Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Family Car

DCJ621.  That was the license number of the 1948 Hudson that our family had when we were young.  It was back when gas prices sometimes dipped below 19 cents a gallon and people took Sunday drives.

Cars were bigger back then, with wider seats, more leg room, big back windows, and wings.  I'm not talking flying cars here; the vent windows on the car doors were called "wings," I guess because they stuck out like wings when you opened them.

We'd pile into that big old green Hudson and head off to visit the cousins or the grandparents, and stay till we should have been home in bed.  When we'd finally get ourselves out to the car for the long ride home, Dad and Mom would help each of us kids settle into our places.  Tom and I would lie down in the back seat, my head up against one back door and his against the other, like you might put chicken legs in a pan to bake.  Tim and Ted, the babies, would lie across the front seat of the car, one with his head on Mom's lap and the other with his head on Dad's lap.  Peach always got the back window.

This was the 50s, years before we knew anything about seat belts, car seats, and airbags.

As we got older we moved into 9-passanger station wagons, the precursor to the mini-van.  They had three rows of seats; the third row usually faced forward, but we had a couple of cars where the third seat faced out the back window.  As you can image, it was a little tricky to get into that back seat!

The two back seats folded down so that you could carry lots of cargo -- or kids.  Every now and then Mom would declare a "Why Not Day" and she and her friend Margie would load the five of us kids and Margie's four into the back end of the car, stop by to pick up three of our cousins, and head out of town for the day, to Vancouver BC or some other exotic destination.  Twelve kids and two moms stuffed into our car drew a fair bit of attention from others on the road, even back then.

All our cars were pre-owned until I was pretty well grown, when my parents bought a brand new Rambler station wagon, a sweet looking butterscotch colored car with wood paneling.  It turned out that the car had one fatal flaw, a faulty starter. We kept a hammer under the driver's seat so that if we had trouble getting the car to start someone would jump out , pop the hood open, and whack the starter with the hammer.  It never failed.  In a matter of moments we were on our way.

Ahh, those were the days!

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