In 1976 or so, Jackson Browne wrote about traveling in a tour charter, saying:
We’ve got country and western on the bus, R & B
We got disco in eight tracks and cassettes in stereo
We’ve got rural scenes & magazines
We’ve got truckers on CB
We’ve got Richard Pryor on the video
So, ‘stereo’, oh boy. Now we have stereo in our pockets. My children and theirs have all that and better, mounted on the seat backs of the family van. Maybe not so many rural scenes and fewer magazines.
Then there are the roads. When I was that boy the highway trip from my family home in Ann Arbor to grandpa’s house in Chicago was a miserable, not-air conditioned, cramped eight hours in the ’48 Ford. (No videos, no R&B, no CB, just us three squirming kids. And not the pictured actual particular car.) Now that 250 miles takes four hours (and has all the above).
It was even tougher before my time.
Dad courted mom from his first job, assistant pastoring of a church in Jackson, Michigan which she lived at home in Chicago. It was the Thirties, the Depression. Dad had a Model A which cruised at 45, which makes the trip to see his girlfriend an eight plus hour grind each way. He says that he was earning $18 a week, and that he could make the trip to Chicago only three times a year. The rest of of the time he wrote letters.
By the time I was making that trip by myself, it was that painless four freeway hours with choice of stereo. The last leg into Illinois and Indiana of my childhood trips was thru East Chicago and Gary, under the red glowing walls of the great steel mills, a distinctive, poisonous smell that I can still recall. Now you could go look, but the mills are gone, and the highway goes way around Gary anyway.