When I was small, my brother and I had a window to ourselves in the backseat of our little car, and it was the safest form of entertainment. Standing up was tolerated until we also were hanging over the driver or passenger. Room was limited, but shoving against the back of the front seat to rearrange our bodies in our space drew even sharper rebukes. Best just to glue the nose and watch the cows graze and the corn grow.
Eventually my youngest brother was big enough to be intolerable in the front seat. He never sat still. He was sent back. At first I think Mel didn't notice he retained his relative seating position, between two people. But one day, and we were all dressed up, and probably going to visit a grandmother or cousins, Walt and Mel were in a spirited round of fisticuffs outside the car’s back door. It was over seating by the window.
Our father settled it on the spot. He told us the date and divided it by three. The scheme was, if the remainder was one, Joanne sat in the middle. If the remainder were two, Walt took the middle. If the number divided evenly, Melvin sat in the middle.
The plan proceeded beautifully. Well, the one in the middle often was miffed and engaged in surreptitious poking, there were admonitions from the front, but eventually we arrived somewhere, tumbled out and were pleasant until the drive home. The plan did not change when I was ten and one half years old and a new baby arrived.
As usual she lay on mom’s lap, then sat in the middle of the front seat. But before Jan could be sent to the back seat my parents were driving a big Dodge station wagon, a mobile living room, so to speak. A rear facing seat at the back, a regular bench seat in the middle. My brothers sat in back, where they could hang over the gate, as the window rolled down into the tailgate. By a push button up front!
I don’t know what became of the middle rule. Jan was seven when I left home, nine when Walt joined the military. Families had more than one car in the sixties. As I recall, there were two cars when I was a teenager, then a third that Jan drove. Melvin bought something candy apple red. Walt was stationed in England.
I asked Emily and Laura how they determined who sat in front. I expected an even or odd day answer, but learned it was whoever touched the door first. At least they worked it out.
Mel and his candy apple red, two door car. Best man at his best friend's wedding, I think 1966. Two door cars are another story, together with cleaning Beatles albums with alcohol (vodka!) Another day.