Chapter 7, ChangesTheBook

Where do I talk to you about the whole cruising the drag thing. All I can relate to was the small town where I spent my junior and senior year in high school. This was a very big part of our lives. You absolutely had to find a way to get enough money to buy a decent car, have it cleaned, tricked out, with appropriate sound systems, and what ever else was the symbol of cool. Your car was a fashion statement. You had to have it right. Wearing the wrong clothes was a disaster, as was having the wrong car. I owned a Volkswagen station wagon. You couldn’t do much with it and no matter what you did with it, you were not cool in a VW, back in the sixties.

So my buddy, Jim W, had a 55 (for 1955) 2 door Chevy. He had it just right. Hurst shifter, Holley carb’s, glass pack mufflers, a beautiful metallic purple paint job.  Inside, it was decked with the right shifter knob.  Upholstery was tuck and roll button Naugehyde seats.

Most regular cars had manual transmission.  You were not cool if you had automatic.  No way.  How could you rev the motor while sitting at a light?  And no way would you have a column shifter.  Or a three speed.

His Chevy got a respectable 15 miles per gallon, but who cared. Gas was 17 cents and you did not pump your own. The first self serve gas station in our town of Great Falls was called Fillup with Billups. No one could believe it. You actually could pump your own. It wasn’t about saving money so much, as protecting your car from over pumps spills and scratches next to the fuel filler area.

No question about how to pay. It was cash. Only, outside. No one had yet thought of the benefit of making you come inside so you could buy even more. That was still to come.

Gas stations all had repair garages. They weren’t stores. They were repair facilities. Gas was no big deal. There was plenty of it. You could go all night with the handful of change that inevitably rummaged around on the floor. Pennies were actually a big deal. A couple of quarters would get you on the drag all night.

You weren’t going anywhere, really.  But if you did, no big deal. You could collect a few dozen bottles and turn them in at the local grocery store. Of course, beverages then did not come in anything other than returnable bottles. Beer included. The only thing ever thrown out was a wine bottle or such. Everything else had value and was exchanged for valuable pennies.

In the fifties, a bottle was 2 cents, a first class stamp was 4 cents, and a phone call home meant you always had a dime. Just in case. Of course, there were pay phones everywhere.


One thought on “Chapter 7, ChangesTheBook

  1. Yes, I remember it well. Also cruising the local drive in’s like the A&W or in my case, the GREEN ONION in Las Vegas. Not to mention the Drive In picture shows.

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