Lewis Reed’s “Sunday Prowlers”
Being of a certain age, going for a “Sunday Drive” was a fixture of life when I was a kid. Not to be confused with driving on Sunday, the Sunday drive meant climbing into the car with your family, for no particular purpose other than to get out of town, take in the scenery, and enjoy the pleasure of moving.
Lewis Reed belonged to a group of Sunday drivers, called the “Sunday Prowlers”. A typical day may have been going to church, coming home for Sunday dinner, spending a little time after the meal on the porch talking or dozing, and then piling into the car for a ride around town or into the country. Back in the day, Lewis Reed always carried his camera to take snapshots along the way. These previously unpublished photographs taken by Lewis Reed capture the lives of traveling companions of a bygone era.
While automobile travel offered an escape from everyday existence, motorists’ adventures were not always of the sort that they had sought. Carburetors got out of adjustment, valves burned, gears stripped, clutches fried, and electrical systems succumbed to mysterious ailments. Successful trips often hinged on the ability of drivers and passengers to do roadside repairs. Most problematic of all were tires, which had a useful life of only a couple thousand miles and were prone to go flat at the most inopportune times. Fixing a flat tire entailed wrestling it off the rim, patching the tube, remounting the tire on the rim, and energetically working a hand pump to re-inflate the tire.
For all their mechanical shortcomings, early automobiles were usually better than the roads on which they traveled.
From The Baltimore Sun 30 Jul 1922:
Driving a motorcar is better exercise than walking, according to Dr. Royal S. Copeland, Commissioner of Health of New York City… According to the doctor the slight physical effort needed in moving the steering wheel reacts on the muscles of the arms and abdomen… Summing it up. The doctor maintains that the motorcar is a wonderful aid in maintaining health and promoting happiness.
Since now, at least for a while, there isn’t much of anywhere to go, just “going for a drive” doesn’t seem like a such a bad idea.