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What Did The Future Look Like From the Past?

I imagined space ships and flying

Past Future Pauline Baird Jones

When I was a little girl, dreaming of the future, I imagined space ships and flying cars ala The Jetsons. More Magic Highways, like those depicted in this Wonderful World of Disney episode from 1958. The video is 49 minutes, but you can jump to the “future” around 39:00 (though I highly recommend pausing around 35:00 minutes for a look at “innovative” driver solutions to highway problems.)

This look at the future—from the past—certainly got my wheels spinning, figuratively speaking. We sometimes look back at the 50’s and think of it as a naive time, but I think they nailed the “freedom as movement” concept in the introduction. I was three when the episode first aired, but have a feeling I saw it later and that it helped fuel my youthful daydreams. 

I don’t think we (the US) own the notion of exploration (obviously since most of our ancestors came from somewhere else), but we have had a very large space to explore, a large space to make accessible to our citizens. We have thoroughly embraced the concept of trying to get people to and from the places they need to go. We have roads to almost everywhere. 

I believe both of my great-grandfathers worked on the first road across the Big Horn Mountains. It was a great road to travel as a kid. It not only got you where you wanted to go (up the mountain) but provided picturesque views and relatively safe thrills (the switchbacks—which worked better than anything they’ve come up with since, IMHO). They solved problems, built bridges and went places. You can’t deny that.

I look at some of that stuff in Magic Highways—that truly seemed possible back then—and wonder what happened? Why don’t we dream that big anymore? When did our dreams shrink? When did we stop thinking that the future was only limited by our ability to imagine? 

What did you think of the video (if you watched any of it). What would be your dream/magic highway? 

Perilously yours,