I bought a new car the other day and drove it home cautiously because I wasn’t sure which button did what. When I arrived home, my husband and I sat in the front seat, put on our reading glasses and leafed through the stack of instructional booklets.
The first goal: to find the automatic button that locked and unlocked the doors. In the old days, I just pulled up the “”thingy”” and that did the trick.
Second goal: to turn on the radio. We read through the thick book read about my combination radio, navigational aid and whatever else the screen staring at me did. I needed to figure out how to turn the unit on and pull-up the ID number so I could then call the radio provider on my cell phone and activate my satellite radio. Whew!
All I really wanted to do was listen to some tunes while we sat there getting acquainted with the car. I thought about years ago when I just turned on the radio with its big metal knob and rolled through the AM stations. Back then, the hot specialty item for radios was the “wonder bar” and new push button features.
After an hour, I called it quits, went inside and checked my e-mail. An apropos “”Remember – When”” e-mail appeared. It began with: “”Fender skirts!”” The 50s flooded back: simple times that I once thought were high tech.
Fender skirts! What a great blast from the past! I hadn’t thought about them in years. When I was a kid, I considered the term funny: a car in a dress, along with curb feelers and steering knobs, once called suicide knobs.
I remembered Continental kits. They were rear bumper extenders and spare tire covers that were supposed to make any car as cool as a Lincoln Continental. Cooler yet, the rumble of Smitty-Glasspacks and
Lakers, California tilts and chopped and channeled body specialties touched with pin-stripping, Van Dyke designs and painted flames.
I wondered when manufacturers stopped using the term “”emergency brakes?”” Suddenly, “”parking brake”” débuted as a proper term. The old daring drama that “”emergency brake”” evoked was more fun. New automatic shifts replaced foot-clutches and standard shifts and stopped the occasional thrill of street hotrod races.
The other day my husband, John, pulled into a gas station and said, “”Fill ‘er up with High Test.”” The fellow just stared at him, then pointed at the sign and mumbled in a foreign language. John repeated, “”High Test, Plus, Super, Powerful, Supreme – What the H*ll – fill ‘er up!”” I think he secretly waited for a piece of dinnerware with his tank-full. That disappeared with .25 cent a gallon gasoline prices.
He likes some of the new techy innovations especially the new style “”curb feelers.” Put the car in reverse, back up and the outside mirrors tilt down so you can see the curb. AND, remote sensors and indicator lights let you know how close you are to the car behind you when you’re backing up. He’s even eyeballing the new automatic parking features of newer models.
I shouldn’t feel confused or down about growing car technology. It’s a good thing. Besides, I know folks who still know the meaning of: foot feed, fluid-drive, floor shift and how they had to step down on the starter. But, I don’t think there are many people around that can rightfully claim cranking the starter with a handle!