I’m writing this at the library from the cozy, cool confines of my car.
I’d planned on going inside, but a group of kids pulled up with their parents in a very nice SUV as I was walking in, and they were being a little too loud for me. They really weren’t being loud, as in loud and disrespectful. I simply couldn’t concentrate — too many bodies.
For some reason, when I saw them, it took me back to yesteryear. When I was a kid, we all piled into the backs of pickup trucks.
Some of my “rich folk” friends’ parents had the station wagons with the wood paneling look, but we rode in trucks. Those are great memories that I wouldn’t change for all the wood paneling SUVs in the world.
After baseball games, there was no such thing as “too many bodies” as we rode in the back of a truck to the local burger joint to get a burger, a small fry and a Coke for a buck. There was always room for one more.
I never played, but my friends always had room for me. There’d be 15 kids back there. Safety was not an issue. Neither was the heat. I’m not saying that’s right, but that’s how it was, and, to the best of my knowledge, no one ever fell out.
Few kids these days know very little if anything about this. If they were to see it today, some would likely look down on them. Some might even want to call the authorities for child abuse or endangerment.
I remember crowding into the back of a yellow 1978 F-100 one evening with a handful of friends and riding all the way from Opelika to Columbus. It was fun, and I never gave it a second thought, because it was so common.
Now as I do give it a second thought, it brings a smile to my face. What made it even better was that we piled into that truck to go watch wrestling. That’s back when it was “real.”
Our trip was around 30 miles, one way. I was curious as to what my other friends fondly remembered, so I posed the question on Facebook. These are a snippet of the replies.
» Seriously rode from Chattanooga to Gadsden. Pure hell.
» It must have been 1983 or 84, Scottsbluff, Neb., to Yellowstone Park and back, about 880 miles. Sitting on aluminum chase lounge chairs!
» Beauregard, Ala., to Mannford, Okla., with four siblings on artificial turf for extra cruel padding.
» Opelika to Panama City Beach every year. It did have a camper shell. And a mattress. We loved every second.
» From Dadeville to Atlanta to Six Flags and back home...left @ 6 a.m. and got back home around 3 a.m.
» From Opelika to Orlando and back with my feet hanging off the tailgate.
» Opelika to Gulf Shores. Sunburned and wind chapped by the time we got there.
» From Alabama to Chicago and back!!
There were many more testimonials. Every one of them brought a smile to my face.
I don’t blame today’s kids. They just don’t know any better. It’s not their fault. Now that I’m a parent, I’d be terrified to have mine back there for very long.
Times were different. Kids today ride in air conditioned SUVs with their devices. Back then, we rode in trucks...with our friends. And boy, do I miss those days.
Jody Fuller is from Opelika. He is a comic, speaker, writer and soldier with three tours of duty in Iraq. He is also a lifetime stutterer. He can be reached at email@example.com. For more information, visit www.jodyfuller.com.
Catch the latest in Opinion
Get opinion pieces, letters and editorials sent directly to your inbox weekly!