essays

Cruisin’

Chevy ImpalaIt was a baby boomer coming-of-age ritual. 1950s – early 1960s.

The crowd began gathering at 10:00 Saturday morning in front of Schwab’s Drug Store on the northeast corner of Devon and California. Guys auditioned in cars; girls on the sidewalk.

The cruise route was a square block: west on Devon, hopefully catching the long red light at the corner of Cal and then turning right. Three to five times around and it was a day. That took an hour or two, depending on the traffic. No one was in a hurry.

Without a cool car, you looked like a nerd – not necessarily late model, but it had to be cherried-out or hip. Convertibles were ideal. Baby boomers cruising by in your grandfather’s Oldsmobile or the family station wagon drew guffaws.

The male game was to entice the right girls into the car for a ride. The girls were looking for the right boys to entice them.

Around a hundred cars participated. Jockeying for position was fierce. The object: approach the big corner just as the light turned red with the right song blaring on the radio: Diana, Wake Up Little Suzi, Are You Sincere, et al. Try to lock eyes with the girl of your dreams and hoped she locked back.

A great ploy was to teach a neophyte how to drive. Unlike boys, who got a license on their 16th birthday, most girls waited until college. poodle cruisin'The learner had to practically sit on your lap for her instruction.

Occasionally, a group of girls would cruise, but it was to “drive” boys crazy or invite a car to follow them, usually to a Dairy Queen where the mating dance would continue.

A brief word about s-e-x. In this relatively innocent 1950s middle class world, there was little “consummation.” Making out (what our parents called “petting”) and feeling bare skin in places normally covered was about as hot as it got. At least for me.

My father appreciated the ritual so he let me borrow his black Impala convertible every Saturday. Best “chick magnet” I ever had.

Many years later, when I already had my chick and I wasn’t looking, I discovered an even better one: a miniature poodle. I recommend it to those on the prowl at any age.

 

Terry Hamburg writes the Baby Boomer Daily about the exciting and revolutionary baby boomer years.

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