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Two Backseat Barbarians

by Eva Pasco


Before lap belts and harness seat belts were standard auto features, my father would draw an imaginary Maginot Line along the backseat to keep my sister and I at our respective windows.  The gesture did little to quel our arguements on family trips, prompting my dad to pull over along the highway to discipline both of us and inflict shame by calling us barbarians ... 
 I shake my head and marvel how any of us children of the Sixties could have turned out fine as I mind travel down my own memory lane... 
* My sister and I often sprawled out in the back of our family station wagon with nothing to safeguard us against potential injuries sustained by bumps or abrupt stops.  We'd egg our father to drive over the jersey bounds on Cobble Hill Road as though our vehicle was part of a roller coaster train. 
 * My sister and I loved those smoking guns--cap guns, of course. We also took perverse pleasure in pounding a strip of caps to see who could produce the loudest explosion. 
* Remember those candy cigarettes?  My sister and I must have smoked a pack a day as we strutted in our mom's vintage clothing, fake fur stoles, wide-brimmed hats, and high heels like two Madison Ave. society matrons. 
* My sister and I could never quench our thirst slurping down syrup from wax molded in the shape of mini Vodka bottles. 
* Like all children of the Sixties, we had our fair share of skinned and scraped knees our mom  benevolently painted with Mercurochrome.  We even had our temperatures taken with a mercurial thermometer.  Now, we've all been scared silly about breaking one of those new energy saving lightbulbs for fear of emiting Mercury into the environment.  Ha!  
* Unmasked, my sister and I inhaled plenty of toxic fumes from spray paint and modeling glue working on our science projects. 
* In elementary school, we toted our lunch to school in metal lunchboxes without the benefit of ice packs to chill mayonnaise.  We drank milk from slippery glass bottles despite the high incidence of drop and splatter.  Every kid we knew who carried their own thermos had it filled with milk, the only beverage acceptable for growing children. 
* Swamped with homework, we carried our schoolbooks like a layered cake bound by a rubber strap, throwing off our gait at the hip.  Although, today's backpacks cause our youth to slump forward. 
*My sister and I watched our quota of violent cartoons such as "Popeye" and reruns of "The Three Stooges." Though our friends may have nyuck nyucked,  all of us knew better than to smash a plate over someone's head or poke our fingers in each other's eyes. 
I'm just one of many Baby Boomers who survived such childhood ordeals, seemingly unscathed.  Even though consumer advocates and politically correct stumpers may have made inroads in the name of safety, the restrictive straight jacket of the harness seatbelt couldn't prevent two backseat barbarians from brawling and invading each other's territory. 

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Underlying Notes by Eva Pasco  An E. Quiche by Eva Pasco



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