I think my dad was a genius. In retrospect, he was able to do things without any of the modern day gadgetry or electronic assistance. As an example, he was able to get our family from St. Louis to Ft. Lauderdale, Florida every year by using a paper map – a TripTik to be exact.
Brought to us by our friends at AAA insurance company, this handheld reference guide replaced the accordion fold map. It was much better to glance at the compact map isolated to your current locale versus opening the monster map that, when pressed into action, covered the entire windshield. In essence, it could be argued that AAA created the first handheld GPS, i.e. the first generation MapQuest on a mobile phone screen. My old man was part of the maverick generation that spent a little more for the convenience of what was then considered to be “out there” baby. Good job, Dad.
We would then pile into a 1963 Mercury Monterey with the “Breezeway Window” in the back and begin our trek to the beaches of Ft. Lauderdale. The TripTik would set the route and tell us along the way where sites of interest were located. Sites of interest to my dad were the gas stations when we approached “E” on the gas gauge. Other than petro and an occasional Stuckey’s along the way, it was “pedal to the metal” – Ft. Lauderdale or Bust. We had no problem with that. Those of us in the back seat with no AC and a “Breezeway” that didn’t live up to its name were all for getting there.
It was important that we synchronized our bladder with the scheduled stops. The ol’ man was not into frivolity, and he loosely defined having to go to the bathroom somewhere short of our scheduled destination as just that: frivolous. It caused at least one fight between him and mom during our trip. (Technology aside, when taking a long car trip some things never change).
Occupying me and my sister over two days of driving was a real challenge. One can only count blue cars for so long. And looking for different license plates had a shelf life of about five miles, and then my sister and my collective attention deficit kicked in and we pronounced “we’re bored.”
My mom served as arbiter while my ol’ man would hand down the sentences. Too many issues and we would forfeit something at our desired destination. Putt-putt golf, a trip to Baskin-Robbins, or fishing off the pier could be snatched away in a heartbeat if dad heard mom working a little too hard to keep us in line. We didn’t have air conditioning, headphones, e-mail, Twitter, Facebook, Games with Friends, video screens, game devices, books on tape, first run movies or any of the other modern-day conveniences that serve to distract one from the boredom of two days in a back seat.
This started out as a blog about technology and the idea of shifting from paper to electronic delivery of statements. Somewhere in there, I started reminiscing, and that was a heck of a lot more fun.
Our anticipation to get to Ft. Lauderdale was high and, as a result, the end was well worth the means. We played on the beach from dawn to dusk and fell dead asleep in our beds come night. The ride home wasn’t nearly as much fun, but it never is – even today with all the technology!