In the days before completion of the interstate highway system things were very different and no one foresaw the changes that would result from its creation. I don’t want to argue the pros and cons of the super highway system, its here and we will not abandon it until it becomes useless. Before, most people stayed near their homes; to take a long trip was a long arduous process, going through small towns stop lights, speed traps, and curvy narrow roads. Many people nevertheless made these long journeys to the coasts and deadly accidents were not infrequent. Moreover, at that time a family generally had only one car. Husbands and fathers went to work while wives and mothers worked in the home raising children. The middle class was deep and wide. On Sundays when stores and factories were closed, people rested, they often went for a drive and the “Sunday drive” got its name. These drives were often on country lanes or near water ways where tranquil scenery revived the soul.
My Father had an old Model A ford that he was restoring and we went for a Sunday drive in it. The rain started to pour very heavily and a flash flood caused streams to overflow into the road, such that it came up to the “running boards”. My mother was frightened, just then the engine quit. My father got out in the rain, standing on the running boards and jump started the starter and off we went again. It was a great adventure although we all got a little wet.
On another Sunday drive we traveled along a US numbered highway, which was still just a two lane road, but which ran continuously through several states. The speed limit was 50 miles per hour, but no one could maintain that speed very long due to curves, hills and intersections. This was a true limit, people were expected to use their judgment traveling at a safe speed, unlike today, where the speed limit is generally the minimum speed. On these roads it was not uncommon to encounter a road side park in a scenic area. It was usually little more than a place to pull off the road under shade trees, perhaps with a concrete picnic table. However, these road side parks were used by travelers to stop, rest, have a picnic or just enjoy the day. This was before fast food was invented and when most things were on a slower pace. Some of these road side parks still exist along various highways that are less traveled and replaced by interstate highways. If you ever stopped there, it was probably a memorable time and place. You see, the faster we travel through life, the less we experience along our way.