2015 Day 14: Car Shopping-1950’s Style

I never went car shopping with my parents. Children were not considered necessary at that kind of event.  Frankly, no one cared what you thought about a new car. Or what color it should be. Or anything about it.  You were a kid.

The first car that I can remember my parents having was a Studebaker.  It was a coupe.  It was light gray.  I don’t remember riding in it or helping to wash it.  But I remember my best friend’s car.  She was from Michigan and they drove a Packard wagon.  I thought it was the coolest car ever made.  First of all, it was a station wagon.  You could lay down in the back of it!!  That was a first for me.  But what made it so special is the car had wood paneling on the outside.  Yep-the outside of the car.  Wow! I had never seen a car with wood paneling.  Her father would not let the kids help him wash it.  He said it required special attention because of the wood.  Somehow I think he just wanted to do it himself!

I remember when my father traded the Studebaker in for a car that was more family friendly.  He bought a Ford Fairlane Station Wagon.  Oh joy! It was so cool looking.  And it was BIG! It had four doors and the rear door made five.  You could roll the rear window down which was pretty cool.  And you could lay down in the back behind the rear seat. It was a kind of personal child bed.  And the car was a light olive green.  It was wonderful.

Back in the 50’s, there were NO safety features like we have today.  The dash in front was metal.  It was not coated nor covered with anything.  If you were sitting in the front seat and the driver slammed on the brakes, you hit the dash-BAM! And you probably smushed your nose against the dash or broke a tooth.  We had NO seat belts.  NONE.  No one had seat belts.  Ever.  WE had no baby seats.  You held your baby in your arms.  That was it.  We didn’t have air conditioning either.  Heaters were also optional on many cars.  No one cared if they drove in luxury. You drove to get somewhere. Period.  We stuck our heads out the back window of station wagons.  And trucks? They were the best.  You could sit in the bed of the truck-unsupervised-while your parents drove all over the place-even on the highway.  If you have never ridden in the back of a truck, you have missed a delightful time.

About this same time, my Dad bought a used 1949 Chevy sedan as a second car for us.  He paid $100 for it.  It was pretty cool, too.  It was black. And it had rust spots on the fenders.  You did not even need a key to start the car.  When Dad bought the car, the man gave him a key but Dad never used it.  The only trouble with the “keyless” Chevy was that someone could drive your car away without your permission.  That happened once or twice but the police always found the car-without any gas left in it.  Kids joyriding – they would say.

Oh and I forgot to mention—the RADIO.  HaHa.  What radio?  You had to pay extra for one and the chances were good that you could get no reception anyway inside the car.  There were no CD players or stereo sound or Pandora or movies.  When radios finally came out in all cars, they turned on and off and you used a knob to move from one station to another.  Antennas stuck up on the front fender of your car.  If they broke off, you could use a coat hanger as a substitute.  Cars were not automatic.  They had a clutch and you had to shift gears.  The gear shift was on the steering wheel.  In fact, when you took your driver test you had to drive a car with a clutch.  No options.

Wow!  You are saying.  That must have been awful.  Nope! It was just fine.  We were living and loving the 50’s.  We thought we had the very best.  NOTHING could be better!