7/12/2007

Gone the Way of Fender Skirts



I received the following in an e-mail from my sister in Huntington, WV. Normally I would treat it as a guest post, but she has no blog or web page to which I can link, but I am going to give her her propers.

Thanks Diana!


Intrinsically woven in that which we call "nostalgia" are the ever evolving words that are a part of our lives. We sometimes lose forever of some those beloved words, words that evoke memories of your youth.

A term I haven't heard used in a long time is "fender skirts," like those on the 1949 Chevy in the picture. It started me to thinking about other words that quietly disappear from our language with hardly a notice like "curb feelers," which were also sometimes called "Granny whiskers."

Since I'd been thinking of cars, my mind naturally went that direction first. While on the subject of car parts and accessories, how could I not mention "steering knobs," (AKA - suicide knob)?

Some of you will probably have to find some elderly person, over 50, to explain some of these terms to you.

Remember "Continental kits ?" They were rear bumper extenders and spare tire covers that were supposed to make any car as cool as a Lincoln Continental.

When did we quit calling them "emergency brakes ?" At some point "parking brake" became the proper term. But I miss the hint of drama that went with "emergency brake."

I'm sad, too, that almost all the old folks are gone who would call the accelerator the "foot feed." (I'm older than my sister, but I don't remember that one.) Didn't you ever wait at the street for your daddy to come home, so you could ride the "running board" up to the house?

Here's a phrase I heard all the time in my youth but never anymore - "store-bought." Of course, just about everything is store-bought these days, making the term redundant. But once it was bragging material to have a store-bought dress or a store-bought bag of candy.

"Coast to coast" is a phrase that once held all sorts of excitement and now means almost nothing. Now we take the term "world wide" for granted. This floors me.

On a smaller scale, "wall-to-wall" was once a magical term in our homes. In the '50s, everyone covered his or her hardwood floors with, wow, wall-to-wall carpeting! Today, everyone replaces their wall-to-wall carpeting with hardwood floors. Go figure.

When's the last time you heard the quaint phrase "in a family way ?" It's hard to imagine that the word "pregnant" was once considered a little too graphic, a little too clinical for use in polite company ! So we had all that talk about stork visits and "being in a family way " or simply "expecting."

Apparently "brassiere" is a word no longer in usage. I said it the other day and my daughter cracked up. I guess it's just "bra" now. "Unmentionables" probably wouldn't be understood at all.

I always loved going to the "picture show," but I considered "movie" an affectation.

Most of these words go back to the '50s, but here's a pure-'60s word I came across the other day - "rat fink." Ooh, what a nasty put-down!

Here's a word I miss - "percolator. " That was just a fun word to say. And what was it replaced with? "Coffee maker. " How dull. Mr. Coffee, I blame you for this.

I miss those made-up marketing words that were meant to sound so modern and now sound so retro. Words like "DynaFlow" and "Electrolux. " Introducing the 1963 Admiral TV, now with "SpectraVision!"

Food for thought - Was there a telethon that wiped out lumbago? Nobody complains of that anymore. Maybe that's what castor oil cured, because I never hear mothers threatening kids with castor oil anymore.

Some words aren't gone, but are definitely on the endangered list. The one that grieves me most: "supper." Now everybody says "dinner. "

Save a great word. Invite someone to supper. Discuss fender skirts.

No.45

1 comment:

Serena Joy said...

That's terrific; love the nostalgia. Diana should be blogging.:)