RIDING IN THE BACK OF THE OLD FAMILY STATION WAGON
By Alice M. Batzel
How in the world did my family safely travel across the country with the children playing in the back of the station wagon and not a seat belt anywhere? Sure, the speed limit was probably 45 mph, but there was still the dangerous parental threat, "DON'T MAKE ME PULL THIS CAR OVER! You kids settle down and stop the commotion back there! Lloyd, stop picking on your sisters; Kathy, stop whatever you're doing to aggravate your sister; Alice, stop crying! I mean it! I'll pull this car over! DON'T MAKE ME PULL THIS CAR OVER!" Our Father was over 6 feet tall. I could never figure out how our parents thought we children could ever "make" him do anything, but we always got that threat when we rode in the back of the station wagon on a family road trip.
The most memorable time was when we were guilty of "having too much fun" in the back of the station wagon. I admit we should have been taking a nap, but I blame it on the free paper mustaches from the International House of Pancakes Restaurant. We made up songs about the big black handlebar mustaches that each of us wore clipped to the skin between our nostrils; we laughed and giggled until we were nearly sick. All the while we ignored Mother's warnings, "You kids stop all that commotion and go to sleep. Your Father is trying to drive the car, and you're making him nervous!" Dad reinforced it with, "DON'T MAKE ME PULL THIS CAR OVER! I mean it! I'll pull this car over! DON'T MAKE ME PULL THIS CAR OVER!" We were just children, having fun, and we couldn't settle down. You know what happened as a result of that... Yep. Dad pulled the car over. He flew over the back of the front seat like an Olympic pole vaulter, and we children speedily retreated to each of the corners trying to hide under blankets. I'll leave it to your imagination as to what happened next. Our baby brother, Dennis, was lucky that day; he was sitting in the front seat with Mom and Dad, and he didn't even receive any collateral damage when Dad vaulted over the back of the car seat. I don't know who was more surprised that day, but our Mother looked pretty surprised.
Oh, the memories of road trips in the old family station wagon before seat belts, infant car seats, high-speed limits, cup holders, and air conditioning. Those were the days!
(copyright 2016 – Alice M. Batzel – all rights reserved)
(Art image credit: Art image from
the Facebook page of "Kitchen Fun With My 3 Sons.”)