Sandra Ardoin @Sandra Ardoin
Okay, I’ll admit it. Today’s Historical Flavors post is highly random. Parking meters?
I came across an article on the History website about the invention and installation of the first parking meter in the world. One would think that would have taken place in New York or London or Tokyo, right? No, according to History, it was 1935 Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, the brainchild of newspaper owner Carl C. McGee.
Now, no offense to Oklahomans, but why? Why give us such a stress-inducing machine? I mean, how many times have people been wandering downtown, checked their watches, and nearly passed out while sprinting back to the car in order to add a few more coins to satisfy the meter maid? Are there still meter maids? No, don’t laugh. I remember adding pennies. (I was a kid, people!)
The article reminded me of my first experience with a parking pay station…this spring. It’s even more intimidating than the old kind. Until I did some digging, I had no idea they had been around for years. You see, we don’t have any kind of parking meters in my downtown. (I’m so blissfully rural!)
We drove to a lovely—crowded—island and wanted to walk the beach, so we pulled into a little area with an equally lovely median. We quickly found out the only reason the median existed was to house the machine that gladly swallowed coin or credit in exchange for granting us the privilege of leaving the car.
I drew the short straw when it came to presenting our offering. Since there was a line, I spent the time wisely by peering around everyone ahead of me, studying how they did it. What buttons did they push? When did they add money? Did it take cash or only credit? I can happily report that, when it came to my turn, I stepped up to that beach guardian, pushed its buttons like a pro, snatched the receipt, and waved that trophy in the air.
So, for those of you who have yet to face this keeper-of-the-concrete, here’s a little