We were admiring the beautiful styling of a first-gen Ford Taurus wagon today, and the conversation drifted to childhood times spent in the family wagons that our parents and friend's parents used to own. I'm talking about sitting in the fold-up, rear-facing, third row seat that the older wagons used to have. Where the view was not of where you were going, but of where you had been.
Being a kid in a car was always frustrating. You couldn't reach the radio to change it to the station you wanted, your view was obscured by the front seats, and you had to deal with those damn child-safety windows that only rolled down partially. It just wasn't fair! Everything conspired to reinforce the fact that the car was basically a rolling playpen you couldn't escape, and you were much too old to be stuck in some damn playpen!
But, if you were lucky enough, sometimes your "mobile prison" was in that magical seat that disappeared beneath the cargo area. Inhabiting that seat was like getting away with stealing some cookies, and your parents never suspecting you. The huge rear window giving a view akin to a wide-screen television, the fact that you weren't forced to look past your parents to see the world, put together gave a moment of freedom in an otherwise captive enviroment.
Even with onboard DVD systems and rear seat radio and climate controls that you find in today's SUV's and minivans, they all lack the magic of that wagon-style third-row seat. Watching Finding Nemo may placate the rugrats for a little while, but it can't compare to the mystical moments spent watching the world go by in reverse.
1 hour ago