Friday, August 5, 2011

Crusin' Nevada Mo 60's Style




-- On Fri, 7/29/11, Richard Carpenter <carp3@sbcglobal.net> wrote:  

Cruising
In the sixties, when I was a teenager, there was a ritual, that we all practiced and loved.   When I say we practiced, I could have easily said we followed, with near religious fervor the rules of this teenage custom.  This pursuit was known here and in towns and cities all over the country, as “CRUISING!”
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This very common performance by teenagers of the 60’s, was a nationwide phenomenon.  One of the best movies ever made “America Graffiti,” was based on this type of activity.   George Lucas, the director, used similar memories from his youth, in Modesto, California.   
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Who could ever forget a young Harrison Ford, as the new kid in town, challenging local hot rod legend, John Milner to a drag race.   Ask anyone who grew up here, about the drag races we used to have.
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In phone conversations, emails, and face book postings, one very common thought emerges when we children of the 60‘s talk about those times.   Boomers like us will be heard often making a statement like, “I don’t think the kids today are having as much fun as we did back then.”    
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Well, I have no doubt that that is true.   There is no way you will convince me, that texting can ever give as much pleasure as cruising gave us!  
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We had advantages that today’s teens don’t.   First of all, gas was cheap.   In high school in the mid sixties, you could buy gasoline for twenty plus cents a gallon.   Do you remember when we actually had what they called “gas wars.”   I can remember gas would go below the twenty cent mark during one of those price battles.  
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We also had cheap used cars.   It was not uncommon for a teen to find a old car for just a few hundred bucks.   There weren't many bells and whistles on these vehicles.   Many of us had a 4 door sedan, complete with all the features such as an A.M. radio and a heater.  
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In Nevada of those days, like Modesto in “American Graffiti” there was a regular route to cruise, and a regular place to pause.   In Modesto, the gathering place was “Mel’s Drive-In.   Here in Nevada there was more than one pausing place, but the most famous was the “White Grill.”
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On a typical night, especially on warm summer nights like we are having now, you would find the “cruise” full of cars, filled with teens.  Also called the “drag” or the “route,” both were well known to every teen in the area.
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If you left the White grill with a group of friends, you always headed west up Walnut towards the square.   Oh by the way, do you remember, that Walnut was actually 54 highway before Austin Blvd. was finished?
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When you reached the corner of Walnut and Washington, you turned south instead of proceeding to the square.   There was a huge hang down stop light at the next intersection at Cherry.   From there you went another block south where the highway turned west on Austin.
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The cruise turned  south on College at the blinking light near Cottey.   We drove down to Radio Springs before retracing our route back to the “Grill.”
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Gas was cheap, but most of us only made a few trips along the drag in a given evening.   After a couple of laps, we usually found a parking spot at the Grill, and sat on the hoods of our cars.   Oh, I should mention, that those car hoods and fenders, were made of metal, and they actually were strong enough for several teens to sit upon them without doing damage.
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Waving and honking were recognized customs of cruising.   If you did not wave and sometimes honk your horn at the other people on the cruise, they all wondered if your were mad about something.    
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At the Grill, they had curb hops who would bring these trays that would fit on your car window.   Getting a burger and suzies, was normal, but enjoying a Grill coke, was probably the best.   I wish I had one of those trays again.   For that matter, I wish I had a car again that would have a window that would actually hold such a tray.
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Now remember, we had no cell phones.   We actually used the English language to communicate.   The battle of the sexes was in full force throughout the cruise.   
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A group of guys would ride around in a car, while at the same time a similar group of girls would ride together.   Both sexes would try and manage somehow, to get to take a cruise with someone they were interested in.   
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If a couple finally got to take their first cruise together, by the time they had finished one lap, every other teen in town, knew about it.  No cell phones were needed, we had our own mysterious jungle telegraph system that spread the news.
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We did deviate from this wonderful car trek for another favorite hobby.  The Trail Drive-In theater was located east of Nevada about a mile or so.   In those days, there were two movies shown on Thursday through Saturday evenings, instead of just one on the other nights.
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Here again, the back couple of rows at the drive-in, were usually filled with car loads of teens.   Those warm nights were wonderful.   Outside of the cars, teens gathered before the movie, and at intermission.   We actually enjoyed seeing each other more than watching the movie.
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Now the cruise ended for some of the couples in a different way.  Their car was a refuge.   “Parking” and some kissing were considered normal teen behavior.   
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Later the guys used to meet either at the Grill again, or at some pre-selected country spot.   Talk would turn to girls, cars, and who had the cold beverages.  Give me just one more cruise. please!







(Brian Wilson/Mike Love)
Well she got her daddy's car
And she's cruisin' through the hamburger stand now
Seems she forgot all about the library
Like she told her old man now
And with the radio blasting
Goes cruising just as fast as she can now

And she'll have fun fun fun
'Til her daddy takes the T-Bird away
(Fun fun fun 'til her daddy takes the T-Bird away)

Well the girls can't stand her
'Cause she walks looks and drives like an ace now
(You walk like an ace now you walk like an ace)
She makes the Indy 500 look like a Roman chariot race now
(You look like an ace guys try to catch her
But she leads them on a wild goose chase now
(You drive like an ace now you drive like an ace)

And she'll have fun fun fun
'Til her daddy takes the T-Bird away
(Fun fun fun 'til her daddy takes the T-Bird away)

Well you knew all along
That your dad was gettin' wise to you now
(You shouldn't have lied now you shouldn't have lied)
And since he took your set of keys
You've been thinking that your fun is all through now
(You shouldn't have lied now you shouldn't have lied)

But you can come along with me
'Cause we gotta a lot of things to do now
(You shouldn't have lied now you shouldn't have lied)

And we'll have fun fun fun now that daddy took the T-Bird away
(Fun fun fun now that daddy took the T-Bird away)
And we'll have fun fun fun now that daddy took the T-Bird away
(Fun fun fun now that daddy took the T-Bird away)
(fun fun now that daddy took the T-Bird away)
(fun fun now that daddy took the T-Bird away)
(fun fun now that daddy took the T-Bird away)
(fun fun now that daddy took the T-Bird away)
(fun fun now that daddy took the T-Bird away)
(fun fun now that daddy took the T-Bird away

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