As I mentioned in an earlier story, my first car was a 1949 Ford. It was a straight stick V8 with the gear shift handle attached to the steering column. To dim or brighten the headlights, I’d step on this little metal switch on the floorboard. It was quite a skill to drive this sort of car, but my peers and I managed to get around. It was a common skill for guys to drive this sort of contraption with just the left hand, with the right arm around their girlfriend.
One of my friends had a Chevy of similar vintage and design, another a Plymouth. One thing all these cars had in common was, by today’s standards, rolling death traps.
We had no seat belts. No airbags. No rear view camera. No warning buzzer if you got to close to another car or a brick wall. It had no side rear view mirror. How in the world did we survive? Well, admittedly, a few of us didn’t. I know of one or two fatal accidents involving people with whom I was acquainted. But, that’s happened in more recent years as well. So, what’s my point? Just that in the “olden days” we survived with what life gave us to work with. As did our ancestors. I often relate how, “when I was in high school with Abe Lincoln we did our homework with a piece of coal on the back of a wooden shovel.” The most frightening part of all of this, for me, is trying to imagine how things will be for our kids, twenty or fifty years from now. Will people be safer? Or, will folks be so restrained by protective measures – in their cars, online, in schools, anywhere…that their lives become less enjoyable and they create less…and care less? I wish I had a crystal ball that worked.