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Old-Fashioned Pickups

I miss bench seats.

Not the kind in the park. The ones they used to put in vehicles, especially pickups, back in the days before mandatory seat belt laws, bucket seats and center consoles with the handy compartment that collects junk faster than a Home Shopping Network addict.

My first car was a pickup. So was my second. And my third. I owned a car briefly, my last year in college. A full-sized Chevy station wagon with enough guts to pull my two horse trailer and space in the back for sleeping at the rodeos. I drove it for a year, then traded it in on a seventy-four Ford pickup with a manual transmission and rack and pinion steering.

And a bench seat.

Main Street in my home town was a mile long from the Point Drive-In at one end to the Winnerโ€™s Circle Supper Club at the other. Anyone with a car knew the distance exactly, because we dragged Main at every opportunity. Lunch hour, after school, Friday and Saturday night. No one had cell phones. If you wanted to hook up with your friends, you hit Main and cruised until you saw them, then pulled over at the park or the mall to make plans or hang out (Yes, we have a mall. What do you think this is, the wilderness?).

Main Street was also where you declared your romantic status. Forget class rings. When you cruised through the middle of town snuggled up next to your new flame on the bench seat of his pickup, everyone you met instantly knew you were a couple. On the flip side, when you saw a formerly cozy pair drive past, each plastered to their own door, you knew the relationship was not going well.

There were awkward moments. Did you sit next to a guy on a first date? Wait until the second? Sitting next to him on Saturday night after a school dance was one thing. Lunch on Tuesday in broad daylight was another matter entirely. When in doubt, there was safety in numbers. You just invited a friend along to ride shotgun, so you were in the middle, which was entirely different than sitting next to a guy when the passengerโ€™s side was vacant.

Gear shifts were another hazard, but if you dated a guy with a five speed, after the first bruise or two you learned to keep your knees out of the way. And the system was totally sexist. No teenaged male with a shred of coolness would be seen sitting next to his girlfriend while she drove.

Unless he could persuade one of his buddies to ride shotgun.

Last weekend, my husband and I saw a movie in the same theater where I went on my first date. The exterior still looks exactly like it did when I was in high school. Inside it had changed completely, which made me a little sad. But it still felt like the old days: munching popcorn, sharing a soda, holding hands. Afterward, as we climbed into my Jeep, I looked at the center console and sighed.

The evening would have been absolutely perfect if I could have cuddled up next to my sweetie on the way home.

KariLynn Dell – Montana for Real


11 Responses

  1. Awe. Sweet. Love it.

  2. Yep, I miss bench seats. Or I would if I had a sweetie. I miss drive in theaters also. Can you even get bench seats anymore? Our old feed truck has one, but, of course it’s 23 years old.

  3. Actually, the console in most of the new pickups flips up so someone can sit in the middle, but given the amount of crap we’ve usually got in the cupholders, flipping is NOT a good idea.

  4. Hubby has a truck and his console does flip up so I can cuddle next to him – that is unless the granddaughter is in the truck in the back seat. Her car seat fits between the driver and passenger seat and sticks out over the console.

    My brother bought an old either el comino or ranchero and is fixing it up. That even has a bench seat in it.

    I love the old cars/trucks. Classic pickups and muscle cars are my favorites.

  5. ah, KariLynn, good old memories. I miss bench seats! My husband wishes his truck has one now. He claimes because he doesn’t like the junk I pile in his cup holders, so having the middle folded up would stop it, but I know better. He wants me next to him. ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. I don’t think we ever had a bench seat. I mean my parent did growing up, but I’m pretty sure every car or truck we drove had a middle console. Never did get to snug up next to my honey.

    But the back seat of that Blazer did fold down ๐Ÿ˜‰

  7. I had a boyfriend in high school who wanted me “near and dear” as he drove BUT it was a freaking volkswagen bug! I was highly uncomfortable…no bench seat in those!

    And those stick shifts? Great time for guy to ever so casually brush the knee of his date, right?

    And Ms Liz..I’m shocked..just shocked that you know that the back seat of a Blazer folds down. ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. Oh, come on, now. You’re not really shocked. I have a sweet smile but a sinful nature ๐Ÿ™‚ LOL

    Every time I think about the back of that Blazer, I think about that Bob Seger song, “Night Moves”. That’s what we were working on. Of course, we were just practicin’ for each other since we eventually got married.

    Oh, but those nights…can’t recapture the mixture of shame, excitement and heat. Or maybe we could. We just need to find an oilfield to park in and a seat that folds down. ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. Now that I’m reminded there are things about the,”good old days” that I sort of miss.

  10. How sweet!
    You’ve made me remember how cozy it was to crowd together in a car on a bench seat. ๐Ÿ™‚

  11. What great memories you brought back for me. ๐Ÿ™‚ Hadn’t thought about those sweet moments in a long time.

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