While driving around town this week, Stick Chick passed a Smart Car as it headed in the opposite direction.
It attracted her attention size-wise so she naturally glanced into it as it passed. Much to her surprise, the passenger held a small child in his lap. Truly, there is no place in a car that size in which to put a child unless you attach the child to the outside as a hood ornament (but that may be going a bit too far.)
Stick Chick racked her brain to recall the last time she saw a child riding in a car on someone’s lap. It had been quite a while.
She grew up when seatbelts were mere suggestions of safety…ah the 60s.
In the neighborhoods where she lived, many families had five or six children and one family car, so there weren’t necessarily enough belts for everyone anyway. If the parents had enough patience, all of the kids might have gotten buckled before exasperation and infighting took over.
Families that were lucky enough to own a woody station wagon would relegate the kids to “the very back,” unless it was full of groceries. There the rear window could be rolled down for much-needed air flow and the very back was considered safest (being farthest from the front windshield through which one could be launched in the event of a car accident.)
Cross-body shoulder belts had just begun to come into existence. Most seatbelts were thick and sturdy, and could adjust just enough to strap fully across two laps, clasped together with a sizeable metal buckle.
In summer, “buckling up” actually required scootching one’s shorts just right in order to avoid buckle burns and charred flesh. The kid’s car seat had not even come into use (unless you count a wicker laundry basket lined with pillows.)
Stick Chick admits that travelling untethered, while risky, had its freedom.