Whatever Happened To…Well, Several Things

By Joe Darby

We had to go out of town Wednesday and we drove through a pleasant neighborhood that had a road sign that read, “Please Drive Slow. We (Heart) Our Children.”

Well, my sometimes mischievous and sarcastic mind reacted to that by making me wonder: “So, I’m glad you love your children around here, but if you didn’t love them, does that mean I could drive fast?”

And that rather cynical reaction on my part made me recall those little yellow “Baby on Board” signs that were so prevalent in the back windows of some vehicles maybe 20 years ago. Whatever happened to them?

I will admit, those little announcements really irritated me. When my own beloved daughters were infants and in my car, I of course wanted to drive carefully and I hoped others would too.

But I would not have presumed to advise other drivers that they had better be more careful because I had a baby on board. What the signs were really saying was, “Don’t rear end my vehicle or side swipe me because my kid’s in the back seat and you better be darned careful when you drive near me.”

And the corollary to that implies that if they didn’t have a child on board, that I would in fact, rear end or side swipe them. “Okay, your kid’s not with you, so watch out, here I come. Gonna bash right into you when you stop at the next red light.”

Silly? Sure it is. But I hereby confess that is the way I reacted to those ubiquitous little signs. I just thought they were inane, unnecessary and more than a touch obnoxious. “Baby on Board.” Bah, humbug.

Now, having vented about wondering whatever happened to the Baby on Board signs, my strange mind drifted into a free flow of thoughts on whatever happened to a number of other things.

So, whatever happened to used car lots? Yeah, we still have used car lots today but not nearly as many as we used to have. There used to be entire blocks of used car lots, containing mostly polished up junkers with little or no warranty to back them up.

And that’s probably why you don’t see so many of them any more, because new car dealerships’ own used car lots ran them out of business. The new car dealers often offered some type of warranty and you just felt a little safer, probably, buying a six-year-old car from an established outfit.

After all, there was the old saying, “I wouldn’t trust so-and-so any more than I would a used car salesman.” That statement is probably unfair to a lot of folks who sold used cars, but such feelings were part of our culture. We even had an image in our mind of the used car salesman — a guy in a loud vest, with a mousey mustache, greased-back hair and telling us, “Man, have I got a deal for you.”

Again, that’s a stereotype and mostly unfair, but that’s the way we thought of used car salesmen. It was part of our culture, long before political correctness, which sternly forbids the insulting of any groups. Except white males, of course. But that’s another story.

I’m getting a little short on space here, but while I’m on a roll, I wonder whatever happened to toys in cereal boxes. Whatever happened to the corner drugstore and/or grocery store? Whatever happened to telephoning your best friend and talking for an hour or so? (After you DIALED their number, of course).

I think I’ll expound on those “whatever happened to’s” in an upcoming column. If you have any whatevers of your own, let me know.

2 thoughts on “Whatever Happened To…Well, Several Things

  1. They stopped putting prizes in cereal boxes?! When did this happen?! Do I have to get a Happy Meal to get a prize?

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