I’m not a big one for nostalgia. I’m the kind that says “Hey, well that happened. Now what?” I mean I remember when TV dinners came wrapped in tin foil because they went into an actual oven, not a microwave. Telephones used to be big black boxes with a dial on the front that had to sit on their own table. And long distance calls were only used for business and birthdays because they cost extra. These things have all changed mostly for the better. But there are two things I do miss from my younger days.
The first one is car wing windows. I realized this the day I was driving down the road on a beautiful summer afternoon with the windows down and I noticed that all the fresh air was going into the back seat. There wasn’t anyone sitting back there so what was that all about? Then I remembered wing windows. The little triangle window in the front corner next to the side rearview mirrors. In the old days you could open these and they would funnel the air right into your face as your were driving. It was great. You could enjoy a car ride just like a labrador retriever without having to stick your head out the window and getting bugs in your teeth. And if you drove fast enough the slip stream going through the car would clean out the ashtrays.
The most quoted reason for the end of vent windows was the widespread addition of air conditioning in cars. The vents were no longer needed if you were gonna keep them closed and the windows rolled up with the A/C on. There were also theories that the aerodynamics were better without them so you would get better gas mileage. But I was there. I remember that they stopped putting wing windows on cars when they realized they were the easiest way to break in to a locked car. A bad guy just had to put a little effort in to twisting the window from the outside and he could reach in and open the door. The car makers kept making the wing window smaller and smaller until they disappeared. Today, stealing stuff from a car takes some effort. It takes an experienced car thief or an asshole with a big rock to break the window when they look in a car and see a multi-thousand dollar laptop with an apple logo screaming “Take Me” like some drunken prom queen, albeit with a slightly different meaning.
So during that summer afternoon drive mentioned earlier, I put a cupped hand out next to the side mirror and the fresh air started coming in. All was right with the world or at least a little better for a few moments any way. That is until I had to use both hands to swerve around a guy who slammed on his breaks in front of me. Then I rolled over the ball in the street that was being chased by the boy that the other driver had slammed on his brakes for. The ball came out from underneath the back of my car with only a few fresh oil stains. But I digress.
Next time, in part two, I will give you my thoughts on the greatest lost art form of the 20th century.