Bits & Pieces: Fender skirts and steering knobs

Bits & Pieces: Fender skirts and steering knobs

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.

This is what has now been done with Mom's house. The hardwood floors under the living room carpet were in fairly good shape, except for the entry way that Mom sorta ruined by putting down self-stick vinyl flooring. The floors in the dining room weren't the same quality, as it was formerly a garage, so new flooring was put down in there. The floors in the bedrooms were okay, but not as nice as the living room. But yes, I remember my mom talking about how wonderful wall-to-wall carpeting was after having lived with rugs that could be rolled up and taken outside to be cleaned. The work is nearly done and I'm waiting for word on updated photos.

Another disappearing word: "steering knob" or "suicide knob" was mentioned in the original post – I think Pop had one of these. I seem to remember him swinging the wheel with panache using this knob. I could not fail to see this, as I was generally seated on his lap, with the seat set way back, as he drove. He would get a ticket for this if he were alive today and tried it with his newest great-grandchild, Alexa. Also, air bags and seat belts hadn't even been invented. Weird!

I have a vivid memory of a neighbor's "curb feelers," from when we lived in Albuquerque in the early 60's. They were spring mounted rods that stuck out from the right front and right rear of a car that looked like a road barge. It bothered me that there weren't also feelers on the left side, thus making the car asymmetrical (I didn't know the word, but instinctively understood the concept). The neighbor tried to explain why they weren't needed on the left side and seemed to think it very funny that I just couldn't grasp it.

Here are a couple of more words or phrases that remained current enough in my family to be preserved until the present day:

"Carpet Beater." This was a thing that looked like a tennis racket, used for cleaning rugs.

"Clothes Line." Mom still used hers, and the neighbor uses it too. I used it when I stayed at Mom's house after she passed away, because the dryer wasn't working for me. Imagine, drying your clothes with the power of sun and wind! Not recommended for days with impending rain or dust storms, however. If strong enough wire was used, rugs could be hung on the clothesline and more or less cleaned by whacking them with a "carpet beater." I actually used a "carpet beater" with a "clothesline" on a childhood visit to my Aunt Sis's house in Colorado Springs. I couldn't figure out why they just didn't use the vacuum in the olden days. 

"Sly Flatter" Okay, this is a trick one. It's actually a "Fly Swatter." Pronounced the same, only inside out. It's a thing you kill flies with. Also used to threaten naughty children with, who nowadays would be diagnosed with Oppositional Defiant Disorder and given medication.

"Rabbit Ears" This is a thing that sits on top of the TV, which strangely enough is not flat enough to hang like a picture. If you fiddle with it, your picture will improve… but only if you have fiddled with your cable so much that it fell out of the back of your TV.

"Tele-Vision" What we watched before TV was invented. Like "Dyna-Flow" and "Elecro-Lux" and the other slightly retro, slightly sci-fi marketing terms that have fallen into disuse. People still long for things like "Cinerama" and "Techni-Color," you know. 

"Spotlight" This was an actual light attached to the side of ordinary passenger cars, with a big "Bakelite" knob so that it could be aimed at things at the side of the road to check addresses, street signs, and whether that large lump on the lawn was a drunk passed out already, as you arrive for the big party. My sisters used to beg "Pop" to "play spottie" with the light he had on his big old Ford, when they went to the…

"Drive-In" movie, a kind of outdoor theater where parking was never a problem, but kind of expensive. However, after paying the parking fee, the movie was free, and you got a big chunk of aluminum that contained a speaker and a big long wire with a giant jack on the end. This was hung on a pole next to your parking space and plugged in. Alternatively, it was waiting all plugged in when you got to your space. You then hung it inside your window, and rolled the window up. Oh. There's another one.

"Window Crank" A device for opening and closing car windows, from before electricity was completely understood to be the labor-saving device it could be in cars. You didn't raise and lower your windows, you rolled them up or down. Also useful when visiting "drive-in restaurants," where the tray would be hung on your partially rolled-down window. This is still done at Hires in Salt Lake! Weird!

"Bakelite" What they used before petrochemical-based plastic was invented to make knobs, molded knick-knacks, and even costume jewelry. It was apparently made from cellulose and a bunch of other smelly resins, and then heated and molded. Still in use in some applications today.  

"Girdle" An instrument of torture, worn by women. Elastic straps and rubber and garters with hanging metal tabs for attaching "nylon stockings," not pantyhose. Now do you wonder where fetishes start?

"Garter" or "Garter Belt" A thing for holding up "nylon stockings" if you weren't wearing a "girdle." Cooler, more comfortable, infinitely more sexy. Apparently, they were sometimes worn UNDER one's unmentionables, which were cut like dance shorts, apparently. 

"Nylon Stockings" were single-leg sheer knit coverings worn by women, in one size. On the one hand, if you got a "runner" in your "stocking" you could swap it for a new one while still wearing the orginal mate on the other leg. On the other hand, you had to deal with either garters or girdles. Womanhood heaved a sigh of relief when "pantyhose" were invented. I remember my sister Timmy bringing home a pair with the brand name of "Little Prurnes," and how we laughed at them. Stocking caps made from old nylons went from being one-leggers to two-leggers at our house (my niece Raeanne and her friend Tina wore them on their heads, for various reasons) They were funny-looking, but they did stretch to fit some, but not all women. I haven't worn nylon panty hose in years, because I refuse to be strangled from the waist down, and I only wear skirts (actually, sarongs or pareus) in the summer. I am not a slave to fashion.

Via DDtB: Words Mean Things

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One thought on “Bits & Pieces: Fender skirts and steering knobs

  1. In my day, the steering nobs were also called “necking nobs”. You could drive with one hand and have your girlfriend close by with the other. None of the “ten and two” hands on the steering wheel. In those days, you could also get gasoline for 25 cents a gallon!!! I miss the “good old days”

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