January 16, 2004

*Ask Jen Pete

Reader Shawna asks: "Why are station wagons named that?"

The crack internet research team found the following site Station Wagon History that covers it pretty well. Here is an excerpt:

Well, the very first station wagons were called 'depot hacks' - they worked primarily around train depots as hacks (taxicabs). The modified back ends that made them depot hacks were necessary to carry large amounts of luggage - everyone traveled by train then, remember, and you needed a car that could comfortably carry people and large amounts of luggage from the train station to home. They were also called 'carryall's' and 'suburbans' (a name Plymouth used on their wagons until the late 1970's). 'Station wagon' was just another derivative of 'depot hack'; they were vehicles that were used as wagons (to carry passengers and cargo) from (railroad) stations.

The site covers it in much more detail and gives a brief history that comes up to the present day. Of course they don't really mention that the biggest draw back of station wagons is they suck the cool right out of a person. This even goes for the modern day station wagon, the minivan. No matter what you do to them, dvd player, big tires, (yes I have seen ones like that) they are still a station wagon.

Jim at Snooze Button Dreams asks "How long is a coon's age"? As in "Why Emma Lou, I ain't seen you in a coon's age!"

I didn't have a lot of luck with this one. The best that the crack Internet research department could come up with is that the origin of this term is not clear. One thought is that it is derived from the average age of a raccoon. This, of course, is nonsense as most people know that raccoons get killed all the time on the highways of America and thus don't lead particularly long lives. I have begun to wonder about the competence of my research team.
Another idea that was floated is that it is derived from the premature aging of African American slaves who were referred to using the derogatory term "coon". I don't know how premature aging could be a sign of longevity, so I am forced to conclude that my research department is incompetent.

Posted by Pete at January 16, 2004 10:15 AM


I have begun to wonder about the competence of my research team.

That's going to be on the cover of next month's Duh! magazine.

Posted by: Victor at January 16, 2004 11:58 AM

Excellent, do you think I can get an interview with them as well?

Posted by: Pete at January 16, 2004 01:26 PM