Glove box was once called a 'gin locker'

I enjoy reading your column each day as I have my morning coffee. I have some very important information for "youse" guys. On the 22nd of September you wrote about the glove box in a car. I'm an old man now but I remember my dad telling me what that little box on the dashboard was for. He was speaking of the 1920s and '30s. He called it the "gin locker." So you have to go ahead and update your whole database to include this important data.

— Dave M., Medford

You have a wonderfully deft touch in reminding us that our answers are not always as all-inclusive as they could be, Dave.

Alas, there are so many questions and so little space and time in the SYA World Headquarters where, incidentally, the coffee is always brewing.

Yes, we did answer a question on that day from one of your fellow Medfordites regarding the glove box. We dutifully opened our dusty Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary 11th Edition and informed our reader — that's you, Dave — that the phrase "glove box" was minted in 1946 for the compartment that carried gloves.

Our astute SYA answerer on duty that day went on to note that in the early days of horseless buggies most automobiles did not have heaters. Gloves were needed to keep your hands warm. Obviously, a glove box was a handy place to keep gloves.

But you are right. There were other monikers for that box in our vehicles that is now stuffed with everything imaginable, from mouse-nibbled maps to candy bars whose wrappers have turned them to chocolate mummies.

In other words, we'll take the gloves off this time, pun intended.

One of our SYA agents of answer was a choker setter in another life who recalls the crummy's crew always referred to the glove box as a "jockey box." The crummy? That was the vehicle which took the loggers to work at zero-dark-thirty each morning, another term that reflects the rich language of our culture.

And a member of the Friends of SYA Association reports that his family referred to it as the "MacGyver box" since it always contained something that could solve the problem at hand. MacGyver was a mild-mannered secret agent in a 1980s TV series who made use of anything and everything to get himself out of a pickle.

Meanwhile, rest assured that "gin locker" is now safely locked away in our database, Dave.

Send questions to "Since You Asked," Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by email to We're sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.

Share This Story