Whither goest everyone?

Where is everybody going? Every time I go out I am amazed at all the cars going hither and yon. How come they can drive around in the middle of the day? Doesn’t anybody work? Zip-zoom they go racing by, but they just seem to keep going. Very few turn off from the stream of traffic. Mostly they just roll on.

I remember a story about a little kid on an old TV show. They asked him if he knew what his father’s job was. “Sure,” he said, “He’s a train-rider. Every morning we take him to the train station and he gets on the train with his briefcase. Then we go back in the evening and he gets off.”

When we were in high school we kind of did this. It was called cruisin.’ Watch the old movie “American Grafitti” if you are not familiar. Gas was 25 cents a gallon and the cars were so simple that maintenance was a do-it-yourself deal in your driveway. We weren’t worried about wearing out the car and you could do a lot of cruisin’ for a dollar. It wasn’t like up here in the country where you had to drive 30 miles to get a haircut. Everything was close by so you could get a lot done while tooling around at slow speed in a limited area.

I have to wonder, if we didn’t have cars, would so many people be criss-crossing the landscape? I don’t think working people in the olden days took their horses out on the road unless they actually had something for them to do.

Today’s cars last way longer, mileage-wise, than our versions from the 1950s, but they seem to last just about as many years. I think this tells us something. Let me know if you figure it out.

• • •

It’s no wonder our roads are wearing out. We are over-using them. It’s not just the cars. Ever since Eisenhower forged the Interstate Highway System the number of trucks on the road has continued to grow. The old days of the railroad when goods were accumulated into one locale and then shipped together to another where they were then broken out into smaller parcels has given way to a lot of little parcels being carried from their source directly to their destination. It’s sort of like every railroad car has its own little engine. We are no longer willing to wait for the trains to be made up and broken down. We want our stuff now! So a bazillion little one-car trains run all over the place, but not on heavy duty steel tracks.

And about all those bicycles …

Bill Abrams resides in Pine Plains, where he faithfully remains unless there is just cause to leave — but not very far and only for a while.