I realize that I probably write this phrase too much—When I was a child, we didn’t have—–. Just fill in the blank with almost anything! Today I am venturing into safety gizmos. When I was a child, my Dad drove a Ford station wagon. It had a bench seat in front and back. And it had a big cage area behind the back seat. Generally, I sat in the middle of the front seat between my Dad and Mom. Cars were not made with seat belts. So the most important safety feature in our station wagon was “the arm”. When Dad had to slam on his brakes, he threw his arm across my chest to keep me from being thrown forward. Sometimes both my parents would practice “the arm” safety feature at the same time. Then I would have two adult arms thrown across my chest. It was not exactly gentle but it worked just fine. At that time, all the dashboards in cars were made with real metal. It was painted to match the interior of the car but not padded. If the driver didn’t practice “the arm” you would be thrown forward into the dash. This would result in a hen egg on your forehead that would last for days. No one ever asked what happened, they knew you hit the dash. The “arm” was also practiced by car riders in the back seat sometimes. Generally, the quick stop just threw you into the back of the front seat. It didn’t hurt that much!
We also did not have car seats like we have today. When I was a child, no one had them. When I was a new mother in the 1960’s, we did have a car seat. Of course, a baby could not use it. The car seats were made for toddlers who could crawl in and out all by themselves. The seat had two hooks on the back that you would hook over your seat. Then a thin metal bar could be pulled over the toddler. The thing that children liked the most was the steering wheel. Car seats generally had a steering wheel so the child could steer just like the driver and some even had a horn that could be tooted! Of course, they were the most expensive!
Looking back over my childhood and seeing the safety features that were unavailable sometimes gives me pause. How in the world did any of us manage to survive? Of course in those days, parents just drove the car and if they were lucky-listened to the radio. No one was texting, talking on the phone, putting on makeup or eating Chinese food as they drove 90 mph down a eight lane highway!