In 1976, we four women going back to work were the outliers. Most of the other mothers were at home, with their children.
We had no cell phones. Between us, however, we did have husbands, bills to pay, monthly periods and nine kids. When we started our carpool, the oldest kid was seven; the youngest, was learning to walk.
We were returning to full time teaching from maternity leave. We did not know each other before we met on that September day in 1976. I was the oldest at 31, and Ellen was the youngest at 29.
For the next eleven years, our merry carpool crossed the Tappan Zee Bridge from our homes on one side of the Hudson River to the school where we all taught on the other side. On a good day, it would take us 40 minutes. On a bad day, it could take two hours.
On our daily ride, when we weren’t sleeping, sulking or squabbling, we talked to each other. We became friends.
Things change. Our carpool ended in 1987, and then, we all drove to work separately until each of us retired.
I am writing this because I read that The New Tappan Zee Bridge when it is finished in 2018 is going to probably have only electronic tolls. What fun is that? In 1976, when we carpooled, we paid $1.50 to cross and we actually touched the hand of another human being at the toll!
Technology changed. You may be reading this, now, on your phone or pad or whatever. I can’t keep up. You may also have children, husbands, bills and monthly periods, or not, if you’re old like me.
It’s hard to be a working mother. I know. It’s also hard to be a stay-at-home mother. I know that too. Now, because of technology, some of you can do both at the same time. How’s that for a change? I think it’s for the better, but I am sure there are those of you who will disagree. Let me know.
When they tear the Old Tap down and replace it with the New Tap, it will be a celebratory event.
I, however, will be remembering those eleven years when I rode to work with my friends…
…even that time when one of us, in a snit, drove over the bridge while furiously pounding her hands on the steering wheel, and screaming in exasperation at me, the one with the fear of driving over the edge into the Hudson below.
But, for now, that’s all water under the bridge.