Walking through the house this morning, I heard the “honk” of a car. I didn’t know if the sound came from the TV or from a car going by. But it brought back some memories. Perhaps you can relate.
Growing up, we lived in the country – a gravel road at that time. Few cars traveled past our house. We spent much of three seasons outdoors, but if we were in the house, the outside noises came through the big old single pane windows or the screen door. When a car came down the road, we most often heard it, and one of us would often say, “There’s a car coming.” We stared as it went by. It was a notable event! If the passerby knew us, sometimes even if he didn’t but saw us outside, he or she would most often “honk” the car horn. It was a “hello.” Of course, my dad and mom did the same thing as they drove.
My dad always loved cars. I wasn’t around yet when these early photos were taken, but they tell me a story of his passion – not just for my mother – but for the automobile!
Cars were like a part of the family back then – well, at least in our households, evidenced in those photos where Daddy most often posed in front of a vehicle or photographed others with vehicles as the backdrop.
Travel was much slower in those days. Rarely did Daddy ever drive 50 mph and that was only on a big road, a “highway” like US 27 or US 12. No, instead, he drove slowly and intentionally, enjoying the drive, commenting along the way on wildlife, farmers in their fields – discussing various changes in the scenery with my mother. From the backseat, I learned much during those drives. Landmarks, not addresses, marked our travel. “Culps Hill”; Clarendon Pond . . .
GPS wasn’t used, nor was it needed. My mother held the map when we took longer trips, a practice I observed and still follow throughout my years, with just an occasional reference to our more recent Navigation apps!
Travel was limited. We didn’t just “jump in the car” to go someplace or to get something. We conserved energy before it was considered “cool.” (I think my mom and dad could have taught Al Gore and AOC the true meaning of “green”!) Even short trips were planned. Of course, Daddy drove to work every day. He worked at Federal Mogul, and he left the house shortly before 7:30 am. The office opened at 8. He arrived home from work at 5:19 pm every day. Supper followed at 5:30.
Mama drove, too, when she worked away from the home. Those were the only times we had two cars.
We didn’t often make extra trips to town. All errands were combined. Those stops to be made were written on paper, as were grocery lists, usually on reused, back sides of envelopes. Our rare drives to town included buying groceries, going to the laundromat (during the times Mom didn’t have an automatic washer), sometimes a trip to J.C. Penney, and an occasional fun trip to Otto & Sons where Daddy shopped the hunting gear and we kids browsed the massive toy department.
On Sundays, after church and a quick Sunday dinner, we all piled in the car for the long drive from our home on Quincy Grange Road in Butler Township to Grandpa and Grandma Nutt’s house on Grass Lake Road, northwest of Kinderhook. Daddy occasionally “honked” the horn when we arrived. There, we spent the afternoon. (Oh, the stories I could tell would fill a small book.) After hours of visiting and investigating the old barns, sheds, empty silo, and garden areas with my brother and cousins, we once again hopped in the car and drove the long route back to Butler Township, turning onto the even narrower graveled Bidwell Road to Grandpa and Grandma Locke’s house. Daddy “tooted” the horn a bit louder here, drawing our Locke cousins out from their places of play around the yard and out buildings. The grownups sat around the kitchen table, while we kids spent every remainder of daylight playing outside until the familiar whistle of the theme song of “Lassie” drew us into the living room.
Yes, my childhood travels to and from our graveled Quincy Grange Road residence always centered around a vehicle, filled with a family of five, a bushel of love, and a car horn that spoke a friendly “hello” to all. Occasionally today, I hear it – if only in my memories.
Featured photo is taken Summer of 1959. Mom at the wheel. Becky, my little sister and I in the back of our new yellow and white Ford Fairlane.