Stories of ’70s Youth Auto Travel – Road Tripping Fight Club and Lucky Strikes

Talking with a friend recently about car travels with The Parents in our youth, spawned some hysterical recollections.
 Both of us, children of the ‘70s, we each had our own Road Trip Horror Stories.
 She, unwittingly traveling the south, in search of the perfect antique show, hitting each and every one in their quest, finally resulting in the caged six year-old Fight Clubbing herself with a punch to the face until she bled, begging for mercy.
 No. More. Antiques.
 She had snapped at six. After that, she never had to endure another Antique Road Hell, for fear she might do real damage.
 While I traveled north for the next dog show on the Summer Dog Show Canadian Tour, or the endless, mirage-laden stretch of I-5, to Highway 299 and the ungoldly curvey Highway 3, to Hayfork, California’s own Trinity County Fair.
 Each journey seen though the eyes of young kids; the view, mostly the back of our parents’ heads, cigarette smoke billowing around them, when they forgot to open the wing window.
 We didn’t have drop down tv screens in our cars, hand held game consoles or iPads displaying animated educational stories, heard through wireless headphones to the relief of 21st century parents, to while away the endless hours on the road.
 What I had was an older sister, who apparently did not like me touching her, and “Automobile Bingo”. I’m so old, I guess the word “car” wasn’t used in everyday vernacular.
 Automobile Bingo was our version of a hand held game. The game cards were printed on thick, bright pink carboard and had tinted green window shields that you could slide over a picture, if you happened to see a cow, a truck, a gas station, or any other road trippy thing you’d see, in an effort to stave off the inevitable motion sickness. The roadkill picture was mysteriously missing.
 Getting “Bingo” was enjoyed quietly and we didn’t play games like “I Spy” or “20 Questions” because that meant we were talking. My folks mostly liked to drive and talk to each other and even sing, which I liked.
 Kids in the back seat were remembered, with mild surprise when I predictably touched my sister, and which she announced loudly.
 My dad’s eyes darted to the rearview mirror. ”If you two don’t knock it off back there, I’m gonna make you put your seat belts on.” His Lucky Strikes’ unfiltered smoke, lazily swirling in the air.
 Yes, you read that right. Silence before Safety; we were very well behaved after that, and hence did not have to buckle our seat belts.
 Of course, we also rode down roads of dubious condition, sitting on the bump of the wheel well in a pick-up truck bed. We all did.
 It wasn’t that they didn’t care. It was just a different time. A fun time, for sure.
 I’m sort of sad to know that my kids never had that thrill. You know… of your butt leaving your seat in the bed of that pick-up when the driver went down an exceptionally jarring bit of road.
 I’m sadder still, to think that they didn’t have to pay their dues like I did; reading the same “Little House on the Prairie” book over and over, because it’s a long way to Hayfork.
 I’m wondering if the worst thing they can tell their kids, is that that the battery in their Game Boy ran out because they forgot their car charger.
 But of course, each generation is entited to their Road Trip Horror Stories.
Email Kelly Sinon at [email protected]