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CLAYTON RYE

By Staff | Nov 19, 2010

Last week I mentioned my first memories of a telephone were of my parents cranking a wooden box attached to a wall and asking Lottie to “Call two-eight” or some other two digit number or maybe a combination of 3 or 4 letters and numbers.

There were a few advantages of that phone system but that does not mean I want to go back to that anymore than I want to go back to tractors without cabs.

Today’s telephones are vastly improved so there are parts of the good old days that were not that good.

Maybe there are things that were sacrificed for the sake of progress. Is there something from those days of long ago that would be an improvement over what we have today?

Is there something that, in stepping backwards, would be a step forward? The short answer is, “Yes.”

To remember this, it helps to be around 60 years of age. So, if you are around that age, think hard and remember those cars built in the 1950s that, during this time of the year, had those heaters with a wonderful kind of heat that filled the entire car.

The reason those heaters worked so well was because they were located under the front seat. Heat radiated from the center of the car.

Water from the engine was pumped through the heater and because of the size of the heater there was plenty of warmth, once the coolant from the engine reached operating temperature.

In the early 1960s, cars were designed to be lower; one way was to lower the seat height.

There was no room under the seat for the heater. Heat was changed to come from an opening under the dash and while it worked, it was not as good.

Today we have heated seats but for those cars from over 50 years ago we had the original heated seats with the heater mounted directly underneath.

There was one drawback though. Each fall, when the heater was first turned on, there was dust sitting on the heater that had accumulated since the heater was shut off at the end of last winter.

When the heater was turned on at the beginning of the cool weather, the heat made the dust rise in the car’s interior and for a few minutes you could breathe the dust as it rose from under the seat.

My dad had a ’57 Pontiac, a pale blue Chieftain with white trim, and it had a heater under the seat and a radio that we listened to a slight buzz as it “warmed up” before we could hear anything from the radio itself.

That was the car that took us to California and back on two lane roads, pre-interstate highways, over a span of three weeks. What a trip.

I hope there is an imaginative automotive engineer who looks under a seat in the pickup or SUV, sees room for a heater, and puts one there.

In these days of sealed vehicles that seldom have an open window, there probably will not be any dust to breathe each fall at the beginning of the heating season. Not a problem.

Rye is a Farm News staff writer and farmer from Hanlontown. Reach him by e-mail at crye@wctatel.net.

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