The unbearable lightness of babies: Station Wagon Living unearthed

Man. How did our parents – and most of us – survive the 1950s, 60s, and 70s? DaddyTypes points us to the Ford Treasury of Station Wagon Living, a book that recommends that it’s great to drive around the countryside at speed in a huge steel station wagon with three babies in the back cargo area. I distinctly remember spending long car rides in the cargo area of our Ford Fairmont and I distinctly remember loving every freaking minute of it. I’d lay back there with my Star Wars guys and essentially have a little hiding place where I could wave at passing truckers and drink Coke.

However, those days are over. As Greg at DT notes:

Even with 140 pieces of gear, and 1300 camptastic destinations, though, one volume was not enough to contain everything that makes Station Wagon Living so joyful; Ford had the authors, Franklin Reck and William Moss, put out a Volume 2 just a year later.

Beyond the ideal of a close-knit family embarked on a never-ending road trip of leisurely adventure together, the books depict a carefree parenting style–“turn the kids loose” in the back seat, then just use a cage to “limit the range of travel” when you leave them alone at the campsite–that’d get you locked up in about five minutes today.

Would I let my kids roll around in the back cargo area of the Honda Fit anymore? No. But do I miss those days of freedom? Absolutely. In some ways we’ve become too careful and in other ways I’m glad we have all these safety measures. For good or bad, it’s nice to know the kids will make it in most head-on situations.