20th Century Historical,  Historical Flavor,  Historical Romance,  Life in General

Historical Flavors: Parking Meters

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 propaganda how-to:

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-IivHRmu77w&w=560&h=315]

I hope you enjoyed your trip to downtown Raleigh, North Carolina. 😉 What is the latest invention that provided you with a bit of trepidation?

As an author of heartwarming historical and contemporary romance, Sandra Ardoin engages readers with page-turning stories of love and faith. Rarely out of reach of a book, she's also an armchair sports enthusiast, country music listener, and seldom says no to eating out.


  • mimionlife

    I had to laugh at this post because this past weekend, we received a “citation” for parking too close to the street. I do believe the beach patrol carries a yardstick with them. We thought we had parked 4 feet away from the street. Evidently, we parked a little less than 4 feet. Oh, well… I am getting ready to write a blog post about it. haha!

    • Sandra Ardoin

      Yes, the trials and tribulations of parking a car these days. Sounds like we all need a yardstick when going to the beach. Looking forward to your post, Melissa. 🙂

  • Gail Johnson

    Good morning, Sandra. I am so glad I live in the middle of nowhere! I don’t like visiting the cities with parking garages and parking meters. Oh, I can. Hubby and I have figured it out, but like? No. Furthermore, I drive a full-size extended-cab Chevy truck. I do not like parallel parking. LOL. I’ll drive miles and walk. Yep. I love the small town life. Great post. I’ll have to plunder around the History website.

    • Sandra Ardoin

      The middle of nowhere … Yes! Although my nowhere is starting to become somewhere. 🙁 I can’t even imagine parallel parking something like that. I’m not that good at it, anyway. Thanks, Gail!

  • lelandandbecky

    Fun post! My husband found an old meter head (that still works) that takes nickels, and he installed it at the end of our driveway where others can park. We’ve even had people put money in it! Love the history, but I would never have dreamed it started in Oklahoma!

    • Sandra Ardoin

      Glad you enjoyed it, Becky! I love the idea of putting a parking meter in the driveway. What a conversation piece (and a way to earn extra money!). 🙂 The Oklahoma fact stunned me too. (Sorry, Oklahoma.) Thanks. Have a great day!

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