Monday, August 11, 2014


I've mentioned before that we had no TV when I was growing up (though one neighbor did have one). There were also no computers and phones were tacked to the wall by a rather short cord. Party lines were in effect so that several phones on that line would ring your request. Each household had its identifying ring. Two short rings and a long one was our code to pick up.

Sometimes you would pick up the phone to make a call and hear people talking.  You had to excuse yourself then wait your turn as the line was in use. Privacy was unheard of. Often you could hear a tell tale click, then soft breathing during your own conversations.  Perhaps that is one reason I am not all a twitter that NSA spying goes on. I grew up with and was OK with the local version. 

With such primitive lines of communication and entertainment available, the Sunday drive became a pleasant diversion.  Gas was cheap and time was plentiful. The county side was the destination and we actually enjoyed each other's company.

Not my picture but our car looked like this. 
Perhaps the price of gasoline and congested roads but mostly technology have taken it out of the family entertainment category. 

In my youth however, it was something a lot of us enjoyed enormously. As a group we were often referred to as the SSC (Sunday Sightseers Club) sneeringly by those who actually had somewhere to go and were annoyed by our pokey pace.   

Dad drove, Mom looked for dream houses, my brothers made identifying the year, make and model of approaching cars a   competitive game while I looked for farm animals when we weren't talking. Sounds pretty mundane by today's standards but we loved it and so looked forward to those long drives. Even Susie, the little family dog, loved the long rides in my mom's lap. 

Don't know why but we never had those "he's touching me" incidents. We were normal siblings, we just behaved so much better when traveling.  Since there were no seat belts and I was so short, I was allowed to stand on the hump in the back and lean on the front seat so I could see.   Most of my rides were spent on my feet. 

There was also a thrilling part to the county riding. Don't know how Dad knew where they all were but he would, out of the blue, get our attention by accelerating over a steep hump in the road, then letting off the gas briefly as we crested so we all had a startling second of weightlessness with floating tummies. Again and again we would ask him to repeat that thrill. However, twice per ride was about the most we ever got.

I have yet to experience that sensation as an adult except perhaps on a roller coaster. Can one still repeat that tummy float while driving or have our cars and roads eliminated the thrill??  Probably the driver by holding on to the wheel is denied that pleasure. Hum--maybe this afternoon I'll give it a shot. 

The cool thing is that we actually communicated on those drives which wasn't the least bit unusual for we also enjoyed family dinners.   Eye rolling or "attitude" was a grounding offense in those days.   In the car we not only were,  but also had, a captive audience.   We all  took advantage. 

The person in ear and eye sight was whom we talked to with those few party line exceptions. Sigh, that is becoming a lost art. I mean here I am today reaching out thousands of miles to folks I've never met in person with just the touch of a key.  Yes it is amazing and really cool in its own way, but still lacking.  

It is one reason I am sure we don't hesitate to move hundreds of miles away from our families. Distance has shrunken via technology but I do feel the loss of actual contact.  

Is there something from your early days that you mourn the loss of ?? 


  1. I think the floating tummy thing is actually an age thing enjoyed by the young. I often travel a route which has a small hill. As you crest the hill, there is a fairly steep drop on the other side. When I travel at a certain speed, my grandson experiences that feeling; but,
    I do not. He encourages me to "jump, Gran, jump!"

  2. You get that same feeling when you leap from an airplane, but I don't expect many people do that. I miss sitting around the radio with my family at the end of the day and listening to Fibber McGee and Molly and The Shadow. I had to run home from my Brownies meeting so I wouldn't miss it. :-)

  3. I remember Sunday drives. Rare, but fun treat in our house. I like the part of just going down a road to see where is went. I used to do that when I still drove and would be out on a drive alone. Occasionally, I can get husband to do it, but he doesn't see the point.

  4. The party lines, the Sunday drives, the car identification competitions between brothers, those flying bumps, all bring back such memories.

    There were a few times on my trip with grandkids when I would realize I was talking, but they were "plugged in" and couldn't hear me.

    i also found myself ready to say, "Look out the window. You're missing the scenery!" How many times did I hear that when my nose was stuck in a book or my siblings were squabbling over back seat territory?

    So I stifled myself and let them experience the trip in their own way.

  5. Great nostalgia piece. My family took two across country drives as my dad's job required relocation. In those days you could name almost every make and model car, and we did that touching thing which is why I sat up front.

    Great post, loved it.

    Ane the car is a Studebaker. Don't know the year...50 or 51?

  6. Remember that song, "Ride around Sally"..... I think that's the name. It was typical as you said, to just get in the car and ride around. (On cheap gas too)

  7. I have those same memories.

    When I was in high school I guess my mother told my father he needed to spend more time with the family (he was a military officer, often preoccupied). So on Sundays for several years, we went out for lunch at Hardee's (we lived in North Carolina then) and then went to play miniature golf. I'd forgotten about that until I read your post!

  8. Goodness but your drives sound like the ones I remember sorta, but they really sound like the ones we had with the grands for the past 5 years. It is just recently that the 10 and 14 year old have gotten a little "jaded" about car rides, before it was fun. We were still able to find tummy losing hills in some remote areas of our state and introduce the kids to that as well.
    I regret the not everyone has those kinds of memories, I believe that we are the lucky ones in so many sure won't be like that in the future. Oma Linda

  9. I learned a lot about my own children when we were riding in the car, especially if they had friends along. No phones, no iPods. They talked and seemed to forget that I was even in the car. Now the kids text each other even when they are sitting side by side.

  10. Oh, my sweet Patti this post has brought back so many good memories for me. We still have a place near our home where we can get that tummy feeling. We didn't go on a lot of drives when I was a kid but we took our kids on lots of them. We would go places we had never been on every drive. That was so much fun for all. I remember the party lines too but we had to borrow a phone when we made a call we did not have a phone. My step-dad was a retired truck driver so when we traveled we played name the semi and name the cars. That was so much fun and we always kept score to see who got the most right. I really enjoyed this post sweet Patti. Hugs and nose kisses all around from me and mine!

  11. Your post brought back a flood of childhood memories from when my parents, brother and I would pile into the car for a long Sunday drive. Haven't thought about this in years. Thanks for bringing it to mind.

  12. I read this with a strong sense of nostalgia. Two shorts and a long, was our ring too.we loved Sunday drives and begged for the adventures Dad would take us on.We listened to radio shows before we had TV and then watched TV together.
    And yet I don't want to go back, either. There are losses as time passes, but gains too.

  13. Memories! I am remembering begging my parents to drive "fun hill" to get home. We grew up in a small town with a little hill. The road was wavy at the top. It was a rare treat.
    Oh! The way we squeezed into some of those cars too.

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  15. Pudge450,
    First off, welcome to TNS. Thank you for stopping by. You know, you might have hit on it. A lot of people I know experienced it as a kid but not as adults. Maybe our bigger stomachs need more that a hill to float.

    Hum maybe that will be incentive for me to jump out of a plane? Nope, but glad you get to.
    I loved the Shadow who could cloud men's minds. I tried SO hard to do that.

    Miss Dazey,
    Oh, I love doing that also. It still is a favorite way to spend a day.

    I know, we want them to experience things our way. Wonder what they will remember when they have grands.

    Ah you are good at that car ID game. You nailed it. I'm not sure which year it was either. That and the Edsel were the only really radical car designs in my time. People said they couldn't tell if the Studebaker was coming or going.

    I do remember that song and it fits. I do that still today for entertainment.

    Linda Myers,
    Oh I haven't thought of miniature golf in a while. That and drive in movies were our date choices. You gave my memory banks a jolt also.

    Linda W,
    Good to know the tummy tossing is still a popular thing with the young. Sadly, the teen years can put a damper on the simple stuff.

    That was the good part. We were captive audiences. Today's electronics let them escape far away from the real people.

    Ooh, I'll have to get the location of those hills and give them a try. The confinement yet freedom of the car was great for bringing folks together.

    Glad you enjoyed those days also. Sometimes it is fun to peek back in time for a quickie.

    Linda R,
    I do believe families were closer in those days. We have fewer attractive distractions. But like you, I am enjoying some of those distractions.

    Wasn't it funny how easily we were amused and how long those memories stayed with us? Those hills were the best.

  16. You brought back memories of driving with my dad! We got weightless once cresting a little bridge in a big old Daimler. I think dad and I were both amazed at a tonne or two of car feeling as light as a bird!
    On long trips we would all play "I spy".., "I spy something beginning with W", etc!

  17. Oh you brought back memories for me. There was a certain road with a hill on our way home from town...I still remember that feeling!

    We had black and white television, three channels (one was the French CBC). Mom (and we kids) was so excited when Disney said they would broadcast in color, and so disappointed when we realized it wouldn't work.

    Party lines weren't replaced until I was in my teens. By that time the click was gone as you had to pull the button to open the line. When I was very little - until I was about five - we had the crank telephone.

    No running water either...or as mom said, if we wanted water we ran for it. That came when I was 17.

    Sunday drives weren't part of our routine, but company was. The first visitors would show up after church for lunch and we'd have company some Sundays until midnight.

    Thanks for sharing your memories!

  18. Oh, I hadn't thought of the "tickle in the tummy" in such a long time! My dad would fly over the hills and it was always fun to me. Not so much for my poor mother who would tell him to stop it! lol!

    I don't miss the party lines one bit. We had a neighbor who was very rude and often got on the phone when I was talking to my friends, which wasn't all that often as my mother wouldn't allow me to use the phone much. Anyway, he would rudely tell me to get off the phone because he needed the line.

    Thanks for the walk down memory lane!

  19. We had a two shorts and one long ring party line phone when I was little. The operator knew everyone's business. There was a TV in our house, but few programs, mostly that round signal thing. My mom put a stick on magnification sheet on it to make the picture bigger.
    Lots of car time, I liked to take naps laying on the floor so I could hear the road.

  20. We did Sunday drives too, and I remember when going out to McDonalds or Shaky's Pizza was a huge treat because we didn't go out very often. Just like today- those in the military do not make very much money,
    I was on a party line was just awful. Talk about nosy folks..I was never so glad to get my own private line!

  21. When I was a small boy party lines were still around where I lived. I remember being 5 or 6 and picking up the phone listening to the neighbors lol. And I got a helluva spanking for that!

  22. I miss the tummy flips. and at the risk of you remember remembering your first forays into great lovemaking did the same thing? I so enjoyed this story as it brought back great memories.

  23. Peter,
    Wasn't that fun?? We use to play I Spy also. Sometimes I won because I spelled terribly and got the first letter wrong.

    I loved your Mom's version of running water. Cute.
    I too remember being excited then disappointed when Disney color didn't work on black and white TVs.

    The only time I got upset with the party lines is when someone would cut in on my conversation saying it was an emergency. Then when we listened in to see what the emergency was (yes I did) it would be about what temperature to set the oven for meatloaf.

    You reminded me about sleeping in the car. That was the best and I swore when I got rich, I would hire someone to drive me around all night. Hum--wonder if that would work today?

    We were never flush with money either and an ice cream cone occasionally was our only edible treat on those rides. That was so special.

    Ah ha, that was your breathing I heard on the line:)) I have to admit that I checked out a few conversations also.

    Sue Malone,
    Welcome to TNS and thank you for commenting. So glad I could rattle your memory banks a bit.

  24. My mother used to call those air-borne bumps "thank you ma'am's", I think based on the old horse and buggy days. When the buggy would hit one of those, the young lady would often be bounced over closer to the driver, hence the name.

  25. I do the floating tummy thing with my grands, I know just the perfect road!!! Loved your recollection of the party lines. Same situation where I grew up. When we first got our phone, we were the only ones in the neighborhood, dad had his own business and that justified the phone. I remember neighbor ladies coming over in the afternoon to use our phone!!!

  26. We would go for Sunday afternoon rides, too. .. and stop for a Pepsi and a pack of Nabs at Almand's Drug Store.

    My husband's idea of hell probably involves being behind the wheel for a car "just for the ride." Well, either that or holding a paint brush.

  27. Yes, I mourn LOTS of things from the past since I see so many changes these days, and not many for the betterment I think...

    I always said that I would be happy going with the flow --as life changed. BUT--I guess I'm not really into change much at all, especially the way our country is going these days...

    I remember everything you mentioned: the old phones on the wall, party-lines, No privacy!!!! But these days, I don't worry so much about privacy--since I'm very public on FB and on Blogger. I like to get to know my blog friends on a more personal level ---and tend to shy away those who keep 'everything' so private that we don't even know their names or where they live.

    Great post...

  28. I am right with you on all this. We were a SSC family also but we were "he touched me" screamers. On road trips my brother got the entire back seat for his nap and sister got to curl up on either side of the hump on the floor and I got the space between the seat and the back window.

  29. And, oh yes, we loved what we called "stomach bumps". I have two hills leading to my house and the grandkids always love for us to accelerate through the dips.

  30. I too would stand on the hump of my uncle's Ford station wagon (my aunt didn't know how to drive so my mother would borrow the car to drive her--we're talking the 50s here and one car families) and that's how I got my front teeth knocked out when my mother had to make a panic stop. Yeowtch!

    Floating over hills; while staying at Fairfield Bay in Arkansas with the kids on a vacation, we went flying over a hill and that's when my little one (age about 7) said "wow! that really tickled my penis!" Obviously that phrase became a family favorite and still pops out occasionally when Denny and I manage to find a great hill to fly over in the convertible. ;)

  31. Marty,
    Now that is cute. I've had guys do a version of that when I was on the back of a motorcycle. Clever fellows.

    I am so glad that is still a tradition with today's kids. What power you all had with the only phone.

    Mary Lee,
    Had to look up Nabs and then I said "Oh yeah." Funny about your hubby.

    You are so right.Those worried about privacy don't use Facebook.
    I guess some bloggers have been burned at one time.

    Grannie Annie,
    Goodness, you must have been little. At least if your brother was sleeping, he couldn't tease you.
    I am so glad those hills still exist and kids today still get to have floating tummies.

    Linda B.
    Ha ha, I'll bet you had to pull off the road laughing.
    Hum, I don't live that far from Fairfield Bay, think I will go hill hunting.

  32. I haven't thought of Sunday drives in a long time. We used to take them when I was very young and look for dream houses. We also would go to parks for a Sunday afternoon stroll. I remember being quite enthralled by new cars. The anticipation of the fall roll out of new models was always thrilling. I miss the closeness of extended family, of holidays spent with them, the simple telephone and TV, and a pen pal in a far off land.

  33. I remember the days in Hawaii when we could run out of the house and be gone for hours without our parents worrying about us. My brother and I climbed our tall mango tree and mom never caught us. I remember doing some drives, but not too often as kids.

    When our own kids were little we did often take drives into Chicago and Wisconsin. I know our kids loved it. Not too much of the "He's touching me!" went on.

    I just remembered going down to the stream and catching guppies to raise when we were little. I think the streams are not so clean now in Hawaii and they warn us to be careful of the water.

  34. Yes, I have something I miss a lot. It's the special relationship that I had with my Dad. I was the youngest of 5 girls but kindof replaced the boy he never had. We were so close and, although he died in 1960 (!!)
    I still miss him.
    Oh, and guess what? We were about the only family without a car ...ever.

  35. I miss all those things you talked about. I could relate so closely with what you had to say, and you took me back to a time that seems so idyllic in retrospect. We also took very long drives. There would be Daddy, my grandfather, and my brother in the front seat of the car. My grandmother, mother, and my sister and I would be squished in the back. I loved listening to the stories my grandmother and grandfather would tell and the reminiscing that they shared with my father, their son. I learned so much history, family history, and Colorado history on those long road trips. I learned the names of wild flowers. I learned the constellations. I learned how to communicate. I wish my own grandchildren would have had such times.

    Like you, we didn't have t.v. most of time either. My father didn't believe in it. He thought we should be reading. He instilled my love of reading in me. To this day, I really do not even enjoy watching t.v.

  36. I also miss sitting around the radio and listening to a detective series on Saturdays. Or doing games in the evening.
    The floating tummy looks like turbulence in a plane, which I don't like.
    Have a nice weekend.

  37. What a nostalgic trip this post was. Yes we had a Studebaker, were the last people to get a TV and loved our Sunday afternoon rides.....;)

  38. Such memories you brought back with this one, Patti. It was only me and my Mom, but we often drove to my Grandma's on the back roads (were there any other kind where we lived) to have Sunday dinner. My Mom hated to see animals dead on the road, so she kept a shovel in the trunk. If she saw someone's pet or even something wild that had met its demise, she'd pull over, get the shovel, and move it carefully to a bed of grass at the side of the road. At some age, I remember scrunching down in my seat feeling humiliated that she would do such a thing. Now, I'm writing this with tears in my eyes.

  39. robin,
    Oh yes, pen pals were such fun. I guess blogging has replaced that which is a good thing.

    First off, thank you so much for reading all my back blogs and commenting. Such a chore and so much appreciated. You always leave such flattering comments.
    I too mourn the loss of innocence and freedom from worry. Sadly now days the doors are locked and strangers looked on with suspicion.

    I understand. I was a daddy's girl also and miss him so much. No car??? You must have lived in a city.

    We did listen to the stories of our older relatives didn't we? I found them fascinating also. Today we can only hope the next generation reads our blogs.

    Reader Wil,
    I have never experienced turbulence so I can't compare. Maybe since this was on the ground, it was more fun.
    The radio really did offer grand entertainment that required us to use our imaginations. Not so today.

    Ah, you led the good life also. Those Studebakers were really stylish for the day weren't they?

    How often as children we were embarrassed by our parents for reasons that today make us realize they were just plain wonderful.

  40. Actually, no. I didn't have a very happy childhood and even thinking back makes me feel sad. Car journeys for us as a family involved my mother screaming and shouting at us, always at my father and she seemed to take it in turns with me and my brother. We both stayed silent hoping not to fuel her anger.

  41. Aww Joey, I am so sorry you were dealt such a crappy hand. You should be proud however at the fine Dad you became in spite of your Mom.

  42. Dear Arkansas Patti, this is one of my favorite postings of yours. You memories bring back so many of mind: the party line out in the country, the special ring that meant the call was for the Ready family, the Sunday drive, the conversations we had around the supper table in which the four of us--Mom, Dad, my younger brother, and I--shared our day.

    We had a truck for many years and my brother and I would sit or lie in the truck bed. If sitting, we'd count the small flags in the windows that had stars to show how many men in that household were fighting in Europe or the Pacific. If lying down, we'd make up stories about the clouds or count stars at night.

    As to what I miss. Strange, but I miss getting an Easter hat each year and wearing it to Sunday mass. And I miss the radio shows we listened to--Fibber McGee and Molly, Red Skelton, the Shadow, Just Plain Bill. Ah, you have brought back the memories. Thank you. Peace.