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Tales from the old-timer

The Sunday Drive

“Old-Timer’s Column” submission courtesy of Old-Timer’s daughter, Janie Martin of Oklahoma



*****

Recently my husband mentioned the old custom of taking a “Sunday Drive,” which was a common reference when I was younger but seldom heard now. It got me thinking about the history of the custom, and why it doesn’t seem to be part of our lives any longer.

The “Sunday Drive” was normally a journey without a set destination. The family would gather in the car and set off, enjoying the scenery out the windows and chatting. Sometimes it would involve a stop or two, weather permitting, to browse in a store or get a meal or stop at either Produce Dairy in Marinette or Ideal Dairy in Menominee for an ice cream cone. It was the time after church, and before the work week began again.

It may have had roots in an earlier time, when farm families spent the week in isolation, but then hitched up the horses who provided the labor for the farm implements and went to call on neighbors for some socializing. Perhaps it was also to observe the Christian guideline of “no work” on the Sabbath.

When I was a child we would get visits from my friend’s parents who would arrive in mid-afternoon. The adults would watch the football game and visit and the kids got some play time. They’d depart before we had a casual Sunday supper. Other times it was my paternal grandparents, who would arrive in their huge blue sedan and play a game of cards at the kitchen table.

Before I got married, Sunday afternoon was time to head to a park or other outdoor attraction, followed by a stop for a beer. After my children were born, my husband and I continued to take Sunday outings, which the kids looked forward to. Sometimes it was a package of hotdogs and a bag of chips to enjoy over a campfire at a park. Usually a hot dog would drop in the coals, be retrieved and eaten anyway.

Sometimes we’d stop at some little country bar for a pizza or hamburger dinner and the kids would play the pinball machine. When I tell my Oklahoma friends this, they are as shocked as they would be if I said I was a child abuser, but the Wisconsin little friendly country bars so common in those days were as safe and family-friendly as church on Sunday afternoons.

Seems like most of us are so over-scheduled now that Sunday afternoon isn’t family or socializing time any more, and we’ve lost something because of it.


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