Back to the Early 50’s

Well, it’s time to sit back, open up a brew, prop up my feet in their worn out Nikes, I wear em every day. I remember when you only wore your PF flyers to gym class. I turn the radio to K-AHI, and listen to some of that old time rock and roll. Im a-gazing at my latest project. Funny it must be Dae ju vue. (That’s French ya know). About 50 years ago I was workin on the same kind of car. Only I paid $50.00 for it then. My tennis cost more than that first car.

I grew up in the Midwest; we were behind the times with the So Cal car movement. So every month I would go down to White’s Drug Store, that’s where we all hung out. It was around the corner from a church that had a sign that said Jesus Saves, Some wise guy put the drugstores S & H Green Stamp sign under it. Anyhow I would get the new issue of Hot Rod, and Car Craft magazines. They was a little book back then.

I also checked out the comic books. I liked EC Mags. Tales of the Crypt (they took them off the market, said they were too gross). Each rack had its special section. The super heroes, Superman, Captain Marvel, Captain Marvel Jr. Green Arrow, Bat Man, The Phantom, and Air Boy. (Seems strange none of these heroes ever met one another).

Western series The Lone RangerThe western section had Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, Red Ryder, Hopalong Cassidy, Lone Ranger, Kid Colt, Straight Arrow, and a bunch I can’t remember. The cartoon characters were all the Disney’s, Looney Tunes, Andy Panda, Woody Woodpecker, Homer Pigeon, Henry, and Little LuLu (she was a strange chic with eyes that looked like this (!!), I’ll bet she could never get a pair of sun glasses that would fit). There were war comics, monster comics, and finally Classic Comics. What a score these were. We were studying Ivanhoe in school, and Jerome Roser, (he looked like Mortimer Snerd, and wore his baseball cap on backwards before it was fashionable). Found the comic book and got a B on the test, and he was a D average student.

After getting my magazine, I would saunder over to the counter and order double egg malt. Mr. White would always say ‘one egg or two.’ Those raw eggs make you virile you know’. All us guys wanted to be virile. It went with the look, We never realized he was just sellin us an extra dozen eggs per week.

Speakin’ of the look, here it is from the top down. Slicked back hair combed in a DA (ducks ass) with a waterfall of curls hanging down over your forehead. A fresh white T-shirt with the sleeves rolled up, if’en you smoked, you had a pack of Lucky Strikes, Chesterfields, Pall Mall, or Kools rolled up in the left sleeve so it looked cool driving with your arm out the window. You wore clean Levis, pegged at the bottom with a double roll on the cuffs. A thin belt with an adjustable key chain going to the right hand front pocket, in your back pocket, depending on whether you were right or left handed, you had your wallet on one side and a pair of black leather gloves on the other side. (I didn’t wear mine to often cause I got em wet one time wiping snow off the windshield and put them on the gas heater in my car and it wrinkled the fingers. This was before it was cool to cut the fingers off your gloves). You wore either argyle, or white socks and black polished loafers. Above all you had to have a black leather jacket with knit sleeves. One thing for sure you had to be clean. That included your girl, nobody that was dirty, got into your immaculate short. (car). After all it was nosed, decked, lowered, had white floor mats, and a white rug in the package tray, with a bobbin head doll, dog, hula dancer or something else cool. And it would be dragging your club plaque.

We always sat in the same booth where we could check out anyone who come in for food. The younger kids drank green rivers, or cherry phosphates because they were cheaper than malts. Most of the girls liked sodas or root beer floats. The fast food era hadn’t hit yet. So there wasn’t any Mac Donald’s, Burger King, Jack in the Box. etc. That didn’t happen until 1958 when Bob’s Big Boy was introduced.

Pizza was the new thing. They even served it at the local Drive-in movies. Boy! Friday and Saturday nights you could hardly get into one. They even had playgrounds up front for the little kids.

Black labelYou would stop and get a six pack of 3.2 % Black Label beer in cans without pop tops, (cuz they weren’t invented yet) and you had an opener called a church key, or headache wrench, generally with a magnet on the back so it would stick to your dash board and wouldn’t get lost at a critical moment.

Then you would go pick up your chic and drive down the main drag of town and either wave, hit the wolf whistle or sound the Bermuda bell at everyone you knew and they would see you were cool and had a date. You could also check out how cool your car looked in the reflections of the big glass store windows. You always drove with your left hand on a steering knob,(spinner, or brodie knob). These were a knob attached to the steering wheel so it was easier to steer the car, since no one had power steering. They were cool and came with pictures of pin up girls, lassie, and cowboys inside of them. You could take a little bitty screwdriver and pry the top off and replace the picture with your girlfriend’s picture. I put Phyllis’s in mine but she didn’t like it much. In the picture she had a big pretty hairstyle and to get it in the area I had to cut off her chin.

Once you got parked at the drive in you hooked the speaker on the passenger side window and you listened to the music and the raffle prizes they were giving away at intermission. (Boy what a race that was. It was a choice between food counter and the rest room. Both had long lines). Once you finally got into the rest room they had all these vending machines on the wall and for $.50 you could get all kinds of things. A pair of tiny dice, A lucky rabbits foot key chain (never could figure out what was so lucky about that), a miniature deck of cards. All I ever got were the diamonds, they must not have sold the rest of the deck in our town, cuz I never knew any one who got all four suites. The machine that got me was the perfume machine. It had three plungers on it Old Spice, Bay Rum, and Tropical Isle. You put your coins in the slot, stood in front of it, then pushed a plunger in. A nozzle was supposed to spray you with a fragrance. Who ever installed it didn’t think about different heights of the users. Sometimes it shot a straight stream, sometimes a mist, sometimes it went over your head, sometimes it drizzled down the front of your shirt like you spilled your coca cola, and sometimes it didn’t work at all. To bad cuz you wanted to smell good when you went back to your car.

When the movie was over you were supposed to hang the speaker back on the hook and leave. Some people forgot to put them back, and they generally had a cracked passenger’s side window. Others took them on purpose and made rear seat speakers for their AM radios so you could listen to Earth Angel by the Penguins (FM wasn’t invented yet).

Well I’ll tell ya more about the mid 50’s next time. -By Ray Y.