No more knowin’ when they see you comin’

Published 8:09 pm Friday, June 9, 2023

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To remember back when it was possible to tell the difference between a Ford and a Cadillac or a Ford and Chevrolet, you would have to be on Social Security.

Back then, no matter whether cars were coming or going or parked roadside, they were all as different as night and day.

And, if the car belonged to a male high school senior, it was “cool” and that meant it was “souped up” with fender skirts, whitewalls, glass packs, dice hanging from the inside mirror and a coon tail on the radio antenna. It was a “chick magnet.”

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Now, to have such a “cool” car, the boys had to have one of two things, either a rich daddy or a j.o.b.

Most of the jobs for boys with cool cars were at the filling stations, one of the mills around town or working on the roads. Some boys worked sacking groceries at the Jitney Jungle or cleaning floors at a downtown business but those were not the “cool” jobs.

Back in those days, it was the popular thing for boys with cool jobs and cool cars to drive through town, slowly, and rev up the motors of their cars so that the mufflers would pop like firecrackers and the girls would giggle and swoon. The loud popping would bring the merchants out on the sidewalk to see what the racket was all about and the police chief would come flying out of the police station shaking his fist. The girls would continue to giggle and swoon.

The boys with souped-up cars would spend most Saturdays washing and polishing their cars getting ready for dates or drag racing… or both.

Back in the days of souped-up cars, there were three options for Saturday night dates –  burgers as the curbside diner, the drive-In movie theater or … drag racing.

The blacktop county “off roads” were favorite places for drag racing.  Two cars would race while everyone else sat on the hoods of parked cars and cheered the dragsters.  Usually, the racing would give over to dancing on the blacktop to a blaring car radio and the music of Elvis or Brenda Lee.

Back then, cars were boys’ things. Girls didn’t “have” cars; we drove the family car “if” we had reason to go anywhere. But, no matter whether the car was coming or going or parked along the road, there was no doubt as to whether it was a Ford or a Buick, a Chevrolet or a Cadillac.

How times have changed.