As a recent blog post revealed, I still roam the Earth without benefit of an electronic global positioning system. I pretty much live by the credo "Wherever you go, there you are." When that's not quite enough, I have found MapQuest to be invaluable as I navigate the Palmetto State and points beyond. Sometimes I even go by road signs.
As a recent blog post revealed, I still roam the Earth without benefit of an electronic global positioning system. I pretty much live by the credo "Wherever you go, there you are." When that's not quite enough, I have found MapQuest to be invaluable as I navigate the Palmetto State and points beyond.
Sometimes I even go by road signs.
Be that as it may, our techno-savvy eldest daughter and son-in-law have added GPS to their ever-growing repertoire of non-human helps. As they were packing up to leave our house after Memorial Day festivities, I checked out the gizmo where it perched on their dash like an exotic -- if squarish -- bird, its lengthy power cord resembling a licorice shoestring.
By and large the grownups' lingo was arcane to our ears.
I had some questions and my daughter was eager to answer them. She showed me how, by simply touching the bright screen, one can map a route from here to there while pinpointing the location of fueling centers, retail outlets, lodging chains, and fast food joints along the way. Hungry? The GPS will tell you in an audible voice how far you are from the next Happy Meal.
When I was growing up we spent a lot of time on the road. Most days you were happy just to have a meal.
Whether for a ten-block or a ten-hour trip, my grandchildren are strapped like jet pilots into government-regulation car seats from which they are not supposed to be removed as long as the car is in Drive. Their father is a pastor.
My sister and I spent a significant portion of our young lives rattling around in a stolen (yes, stolen ... instead of GPS we had GTA) baby blue Nash Rambler driven by a criminal. The getaway car, as it were. I often used the back window as a bed. I was long and thin; on a sudden stop I resembled a pencil falling off a ledge.
Not only was our vehicle hot; its interior was also an un-airconditioned environment. On too-warm days while wearing shorts your bare thigh-backs stuck peskily to the vinyl of the backseat, but you were mercifully unrestrained. In the free and relatively innocent America of my unconventional childhood, the breeze through Mama and Daddy's wing vents was scented with dreams.
My grandchildren, who have never ventured west of the Mississippi, are driven hither and yon in a Nissan the color of cranberries. In addition to the voice of the GPS telling Daddy and Mommy where to turn, as likely as not a road trip will include listening to either or both parents chatting on mobile phones to one relative, friend, or parishioner or another.
My sister and I tried (with limited success) to keep from fighting on our extended "vacations" while watching the backs of Mama and Daddy's heads for any signs we were in trouble. By and large the grownups' lingo was arcane to our ears, but I in particular listened for Mama to mention stopping at an A&P where we could buy a Spanish Bar Cake and maybe a soda pop to share.
At any rate, whatever level of conversation existed within our automobile's cozy environ was exchanged between persons entirely present. Repartee was often punctuated by the skitch! of a match on a tiny sandpaper strip as Mama or Daddy lit up. My nostrils loved the aroma of the first sweetish puffs before the smoke turned acrid, and my eyes loved watching the cigarette's tip glow neon orange as a parental unit inhaled.
I long for the America I remember.
The perky GPS provides clues to my son-in-law regarding the available places to purchase gasoline. The huge, shiny C-stores and string of computerized fueling islands are so unlike the dinky filling stations we frequented. I can still hear the dull ding ... ding ... ding of the Sinclair Dino pump as our Rambler hungrily nursed, and I still love the smell of idling engine exhaust.
We had maps. Folded like elaborate fans into flat, space-saving oblongs, when unfurled they became half-acre charts to anywhere. Their many shapes of pastel green, yellow, and blue, splayed with red veins and chockablock with infinitesimal words and symbols, were fascinating to me. I can still imagine the feel of the cool indifferent paper and see the furry seams where they had been creased one time too many.
And as our sturdy tires carried us, untethered, from town to town, county to county, state to state, region to region, from one landscape to the next, there was the certainty of adventure and the possibility of rich experience. Come weal or woe, the road afforded deft deliverance and life concealed a glowing ruby beneath its tongue.
I fear for my grandchildren's future. They have security and a birthright and access to truth that I did not have, but I am beginning to wonder if they will enjoy the personal liberties I have never been asked to live without. As technology waxes, what good is it if freedoms wane?
One of my favorite things to say is, "You can never go back ... and why would you want to?" I'm going to stop saying that. I want to go back to the America I knew as a child. Unborn children were safer there. We had problems but we worked them out without apologizing for what our beloved country was all about in the first place.
I long for the pre-GPS America that I remember, and I want it back for my grandchildren. I know it's a silly dream, but then I've always been a dreamer.
In a comment that was, I believe, inadvertently attached to the post Democrats On An Escalator, my beloved Uncle Dody asked if I knew where one could find a Spanish Bar Cake. He said he hadn't thought of that dessert in 40 years.
I think about Spanish Bar Cake all the time but I haven't seen one in over 40 years. Ever the Internet sleuth, my uncle's question prompted me to Google the issue.
In case you're interested, click here to read a short article about the A&P and its Spanish Bar Cake, including a recipe for making this delicious confection! I can taste it now.
Happy Spanish Bar Cake-ing!