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I know I'm not the first person to say that things were simpler when I was a kid in the 50s and 60s, but, there, I've said it anyway.
A reminder of how simple things were occurred to me the other day as I sat in the car waiting for my wife who was shopping. I was sitting in the car because I don't shop well, though I have nothing against those who do. What I usually do when there's shopping to be done is sit in the car in the shopping center parking lot, read a paper, guard the valuables and keep an eye on things there in the lot.
It occurred to me as I looked around that I couldn't name one of the fancy vehicles around me there in that sprawling shopping center parking lot. There were dozens of different types of cars and vans and trucks and so forth - all with wild colors and fancy shapes - and I couldn't give you the name of one of them.
I'm old enough to remember when there were only about three or four automakers in America, and they each made about two or three different cars each. In those days I could name every car on the road because almost everyone owned either a Ford, a Chevy or a Plymouth. An oddball in those days was someone who drove a Studebaker, but we didn't have any of those types in our small town, and I was in my teens before I saw my first Studebaker up close. It wasn’t worth the wait.
Despite the fact that there were only a few different kinds of cars and trucks around, it seemed that every family had a distinctive vehicle, whether it was a certain kind of pickup, an oddly dented sedan or a station wagon of a certain color, so every family car was easy to identify, even from a distance. It was a big help to the nosy people in town who always liked to know whose car was in whose dooryard and for how long. Come to think of it, that hasn't changed. Nosy people still like to know things like that.
Anyway, years ago families stayed with the same brand of car generation after generation. If you were born into a Ford family, you bought Ford cars, Ford trucks, even Ford tractors. Although you might have a few Chevy or Plymouth owners among your wide circle of friends, you never really got too close to them. After all if someone could go buy a Chevy or a Plymouth, who knows what else they might be capable of doing?
In those days a person would change his politics or his religion or his spouse before he'd change from a Ford to a Chevy, or Chevy to a plymouth. A fella might date a woman from a Chevy family but when it was time to settle down he'd seldom marry her.
What's in your family’s garage?
John McDonald is a humorist and storyteller who performs regularly throughout
New England. Contact John at or 899-1868.
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