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Antique Words

I came across the phrase "Fender Skirts" in a book yesterday. It's a term I hadn't heard in a long time. Thinking about fender skirts started me thinking about other words that quietly disappear from our language without notice, like "curb feelers" and "steering knobs." Remember "Continental kits?" They were rear bumper extenders with a spare tire cover that were supposed your car as cool as a Lincoln Continental. What happened to "emergency brakes?" At some point, "parking brake" took over. Don't you miss the drama that goes with "emergency brake?"

What about "dimmer switches" on the floor? And "choke?" And "vent windows?" It's sad that nearly all the folks who called an accelerator the "foot feed" are gone now. Did you ever wait at the street for your daddy to come home so you could ride the "running board" up to your house?

What happened to "store-bought?" Of course, everything is store-bought these days, but once a store-bought dress or a bag of store-bought candy was bragging material.

"Coast to coast" once held all sorts of excitement, but now means almost nothing. We even take "worldwide" for granted.

In the '50s, everyone covered their hardwood floors with, wow, "wall-to-wall" carpeting! Today, everyone replaces their wall-to-wall carpeting with hardwood floors. Go figure.

When's the last time you heard the quaint phrase "in a family way?" It's hard to remember that the word "pregnant" was once considered too graphic for polite company. Instead, we had talk about "the stork" and "being in a family way" or simply "expecting." "Brassiere" is another word no longer in usage. I said it the other day and my daughter cracked up. It's just a "bra" now. "Unmentionables" would get an even bigger laugh And what's a "Sanitary Belt?"

We went to "picture shows," not "films."

"Percolator" was such a fun word to say. And what replaced it? "Coffeemaker." How dull. This is your fault, Joe DiMaggio; you and your buddy, Mr. Coffee!

Most of these terms date to the '50s, but here's a '60s word for you: "rat fink." What a putdown! And remember those made-up marketing words that were supposed to sound modern, but now sound just retro? "DynaFlow," "Electrolux," "Introducing the 1963 Admiral TV, now with 'SpectraVision!'"

Did I miss the telethon that wiped out "lumbago?" Nobody ever complains of that anymore. Is that what "castor oil" cured, because you never hear mothers threaten their kids with that anymore, either. Some other words are definitely on the endangered list, like the one that grieves me most: "supper." Now everybody eats "dinner." Save a good word; invite someone to "supper." You could discuss fender skirts.