Isn’t it strange how certain words and phrases can be a part of our language and then quietly fade away without us hardly noticing? What’s even stranger is the look I get when I bring up such a word or phrase and expect younger folks to know what I am talking about.
A good example of that took place not long ago while I was walking with my three grandsons to our car in a parking lot. An extremely loud car came roaring by. “Wow! That car’s cool,” one of them remarked. The others nodded in agreement.
“He’s got a set of ‘Hollywoods’,” I said. Their look was that of total discombobulation. I quickly explained: “It’s what we used to call straight-through mufflers with glass packing that gives a low, powerful sound.” I seriously doubt if they had any idea what I was talking about, but they said they did.
That got me to thinking about other words and phrases that have slowly slid out of our vocabulary, especially when it comes to cars.
Back in the day when the ink on my first driver’s license was barely dry, I dreamed of owning a car with a “continental kit.” That was a spare tire that sat behind the trunk with a metal cover that needed rear bumper extensions.
There was the “steering knob” (also referred to as necker knobs) that allowed a driver to steer the car with just one hand.
Who amongst us Seniors can forget the “emergency brake”? Today, we call it a parking brake but that sure lacks the impact that emergency brake gives.
Then there were “fender skirts.” They were the metal coverings, painted the same color as the car, that partially covered the back tires, providing a more streamlined look to the car.
And what about “curb finders” – two wires installed on the lower part of the passenger side of a car to alert the driver when he or she is the proper distance from the curb while parallel parking.
Unfortunately, many of the drivers are no longer with us who referred to the accelerator as the “foot feed.” They, too, were accustomed to having the choke and throttle buttons on the dash and the dimmer switch on the floor.
Many of us weren’t around when every car had “running boards” to allow easy entry. They also allowed younger passengers to jump on and ride up the driveway when dad came pulling in after work.
Although it does not apply to automobiles, what happened to the phrase “store-bought”? I remember that phrase as a badge of honor, because it meant that an item was purchased in a store rather than made at home.
And while were at it, how about “percolator”? What a neat word that makes you visualize coffee perking. Now we have coffeemakers with names like Mr. Coffee and Keurig. That’s about as blasé as using the word dinner instead of supper.
Yep, we’ve lost a lot of wonderful words over the years, but for some reason most of the really nasty words are still around. Ain’t it a shame?
Ed Rood is the former publisher of Tri-County Times.