Monday, June 27, 2011

Car Travel in the 1960s

I had a memory jolt the other day about car travel with my parents in the late 1950s into the 1960s.


I'm driving here in 1957.  I have a lot of pictures of myself with my sister but none with the pesky little brother with us.. Believe me, he was there.

My grandparents all lived in the boot heel of Missouri so in July, when General Motors stopped the lines for "change over" to the next model, we would all pile in the car to head south for a visit.  I remember, in my younger years, 8,9 or 10, I would trade comic books with neighbors so I would have reading material.  Archie and Veronica, Superman, Nancy, or Donald Duck.  

My father built a wooden platform that fit over the hump in the back floorboard so someone (usually me) could sleep on it, with another child on the seat, ( my sister) and little brother in the back window.  Can you believe that?  That just screams trouble waiting to happen.  As we got older,  Dad would arrange the suitcases in the floorboard to act as a support so he could put a crib mattress in the back seat and we could lay down on it for the whole trip.  My brother could still fit in the back window, I guess.  I am horrified that we made a 700 mile, one way drive, that way.  Year after year. 

Mom and Dad always left Michigan in the afternoon so us kids would sleep though the night and they could drive straight through without bathroom trip interruptions.  I have to think it was also in part because there was no air conditioning and we were headed south with the windows down and the hot wind whipping in all around.  There were also no expressways.  The route was through towns and around big cities.  I remember drifting in and out of sleep to the radio playing Marty Robbin's El Paso and later Johnny Cash's  Ring of Fire.   I could hear the semis zooming by and the soft conversation between my parents of which road to take next or "did we just miss out turn?"

By morning we were dragging into Kennett, Mo road weary but over joyed to see our grandparents for that once a year visit.  Once there, it was time for  cat fish and hush puppies, chicken and dumplings, blackberry cobbler and home made bread.   (I can't eat catfish today..... I know it tastes good.  They just look creepy.)  But, the little girl in me remembers all of it with fondness.

8 comments:

Kathy said...

I remember those trips to grandma's house, too...and laying in the back window :) Fortunately, our trip was only 180 miles.

I read back on your blog and was sad to learn that the beautiful lady burned. How sad :(

mary said...

Hahaha! My dad put a board in the back seat of the '57 Chevy for the three of us too. I think it covered the entire seat so we were, in essence, sitting on a "floor". He also took the handles off the doors on the inside of the back doors so we couldn't open them while on the road. We used to travel from Oregon to Oklahoma and South Dakota in the summer. A big circle to visit the Grandparents. I can't imagine how they handled us with no seat belts and air conditioning. I do remember the "Burma Shave" signs. Also remember the many many times my dad would just pull over to the side of the road and get out. We knew we were in trouble so we got silent when he did.

Sweet Tea said...

As you do, I shudder to think of kids sleeping by the rear back window. I also remember the days of station wagons which had rear seats facing backwards. So dangeous yet we survived. And just the thought of being in a car with no A/C!! Kids always had heat rashes in those days and it's no wonder.

Gran said...

I used to read the same comic books! It was an hour trip by car to my grandma's house. On the way home, in summer, I would hang my head out the window and feel the night air on my face, hoping to see clouds in the sky!

Far Side of Fifty said...

What an adventure! We never went far from home until I was a teenager. I loved your memories..excellent! :)

PⒿ @ $ € € ₦$ ₣®0₥... said...

Wow, you brought up lots and lots of memories for me with this post! A simpler time......

Intense Guy said...

Reading this was a treat!

:) I love how nicely you have your seat adjusted and your hands are in the proper position on the wheel!

My mom used to have a big Black (did they come in any other color?) Oldsmobile that we (my brothers and I) used to ride down the shore in... I remember gas was 27 cents a gallon back then - and that car often overheated and we would watch the steam fountain out the front. Once it cooled down - we would go refill the radiator and go on out merry way. Of course it had no seatbelts either.

(Florida) Girl said...

Road trips are really growing on me. We just made one, and it was exactly what I needed.

I enjoyed this post. And that feast sounds perfect.

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