I was replying to another blog that tickled my funny bone today & it made me recall some funny instances from when I was young.

Right off the top I would like to say I love Americans – my daughter is married to one!  But about 40 years ago when I made my first car trip to California I got such a kick out of their naivete.  I grew up in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, a very cold place indeed (even colder than Chicago if you can imagine).  Forty years ago, cars did not have the type of heating systems they have now, so we used to have to buy & install “frost shields” on our car windows every winter.  You would remove them in the summer because they would get so yellowed & brittle they would crack & look just awful.  Frost shields are pieces of plastic with sticky edges you apply directly to the inside of a clean car window.  Because there is a double layer of plastic in the middle, this area does not frost up & you are able to see a little bit out of your car windows when driving in the winter.  There were different sizes of frost shields for different windows – great big oval ones for your back window, smaller oval ones for your side windows, even triangular ones for your butterfly windows.

Because it’s so cold in the winter in Winnipeg, we also have to plug our cars in to get them started in the morning.  Most cars are fitted with a “block heater” which is a small coil installed near your block to keep your oil from becoming solid sludge.  You plug your block heater into an electrical outlet when you go somewhere for more than just a few hours if you want your car to start when you come out.  The cord is wound around your radiator & comes through the grill in the front of your car.  Most cars have an extension cord attached to the block heater cord which is also wrapped around your radiator, license plate or side mirrors.

In 1970, my family went for a visit to extended family in Los Angeles, California.  For whatever reason, we still had our frost shields on the windows & the block heater & extension cord on the front of the car.  While we were in the northern states, no one thought twice about the way our car looked – people in North Dakota had to put up with the same conditions we did, so they knew what this paraphernalia was all about.  But as we entered the southern states we started to notice people looking at our car funny.  On a hot day when we were waiting for nightfall to cross the desert to Las Vegas, we found a park with a public swimming pool & made a picnic lunch near our car & trailer.  After some great time splashing in the pool, my sister & I returned to the picnic site in time to hear my dad telling a man about how the frost shields on our car were to protect us from the arrows of marauding bands of Indians in Canada & the reason we had long cords on the fronts of our cars was because we had no gasoline in Canada, so all our cars had to run on electricity.  How long your cord was determined how long a journey you could go on with your car.  My dad is a pretty solemn fellow when he wants to be & he had this gent firmly convinced he was telling the truth.  He had also told him we lived in igloos in Canada & we mostly got around with dog sleds because our cars could only go as far as our cords allowed.  That evening as we drove through the desert we all had a good laugh about the gullible American gent!  I hope it wasn’t long before someone set him straight!

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