Saturday, March 26, 2011

When Men Were Men, Women Were Women, and Cars Had Muscle!

We were extolled to see the USA in our Chevrolet, American was asking us to call, and see it we did. Riding along in our automobiles, it was the sixties, and we were the greatest car generation. The generation where men were men, women were women, and cars had muscle, fins, chrome, window rattling exhausts, songs written about them, and even parts in movies.

The greatest car generation's favorite form of entertainment was shooting the strip; referred to as cruising in other parts of the country. Every Friday night they came from miles around to drive up and down the main street in town; to shoot the strip, to show off their cars, to see and be seen, and to pick up women. Friday night was not date night. It was "show time." And we were "smokin' hot."

Friends, great looking cars, and women were acknowledged while shooting the strip by a series of horn honks. If you were cool, you knew the code. Two short were for friends accompanied by the man version of the Queen of England's wave, a quick flick of the hand. One long and a head and arm out the window was to acknowledge an equally hot car. One long and a whistle meant a local beauty was shooting the strip.

Once seen the crowd headed for Mills Drive-In, the staging area. Mills was the place for everything cool; men, women, and cars. The hot cars backed into their parking spots, a model for the "old car shows" of today. Their drivers leaned against them with their slick-backed hair and tight black pants.

Male posturing required the hood of each car to be opened, the chrome to be blinding and their attention focused on discussions of custom versus stock. The green Shelby Mustang, the yellow convertible Corvette with the black top, the two seater black T-Bird, the little duce coup; all players in the greatest car generation's Friday night show on wheels.

If you had a hot car you had a woman; usually a different woman every weekend. The women spent the first hour in groups; two or four to a car. Once seen they headed to Mills and parked facing the line-up of hot cars. Like birds they perched on the hoods of their cars eying the men and the muscle.

If you were interested in a particular man, there was a code for this as well. If you wanted to shoot the strip with the man and his yellow corvette you dressed the part; a yellow blouse and black shorts. Dressing to match the car was a sure signal to the man he had the woman's attention.

The women were impressed by the car and the men were impressed by the women. A nod of the head and you were chosen, the man and his car were your trophy for the night and you in turn were his. The engines started, that familiar deep rumble filled the air and it was back to shooting the strip. The top down, a warm autumn breeze and Wolfman Jack on the radio.

Now shooting the strip began in earnest. Hundreds of cars lined the strip. They stopped in the middle of the street, side by side to laugh and joke. They revved their engines. They backed up traffic. It was all a part of the ritual.

While Paul McCartney may have sung Baby You Can Drive My Car, and maybe I'll love you; this was not the case. Only one girl in town was ever allowed to drive any of these cars. She knew her stuff. She was a drag queen. For the rest of us it was high performance cars and we were low performance drivers. No man would risk the transmission of one of the greatest cars ever made to a mere woman. Women were content to be passengers in the greatest car show on wheels.

It was an autumn of memories. Soon we graduated, left for college, were introduced to life's realities by way of the Vietnam war.

When I hear a certain song playing on the radio I remember I am and always will be a member of the greatest car generation on earth, and I remember, we had fun, fun, fun!

Now, just for fun, can you answer this music question?

That fateful night the car was stalled
upon the railroad track
That fateful night the car was stalled upon the railroad track I pulled you out and we were safe, but you went running back

That fateful night the car was stalled upon the railroad track I pulled you out and we were safe, but you went running back

That fateful night the car was stalled upon the railroad track

That fateful night the car was stalled upon the railroad track I pulled you out and we were safe, but you went running back

- what was it you were looking for that took
your life that night?

You'll get extra points for the title of the song
and the performer.
(Psst - there's a clue in this article.)

Cars As Stars for the COG!



Blogger Cindy Bergeron Scherwinski said...

Teen Angel ... Can You Hear Me????? Or are you somewhere up above and am I still your own true love.

March 26, 2011 at 3:12 PM  
Blogger footnoteMaven said...

O.K. Cindy! What was she looking for? And who sang it?

Boy, are you fast!


March 26, 2011 at 3:15 PM  
Blogger Janet Iles said...

She went back for her boyfriend's high school ring. It was sung by Mark Dinning and also Sha Na Na.

March 26, 2011 at 3:35 PM  
Blogger footnoteMaven said...

On the nose, Janet!


March 26, 2011 at 4:08 PM  
Blogger Cheri Hopkins aka You Go Genealogy Girl #2 said...

What a great post for bringing back those memories! Loved the entire article. We had "the Butte", a 14 block long street down through town with a big U turn at both ends, never ending till you pulled off and parked to show off the cars, guys,& gals just like in your blog! The 50's and 60's seem like an age WAS fun though.

March 27, 2011 at 1:58 AM  
Blogger Jasia said...

Terrific post, fM! This is when your blog is at it's best, when you're writing from personal experience. I love it and have missed it so! Do tell, fM... Whose colors did you wear on those Friday nights?

March 27, 2011 at 6:19 AM  
Blogger footnoteMaven said...

Cheri - you were there! It WAS fun! Does it come back to you on an autumn breeze? The sounds, the smells, the angst.

I pity the youth of today and the car generation they live in.

Can you envision songs being written about a Prius cruising and stopping to recharge its battery. Not the stuff of memories.

Thanks Cheri for taking the trip with me and for enjoying it.


March 27, 2011 at 9:49 AM  
Blogger footnoteMaven said...


I knew this question was coming and I guessed it would be you that asked it.

As my sister is quick to point out, I was a serial dater. So on one Friday or another I wore them all.

Truth be told, my first experience with the police was in the T-Bird. Now that's a story.

I wore the yellow and black and really liked the man. Fond memories of a good friend.

I married the Shelby Mustang and that ended badly. So, green is obviously not my color.

I love the stories and I DO love to tell them. Why don't I do it more?


March 27, 2011 at 9:57 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Excellent post! A fun read all the way. I knew the song and artist, but alas, I'm too young by a decade or two to have participated in the activities you so vividly portray...

March 27, 2011 at 4:39 PM  
Blogger footnoteMaven said...

Thank you Daniel!

Now pretend you're there, shooting the strip.

Top down, the Beach Boys are on the radio. We pass, I give you two short and a quick flick of the hand.



March 27, 2011 at 4:50 PM  
Blogger Lisa Wallen Logsdon said...

What a fun read that revived old memories! I still remember the muscle car nights at our Frishes Big Boy Drive-In restaurant in Tampa. I can't imagine that there has ever been a more enjoyable time to have been a teenager!

March 28, 2011 at 8:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great post!

I'm a little young to be a part of the events you've described but it was a fun read regardless! :)

April 5, 2011 at 7:56 AM  
Blogger Sherry - Family Tree Writer said...

I thought it was the high school ring. Talk about a tear jerker!

I, too, lived through those times.

My big brother had one of the hottest looking cars around. A black, sleek, Pontiac Catalina, stripped of extra chrome, lowered till it wouldn't clear a beer can, and the door handles taken off and replaced by a well-hidden spot that opened with a special key.

No glass packs for him, nothing but the even deeper rumble of steel packs for this car. Sitting in the back seat when he took off was like taking off in a jet plane, it pushed you back in your seat!

I almost posted about it, and probably should have!

Thanks for the memories!

April 5, 2011 at 10:04 PM  
Blogger Linda Hughes Hiser said...

Well, that took me back. In the 50's I was too young--an observer; however, in the 60's I was in some of those cars with fins on my own, with friends and occasionally on a date. Thanks for the memories.

April 12, 2011 at 4:41 AM  

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