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patterns of ink

How fruitless to be ever thinking yet never embrace a thought... to have the power to believe and believe it's all for naught. I, too, have reckoned time and truth (content to wonder if not think) in metaphors and meaning and endless patterns of ink. Perhaps a few may find their way to the world where others live, sharing not just thoughts I've gathered but those I wish to give. Tom Kapanka

Sunday, October 14, 2007

An Aside

Some Background that may help Chapter 15

Before beginning Chapter 14 in earnest, I'd like to say that until the early 70's, the auto industry didn't put much thought into "crash safety." Seat belts, air bags, padded steering wheels, soft dashboards--no such thing! From the 30's through the mid-60's, the interior of cars was actually a gauntlet of hard, pointy surfaces ready to make an instant impression on passengers (in more ways than one).

Steering wheels were metal rings encased in plastic that was as hard as pool balls. In fact, sometimes drivers bolted on a knob the size of a cue ball to assist in steering with one hand. Those steering knobs could add an extra eye socket to your face in a crash.

The dashboard itself was hard metal often with fancy vents, the radio and other knobs right at face level so the person sitting in the middle of the front bench seat would have the channel changing buttons imbedded in his forehead in the event of a sudden stop.

Child seats of the day looked like toy folding chairs hooked over the seat. The child was not strapped in this perch. Heavens no. That would be way too restrictive, but don't worry, mothers instinctively backhanded the baby in the chest at each stoplight to make sure he was safe. All across the nation, thousands of cars had a child lounging for hours outstretched on the ledge inside the rear window, waving at the friendly policemen who thought nothing of it. I ought to know--the rear window was my favorite place to stretch out in the car.

The insides of cars have changed in the past three decades. It all started about the time we began hearing the "Buckle up for safety" song on the public service announcements, but I was ten years old before we owned a car that had seat belts. They really hurt when you sat on 'em so we always tucked them into the crack of the seat. Not until twenty years later did it become Michigan law to actually wear them. Now dashboards are smooth with hidden air bags in front of passengers, and we restrain our kids as much as possible.
But I digress. When we return to 1951...

Mom will be sitting in the '39 Ford, listening to the radio, waiting for Dad to swim back from Canada. One of the songs playing on the radio then was a new release in 1951 sung by Debbie Reynolds, called Aba Daba Honeymoon.

[That was a link to the 45. Mom preferred the movie cut. You may recall that this melody was borrowed in the 1970's jingle "Munchabuncha, munchabuncha, munchabuncha, munchabuncha. Fritos go with Lunch" .]

Reynolds had first sung the song in a movie called Two Weeks in Love, which Mom and Dad had seen the year before. To this day, Mom loves the old sing-along movies. She had been a tap dancer in the 30's and 40's, performing in USO shows, etc. Dad liked this playful, animated side of Mom, and even took dance lessons to try to keep up with her, but it was Mom who really got into scenes like this one in the movie from which the hit song sprang. She couldn't help but sing along when she heard them. If she was standing, she'd also do the choreography. (The song had first been a ragtime hit in 1914. It evidently gained some international appeal in the '80s, but it's really a simple silly song.)


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I had a car like that way back when. They were bigger than cars are now and that made them safer than these little jobs. I remember that Fritos song but I did not know it came from another song.

You say you digress, but I always find it interesting when you do. This whole thing has been fun to follow even though it is not really about a duncan phyfe which is why I started reading in the first place.

15/10/07 1:53 PM  
Blogger patterns of ink said...

The table is coming I promise. Sorry this is like a Chinese water torture. There is method in my madness.

You're right about the old cars. Back when a bumper was a bumper, I owned a '62 Buick LaSabre with AC and the air vents jutted out from the dash like chrome cookie cutters.

15/10/07 6:36 PM  
Blogger HeiressChild said...

tom, while my daughter and i were on our long phone call this weekend, we talked about the differences in the older cars vs the new cars, the seatbelt laws we have now that we didn't back then, how drivers speed, how there are sooooo many more cars on the road now.

it's fun dancing along with songs, movies, etc.

15/10/07 9:45 PM  
Blogger Nancy said...

My dad use to sing that song... he was not a singer and could barely carry a tune but that never stopped him. If he forgot some words, he would just make them up and often times we sang along- singing his made up version. At times he would also whistle the tunes especially when he forgot the words. I loved going to your links and listening to the different versions... it brought back so many memories and I thank you for that.

I can just picture your mom sitting there patiently waiting on your dad... with the big secret brewing inside her.

I can't wait for the next chapter... I check by everyday!

15/10/07 9:53 PM  
Anonymous Rhea said...

I remember those steering wheels that had metal rings. Weird design.

16/10/07 8:32 AM  
Blogger patterns of ink said...

I just came back from the Detroit area and the traffic there is much faster and more congested than anything we experience in west Michigan.

Mom was not 100% sure yet. Back then, it took a doctor's appointment and blood test to know for sure, but you are right about her intentions....

It's funny how Dad's have pet songs they sing. That one about "One Day I went in swimmin'" in the last chapter was one my dad always sang when we went swimming. My kids know it from me. I tried to add the melody with "notes" over the weekend. Dad was also an avid whistler.

It seems like they used to put as much chrome on the dash and doors as they did the outside. The '39 Ford did not look anything like this, of course, I have a picture of that dash in 14B.

16/10/07 8:37 PM  
Blogger JR's Thumbprints said...

Those side airbags have knocked out a few firemen who unsuspectingly pried open a car door or two. Now they have training on it. I'm hoping my next car is electric. Wish me luck.

17/10/07 6:33 PM  

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