To listen to this post in French, click below
It was Kenju’s post that set me wondering and remembering.
Do you remember when children used to ride in the window ledge above the back seat of cars? As a very young child, I used to love riding up there, warmed by the sun on the window. Being in motion always made me a little carsick, so climbing into the warm window ledge put me to sleep, and I could tolerate the ride without getting sick.
Well, let me tell you, I don’t remember anything of the kind. Have a look at the car below, and at its size: can you imagine a child lying there? I don’t think this is something I have ever seen in this country. I’ve seen small dogs or cats on the window ledge but never a child.
Ever since I was a little girl, I have always hated riding in cars. I don’t remember my parents not having a car. The car was a luxury for many people when I was little, but to my father, it was indispensable for his work. First when they were working on open-air markets, and later on when my father travelled twice a week from Amiens and Rouen to collect items that they would sell in their Paris shop.
Sometimes, the whole family packed into the car, and we would go to Deauville where my parents had a small house with a garden. In those days, there was no motorway from Paris to Normandy and the 200 km trip took quite a long time, as we had to drive through small towns, which considerably slowed us down. On busy days, the trip could take up to three or four hours. Anyway, in those days, in my child’s perception of time, one hour in the car was sheer torture. One couldn’t really move around, and I was always being sick. When I said that I didn’t feel well, my father always said that I had to wait a little while longer, he couldn’t stop straight away, he had to find a suitable spot, but the truth, I felt, was that he just didn’t want to stop. And more than once did I end up throwing up on the edge of the road, or worse, in the car. But when it came to driving, my father just didn’t want to listen to anyone. He was the only one in the family who could drive, and that made him the sole master aboard.
My cousin R. , six years younger than me was even worse, when she warned that she was not feeling well, if Dad didn’t stop in the next few minutes, there we were, bathing in foul smells!
The car was the only place in the world where I could actually get bored! I always had a book at hand wherever I went, but I just couldn’t read in the car, it made me car-sick.
In those days, we didn’t have a radio, much less a cassette player and cd players didn’t exist. So when my mother was in the mood, we’d play games like telling stories about the shape of clouds, or guessing games in which she’d say the first and last letter of a name, and I’d have to guess which capital city it was, or we’d review the capital cities of every country I knew the name of. Or we’d sing songs.
Later on, they fed me Dramamine before each trip, and that made it even worse because it made me sleep hours on end, a sleep full of nightmares probably induced by the drug.
Those looooong, endless car rides felt like the world would be in motion and uncomfortable forever, a world in which I had no say at all.
About the photo, my father loved Peugeots, so the car in the photo was a Peugeot, and on the side, at the level of my father’s shoulder, there was an arrow that would actually stick out, indicating that you were about to make a turn, instead of today’s turning lights. One little detail I had forgotten, but I can still hear the click sound it made 😉