Sunday Drivers

 

By Pamela Perry Blaine

© April 30, 2005

 

 

There used to be a term that was used to describe someone who

drove their vehicles down the highway while gawking at the scenery. 

These drivers just drove slowly, taking their own sweet time,

as if they had nothing to do and no place in particular to go.

 Thus, the expression, “Sunday Driver”, was born and it was

usually uttered in a derogatory way.  Consequently, a Sunday driver

wasn’t necessarily someone who was driving on a Sunday. 

A person could be a Sunday driver any day of the week. 

The expression simply meant that the person was an

obstacle to other drivers who were in a hurry.

 

The expression probably came about because there was a time

when people would often decide to go for a leisurely drive

on Sunday afternoons.  A Sunday drive was a common occurrence

years ago and especially on a nice warm sunny day.  There were

no stores open on Sunday because of the “blue laws” so you needed

to be sure and fill up the gas tank and make any

other needed purchases before Sunday arrived.

 

A lot of states have abolished blue laws but for those who don’t

 remember that time, the blue laws regulated what could be bought

or sold on Sundays. They began back in the early days of our country

and were based on one of the ten commandments: “Remember the sabbath day,

to keep it holy.”  Some of the states had strict blue laws that even

prohibited some activities on Sunday.  The name “Blue laws” probably

 came from the term “bluenose’ which referred to a person who was

 very rigid in their behavior.  While the Blue laws may have been too

restrictive in some ways, there is still a lot to be said for the slow,

gentle life that once existed where Sunday was set aside as a day

of rest and worship instead of being “just another day” where people

had an attitude of business as usual.  It was a time when very few

people worked on Sunday except for those professions vital to

our well being such as those in the medical profession.  It was a

day “set apart” that was used to rest, visit with neighbors and friends,

or maybe go to Grandma’s house for supper. Today there are many

who return to work and children who go back to school overly

tired on Monday due to a lack of rest.  Perhaps there would be less

stress related illnesses if we really kept Sunday as a day of rest.

 

Many families used to attend church on Sunday morning and then go

for a drive and perhaps take a picnic lunch along.   They might stop

 at  a park, a lake, or simply think it fun to take off down an old

country road to see where it ended up and hope it didn’t

dead end in someone’s driveway. 

 

There was a time when driving wasn’t quite as dangerous as it is now. 

One reason was that there weren’t as many cars and trucks on the highways. 

At least some things have improved as far as safety because the vehicles

that we had when I was growing up had no seat belts.  The baby seats

that they had then were not really created for safety as much as

they were made so the child sat up high enough to see outside. 

Sometimes you would even see a child lying up on the back ledge between

the back seat and the back window.  The only safety feature we had

was Momma’s arm stretching out across you upon coming to a sudden stop. 

This is better known as Momma’s martial arts.   It is an unwritten,

inherited law of all mothers because it doesn’t matter that you became

an adult, you still get “the arm across the body” hold

if you are next to a mother who is driving.

 

There has always been a certain amount of impatience displayed

by some drivers.  Usually this was exhibited by rolling down the window

and yelling something like, “Sunday driver!”  Rolling down the window did

take a little longer because there were no electric windows and you had

to wind those windows up and down but maybe that gave a little extra time

to calm down.  So you see, road rage is not a new thing at all.

 

As the years went by, cars began to come equipped with new options. 

I remember the first time we had an automatic transmission and there

 were no gears to shift.  Then there were other things like power

steering and power brakes.  However, the most exciting thing to me

as a child was when we got a car with a radio.  I thought that was

a big deal.  For a youngster it was kind of like that country song about

everything being wrong with the car but “there ain’t nothin’

wrong with the radio.”  That was what was important to me. 

 

Another thing that we don’t see very often these days is arm signals. 

No, this has nothing to do with Momma’s martial arts “arm across the body”

 hold.  I’m not sure too many people even know them anymore unless

perhaps those who ride a horse or a bicycle on the road.  Before vehicles

had electronic turn signals, the driver used arm signals to tell others

when they were turning or stopping.

 

These days we have more traffic and more distractions.  We have

cell phones, miniature televisions, CD and tape players, and fast food

to nibble on and spill all over ourselves while we are driving.

 

Years ago, there were not nearly as many distractions and

about the only ones we had were energetic children and signs and billboards. 

My favorites were the little Burma Shave signs that were spaced

several feet apart and as you drove you could read a little poem. 

The poems advertised their shaving cream but many of them

also contained a good moral or safety tip. 

  


Within this vale
Of toil
And sin
Your head grows bald
But not your chin

Burma-Shave

 

Around
The curve
Lickety-split
It's a beautiful car
Wasn't it?
Burma-Shave

 

Thirty days
Hath September
April
June and the
Speed offender
Burma-Shave

 

Don't
Try passing
On a slope
Unless you have
A periscope
Burma-Shave


 

Passing cars
When you can't see
May get you
A glimpse
Of eternity
Burma-Shave

 

Twinkle, twinkle
One-eyed car
We all wonder
WHERE
You are
Burma-Shave

 

These three
Prevent most accidents
Courtesy
Caution
Common sense
Burma-Shave

 

If you
Must sample
Her "pucker paint"
Better drive
Where traffic ain't
Burma-Shave

 

 


The Burma-Shave company often mentioned safety

and yet the sign itself could be distracting

so I wrote a little sign of my own:

 

If you are reading

Burma-Shave signs that you see

Be careful before

You run into a tree!

 

By Pamela Perry Blaine

© April 30, 2005