Growing up riding in the car was always an event. Anytime Dad and Mom went somewhere they rarely went without one of the kids. Well, actually some of the kids. This caused some bellyaching and whining due to the fact that every one wanted to sit up front. Dad had a basic rule. There was no calling “shot gun”. The rule was “Oldest Priority”. The oldest chose their preferred seat in the car. If you happened to be the oldest one going to the grocery store with Dad, you got to sit wherever you wanted. This usually meant the front seat. The next oldest would choose their seat (usually by the window) and so on down the line. This prevented many arguments over who got to sit where.
If you were the youngest of the 6 children going on a ride in the car you didn’t even bother to pick a seat. You were stuck on the hump. The middle. Where the drive shaft ran through the car. Not only did this make the 20-minute car ride to Granny’s uncomfortable but you also knew that you were of the lowest class of child at that point. A caste system working at it’s full potential.
Mom utilized this rule as well. The difference when you were in the car with Barb was that the oldest usually chose the back seat directly behind the driver seat. By invoking “Oldest Priority” and picking this location you accomplished two things. One, you were in the best position not to be backhanded or slapped while in the car. Barb had a good reach but not that good. And two, you never received the instant bone crushing, automatic seatbelt of Mom’s right arm when she had to stop short. In the time before baby seats and seatbelt laws, Mom’s arm was the strongest force known to man to prevent anyone from hitting the dashboard.
In the rare event that Mom and Dad would go out with out the children the rule was “Oldest in Charge”. This meant that the oldest sibling home at the time was in charge of all the rest of the kids. Instant babysitter. The OIC was responsible. If someone got out of line, the oldest could punish them. “Oldest In Charge” got to decide what was on the television. The OIC would dictate who got snacks. The downside to this rule was that if the house burnt down, the oldest was the one held responsible.
If Mom and Dad had to go to a wedding or something, they would tell (for sake of this story) Kevin* that he was in charge (being the oldest in the house at that time, Kevin is the 3 rd oldest). Kevin* would make the younger ones do the chores and would rule the house with an iron fist. After an hour or so if Dennis or Sharon (both older than Kevin) showed up they instantly became the boss. Many miniature dictatorships were overthrown by the fact that Dennis’ baseball practice was rained out or that Sharon needed to come home to get more cigarettes. Every now and then a Coup D’eta would backfire on the little ones when they would cheer the arrival of their favorite Napoleon wannabe just to have that same Napoleon leave after 15 minutes.
Then it was back to chores and asking the reinstated king for forgiveness.
*I used Kevin in this example, but I cannot recall if Kevin ever ruled with an iron fist or not.