The Virtues of Good Driving: 1959.


There was a time in Los Angeles, many years ago, when young women had figures, and older men, with community support, hired them to present awards to “good driving” teenagers.

The Road-E-O Safe Driving Contest promoted safe rules of the road.

Strange to our modern eyes to see scantily dressed pretty girls handing out trophies for good driving.

Imagine, in 2016, the outcry if this type of event took place today.

“How come all the girls are white?”
“Are you trying to fat shame people who aren’t thin?”
“What about hot guys presenting hot awards?”
“Cars are evil. You shouldn’t be promoting driving. Biking and walking are better.”
“It’s creepy to see an old guy in a suit with a young girl. I read on Wikileaks that man cheated on his wife!”

But in 1959, when people still trusted government and business leaders, it was all for a good cause: to make the automobile indispensable to Los Angeles and to make sure the car was central to any and all activities of life, work and leisure.

Photograph caption dated May 27, 1959 reads, “Diane Olson, 16-year-old Junior Miss Sherman Oaks, presents Sherman Oaks Teenage “Road-E-O” winner’s trophy to Rick Mahn, Van Nuys High School senior, while his sister Cynthia, 21 Miss Sherman Oaks, looks on. Mahn racked up the highest score ever recorded locally.”

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Photograph caption dated May 28, 1959 reads, “Winners in Sunland-Tujunga Junior Chamber of Commerce Road-E-O safe driving contest proudly display trophies and certificates they won for their driving abilities. From left are Joseph McKeon, first; Doris Williams, second, and Melvin Kuznets, third.”

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Photograph caption dated May 20, 1959 reads, “For Skill Driving – Del Moore, TV-Radio personality and Sherman Oaks resident, and Diane Olson, 16year-old Junior Miss Sherman Oaks, display trophy which will be presented to winner of Sherman Oaks Jaycee “Teenage Safe Driving Road-E-O” Saturday.”

Credit: LAPL

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