Weird things our ancestors used to do: Parked cars

Weird things our ancestors used to do: Parked cars

(Weird things our ancestors used to do is the script for a fictional podcast from some fifty or more years into the future where our two hosts, F and T discuss the strange lifestyle habits of people living in cities over the ages)

T: So you mean, cars, they used to be just sitting on the side of the street, like, waiting there, all day? How did they fit? Didn’t they get in the way?

F: Haha, yeah, imagine it, like streets with all these cars parked along the sides. The city would look like a great big car display centre.

T: Haha, yeah, how would you, like, get into the shops? It would be like one big wall of cars. Like you’d have to squeeze in-between the front of one car and the back of another.

F: Well, in today’s episode we’re going to look at the Sydney streetscapes of the twentieth and early twentieth century and explore the phenomenon of car parking.

T: I still can’t get my head around this. So, individual people were responsible for leaving a car that they drove on the side of the road, in the city, and they’d just leave it there all day, and then get back in and drive home.

F: Yes, that’s right T, they even had things called ‘pay and display’—want to have a guess what that was?

T: Let me guess…umm…so people paid a certain amount of money and they could display things in their cars so other people might buy them, like shops.

F: Haha. Close. No. Let me get the dictionary here. Play and display was: ‘a parking system in which a motorist buys a temporary permit from a coin-operated machine and displays it in the window of the vehicle.

T: Coins. That was a fun episode. If you didn’t hear our program on coins, search the archive.

F: One of the best.

T: I’m still way off getting this pay and display business. ‘Coin operated machine.’ So you’d park your car on the side of the street, in front of like a house or a shop, right where people are walking, and then this machine would come over to you, take your little bits of metal, that you’ve been carrying around in a bag all day, and then it would give you a, what was it…”

T: A permit, a permit or a ticket.

F: …a permit that you’d then leave in your window. What did they look like, these permits? Mine would have been yellow for sure.”

T: We all know how much you like yellow F, but tickets were generic. They only showed things like the date, the time your permit expired and identification details abut the city council.

F: Shut up. You mean, like, you couldn’t have your own photo on them or anything?

T: Just a bit of paper with some numbers F.

F: Get out.

T: Well, just so we don’t bore you with our banter and our mock horror all day, we’ve got a guest who, would you believe it, was alive when people used to park cars on the street, and can even remember getting a parking ticket. No this is really going to confuse you F. People used to get fined for leaving their car in a park for too long. They’d get parking tickets. Often quite hefty fines, that were issued by parking inspector.

F: Shut up.

T: Kieren, are you there. Kieren, are you there?

K: Yes, yes. I’m here.

T: Great. Now my host F is struggling to believe this, and many of our younger viewers will too, but you remember getting a parking ticket when you were younger. Would you like to tell us a bit about that?

K: Well, a parking ticket, now, that was a real kick in the teeth, I think they got up as high as five hundred dollars, if you parked in a No Standing.

F: No Standing?