The cows walked without restraint; “driven” to the pasture. An errant cow might wander off to taste grass of a neighbor’s lawn, but the desire to be with her sisters was stronger and she abandoned the spate of independence to rejoin the herd.
People drove livestock from one place to another and it was man’s, or boy’s, work. A horse-drawn buggy or wagon was managed or driven by males and therein lies, I believe, one of the odd artifacts of our history and explains why driving cars today is man’s work.
My independent great-great grandmother, Irish born Margaret McWilliams McClure, harnessed and drove her own buggy into her 80s. She often traveled alone, wearing her little Irish cap, from East Armuchee to visit her daughter, Crissie McClure Stewart, in Rock Spring.
In those days, a woman diving a team of horses while a man sat in the passenger seat would have drawn attention. To this day driving the family car is mostly man’s work and some parts of our cars carry names that are artifacts of the past.
Traveling folks didn’t haul as much “stuff” as we do today. Personal luggage was a carpet bag with wooden handles. For extended trips, or to hold the clothing of a family, people used wooden chests called “trunks.” Some bright driver attached a trunk to the rear of his early automobile and the idea evolved into the compartment of modern cars still called a “trunk.”
Most parts of a horse-drawn wagon were replaceable. The part we call a wagon was actually the “box” made of wooden planks that sat on the “running gear.”
The floor was made of “floor boards.” The removable plank at the end of the wagon box to keep things from falling off the back was called a “tail gate,” such as we have on pickup trucks.
Because early cars were not enclosed, and there were no paved roads, drivers and passengers wore “car coats” to protect them from elements and dirt thrown up by the wheels. They also wore hats, goggles and gloves. Drivers kept gloves in a box attached to the frame — the glove box, or the “glove compartment.”
When cars became fast enough that wind became an issue, a glass shield was installed called the “wind shield.”
A fender is just another name for “barrier.” Fenders over the wheels contained mud slung up by the rotation.
To prevent water and mud from splashing into the open car a barrier was placed alongside the bottom of the outer frame and called “running boards.”
Hubcaps are more decorative than useful, but wheel hubs of early cars contained exposed nuts and large safety wires known as cotter pins. These necessary accouterments held the wheel to the axle but were easily bound up with mud and grass. The “hub cap” protected the hub.
Early car names came from industrialists Henry Ford, David Buick, Louis Chevrolet, Walter Chrysler, and others. It is interesting when a word flows through history and more interesting when you know its origin. And, people still notice when a woman drives with a man in the passenger seat.
Joe Phillips writes his “Dear me” columns for several small newspapers. He has many connections to Walker County, including his grandfather, former superintendent Waymond Morgan. He can be reached at email@example.com.