Mom’s 1957 Chevy
UNITED STATES - OCTOBER 30: Brand new 1957 Chevrolet photographed at a new car dealer across the street from Petersen Publishing Company for Car Craft's Restyle department. (Photo by Bob D'Olivo/The Enthusiast Network/Getty Images)
For some reason, I always get nostalgic at this time of year. My mind drifts back to when, not only at Christmastime but life in general, was magical. One of the fond memories I have of my childhood is being carted around in my mother’s, hand-me-down, 1957, 220 Chevy. It was “robin’s egg blue” (turquoise/and white), had a bench seat in the front and was as big as a tank.
We called the car, “the girly car” because my mother would load up my sister and me and away we went. It came equipped with a state of the art AM radio that got very poor reception. That’s OK though because it was too dangerous to drive with the radio on; she might get distracted. Even more distracting was the fighting in the back seat, but that couldn’t be helped.
When I was a kid, it wasn’t uncommon for families to have only one car. My family had two cars, thanks to my grandparents who had gotten a new car and passed on their used 1957 Chevy to my mother, who was a homemaker. Now, just because we had the luxury of having a second vehicle, didn’t mean that we didn’t have to walk to school every day. In bad weather, though, my mother would pile as many kids as possible, from the neighborhood, in that car and drive us all to school. I think we were able to fit up to 8 or 9… no seatbelts required!
Our neighbors had a station wagon and could pack in twice as many… if the car was available and had gas!
That old Chevy was a 6-cylinder, with a 3 speed on the column and guzzled a lot of leaded gas. There were no seatbelts in the back seat and none in the front seat… that I remember anyway. Although, at the time, people would often push the seatbelts down in between the openings in the seats because they were a nuisance. I remember that we would stand on the “hump” in the back so we could see where we were going. After we got too tall for that, we had to choose a side and stand on the floor behind the front seat, often holding on to the seat back for dear life. To this day, I can hear my mother saying, “Hold on, we’re going around a corner!”.
There was no air conditioning in the car so in the summertime, we would roll down the windows, with the manual crank handle, and hang our heads out for air. In the winter, the car usually warmed up just about the time we reached our destination.
One summer I remember that the floorboard in the backseat of that old car had a hole worn through and we could see the road showing through. As a safety precaution, a set of floor mats was purchased to cover the hole. Ironically, not listening to the radio while driving, comes to mind at this point.
The car my father drove was a medium blue 1967 Chevy Malibu that didn’t have air conditioning either. At that time, air conditioning was still an option (that added to the cost). Eventually, we did get a car with air conditioning, but we couldn’t use it because it wasted gas. GEESH!
I had never personally seen, or even considered the thought of, a child safety seat until I had my first child; and even then, they weren’t required by law. Back in the day, the child car seats that did exist were designed to be used in the front seat; obviously, it was more for convenience than safety.
As the years have passed, much has changed, including cars. They are more fuel efficient, smaller, sleeker, have more conveniences and are way more expensive. Also changing, are all of the safety precautions that have followed. I am smart enough to know that they truly are all for our safety, but I will tell you that I always felt safe in my mom's 1957 Chevy… it was indestructible. To this day, when I bring it up, my husband wishes, out loud, that it was still around.
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