It Was Like Driving in the 1930s

Or so my son said, not quite understanding that neither his father nor I were even alive in the 1930s.

The air conditioning in our volvo station wagon stopped working ten minutes after we left home for family camp earlier this week. Once you get out of the bay area it is very hot. On the way up to camp, everyone spent a lot of time complaining about the heat. One child spent a lot of time asking us how we could possibly have survived a childhood spent driving without air conditioning. Was that what the 1930s were like, he asked. Neither my husband nor I found this amusing. We drank a lot of cold water from the cooler we’d supplied with ice when we saw the trouble we were in. It was a long four and a half hours.

On the way back home today, we took action. We supplied each passenger with a large spray bottle full of ice water. We allowed them to spray themselves but not each other; too long a drive for that kind of conflict. It was a little bit like being a head of lettuce in the produce section at Safeway when the mist comes on. It might not have been any cooler than on the way up, but it was a lot more fun.

Now we are home. It smells like jasmine. it’s cool. There aren’t any mosquitoes. We put the water bottles away, with the mosquito netting, the sleeping bags, the camping lantern. I figure next year, even if the air conditioning is working, we’ll use those water bottles again.


8 thoughts on “It Was Like Driving in the 1930s

  1. I wouldn’t have been amused either. I remember trips like that, in the old-days (hmmm… late 70s actually) when the only air-conditioning available was the front and rear windows wound right down. Vinyl seats sticking to the back of your legs. A cool drink and maybe a wet towel. Spray bottles sound like so much more fun.

  2. Welcome home!! It sounds like your trip was wonderful, except, well, for the actual road-driving part of it. Glad you all are safe and sound.

  3. Dan and I drove to my family reunion in Montana August of 2000. We rented a VW camper bus for the trip, which, technically, had air conditioning (yeah, right). It was the middle of a month-long heat wave out west, and much of northern Montana and Idaho were on fire. Literally. We drove through the high deserts of Oregon and Washington with all the windows down and it was like having someone pointing a hot blow dryer right in your face. And it was so dry. We drank enormous amounts of soda and iced tea – my first and last experience with “Big Gulps.” We couldn’t talk because of the noise from the wind and the car, and if Dan said anything to me I just remember hollering back at him, “WHAT?”… It was terrific.

  4. I noticed as we were driving that we weren’t the only ones employing ancient methods of staying cool in the heat: I remember those sticky seats Kerryn — and Deb, what a trip that must have been! Thanks Courtney, it was wonderful. And we’re happy to be home.

  5. This post occasioned me to recall our family trips -a gaggle of kids bouncing around in the back like chicks in a nest. One of us would invariably climb up to bunk on the platform above the back seat that lead to the back window. There was no air conditioning, no turn signals,and no seat belts. Dad would be driving with a Chesterfield hanging out his mouth. Ashes would fly back as if we were on an old locomotive. It was a wild west rodeo on wheels

    Happy trails

  6. That is so wonderful, Herb (Mr. Q!) — A wild west rodeo on wheels. Lucky you, all that freedom. A few years ago I realized that if I didn’t start letting my boys walk to the store on their own they’d never learn how to cross the street and then, one day, when they were out in the world, at college maybe, they’d be hit by a car because they’d never developed any instincts about how to keep themselves safe. Which is a long-winded way of saying that, although safety features are probably a good thing, it’s also true that children did learn some street smarts by not being too protected by their parents.

    Edwin, oh blog-god, oh lettuce head, I don’t even want to think of that head of lettuce fallllllllling off the lettuce truck. It seems like it’s hot all over the northern hemisphere. I’d say more but i have to go mist myself.

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