Friday, December 7, 2007

The Ross Family Truckster

 Vacation (1983). 
Clark and Rusty checking out their
new metallic pea-green Wagon Queen Family Truckster.

Lets start at the beginning:  The mode of transport used to explore the city in my younger years. A car that helped to ingrain our routine travel escapades into memorable occurrences...

Not unlike the 'love' that the Griswold's had for their Truckster, we celebrated these trips in an army-green behemoth with faux-wood siding, aluminum luggage rack, and hidden rear-facing back seat (with green synthetic carpet) exiting to the back "5th door". A glorious masterpiece of automotive aesthetics.

 The Ross Family Truckster (1978).
That's me in front, burning my fingertips on
our 1970s Buick Estate Station Wagon.

This picture was taken in the late-70s, a time when the summers seemed extremely arid and the winters deeply lush. Maybe I'm just associating this with the vinyl seats - scalding and sticky in the summer, cold and rigid in the winter - or the weak ventilation in the car, but nevertheless, the encompassing faded-grey urban environment showed increasing wear - an abundance of cracked concrete and worn metal. This was especially apparent with our frequent trips down Fort Washington Way

 Fort Washington Way overpass (January 1977). 
My sister cheerfully eating cotton candy in the middle of winter
near the now-extinct Riverfront Coliseum. 

We were Eastsiders (specifically, Andersonians), so to get to this location, we normally ignored the outerbelt and took Columbia Parkway (eastern artery from downtown). 

The interesting thing about the parkway at that time was that residents living on the hill above could temporarily park their cars on the side of the road, then climb steps that were built into the hillside retaining wall to their homes. I always thought that was so cool, yet hazardous because of the high speed limit, lack of stoplights, and proximity to passing traffic.

Also, the hillside and surrounding environment were always overgrown (maybe remnants of Longworth's experimental vineyards), and again, during the summer everything looked kind of scorched, which made an imaginary trip up any of the multitude of stairways a little disconcerting - you could never really see where the paths ended.

Regardless of these immature environmental perceptions, this was Cincinnati in its heyday to me - the muddy-toned late-70s and early-80s.

Aside from the basics of analog technologies - AM/FM radio tuners, free four-channel TV, and pea-green wall-mounted telephones with 50' spiral cords - there were no "modern" tools of mass communication being used yet en masse. You could only just barely catch the scent of cell phones, cable TV, and personal computers (gaming systems, internet, etc.). Thus, there always seemed to be people on the streets, events in the air, and a general love for your neighborhood. Everything seemed to have a purity - every action was a wholesome, somewhat enigmatic, yet fully-anticipated destination...

...the good ol' days.

1 comment:

ekalb said...

How many memories this post brings back. I grew up in Anderson. Went to Sherwood Forest elementary. I remember the bus ride every morning going through the neighborhood with streets named Friar Tuck, Maid Marian... I also remember my mother taking my brother and I to downtown via Columbia Parkway. I remember getting caught behind a mail truck and seeing the mailman disappear up one of those staircases. Always intrigued me as a kid what kind of houses were up on the hill. They were like hidden fortresses to me.