55 MPH

I’ve written about the 55 MPH speed limit before.  It, like the AMC Gremlin and possible annihilation by Soviet missiles, was an experience.  It made an indelible mark on my psyche.  So much stupidity.  So much misery.  And that’s just the Gremlin!  Frankly you could make an argument in favor of the Gremlin.  It was, after all, better than walking (or death by fire).  Speaking of fire, there’s a point to mutually assured destruction too.  The point being we didn’t do it.  The 55 MPH limit, therefore stands alone.  It was so pointless, so universally ignored, so immensely loathed, so without redeeming qualities… that I can’t fully communicate its inherent pathos.  Ironically, the hate was so complete that there aren’t many references to it.  It’s as if America just wants to forget the whole ugly episode and move on to better things; like going bankrupt on a grand scale.

The lack of references is often the way fate of things that are both everywhere and without logic.  Here’s an example from today; nobody writes operas about TSA gropings.  Why?  Because everyone knows they suck, everyone puts up with it, and nobody but the fully and deliberately obtuse try to pretend that it’s not bullshit.  Who writes about bullshit while you’re swimming in it?

Perhaps someday we’ll get our collective heads out of our asses about the TSA.  If that happens we’ll probably forget about the blue gloved idiot wonders as much as we forgot about Carter’s brilliant innovation in transportation.

Would that mean future people simply wouldn’t be able to comprehend the futility of the TSA.  How do you explain a mall cop feeling up grandma and seizing a kid’s juice box?  How do you explain the 55 MPH speed limit to those who haven’t  experienced it?  How do you explain Leukemia to a hummingbird?

Never Yet Melted warmed my heart when they unearthed an old comic from the era:

The worst offenses against humanity should be punished by making the guilty drive across the Great Plains at 55 MPH with nothing but an AMC Gremlin and AM radio.  Particularly evil offenders should drink Tab while doing it.

The worst offenses against humanity should be punished by making the guilty drive across the Great Plains at 55 MPH with nothing but an AMC Gremlin and AM radio. Particularly evil offenders should drink Tab while doing it.

Never Yet Melted, like me, recalls 55 MPH as a law that nobody obeyed and compares it to modern fallacies.  Hat tip to them for the image and reference.

About Adaptive Curmudgeon

I will neither confirm nor deny that I actually exist.
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12 Responses to 55 MPH

  1. One point, It was Nixon, not Carter that signed the 55 law. It took effect Jan 1st 1974. I left Michigan on Jan 3rd and drove to California. That was a long drawn out trip.

  2. Joe in PNG says:

    You’re nicer than I am. I would replace the AM radio with an 8 track player that had “McArthur Park” stuck on infinate loop.

  3. Southern Man says:

    I learned to drive in my first car, a three-on-the-tree ’64 Mercury Comet. But on the day of my driving exam, for some inexplicable reason, my parents borrowed my aunt’s Gremlin for the test. I passed by one point. I don’t know to this day whether to blame the Gremlin or credit it.

  4. Sailorcurt says:

    1. The Gremlin was a great vehicle. They were so cheap you could buy two and keep one parked in the barnlot as a ready store of spare parts. I speak from (my older brother’s) experience.

    2. A big unintended consequence of the 55mph speed limit: When they finally started repealing those ridiculous laws and raising the limits, people were so used to ignoring speed limits they pretty much still do to this day, even with the higher limits. When I was a kid, the speed limit on the local 2 lane highway near my house was 70. That was widely recognized as a maximum speed and most people drove about 65 or so. Then the 55 limit kicked in, which was widely ignored and people still drove 64 or 65 under the theory that the cops wouldn’t bother you if you weren’t going more than 10 over. Now the limits have been raised to 65 or 70 in a lot of places and the major flow of traffic goes about 10 over the limit.

  5. PJ says:

    I don’t think there should be any limits anywhere. I particularly hate school zone limits, which are real income generators for the cops. Oregon still has a 55 limit outside of freeways. Strangely I don’t mind going that speed, probably because I’m old. Also it’s quieter on a motorcycle. But now and then I want to go double that…

  6. bravokilo says:

    I put over 200,000 miles on my Gremlin in my home state of Kansas. AM radio, yeah, whatever. But I DID have an 8-track. Styx–Greatest Hits. I found that when the sucker eventually got eaten, you could use Scotch tape to patch it.
    And to always have a coat hanger for the exhaust.
    And a fire extinguisher in case the battery shifts forward and touches the all-Merican-made steel body.
    And duct tape for the hoses…goop of indeterminate type for the occasional carbuerator leak…whiskey…
    How did I ever survive? Well, Billy, did ya ever see that movie ‘Rolling Kansas’…?

  7. Tam says:

    Back in ’08, when Sen. Warner talked about how many thousands of barrels of oil and tens of thousands of human lives were saved by the 55, I responded thusly:

    “What he doesn’t mention is that the NMSL also bred a generation of scofflaws, turned once-respected highway patrols into revenue-collecting jokes, spawned the radar detector and CB industries, and gave us awful Burt Reynolds/Dom DeLuise movies, C.W. McCall songs, and vanity plates saying “55HAHA” & “PU55Y”. I think four thousand human lives per annum is a small price to pay for never having to watch another Cannonball Run with eleven long-hair Friends of Jesus in a chartreuse Microbus.”


    • Everyone sing!


      Well we rolled up Innerstate fourty-four
      Like a rocket sled on rails
      We tore up all of our swindle sheets
      and left ’em settin on the scales
      By the time we hit that Chi Town
      Them bears was a gettin smart
      They’d brought up some reinforcements
      From the Illinois national guard
      There was armored cars and tanks and jeeps
      And rigs of every size
      Yeah them chicken coops was full of bears
      And choppers filled the skies.
      Well we shot the line
      And we went for broke
      With a thousand screamin trucks
      And eleven long haired Friends of Jesus
      In a Chartreuse microbus

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