Friday, January 12, 2007

Signage of the Times


We're parked in front of Mel's Filling Station on Dorchester Road, North Charleston, SC. Don't expect to pick up any Quaker State motor oil or S&H Green Stamps or any of the ten cents per gallon gasoline. This is not a functioning store, but an automotive museum. The classic signage on the building is more than a gesture of nostalgia. Next door is a garage filled with old automobile from the thirties, forties and earlier.

Today, January 11, was to be the first regular meeting of the Lowcountry Model A Club. We didn't pop over to check it out, but devoted owners of classic cars seldom miss an opportunity to get together. Those who suffer through laborious restoration of ancient automobiles obtain a bond similar to brothers of combat.

The Mustang in the photo is actually a nostalgia driven design. It owes a lot of its lines to the 1969 Mustang GT. Now that the Baby Boom Generation is the 50 to 60 year old range, nostalgia is a heavy pitch tool in marketing.

We wonder whether our graceless present so overwrought with expediency and mass marketing causes our longing for kinder times or whether we tend to paint the past with a warm sepia tone that obscures the reality of those good old days.

Anyone who has ever hand cranked a Tin Lizzie or fretted over old pitted ignition points or tried to hand tune the carburetors of early 60's sports cars learned now expressions of profanity in the process. The pure fact is that living day to day with what are now classic cars was no small misery when one depended on those rigs for daily transportation. Not one honest person in a hundred would not be grateful for today's microprocessor controlled cars which start first time, every time cruising 100,000 miles between tune-ups.

It's only when we are safely out of such dark ages and able to afford modern, comfortable, safer transportation that we begin to miss the bad old times. What men once suffered bitterly through out of necessity they now undertake joyfully as hobbies.


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