Wednesday, January 20, 2010

20 January 1956 “Come away with me, Lucille, in my Merry Oldsmobile”

merry oldsmobile sheet music The famous song of 1905 made that first statement that the auto had arrived and was to be ingrained into the culture, the very courting procedures, of the modern man. In fact, many treatise were written against the auto, as it now allowed young courting couples the ability to leave the drawing room with auntie overseeing their ‘courting’ to who knows what. And, without the fear and need of a pair of horses, a couple ‘going out for a drive’ could certainly lead to all sorts of ‘nefarious activity’. And, indeed, the young ladies of the last centuries turn were to know a freedom of which their mother’s could never conceive, as the lyrics tell us:

Verse 1

Young Johnny Steele has an Oldsmobile
He loves his dear little girl
She is the queen of his gas machine
She has his heart in a whirl
Now when they go for a spin, you know,
She tries to learn the auto, so
He lets her steer, while he gets her ear
And whispers soft and low...

Verse 2

They love to "spark" in the dark old park
As they go flying along
She says she knows why the motor goes
The "sparker" is awfully strong
Each day they "spoon" to the engine's tune
Their honeymoon will happen soon
He'll win Lucille with his Oldsmobile
And then he'll fondly croon...


Come away with me, Lucille
In my merry Oldsmobile
Down the road of life we'll fly
Automobubbling, you and I
To the church we'll swiftly steal
Then our wedding bells will peal
You can go as far as you like with me
In my merry Oldsmobile.

Here is some early footage from 1909 and the famous song sung by Billy Murray:

A long way away from my day, here in 1956. Watch as Bing tells us the attributes of the modern car.

In one of my 1956 copies of The American Magazine, I found this rather interesting map. It shows how over 80% of what goes into our automobiles are produced here in this country with a breakdown of every state. Click on each picture to read it full size. Interesting stuff, indeed.

automaking 1956 1auto making 1956 2

It’s an odd thing, the automobile. It is that old ‘two-edged sword’: it has given us a lot and equally cost us a lot. The ability to ship things quickly can be a boon, but did we not have the train? And, with the ‘truck farming’ of the post war years, did that not begin to lead to the eventual downfall of local farm? We didn’t NEED to rely on the farmers in our area. Yes, it made food cheaper overall, but at what cost to the majority of we the people? The cost to the environment and to the eventual misuse of the very animals we need to survive?

The speed to get one to the hospital, the ability to allow others to reach towns and schools. These seem obvious positives, and yet, with the age of the car firmly set decades past, we are probably the most physically unconnected we have ever been, though digitally we do well I suppose. And of course, as Lucille in the song knew, it gave us ample opportunity for ‘courting’.

I wonder the future of the car. I wonder at what we have given up for its convenience and of course to build up a few more ‘new moneyed’ families at the turn of the last century who, with their wealth and upgrade from their own class, only wanted to ‘buy their way into’ the old money world. The cheap affordable modet T for the common man put Ford and his heirs into the drawing rooms and families of the ‘old guard’ safely above the ‘common man’.

Imagine the world when cars did not exist, but we had the railroads. Transportation of goods and peoples was possible, yet the small towns and rural areas still depended upon their own neighbors.

I am not saying one way or the other: the car is good, the car is bad. The car, as it is, is merely an object devoid of any traits save what we have given it. But, how we have used it and where it has lead us? And in the strive for the wealth of those behind their production, the loss of jobs to our own country. Yet, even that coin has two sides. The unions in the beginning may have been asking for a ‘fair wage’ for their workers, but then in THEIR greed did they lead to so many benefits and such high wages that they helped to lead the way of overseas production? When was enough is enough for any of us. Do we, as humans, always follow the line of reason, “More more, I want and deserve more” and never, “Well, it is pretty good now, let’s maintain and grow with what we have?” I suppose, it is not human nature.

It all comes down, again, to personal responsibility and the simple act of just thinking and considering. If we can, we modern people, look about at what we do daily and the ‘tools’ we use and ask ourselves why? or Hmmm, what was it BEFORE this and what MAY COME AFTER? We might find ourselves making different choices, or in fact MAKING choices at all.

Yet, here snug in 1956 America, I can be happy for the car. I am sure after seeing this commercial, hubby would not deny me my own car for my committee meetings and such. After all, as the ad told me I was a ‘prisoner in my own home’ before.

Here in 1956 I can smile and look to the future knowing the following generations shall have it better than me. And, certainly, they shall make the right choices to allow ALL people to have a better life, right?

So, rather you are in 1956 or 2010, stop a moment during the day, and look at your ‘tools’. My Kirby vacuum, my modern electric range, my car, much faster and more comfortable than that old Model T I learned to drive in! The TV, why I can get news and have a show on in the evening to enjoy before they sign off air for the night. And look at those growing grocery stores! All that food, frozen for my convenience, and so many meals and desserts premade to give me more time for myself!

You there, in 2010, yes you! Look at the phone in your hand, the microwave at beck and call, the 2-3 cars in your drive, the TVs, computers, the iPod in your ears, entertainment for you, the machines that tell you where to drive and turn in your cars, the seats with their own video machines to keep little Johnny entertained while he is strapped in back there. Let’s all stop, just for a few minutes, and look around at our day. Are we better off? Is there a better or worse? Are we using our ‘better’ things the best way we can? And HOW will these ‘improvements’ help the future generations?

Have a lovely day, Apronites, and don’t forget to stop and think today. And remember the world before the ‘Merry Oldsmobile’.

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