Thinking back to the 50’s and 60’s brings back memories of words that are no longer in use today. And they seem to have a more romantic sound to them than the words today. I was thinking about the cars of the past and some of the things that were on them that no longer exist.
My Grandfather had an old 49 Plymouth that was that awful green they all loved then, and it had the sun visors on the outside of the window that hung out over the hood, and it also had running boards.
Attached to the passenger side wheel wells were curb feelers. I thought the curb feelers were the funniest things and would anxiously wait for that characteristic twang when he got to close to the curb when parallel parking.
Grandfather’s car had the parking or hand brake. The brake was a lever that was near the steering wheel, at the base of the dash. He would reach down and give it a yank and pull it out as far as it would go to set the brake. Then he would give it a little turn and release it and it would plunge back down to the dash with a loud bang.
Of course, cars then did not have seat belts and I had the run of the back seat. I had to stand on the seat and lean over the back of the front seat to be able to see out because the seats were so tall. Grandfather never drove more than 45 miles an hour whether in town or on the highway so I thought was safe standing up.
When my Dad could get his hands on Grandfather’s car, he would take it out and run it up to 70 for a few miles. He would say he was going to blow the cobs out of it. When I was little I always wondered what a cob was and how Grandfather got them in there and why my Dad wanted to blow them out.
When we were in high school in the 60’s, the used cars we drove are now classics. Little did the Baby Boomers know that the old cars we had so much fun with would be worth so much money now.
A lot of the cars had fender skirts, white walls and glass packs. The fender skirt fit in the back wheel wells and covered half of the wheel. What on earth was wrong with us, to think they actually looked cool?
The white walls could be anything from ½ inch wide to 6 inches wide and covering the whole side of the tire. It was hard for me to get used to tires without a small white wall. They just looked more finished then. I will get to the glass packs a little later.
Some of the guys who drove cars from the 50’s had Necker Knobs in them. Now take a second before you read on, and see if you know what they are. They were knobs that were attached to the steering wheel in the 11 o-clock position.
The Necker Knob was in that position so the guy could hold on to the wheel with their left hand and turn the wheel easily, and still have their right arm around the girl that was with them. Some of the knobs had a pop out clear disc in the center, so they could put their girlfriend’s picture in there. With most seats being bench instead of bucket seats, and no seat belts, the girls always sat in the middle next to the guy.
Cars back then did not have CD or Cassette or even 8 track players. There was only the AM radio stations to listen to. Our favorite was one out of Oklahoma City; KOMA. They played all our rock and roll and are still playing it today, but now they are considered the golden oldies.
Every Friday and Saturday night, Wolf Man Jack was the DJ on KOMA until Midnight. He had such a distinctive voice. There was nothing better than cruising and dragging main with Wolf Man Jack on the radio playing all your favorites.
Saturday night was the best night of the week; we’d drive to the nearest town and go to the picture show. It was 50 cents to get in, drinks were 25 cents and popcorn was only 50 cents. The nearest theater for us was Greensburg and was 10 miles away.
Since they were our archrival in every sport the theater was divided up, and the two towns never sat near each other. Our place was always on the left side of the theater.
We never tried to sit on the right side of the theater, especially if we had beaten them at football or basketball, which was most of the time. We just stayed on our side of the theater and left immediately after the movie.
Before each picture show, or movie, there was always some news and then a real cartoon. There is nothing today to compare with the Road Runner and Wiley Coyote, Tom and Jerry, Daffy Duck and Bugs Bunny. The cartoons did not seem as violent then. It was sometimes the best part of the movie.
When I first started working in 1967, I was living at home, and my Dad arranged for me to look at a car when a local dealer brought it into town. I bought this 1964 Pontiac Catalina Convertible. Before he would let me have it, he took it to the filling station, now we call them gas stations, and put glass packs on it.
Glass packs were a special muffler system with the sole purpose of making as much noise as possible. The muffler had a different shape and did not have the baffles that the normal muffler had and that allowed them to really rattle.
I’m sure Dad put them on my car so he could tell exactly where I was in that small town, and when I came home at night. Any time you started out and every time the motor shifted into another gear, or when you let up on the gas, it would really rattle and sing.
We lived on the highway about middle of town and there was no way to sneak into the driveway at night unless you turned off the motor and then hoped you could coast into the drive. But you could hear them from about 8 blocks away so he knew when I got home anyway.
At that time I worked in a town about 20 miles away and had to leave early in the morning. My favorite thing to do was to put my foot to the floor the minute I left the driveway, and keep it there until I was out of the city limits, and make the glass packs really rattle all the way out of town. I am sure it got the whole town up and I know they all cussed my Dad every morning for putting them on my car.
One final thing to ponder is the Church Key. I asked everyone I knew how it came to be called that and no one knew, so I had to research it. The most plausible explanation came from Anheuser- Busch. In medieval times Monks and nobility were the only brewers. Lagering cellars in the Monasteries were locked, because the Monks guarded the secrets of their craft.
The Monks wore keys on chains from their belts and it was from this key that the “Church Key” got it’s name. Before pop-top cans and twist-off caps most beer or soda drinkers carried one on a chain around their neck or on their belt or key chain. The first key that the Monks carried had the shape of our church key at the top with the hole in it to fit the chain through.
Now take a minute, think back and see what words you can remember that we no longer use. I’ll bet they bring back a lot of good memories while you are thinking about them. To email Sandy: email@example.com