Is the golden age of road trips a thing of the past? Or not?
It’s the golden age of the road trip thing of the past? Or is he still alive and, well, doing a lot better than you might think? And what about the future, when we’re promised that our vehicles will drive on their own, just letting us roll around and enjoy the ride?
The trigger for the thoughts that follow is a book, On the road: old photographs of people and their cars. The book was published a few months ago by East London-based Hoxton Mini Press and is the result of The Anonymous Project, filmmaker Lee Shulman’s effort to preserve and share through storytelling the memories of the people he they captured on Kodachrome photographic slides.
Schulman started his project in 2017 and by the time of the book’s publication he had collected nearly 800,000 slides, including more than 100 – taken on road trips in the mid-20th century – reproduced in the book.
Shulman writes that the slides are “little windows into our past” and that he put them together “like a road movie, together they form a bigger picture: that of our shared collective memory”.
I read the short text and looked at the photos, then I watched them again, then again a few days later, and my first thought was memories of road trips with my parents and younger brother around that mid-century era.
We took road trips to New England to see the fall leaves, to Texas to visit relatives and a few years later to Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia where a Royal Canadian Mounted Police officer showed my brother and I how to find worms under rocks. to use for fishing.
There was a trip to damp South Carolina to visit my parents’ friends when they and friends were on active duty, working in Navy hospitals during WWII. There have been several trips from Illinois to Montana, where my grandparents lived for a few years after my grandfather retired as a prison warden and accepted a consultant position to the governor for help cope with the aftermath of the riot at Deer Lodge State Prison. .
Looking through On the road reminds me of those trips, those cars without air conditioning, but also the sights seen and the family together. Drowned in nostalgia, my first thought was that the era was over.
But then I thought of my own parenthood, or our road trips, big van and minibus, but also some involving planes and rental cars. Again, the last memories are of sights seen and as a family together.
These days I do what I can to avoid stealing, which has meant wonderful road trips, including one in 2020 from Las Vegas to Orlando through Michigan and back, and with an 11-year-old granddaughter not only on a shotgun, but demonstrating how she and his smartphone offer incredible navigation services.
Again the trip provided an array of sights to see as well as family visits along our route.
And just like there was a theme for the shared slides in On the road, so also, there is a theme in my memories, and maybe also in yours.
The golden age of road trip does not belong to the past, but to the present and, quite possibly, to the future as well, as families come together in a vehicle and share sites and time together during their journey. trip.