Join 3,374 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


I can remember lying down in the back of station wagons and pickup trucks, but what did we do in the VW?
June 23, 2010 6:04 PM   Subscribe

How did kids under 2 travel in cars before car seats were the norm, particularly on long trips? My mom recalls tots in the lap and something called a 'car bed' (got any pictures?). Would little ones get lap-belted in to prevent them from falling off the seat on corner-turns?
posted by xo to Travel & Transportation (56 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
 
My mom had a picnic basket for my sister. It nestled nicely behind either of the front seats, or in the footboard area in front of the passenger seat. It looked like this with a cozy blanket in it.
posted by odinsdream at 6:09 PM on June 23, 2010


There were no seat belts, for any body in most cars, kids were held by an adult. I think the car bed was just a portable bassinett type thing that a baby could sleep in that was put in the back seat. We drove cross country in 1972 with a two year old sitting on my lap or sleeping on a couch in the back of our van. Nobody thought anything of it.

Hexatron's Wife
posted by hexatron at 6:14 PM on June 23, 2010


I remember climbing all over the interior, sometimes curling up in the passenger footwell, sometimes lying across the back seat. I guess I was about 4 not 2, but my sister, who'd have been about 2 then, would sit or climb around like I did. We certainly had no safety restraints of any kind, and in fact my sister fell out of the car several times (while it was moving, but without major injury) by playing with the door handles.
posted by anadem at 6:15 PM on June 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm fifty-one but remember actually being in some type of car seat as a young toddler (I still remember the toy steering wheel I held while in it) but not long after that, yep, either a lap or just sitting down in the seat. Once my folks hit the brakes and I hit the dashboard. Thankfully they weren't going that fast. (I don't remember this at all but my mom sure does!)
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 6:19 PM on June 23, 2010


I remember that I used to love scrunching up in the little shelf behind the back seats and the back window. Of course the big treat was riding in the bed of a pickup...but you had to be older... at least 5 before you were allowed to do that.
posted by Eddie Mars at 6:20 PM on June 23, 2010 [4 favorites]


laps, usually. and then when lap belts happened, the lap belt and a swift arm to the chest by your mother when a sudden stop or turn happened.
posted by nadawi at 6:21 PM on June 23, 2010 [3 favorites]


I have somewhere in
my stash of old magazines a car seat ad from the 1950s. Of course it wasn't for safety but "so baby can enjoy the view!" basically it was a high hair for the back seat.
posted by vespabelle at 6:23 PM on June 23, 2010


The Wikipedia article about this is actually fairly interesting talking about how early car seats were really just booster seats that children were put into so that the driving parent could see them but that that idea of a "safety seat" has been with us since the 60's. One of my earliest memories is actually getting on the scale to see if I weighed 40 lbs yet because when I did, I would not longer have to be in the barbaric car seat my parents put me in. This photo is from 1970 or so.
posted by jessamyn at 6:23 PM on June 23, 2010 [3 favorites]


Ugh make that high chair (high hair is something totally different.)
posted by vespabelle at 6:24 PM on June 23, 2010


We have family photos of my brother in a car seat with a steering wheel like the one St. Alia describes. Can't put my hand on the photos right now, but it was similar to this.
posted by contrariwise at 6:24 PM on June 23, 2010


Hexatron's wife's and anadem's is my experience as well. No belts or restraints for anyone in the car, adult or child.

The car bed was a big bassenette type affair that sat in the back seat so when the kid pitched around corners there wasn't so much damage. Only used for long trips. I remember reading in an old picture encyclopedia to put a suitcase behind the front seats with a blanket on it for kids in the back seat for long trips.

I remember that my mom carpooled us to nursery school with a swack of 3 year olds in our volkswagen beetle and we fought about who was going to sit in that little space (usually 2 kids) behind the back seat. No seat belts anywhere in the car. When my friend's mom carpooled with the station wagon, we all just piled in the back. This would have been in the early 1970s in urban Canada.

We car camped around North America in a van with a couch in it in for seating in maybe 1975 when I was 7. Even the driver didn't use a seat belt then, as far as I can recall.

Seatbelts became something to be worn in the late 1970s but only by adults in the front seat (kids in the back seat, no belts, and babes in arms).
posted by kch at 6:27 PM on June 23, 2010


I'm told my parents slung a tiny hammock from the coathooks in the back seat for me when I was a baby. Sadly, when I outgrew the hammock and was able to roam about the backseat I became violently car sick ... I was not popular on long trips!
posted by Allee Katze at 6:31 PM on June 23, 2010


I'm fifty-one but remember actually being in some type of car seat as a young toddler (I still remember the toy steering wheel I held while in it)

I'm 52, and I remember the same one. I think my earliest memory must be patting the "horn" on the "steering wheel" to make it beep. (Which it may have done with a squeak; I don't know.)

It was just a sort of heavy cloth with holes for the legs and then the frame had the steering wheel. It hooked over the front-seat back with handles curved like a cane. You know those cane-handled strollers popular in the 80s? That's what this was - perched on the front seat. I assume there was some sort of harness for the child.

When my younger brother and I cleaned out the barn in the process of closing down the family household we found a "car bed." It would be unthinkable to leave a child in one today.
posted by jgirl at 6:41 PM on June 23, 2010


I'm 50. I remember some kind of metal contraption, like a folding table, but it only had legs on one long side. The non-legged long side sat on the back seat. There was some kind of pad or mattress kind of thing, so my little brother and i had basically a four foot by six foot playpen. I don't even remember that there WERE lap belts; for sure, if they were there we never used 'em.
posted by OneMonkeysUncle at 6:42 PM on June 23, 2010


My wife's parents hauled all seven kids in a first-generation Mazda RX-7 (two-seat sports car). Only the driver got a seatbelt, since the other seat had 3 people in it and everyone else, including toddlers, was riding in the hatch against the glass.

For a while, they also had a home-made custom van that was made from a two-seat cargo van that they carpeted and built a wrap-around bench with no seatbelts for anyone. And that was in the mid-to-late 80's.

But then, I generally refer to my father-in-law as Danger Dad.
posted by The World Famous at 6:50 PM on June 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


Some of my earliest memories are of standing on the transmission hump between the front seats, holding on to both seat backs, to get a better view out the front. Younger siblings were either held by an adult or an older child, or allowed to be free range in the far back of the station wagon.

And yes, as mentioned above, riding the back of a pickup truck is one of life's signal pleasures.

I can remember bouncing off of the dashboard at least once, and also being in the far back of a station wagon when it was rear-ended. Happily both crashes were at low speed; no one (including the police officers who responded) found it at all worth noticing that every child in the car was untethered.
posted by Forktine at 6:54 PM on June 23, 2010


Yep, it was a "whatever worked" approach back then... I too agree that the best place, if you were short enough, was the shelf behind the back seat!
posted by HuronBob at 6:55 PM on June 23, 2010


We had a big family so we were kept from flying around the car by being tightly wedged. I remember toddlers sat on the foor of the backseat, older kids and grandparents on the seat and one lucky kid got to lay across the top of the back seat against the window.

Babies sat on mom's lap in the front seat. If a kid was causing problems he or she would have to sit between the parents in the front seat.

9 people in one four door '64 Bel Air sedan. That's how we roll.
posted by readery at 6:59 PM on June 23, 2010


My grandmother said (when I came to visit with the baby) she couldn't imagine how frustrating it must be to drive long distances with an infant when you have to leave them in a car seat instead of being able to hold and soothe them and nurse them.

At the hotel stop on the way back, I happened to see the Mad Men where Betty Draper is bringing the baby home from the hospital and is holding the baby in her arms in the car. I appreciated the serendipity. :)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 7:03 PM on June 23, 2010


My dad says he drove across the country in a 1972 VW Bus with me (or my older sister, can't remember) in a banana box.
posted by Alaska Jack at 7:03 PM on June 23, 2010


I too recall the shelf behind the back seat... in a pinto nonetheless!
posted by cestmoi15 at 7:05 PM on June 23, 2010


We had some sort of strap thing that helped hold my brother in that my parents installed in the back seat of one car - the straps were less than an inch wide and I don't remember whether they went over his shoulders or just across his waist. I also remember him sitting in the front seat and opening the door and almost falling out (he must have been 2 or 3).
posted by Sukey Says at 7:18 PM on June 23, 2010


I am 57 (shudders), I remember that my mom & dad made a car-bed. It was plywood with a mattress and straps to tie it down. We did 10-12 hour drives every summer and winter. Big Oldsmobile. (Hey, I mean the car!)
posted by Drasher at 7:27 PM on June 23, 2010


My parents have pictures somewhere of me in the same type of car seat that St. Alia of the Bunnies describes. This would be circa 1964 - 1965, in Germany. I'm told that when my Mom had to go somewhere off the base, she would just put me in her lap - in a mid-50s VW Beetle with a manual transmission (and probably smoking a cigarette the whole time). I would honk the horn and pretend I was driving.

When my Dad came back from Vietnam in 1968 we drove from Fort Gordon (Augusta, GA) to Fort Sam Houston (San Antonio, TX) with me standing on the front seat of our Ford Falcon between my parents, and "...banging on the goddamn dashboard the whole goddamn time..." according to my Mom. My sister was either in her lap, or sometimes my lap if Mom took over driving so my Dad could nap.

When my brother was born, in the mid-70s, he had a safety seat/booster seat type of device that used the seat belts to anchor it.
posted by ralan at 7:38 PM on June 23, 2010


When I was a kid (40 years ago) none of the cars had seat belts, the kids would jump around the back of the car then jump into the front and back again. All of the kids rode in the back of the truck. In cars, there was no "one seat per person" it was basically how many people you could squeeze in (three in the front seat, four, five, or six in the back). Air conditioning meant you rolled down the windows. There were no infant car seats, new parents left the hospital with the baby in their lap. Grand dad had a bottle of Jack under the car seat and a beer in his hand while driving down the street after work. There were no helmets for bike riding/skiing/horse riding/skating. No one wore motorcycle helmets either. In farm country it wasn't uncommon for a 12 year old to drive the truck around the back roads (usually hauling hay or something). Jeez...it's a wonder we survived!
posted by MsKim at 7:41 PM on June 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


I rode in a car seat as a toddler (mid 1970s). I remember it well: it had a frame of metal tubing, and a brown naugahyde seat. The lap belt secured it to the car's seat, and a little plastic belt with a sliding buckle held me into it. It had a sort of bumper thing that flipped up and down, that was padded with matching naugahyde, similar to what they slide down over you in an amusement park ride. Near as I can figure the whole point of it was that I could see out the windows of the Grand Fury.

My younger sister had a car bed, which was a very flimsy affair, it rested on the seat itself and like my seat, was stabilized by the lap belt. It was probably about nine inches deep, and also had a little plastic belt purporting to hold my sister in place. It could double as a proto-Pack and Play on road trips, in the corner of shitty motel rooms as we trekked on the way to visit Grandma.

My mother was very progressive! But once we outgrew these contraptions we were totally allowed to spend long car trips curled up in the footwells of the Volare (we'd traded the Grand Fury in), using the back seat as a play space for our Barbies.
posted by padraigin at 8:24 PM on June 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


The rule in our car was no standing up in the front seat, only in the back seat where it was safe.
posted by BoscosMom at 8:39 PM on June 23, 2010 [8 favorites]


When I [48] was a baby my dad built a wooden filler for the backseat footwell so they could fill the backseat with a crib mattress.

Once my two sisters were around I remember driving home from the cities with one sleeping on the shelf behind the seat, one on the seat, and one on the floor.
posted by chazlarson at 8:41 PM on June 23, 2010


My mom told me that she used to enjoy holding me as a baby while we drove on trips. She'd be sitting in the passenger seat, Dad would be driving. She might have had a seatbelt on (I'm 35), but I certainly didn't.

Soon after responsible Mr. Dad. invested in a 1970's era baby seat. I remember it was huge and took forever to get me locked in.
posted by bardic at 8:55 PM on June 23, 2010


Early 70s, i had a booster seat when I was very small. By 3 or 4 I was allowed to sit (quietly! keeping still!) in the backseat. I was absolutely not allowed to ride in the front seat under any circumstances until I was considerably older, like middle school age.

(But my best friend and I squeezed into the spot where the convertible top was stored on her mom's MG. They had more kids, and were therefore less protective.)
posted by desuetude at 8:58 PM on June 23, 2010


My grandma used to stick her arm out at ANY stop to prevent us kids from flying forward -- even after the invention of the seat belt. I suppose this is why she had big arms.
posted by thorny at 8:58 PM on June 23, 2010 [5 favorites]


I distinctly remember my baby brother (born in 1980) in a car seat. In fact, it's my very very earliest memory; my brother was a baby, I would've been 2 and a half or so, and he was sitting in the car seat in the middle of the living room floor. (Apparently the only way my parents could get him to sleep was driving him around.) It was something very similar to the one padraigin describes. Given the amount of hand me down stuff we had from our older cousins, something from the mid-70s sounds about right.

Later we would lie down in the back seat, completely unrestrained. And ride in the back of my dad's pickup. Hell, I think we even jumped off while it was moving. It's a wonder more kids my age didn't end up getting killed. Either that, or we are way too careful today. I think it's a bit of both, honestly.
posted by cgg at 9:02 PM on June 23, 2010


I spent a great deal of my early life sitting on the engine hump of an A-Series van (and it's pickup cousin). The engine in those old Dodges was actually between and behind the front seats. When we upgraded to a B-Series (and later a Ford) with their front engine lay out a box was constructed to give the 3rd and 4th passenger somewhere to sit.

We moved across the country over the course of six months in '76 when I was four. It was my Mom and us four kids in the van which was loaded to the bottom of the windows with camping gear while my Dad drove our truck with all our furniture and household goods. Us kids road on top of the camping mattresses except for my youngest sister who, being less than a year old at the time, road in a pampers box on the passenger seat.

anadem writes "We certainly had no safety restraints of any kind, and in fact my sister fell out of the car several times (while it was moving, but without major injury) by playing with the door handles."

That only happened once (actually I think only groceries fell out) after which my father removed all the interior door handles on my Mom's car except for the driver's door.

contrariwise writes "We have family photos of my brother in a car seat with a steering wheel like the one St. Alia describes."

Like Maggie in the opening sequence of the Simpsons.

Full size 9 passenger wagons often had the very last row of seats facing the rear. The kids riding way at the back could just room around in that space. I'm sure if the Minivan had existed in 1965 parents would routinely shove the middle seat all the way to the back so kids could play games and amuse themselves in the middle space that would provide.
posted by Mitheral at 9:10 PM on June 23, 2010


1968, my newborn sister rode home in my 3 year old lap, in car that didn't have seatbelts.

1971, my parents took the back seat out of the AMC sedan and fitted a padded and carpeted piece of plywood in the bottom of the car. We loved it.

Fun before safety!
posted by Mr. Yuck at 9:21 PM on June 23, 2010


When I was around 5 or so in the early 60's, we were on a longer trip, so the back of the station wagon was full of more stuff than usual. I was stretched out on top of the boxes and suitcases. That brought me up about level with the top of the back seat. My dad had to slam on the brakes and I went flying--straight for the windshield, headfirst. My mom reach up from the passenger seat and grabbed me as I flew by and pulled me into her lap.

That didn't change a thing about the way I rode in the car--except we made sure that there was a little room left if I was laying in the "wayback" as we called it (because, of course, that would stop me from going airborne again).

We didn't start using seatbelts until we got our new Chevy Nova in '74 and went on a cross-country trip.
posted by agatha_magatha at 9:37 PM on June 23, 2010


A bit older than two (I'm thinking 4 and 5) my cousin and I only rode in cars upside down - feet in the rear window, back on the seat, head hanging off - inspired by Mork from Ork.
posted by a22lamia at 10:08 PM on June 23, 2010 [3 favorites]


@a22lamia Am I your cousin? I logged in to say exactly the same thing.
posted by january at 11:27 PM on June 23, 2010


I'm almost 42, and my parents' first family vehicle was a VW fan. First thing they did was take the middle set of seats out. I had an open playspace and a bench seat for napping. It was awesome. Loud and rattly, but awesome.

The day they traded that terrible brokedown van (it routinely had troubles during road trips to see the grandparents, only 2 or 4 hours, and Dad was working on it at least every other weekend, regardless) in for a Ford Pinto, I can remember crying. Oh, and it was a '76 Pinto (the ones that exploded) and the color of a tennis ball, just for extra laughs. When we made the trip from Arkansas to Florido in the Pinto, with no AC, I was so miserable.

I was once sitting in the front passenger seat of the Pinto when my Dad got into a minor fender bender in our small town. He threw his arm across me and kept me from smashing face-first into the glove compartment/dash. I then walked 2 blocks to where Mom worked to let her know why he was going to be late picking her up. I think I was about 9.

We didn't use seatbelts until the law required it. It's my habit now, but we still have to consistently remind my Dad.
posted by lilywing13 at 11:57 PM on June 23, 2010


UK: My parents were early adopters of seatbelts for children in the early 80s (this is what working in A&E/ER will do for you), but they didn't have car seats for small babies - instead the top bit of the pram came off, and had some sort of bolt/ties to secure it to the back seat. Safer than nothing, but the baby inside wasn't secured - just assumed you'd bounce off the soft edge of the pram.

Booster seats so children could see out were common, probably a lot more common than seatbelts. There were no seatbelts in the back of their car so they had four point seatbelts fitted so we wouldn't slide out. I have a feeling that the booster seats we sat on weren't actually attached to the car in any way, but I'm not sure.

I thought the four point seatbelts were supercool because they were like the ones astronauts wore. Mum also cemented the importance of seatbelts with some fairly grisly stories about what happened to people who didn't wear them - which was effective in getting me to wear my seatbelt, but meant that any trip with friends' parents (none of whom had any restraints in the back) was spent in complete terror clinging to some part of the car while envisioning blood-soaked carnage at every corner.
posted by Coobeastie at 2:37 AM on June 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


My grandmother drove a bunch of kids around in a VW Beetle in the 60s and 70s. Kids in the back were allowed to bounce around, but my grandmother would put her arm across the kids in front during left turns, to prevent them from flying into the door and popping it open.
posted by anaelith at 2:37 AM on June 24, 2010


My mother-in-law tells a story of her childhood (probably early teens, during the early 60s I'd guess) where her mum would drive them from Sheffield to the west country overnight. Part way through the night my MIL would be encouraged to clamber from the front seat to the floor of the estate car / station wagon they owned, where she'd spend the rest of the night sleeping.

Considering how badly made British cars where back then and how god awful the minor roads they must have travelled were made up, how she ever got to sleep is beyond me.

It's strange - I can imagine a world where there are no seatbelts for adults, but no seatbelts in the back for kids seems completely unfathomable. Maybe because one of my first (on the road) driving experiences involved trying to lift a very confused German Shepherd out from the back footwell after a sharp stop rolled her out of her slumber...
posted by sodium lights the horizon at 3:54 AM on June 24, 2010


UK: My parents were early adopters of seatbelts for children in the early 80s (this is what working in A&E/ER will do for you), but they didn't have car seats for small babies - instead the top bit of the pram came off, and had some sort of bolt/ties to secure it to the back seat. Safer than nothing, but the baby inside wasn't secured - just assumed you'd bounce off the soft edge of the pram.

When I was a baby (1977) my grandparents had a Volvo with back belts and a hard plastic baby seat that I was strapped into with a 5 point harness. The whole thing looked like I was a baby racing driver.

Strangely, no-one understood why I hated in in the summer until I grandfather burnt himself on the black plastic that had been sat in the sun all day...
posted by sodium lights the horizon at 3:58 AM on June 24, 2010


We had a gran torino with the very sloping back window, and when my brother and I wanted to nap, we'd climb up there and sleep. And trucks/el caminos, of course, we liked to ride on the wheel humps, but most of the time my parents made us sit with our backs to the cab. I remember going to watch the mandatory informational driver's ed presentation with my ma, and of course they showed us "blood on the highway" or whatever that gruesome film was, to scare people into wearing seat belts. We were talking about it and nodding earnestly that oh, of course we'd always wear seat belts when we drove! But of course, we didn't, not for quite a while after that.
posted by lemniskate at 4:35 AM on June 24, 2010


I remember falling out of the door of our van when my mom made a left turn. But even better was my dad's Vega Panel Express (ours was primer grey). No back seats, just a big cargo space. We put blankets and pillows back there and my friend and I would lay in the back. My dad would go out on empty roads and swerve back and forth as hard as he could and we would roll around the back giggling like crazy. Of course that's barely the tip of the iceberg when it comes to unsafe things my dad helped us do when we were kids.
posted by thejanna at 5:32 AM on June 24, 2010


There's a TED talk on car seats.

http://www.ted.com/talks/steven_levitt_on_child_carseats.html
posted by low affect at 7:01 AM on June 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


I rode in a car seat as a toddler (mid 1970s). I remember it well: it had a frame of metal tubing, and a brown naugahyde seat. The lap belt secured it to the car's seat, and a little plastic belt with a sliding buckle held me into it. It had a sort of bumper thing that flipped up and down, that was padded with matching naugahyde, similar to what they slide down over you in an amusement park ride. Near as I can figure the whole point of it was that I could see out the windows of the Grand Fury.

We had the exact same thing. After 4 kids, the thing smelled really bad and barely held itself together. My parents were also fairly early adopters of everyoe wearing a seatbelt; it drove them nuts when we would ride with a friend's family that let us play in the back of the station wagon. Less safe, but way more fun.
posted by gjc at 7:18 AM on June 24, 2010


Mitheral: I'm sure if the Minivan had existed in 1965 parents would routinely shove the middle seat all the way to the back so kids could play games and amuse themselves in the middle space that would provide.

We did this in 1985, in the back of my parents' GMC Safari minivan, and in the back of my grandparents' full sized van. Kids older than 3 were in the open back, toddlers were sat in booster seats (I remember them looking exactly like restaurant booster seats - just the molded plastic seat with armrests and a flimsy lap belt).

In 1992 my 4-year old little brother got to ride in the front seat (using the car's original shoulder belt) without any sort of carseat, booster seat, or adjuster to the seatbelt (which likely went over his neck). Apparently my parents were really irresponsible.
posted by twoporedomain at 7:42 AM on June 24, 2010


My in-laws apparently drove around with my husband (as a baby) in cardboard box lined with blankets on the back seat. And they thought they were being very safety-conscious. This is in the early 60's.

They were awestruck by the NASA-grade seat we strapped our newborn daughter into in 1995.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 7:44 AM on June 24, 2010


Modern children have never heard "Sit down so your father can drive!"

When I was an infant, I was transported in a bassinet set on the front seat of my mom's VW Beetle convertible, facing backward so my mom could look at me. We got a VW Dasher station wagon when I was about six, and it had seatbelts; I remember refusing to use them because I was terrified I'd be trapped if we had an accident.
posted by catlet at 8:17 AM on June 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


Thinking about this more, I'd have to say that dads were a lot cooler when I was a kid. In addition to letting the kids ride around all free range in the back, there were plenty of dads who would happily tow us using ratty old ropes tied to the bumper so we could act like we were waterskiing (but just in sneakers) a few days after a good snowfall, once the snow was packed down and icy. The really cool dads would kick the tail of the car left and right to make us fly off and hit the snowpiles along the curb.

One dad was so awesome that once in a while he'd let us ride (on a gravel road only -- remember, safety first!) on the roof, holding onto the roof rack.

Not only did most of the dads yell "hey, hand me another beer!" to whomever was sitting by the cooler, but a few of them would let their kids roll the joint for them.

These were mostly college educated, middle-class guys I'm talking about. Different era.
posted by Forktine at 8:42 AM on June 24, 2010 [3 favorites]


Born in 1973. I rode in a car seat when I was very small (my mom has pictures of me in it) When I was older, though, I have memories of riding in the middle of the front seat of my parents' early 70s Impala (benches in front and back) and not wearing a seatbelt because there wasn't one there. The back seat was lap belts only, but my sister and I would take them off if we wanted to lie down on the seat.

But of course the most fun was when we visited our grandparents and I got to ride in the very back of their station wagon. My sister and I used to fight over who got to sit "way in the back."
posted by SisterHavana at 10:27 AM on June 24, 2010


One of my favorite experiences was giving my cousins kids rides in my early 60's era convertibles (usually a Coupe Deville). The kids would all pile into the back seat. And then ask were are the seat belts. There weren't any. The sound of a dozen little hands slapping leather trying to hang on around curves is just priceless. Cries of joy, or terror? Hard to say, but funny as Hell.

We had a Beetle and my little brother pretty much spent whole trips in that cubby behind the back seat. We later had a Honda wagon and actively planned how we were going to lay out the luggage so we could sit back there with the seat folded down. I pity the poor kids trapped in a car seat for longer trips. And to not be able to 'help Daddy drive', man that was a coveted privilege for us on trips.

We called my father's arm "the octopus". When we got out of hand he'd just swipe blindly into the backseat, like some rogue tentacle out of Jules Verne. First skin he smacked generally ended the shenanigans.

My first recollection of adults dealing with an "Oh Shit" moment was them letting me ride on the roof of Uncle Al's Plymouth Valiant (the kind with the hokey fake spare on the trunk lid). I was up there with another one of my Dad's buddies, as we drove a dirt road at the camp. Somebody accidentally shut the door on my fingers. Didn't do any actual damage besides some bruises. But I can STILL see the looks on their faces contemplating the reality of telling their wives just how that fiasco came about.

Ah, memories. Glad to have lived to tell the tales.
posted by wkearney99 at 11:18 AM on June 24, 2010


Born in 1965. I rode in a car seat in 1967 on our road trip to San Francisco from Seattle (photos prove it). My grandma always insisted on holding me in her lap if she was in the car, apparently, and it drove my mom crazy. But nothing bad ever happened. I vaguely remember being sad when I was too big to ride in the car seat, because it had a good view!

When I was just a little bit older I was seat-belted in. My mom was strict about that from as far back as I can remember, and all of our cars had seatbelts in the front and the back.
posted by litlnemo at 5:53 PM on June 24, 2010


Mr. k8t, 1970.
posted by k8t at 12:26 AM on July 5, 2010


When I was little, my parents had a '56 Ford: bench seats, two-doors, electric windows --- easy to keep the kids in a two-door, but also easy to smash your sibling's hand in those electric windows.... no, I'm not still mad at my sister, why do you ask? Then there was the early-60s station wagon: I remember Dad letting a couple of us sit on the flat-opened tailgate, dangling our legs as he drove (I'm assuming it was slow, but it felt fast at the time).

Back in the dark ages, a baby's car bed was, as folks above have described, basically nothing more than a blanket-lined box just sitting on the seat. I believe seat belts were first introduced (front seats only of course) in the mid-'60s, and they were an optional extra at that. Then gradually they were offered for rear seats, then the three-point lap-shoulder combo was offered, and somewhere in there they were required to be installed in all cars. Later still is when using the belts and kid's safety seats was finally required.
posted by easily confused at 3:56 PM on April 4, 2011


Seatbelts were optional on Nashes in 49, Ford in 55 and were standard equipment on Saabs in 58. Volvo introduced the 3 point belt as standard equipment on their cars in 59. They were mandated as standard equipment in the US in '64.
posted by Mitheral at 5:23 PM on April 4, 2011


« Older As a result of a drunken chall...   |  My grandmother treats my mothe... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.