Car Talk, 1950’s version

Car Talk in a Woman’s Language, 1956

 Cover image found at Glaserei, the remainder at Retronaut.
Chauvinistic or helpful? You decide.

15 responses to “Car Talk, 1950’s version

      • Yeah, if you really want “Mister Rogers Neighborhood”.levels that would work also. Nothing against Fred Rogers, but it’s mostly adults in the Blogosphere..

        If you start off with “Intake, Compression, Power, Exhaust” with people that have zero knowledge to begin with, that might be too much too soon – you might get the exact Glaze-over expression you’re trying to avoid.

      • I just remember reading a book similar to this when i was about 10 or so… but aimed at kids. That sequence had me ROFLMAOPIMP for so long I never forgot it. Darned effective…

    • It might help to explain diesel engines too–no spark plugs. And a few other points, like idiot lights in place of battery and oil gauges–which means you shouldn’t ignore them.

    • Bull. And we both know it. You went down the Home Ec track in school, back in the 50’s they wouldn’t even LET you do otherwise. More’s the pity.

      But if you were brought up with it, Girls could be every bit the Mechanic – and a farm in Oklahoma is perfect for that.

      I’ll see if I can come across Mom’s Mechanics Certifications from the 40’s and 50’s. She was half-owner of a Garage, and while she preferred to stay clean and run the front office, she could get under the hood and slug it out with the best of them.

      When it came to computers, I just got it setup on her desk and handed her a copy of “MS-DOS for Dummies”, and off she went like a house afire…

      • Just be aware that Melissa has been my boss on two occasions, once during the census as a crew chief, and the other as part of Write on Topic, her freelance writing stable. That was some pretty sarcastic simpering there…

      • My sarcasm must not have been obvious. Please excuse me for misjudging my audience. I used to be a technical writer, and knowing one’s audience is rule #1 in that gig.

        Some women probably accepted condescending talk like that in the booklet. Others swallowed their indignation, as they had to with many, many other things. Others ignored it, because it was just part of the scenery in 1956. I’m willing to bet that the booklet was either not written by a woman (or women), even though it says it was, or that the project’s ultimate boss was male and figured that one had to simplify things for the weaker sex.

        It reminds me of Bruni, a very pretty woman I knew in the ’60s. She was married to a man who clearly liked her to be beautiful and stupid. She turned on her charm to every man around, and they loved it. She just listened to them as if they were geniuses, and they told her everything. My mother overheard one of them explaining electricity to her.

        “Well, you see, you have millions and billions of electrons floating around . . . ”

        Bruni looked prettily confused.

        The nice man patted her arm sympathetically. “For you, we’ll make it ten.”

        My family still uses that last sentence as code language for “Golly, you’re stupid!”

      • Yeah, the booklet was condescending, but considering the subject and audience and the assumed understanding level at the start (Zero) it’s hard not to be. You have to begin at the very beginning, and walk the reader up to a basic understanding in a short pamphlet where the Word Count counts – they can balloon into “War & Peace” real fast..

        But I didn’t see any overtly Sexist condescension, just Dummy-ist. Ladies in those days were far more likely to have absolutely zero knowledge about cars than guys, because you never got exposed to them in a learning context.

        It’s impossible to explain a Rocket Engine (in a Tech Manual) or a modern Automobile (in a Factory Service Manual) to a caveman that might use but really doesn’t even understand Fire yet – You are assuming that anyone that reads the manual has a basic knowledge of operational physics and chemistry, and at least an aptitude and ability to understand the subject going in. An apprentice mechanic that has taken the basic prerequisite courses already.

        But to a Total Noob it’s liable to come off as very condescending – they tell you to “Take a Multimeter and check the Ohms across the Solenoid coil” and assume your base level of knowledge. And you’ve never used a meter before and have no clue about how to turn it on or set it or read ohms with it, and no idea what a solenoid coil is either.

      • I have written material that was respectfully aimed at complete beginners. That is, it wasn’t condescending. A technical writer must always produce a document that respects the end user (audience, reader, etc.).

        Documentation should meet the user where that user is and proceed from there without insulting or confusing anybody. It should be tested repeatedly to make sure that it works. So it’s certainly possible to write something like this without patting the reader on the head and telling her how pretty she is.

  1. About 30 years ago most schools figured out how to avoid that unintentional stereotyping of Boy Jobs and Girl Jobs – they eliminated all hands-on Shop courses, and hands-on Home Ec courses. Saved on budgets, too…

    Problem is, now I have to deliver that teaching talk to as many younger guys as gals, because Neither Side has not a single clue how anything in their life actually works. Turn the switch, Push the button, and it works. If it doesn’t, they’re stuck.

    And the worst part, one of these days I’m not going to be around – and there isn’t a next generation of Fixers coming up.

    They all go off to College and get a degree – then spend the next 20 years waiting tables to pay off the Student Loans as they try getting a Degreed job. If they knew how to work with their hands, there are jobs out there.

  2. My, this stirred up a veritable maelstrom of commentary – all good. I agree that what we still refer to as blue-collar jobs are currently going begging in this economy, because everyone things that web development, EE, or the stock market is the key to making a living. Tell that to my electrician and my plumber, who charge *gasp* lots of money for knowing where to put that chalk “x” mark.

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