Opinion: A drive down Memory Lane


Commentary by Ward Degler

My wife and I went for a Sunday Drive last week. I refer to it as a proper noun because back in the dark ages of my youth, it was a special event, a part of our culture.

The Sunday Drive had no particular destination, no special purpose and no length or duration. It was just something lots of folks did on Sunday afternoons.

It happened right after the Sunday dinner table was cleared, the dishes washed and put away and the digestive process had soothed our souls. Dad yelling, “In the car everybody, we’re going for a drive,” was the signal to scramble.

We usually drove out of town and along country roads. Sometimes, Dad would point out something special he had seen while at work during the week. There was a farmer that had a good apple crop coming in soon. We could get firewood from another. And yet another had blackberries growing at the edge of his pasture. Mark that down for late June. And there was always a new picnic location to be visited later.

Despite appearing aimless, there was a routine to our Sunday Drives. My sister sat on the right side of the back seat and I sat on the left. We were told at the start of the drive, “Whoever sees a white horse gets an ice cream cone. See two white horses and get double dip.” Sis and I glued our eyes to the windows, our mouths watering for ice cream.

There were perils, too. Occasionally, in our zeal we would mistake a goat or sheep in the distance for a horse. When that happened, we had to close our eyes for a full minute.

No matter where our drive took us, we always wound up at the dairy or the drug store. Everybody got ice cream, of course, but one of us usually got a double dip.

Just about everybody took Sunday Drives back then. Gas was cheap and we weren’t yet burdened with the multiple distractions common to our culture today.

Back then, the drug store was open on Sunday, but only for a couple hours so that folks could fill prescriptions and enjoy an ice cream soda after the movie matinee. Everything else was closed and dark on Sunday.

Sadly, the Sunday Drive died in the fall of 1973 when Arab oil producers declared an embargo on oil imports to America and other countries they perceived as being pro-Israel. Gas pumps ran dry, and when it was available, the price soared above $2 a gallon. No one drove anywhere unless it was necessary.

Lamentably, that included the Sunday Drive.