Monday, August 01, 2011

The Time Machine:1958

The year was 1958. Few remember how long it took to recover from the Great Depression. Ten years after the war my parents were finally making decent money. They bought the first new car of their lives.

In those days it was the norm to have folks take their pictures with their cars. Somehow, perhaps because cars all look the same, I don't see people posing with their rides. Or, perhaps, it's that there is no more novelty in cars. My mother came out of Dust Bowl Kansas. She never, ever told of the trauma she endured. All I ever heard of prewar California was how they had to back over the steep hills and mountains in the old Model T Fords. The Model T had no fuel pump. The gas tank was actually under the windshield and the gas flowed to the carb simply by gravity. This has much to do with why cars caught on fire after wrecks and why they seldom do anymore.
Anyhow it was only after 1955 that we really started traveling.

Of course much of the travel was thanks to Ike and his Interstate Highway program. Those who grew up in the post 1962 world have no real idea of how long it took to get somewhere. There were just as many small towns as ever. Actually more, over the last fifty years hundreds of small towns have been swallowed up by big cities. Every one of those small towns had traffic, complete with stop signs . I was ten years old and it still took four hours to drive a hundred miles.

The picture on the top is Main Street, Las Vegas, Nevada. Click to embiggen, the next three down are my mother, the one with the big Merc is the same trip to Las Vegas. The next one down was Death Valley. Next, I just don't know where that was..

Down another notch was my old man and a right handsome kid with Donner Lake in the high Sierras. You might remember that area, the Donner Party waited just a little too late to try to go over the hill with their wagon train.

That next pic down is my Mom at the California State Capitol in California. The next two are my stepfather, James, the guy that raised me. The picture with the car was at a motel at Lake Tahoe, the other was at that Arboretum in San Francisco. We were a railroad family, the Southern Pacific. The Southern Pacific Hospital was, perhaps still is, just across the panhandle of Golden Gate Park from the infamous Haight Ashberry where the Summer of Love fizzled in a sea of heroin and speed.

If you take a look at my old man's hair you might notice that the idea that everybody in the '50s wore short hair is a myth. I have to remember to tell you how, ten years after those pictures were taken how the new longhairs thought that they found a kindred spirit in my stepfather. They were wrong.


pamibe said...

SO cool! I love looking at old photos and wondering what everyone's story was...

I have some very much like those, of course... now I want to go digging...!

Teresa said...

Love it! Especially the old cars. And even into the mid to late 60's some of the routes were still pretty slow going. I now want to look up the interstate system on wikipedia. Lol.