But here's a little excerpt, describing my first ride to summer camp in 1957, with a neighbor boy who was also going to camp, along with his mother.
Finally the big day arrived, a warm and sunny Saturday, in mid-July I think, not long after my eighth birthday. We all left in my Mother's new car, a huge Chrysler Imperial extravagance, sprouting towering rear fins adorned with spaceship tail lights. The two mothers rode in front, I and my companion exiled as always to the cavernous back seat.
In those days before seat belts, my mother would remind me how safety conscious she was, by always banning me from the front seat to the back, where theoretically I would bounce around harmlessly in a crash. And the very mass of the behemoth would protect us all anyway, plowing aside any lesser vehicle foolish enough to stray into our unstoppable path. Or so the popular wisdom of the day held.
This camp was actually only about 80 driving miles away, but over mostly rural 2-lane roads, taking hours and giving me the impression we were being marooned in a distant wilderness. At one point we stopped at some forlorn and ramshackle roadside stand, to eat hot dogs in its dusty, unpaved parking lot.
People who now bemoan the explosion of national fast-food chains, that came roughly 10 years after our stop that day, have obviously never eaten at the crude atrocities they replaced. Without even the diversion of a free kid's toy to offset the ordeal, we resumed our purgatory of endless country roads.
Still, I took no small pleasure from merely riding inside that enormous 4-wheeled imitation of a rocket ship, even while watching the ominous scenery becoming less populated by the mile. Every American boy knew an important goal in life was to be always riding around in that year's latest model car, the bigger the better. So how could I dare be discontented, cruising in just about the newest and biggest there was?