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Friday, December 18, 2020




On a recent post involving my issues with Siri and directions, one person commented how she still uses a map.

This had me thinking nostalgically. 

Many young people today will never experience the trials and tribulations of road maps. 

Every service station used to sell road maps.  Local maps and maps for all the states.  They fit neatly into your car’s glove compartment.  I never understood why it was a glove compartment, it always just held maps.  Should have been called a map compartment.


Those maps were great; if you could read them.  I could never read them worth a damn.  Read them, Hell, I couldn’t even fold them.  My maps were jammed into the glove compartment folded all inside-out and backwards. 

Skilled people could follow the roads from fold to fold, and they knew their north from south along with distances based on the map scale.  I was helpless with a map. 

I probably inherited my ability from my Mom.

My Dad’s job had him relocated twice in the fifties from New York, to California and then back.  We made both trips by car, a 1951 Buick. 

We found our way following multiple state maps crammed into our glove compartment.  Mom was the chief map reader while Dad did most of the driving.  We often took back roads to visit various parks and must-see landmarks along the way.

Mom was not great at map reading.  The result was never pretty.

“Peg, does I 76 run into Bolderdash Drive.”

“I think so.”

“What think so? It either does or it doesn’t.”

“Well, Bolderdash Drive is kind of skinny and I 76 is this big thick thingy and it may go over Bolderdash because it looks like there is a bridge or something.”

“A bridge? Does it say ‘bridge’?”

“No but it is hard to tell, as it gets close, the fold in the map makes it confusing.”

This went on for several miles before Pop would finally pull to the side of the road and snatch the map away from Mom. 

There may have been cursing.

Why he never just pulled off the road every time in the first place I’ll never know.

Tradition, I guess.

Pop could read a map upside-down and backwards.  He could then flip the thing in the air and after a rhythmic “flap, flap, flap, hand it neatly folded back to Mom.


Years ago, before GPS was common, I used to participate on flyfish trips with friends Frog and Catfish out in Western Maryland. 

Frog always carried a huge book of maps of the area.  It was very detailed and a trip would require flipping the pages several times.  Frog and Catfish had been fishing in this part of Western Maryland several times and they knew the area like the back of their hands.  Still, they had to rely on the book and figure out the best route.

They passed the book back and forth all during the trip and argued.

“I’m pretty sure we can take a left at Possum Bluff and save a few miles to the cabin.”

“Yes, but that road is a bit rough after a rain.”

“It hasn’t rained in days.”

“Maybe not at home, but from the looks of the leaves on the persimmons trees it rained here recently.”

(Needless to say, Catfish was an expert at reading nature.)

“Oh yeah, plus that road does not pass the fly shop by Snot Grass Pass.”

“So, we should take the Old Dickweed Road?”

“That’s what I think.  What do you think Hagy?”

“What? I’m still trying to figure out what a persimmons tree is and how the hell you can judge rainfall by the leaves!”

Sometimes I think Frog and Catfish loved discussing maps more than they loved fishing.


Anyway, that is all I have on maps.  Young people are lucky to be born in a GPS world.

I can’t read a map, but I’m pretty good at listening to and following Siri’s directions. I hardly ever have to pull over and yell at Siri. 

Plus, there is now room for gloves in my glove compartment.




  1. I was SO glad when GPS came around. I was the map reader and not very good at it AT ALL! I was a nervous wreck trying to read it while hubby drove. Reminiscent of your mom and your dad. In the good old days the auto club would map out your route; that was fun to just follow along and easy to read. Our GPS messed up one time though. We thought we were going to Sedona but ended up in Happy Jack Arizona. We followed its directions to a T. Had an enjoyable day though so that was good

    I do also remember my husband buying yearly the update version of the Rand McNally maps. So much has changed in such a short period of time!


  2. The original purpose of the glove compartment was for the driving gloves that people wore when driving, possibly to protect their hands from sunburn and road dust or whatever cam up befoe cars were made completely closed in.
    I like maps and can fold them into the original creases too, but I only use them at home to find places that get talked about on the news. For instance, in another state here, New South Wales, the capital city, Sydney is having a growing cluster of virus cases, so I got out my map of Sydney and used buttons to highlight all the listed hotspots so I could see for myself just how widespread it is. And then I hoped all those New South Welshmen (and women) would kindly lock themselves at home and not bring their virus here to South Australia just because we now had our border open again.

  3. When we used Maps, we never had a car. So it was more of an armchair travelling.

  4. I love maps, all kinds. I can spend hours reading them.

  5. So what do I do when the GPS satellite lady says "turn left" and the lady sitting next to me reading the map says "turn right"?

    God bless.

  6. Maps are fun.

    When i used to deliver flowers for the flower shop, they would give us printed directions, and reminisce about the old days when they would go to the K&B Drug Store, buy out all of the city maps, mount them to cork boards, put thumb tacks in to show the locations of the deliveries, and take the whole cork board with them. Fun times, i am sure.

  7. I grew up with maps and am good at them. I had an uncle whose reading matter at dinner was a map. I disagreed with Siri once in Phoenix about her directions to a Costco. I ended up in a plowed field.

  8. Heh, heh! Old Dickweed Road!

    I am more comfortable with a map. Not good at listening, but if I see it, I can remember it. Can't fold a map worth a darn. I, too, bought the updated Rand McNally maps, the oversize book version.

  9. I love looking at maps. READING them isn't what I'd call it; more like admiring their artistry. The only maps I can truly read are subway and transit maps. Those I love to pore over and actually understand. I know the NYC nap better than most natives of that locale, no joke.

  10. Jack is really good at reading maps and keeps one in his car since he doesn't use the GPS..which I'm good at..on his phone. I'm horrible at map reading. I would go into a cold sweat on trips if I had to read them. I loved the AAA trip ticks we used to get. Now those were easy to follow! I have been lead astray by my GPS a few times. I like to get the step by step directions on line before a trip. Sort of a backup to the voice commando and Jack's maps. Can't be too careful!

  11. My husband loved to read maps as did his mother, and she never even went anywhere. When he and I travelled I had to copilot and read the map, examining it for the first time in poor light as the car zoomed down the freeway, highway or old dirt road. We often had conversations as you describe and he would be exasperated with me. A sure-fire welcome gift for him each year was a Rand Mcnally Road Atlas as he'd buy one if he didn't receive one. He hadn't been able to travel by the time GPS devices became commonly used.

  12. I’ve always loved maps. I still like looking at google maps before I leave. It’s nice to pick the route and have a general idea of north, south, east and west.