7.8.11

The Rise and Fall of the Sunday Drive!



During my late childhood and early teen years, I distinctly remember my father saying let's go for a Sunday drive! We would all pile into the car, me, my Mother, my Dad, Grandmother and my Great Aunt to set out for ...well NOWHERE in particular.  My Father was also famous for taking "shortcuts" which turned into long cuts that took an extra hour to get where we were going!  Most of my time was spent being nauseated in the back seat due to motion sickness. Once in a while we would actually have some sort of purpose or destination set as the end point to the car journey, like some obscure ice cream store six towns away, or gravity hill where your car would roll up hill instead of down (and yes it really does, if you dont belive me just Google Gravity Hill, Pennsylvania), or once my Father drove us an hour to show us some old restaurant that was built to look like a giant tea pot! More often then not, there was no set destination.  Just hours of look at the cows, look at the trees, look at the birds, ect.  

I am sure that most people my age or older, that being late 30's and older, remember similar experiences.  At the time, I couldn't for the life of me, figure out why on earth anyone would want to pile their family into a car in the hot summer months, to drive aimlessly out into the countryside on back country roads with absolutely no purpose at all, and for hours and hours only to return home having not really gone to any destination in particular!

The other day I was talking about this very thing with a friend and we started discussing the whole concept of "the Sunday Drive".  I sat and pondered it for a while and realized that its is a relic of a bygone era that spilled over into my era.  You see, prior to the invention of the automobile, people didn't have the luxury of traveling any great distance.  There were no superhighways, no road infra structure, just rutted roads with lots and lots of horse manure along the way.  Getting from town to town could be an all day venture.  When the automobile was invented, much like the television, only the wealthy could afford the luxury and driving in those days was a huge big deal.  People even wore driving outfits complete with driving gloves and goggles! It was an event, something to be savored, a luxury to be able to travel and see things that were not logistically possible before! This is how the concept of the Sunday drive was born.  In the 50's and 60's the interstate came into full force and people took to the roads with new found freedom!  Hey kids, lets all pack into the family car and go driving! This was also during the era when family's actually ate meals together, went to church, talked to each other in person,  and lived a lot like Ward and June Cleaver.  

Sadly, more and more super highways came into being, the family dinner went out the window and microwaves, chat rooms, texting, Wii, television, and Lean Cusine came into vogue.  The pleasure of driving went to the wayside and the family car became another necessity for work, soccer practice for the kids, and trips to the grocery store for more frozen dinners! Driving is no longer a pleasure with city traffic, gas that costs $60.00 a tank, and road rage! I think the death of the Sunday Drive happened sometime in the late 70's in my opinion!


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