When I was your age, we got around by horse and buggy

Dear Chip and Bobo,

You kids don’t know how good you’ve got it.  When I was your age, car rides were a whole different ballgame.

For one thing, we didn’t have air conditioning in the car.  Our air conditioner was the window, which you had to manually crank with a little handle.

Which was pretty miserable on cross country road trips, let me tell you.  Getting blasted by hot air zooming past your head, while trying to keep your mouth shut to avoid bugs flying down your gullet… not fun.  And if someone ripped one in the car?  You had to fumble with that little handle and turn it fast as you possibly could to get some fresh air.

Car seats?  They didn’t exist.  When Grandma and Poppa brought me home from Seattle, it was in an open cardboard box, that they set on the floor of the car.  Can you imagine?

Seat belts weren’t even required.  I remember one summer we drove cross country with my aunt and my two cousins.  Two moms, five rambunctious kids and four suitcases crammed into one little VW hatchback.  The two youngest kids (one of which was me) sat in the very back, crammed into a two square foot area.

The next time you whine about getting buckled into your 5 point harness, padded booster seat with a cup and snack holder, just remember that, my sweet ones.

We did not have CD players or iPod plugins in the car.  We had an 8 track (I’ll tell you about that one later), and one cassette.  I believe it was “Born Free,” which we listened to over and over again.

On road trips, we entertained ourselves by counting mileposts, and playing I-Spy and license plate alphabet games.  The latter was really not that much fun when driving through the Badlands, and only seeing another car every 20 minutes.

Can you imagine what it was like for your grandparents getting around, when cars navigation systems were not even invented?  What would your father have done?  He would have had to pull out the paper map or, worse yet, stop and ask for directions.

Times have changed.  Cars have changed.

And yet, they haven’t.  I would have thought that in 30 years, someone would have come up with really brilliant, yet simple ideas to make car rides more bearable.

Like a portable potty that would allow us to travel more than 30 minutes without hearing, “I have to go… again.”

Or a clear plastic divider down the middle of the car, so you could look at each other, but I wouldn’t have to hear, “Mom, Chip’s touching me!”  (This, even though your hand is clearly over the invisible middle line.)

Or, better, yet, a clear plastic divider between the front and back of the car so I wouldn’t have to hear, “Are we there… yet??”

I’m guessing the real reason things like that haven’t been invented yet?  Because somewhere along the line, someone has realized that that’s part of the fun that goes with car rides.  As annoying as it is to hear some of the whining and malarkey that emanates from the back of the car, it still makes me smile a little.

It brings back memories of long road trips taken in a simpler time, with simpler cars.  When part of the adventure was not where were were actually going, but getting there.

One day, I promise you, our family will take a cross-country road trip.  I’m actually looking forward to that.

And, at the same time, I’m not.

Love you to pieces,
Your Momma (who thinks her parents are pretty much heroes for attempting any sort of road trip with children)

This letter is the second in the “When I was your age” series of letters to my children.  Last week’s post was When I was your age, TV wasn’t even invented. Next up… “When I was your age, the word internet wasn’t in the dictionary.”

16 thoughts on “When I was your age, we got around by horse and buggy”

  1. Oh man, I remember the 8 track in my dad's 1969 Impala. The only tape he had was Carole King. Brutal. Also brutal – the 25 stitches I got in my cranium when my aunt stopped short as me and my cousin were standing on the backseat looking out the rear window. Good times. Our kids are so spoiled.

  2. So true, so true. Kids don't know how good they've got it these days, right?And for WOW, I saw malarkey, fumble, and gullet.

  3. Hubs and I were just having a conversation about all the fancy pants "kid-shutter-upper" devices cars have these days. Then we went into a rant about how we will only use the tv for long car rides and the whole family will watch the same movie. None of this dual screen stuff. We sounded like two cranky old men in a barber shop. I'm sure, in a few years I will be writing a blog post about how I crazy I was for thinking I wasn't going to distract my kids with TV on the way to the grocery store!

  4. my brother and i used to "draw" a line down the middle of the backseat that neither of us could cross over. And my mom tells me how when we were babies, they would put old school "bouncer" seats on the backseat and put us in those. Um, ya…really safe people!!

  5. so this weekend we drove home from the lake and I let my daughter lay down (seatbelt on) so she could sleep without getting her head all disjointed. Comfy for her meant a long long nap….not so good for bedtime tonight. guess I should of gone with the neck flipping and short nap!

  6. Oh man the memories. My parents used to forbid us to ask, "are we home yet?" until after we had passed certain landmarks on the way home. There was no such restriction for the way TO anyplace though so we drove them crazier on the way there.Playing WOW…I saw gullet, fumble, rambunctious and malarkey

  7. What a great letter to your little ones. It brought back memories of cross country trips that I took with my folks. I loved those games.

  8. Oh my gosh it's like we were in the same car!! Hilarious post! And like Liz said, we also used to draw a line down the seat to keep our sides separate. But this was before mandatory seatbelts so we were climbing all over anyways!

  9. Love it, love it, love it! Hahaha this reminds me when road trips were fun and less stressful. Those were good times to shoved my brothers around in the backseats because they had fallen asleep and bumped my head 😛

  10. gullet and fumble. otherwise, i am all for the star trek transporter for trips…i always end up eating too many chips and too much diet coke…not a good mix.

  11. Lol.. have you ever lost power with the kids?? Fun times. "But what can we do??"Malarkey, rambunctious, fumble and gullet from the Word Up Yo! Scavenger Hunt.

  12. I have a 12 hour car trip coming up with the kids. I really wish we had a dvd player in our car. 🙁

  13. I don't know how we did long car trips before the little tiny DVD players. I've blocked the pain from memory.WOW…gullet, fumble, rambunctious, malarkey.

  14. Oh what a GREAT post. So, so true. We still travel on road trips the 'old fashioned way' without dvd's etc. But thankfully most of the other modern conveniences (snack holders, padded car seats, ipods, etc) help.Come check us out at The Power of Moms. A site where mothers can learn from each other.www.powerofmoms.comHave a great day.

  15. I had to sit in the back of our hatchback too. One time I was holding onto the hinge (which looked more like a handle) when my sister shut the door—hatch. I don't remember ever sitting in the back again after that!

  16. Catching up on blog reading….great WOW usage! Man, I think you and I were in the same car growing up, and my brother and I had the invisible line, which was usually drawn with two grocery bags full of our toys. He would move the bags; I would complain.That plastic divider would be awesome!

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