistakable used car smell back in the 70's/80's. It reminded you of B.O. mixed with cologne, mixed with hot vinyl, mixed with anti-freeze. A potpourri of weirdness. The only way to get rid of it was to hang a green Royal Pine air freshner on the rear view mirror, which only exacerbated the situation to such a degree that one could actually get sick just from smelling it, and then you'd have the puke smell to add to the mix.

Oh and television! A true delight. There used to be no color tv's, only black and white. And they weren't ginormous flat screens. They were square-ish and weighed a thousand pounds. Especially the floor models.  Every Saturday morning I would bounce out of bed and race into the living room to turn on the tv and watch cartoons. Ours was a tiny little thing and since they hadn't invented remote controls yet, my little kid fingers couldn't grasp the tiny knob to turn the tv on. But my Pap loved me and rigged up a cord switch so I could turn it on that way.

So out I'd go and turn on the tv. Then I'd go get breakfast while it warmed up. Cause back then tv's didn't turn on right away. They sort of hummed around (kinda like these twirly light bulbs they invented lately and are trying to make us switch to) and then you'd get a picture but it would go away and then it would come back but then it would "flip" where the picture would just keep flipping onto the screen so you had to reach behind the tv & adjust this little knob that some how made the picture stay still. Once you got the picture to stay still, you sometimes had to back the knob up a bit to get the picture centered. Otherwise the bottom half of your cartoons would be at the top of the screen and the top half would be at the bottom like some sick magician's trick.

Saturday was a very magical day. It was the ONLY day a week when you would get to watch cartoons. Back then there were no cartoon channels, no satellite tv, (although the US did go through a phase for awhile when those huge space-like satellite dishes were popular) and cable tv was for rich kids. (As you can probably imagine, we did not fall in that category, why do you think we drove around in used smelly vehicles?) So Saturday was the one day a week when networks would play cartoons from 7am- 12 noon. When the Action News For Kids show came on, you usually got up and called it a day, cause no kid wants to watch the news, even if other kids are presenting it. Plus that marked the end of Saturday cartoons for the week.

Saturday morning cartooning was such a sacred ritual that I continued it well into my married life.

No comments: