Most cars, these days, have a fairly streamlined design. Much of this is to make them more fuel efficient, and to make the ride less wind resistant, and therefore smoother, I’m sure. It wasn’t always that way, however. For a time, running boards were quite fashionable, and most cars had them. I never could really see the draw to that, because in reality, actually stepping on the running boards, to get into the car, loosens them, and will eventually cause them to need to be reinforced. I suppose my opinion on this comes from my 41 years married to a mechanic, but it is nevertheless, a reality. Many of the cars from my parents’ and in-laws’ era had running boards, especially the pickups, but it is something that is not seen as much these days, and if it is, it is usually something that was added later on, and as I said, not really for use as a way to enter the vehicle, but rather for show.
Be that as it may, running boards were something that used to be important, so they say, because of the fact that vehicles were higher off the ground back in the day, than they are now. The fashionable running boards of this day and age are pretty narrow, and really aren’t very much like the old ones at all. The old running boards were wide, and could easily be used for a seat, or even to give enough room for an adult to lie down on them. I remember my mom telling me about one of her brothers who used to take an afternoon nap out on the running board of my grandfather’s car. I always thought that was rather comical, but she used to say that her dad always had to walk around the car to make sure there wasn’t a kid on the running board on the other side, before he could leave for wherever he was going.
It also seems that the running boards of a car make a great place to gather the family for pictures, because there are pictures of people sitting or standing on the running boards among my family’s pictures, as well as Bob’s family’s pictures. The car seems to have been the backdrop of choice at that time. I suppose it ‘s not so different today. People like their cars, and they are a part of life, with or without running boards, so why not include them in your pictures sometimes…especially if they are a hot car, which I’m sure was the case at the time, even if we wouldn’t think so these days. The look of cars changes from era to era, and while the big clunkers of old, were not the sporty cars of today, they were cool then.
I was looking at family pictures the other day, and I noticed just how many of these pictures used cars as a backdrop for the picture. I began to wonder why that is. Maybe in the beginning, when cars first came out, it was because cars were such a novelty. I can completely understand having your picture taken with a treasured automobile, or one that has been fixed up as a show piece, but these were daily drivers, so what was the draw to include them in the picture? I mean, it’s just a car…right?
Nevertheless, here in the family history, I find shot after shot of people sitting on the running board, standing beside and even sitting on their cars in the picture. Personally I have always preferred some beautiful scenery as the backdrop for the pictures I take or those I have taken by someone else, but maybe that’s just me. The latest thing in pictures seems to be the railroad tracks, not that the railroad tracks are a totally new idea either; or even pipes in an alley or an alley stairway. I suppose these are something different, and that is the draw, but they are not my favorite scenes.
The car, however, seems to be the backdrop of choice in all sides of my family. I guess that we all just love our cars. Even I have had my picture taken in a car, back when we owned a sports car. Maybe it is a status symbol, and we just have to show the world that we are doing quite well financially. That might work, except, my family doesn’t really seem the type to feel the need to flaunt the things they have been blessed with. No, for them, I just think they really liked their cars and wanted to have a memory of them.
In the family history writings of my Uncle Bill, you will often find that he tells you the year, make and model of the car he was driving at the time of an event. He really liked cars, and he felt that they were a part of the family history, because they depicted the way things were in the family at that time in history. I guess that in the modern era of cars, computers, planes, and other such advanced technology, we will see more and more pictures of people with things that are in some way of value to them. And maybe that it why I like having pictures of scenery in my pictures. I love to hike, so nature scenes are the things I like…the things that have value to me….making me the same as everyone else who takes pictures with the important things in life. Who knew?