If you grew up in the 40s, 50s, 60s or even later, you can probably remember the love affair between kids and cars. In small town America, kids would “drag Main” on a Friday night after a football game with their AM radios blasting in hopes of meeting some babes at the local Dog and Suds. In cities like Phoenix it was a similar existence only on a bigger scale as Central was the street to cruise and KRIZ was the station to blare the current hit tunes.
I wonder how many gallons of Aqua Velva and Hai Karate the kids poured on themselves in those days to match their slicked down Wildroot Cream Oil soaked hair. Their cars were the coolest too. I remember the competition between the Chevy and Ford owners. It didn’t matter which car you had, it better have a set of “duals” with “glass pack” mufflers and be able to “get rubber in second.”
A lot of guys from that era were good mechanics and did all the work on their “heaps” themselves. I was no expert but I always changed my own oil and oil filters and spark plugs. You could get Pennzoil for 25 cents a quart and a filter for about $1.50 at K-Mart. Then, you would park your car over a curb and slide under to drain the oil. For about $2.75, you had an oil and filter change. Today, the same job is about $35 at a dealer.
Those were fun days. Cars were a lot simpler and any kid with a mechanical aptitude could easily work on his own car. The front seat was a bench so three could easily ride there. Even more important, when you took your girlfriend out (hopefully to the drive-in theater!), she could sit right next to you. I had a stick shift Chevy and I would drive with my right arm around her while she shifted gears.
Those days are apparently gone as I read recently from two different reports that kids don’t really care about cars anymore. Veteran sportswriter Frank Deford reports that NASCAR has been in trouble because “those old, white guys, who were the bread-and-butter NASCAR constituency, were not being replicated by their sons and grandsons. Frankly, the younger generations don’t care to mess around with cars.” The love affair with the car is apparently over.
The New York Times reports that “Today, Facebook, Twitter and text messaging allow teenagers and 20-somethings to connect without wheels. High gas prices and environmental concerns don’t help matters.” They think of a car as “a giant bummer.”
Maybe they should start thinking of what a giant bummer it will be when they realize they can’t spell or write correctly with their dependence on Smartphones, texting, and the other nonsense today that is considered by many to be progress.
As for me, I prefer to remember hanging with my buddies in our heaps with the radio blasting Elvis, The Drifters, or Dion and enjoying our 4/70 air conditioning.
Am I dreaming or is that a room full of 1955, '56, and '57 Chevy convertibles in mint condition? Some billionaire owns them and a couple more garages full of similar cars.