Tuesday, April 3, 2012


Growing up in a small town during my teen years, it was up to us to find things to do. We had school all week and many had activities at the school in the evenings, and by Friday night we were all ready to have fun with our friends. For me, it was girls night out. Many had dates for Saturday nights, but Friday nights always were reserved for the girls to be with their girl friends and the guys were with their guy friends.

As always, we had "no particular place to go", so early in high school we would spend most of the evening in the parking lot of the local grocery store (we didn't have 24 hour stores then). Most of the night was spent sitting on the hood of the car checking out the guys on the other side of the lot and they would spend their time checking us out. Once in a while someone would drive by and remind someone of some juicy gossip, or a carload of guys from a different town would pass through leaving us with talk of which guy was the best looking and trying to guess where they were from.

As we ventured further into high school this just did not cut it any more, so we would pile in the car and drive to the bigger towns and "cruise the gut". Now there was somewhat of a ritual of the goings on before we began cruising. First of all was the car wash - the car HAD to be clean to even get guys to look your way. Secondly we would go to the drive-in hamburger joint and have something to eat so we could endure the hours of cruising. My specialty was usually shrimp in a basket. All of their meals came in a basket - a plastic basket made to look like a woven basket with paper laid in it with your food on top. Always a ton of french fries and of course a soft drink served in a real glass mug. You would have to roll up your window about 3 to 4 inches so they could attach a tray to the outside of your car with your food piled on it. After eating, you would start up your car and that would cue the waitress you were ready to leave and she would come to the car and lift up the tray and off you would go.

There was a 30 minute drive to Lansing from our tiny town, so we had time to smoke cigarettes and slug down some Boones Farm wine. The alcohol content was weak but it loosened us up enough to actually talk to others and insure we had a good time (at least that is what we believed to be true). We would discuss the probability of some of our favorites being there and hope we could actually stop and talk to them.

Upon arrival there would be 6 blocks of cars loaded with people our ages with no particular place to go. We would drive down the street - two lanes going in opposite directions - each going about 5 or 10 miles per hour and would hang out the windows and talk to the guys (and an occasional friendly girl) going in an opposite direction. The cars carried fares of guys with horrible pick-up lines, hunks you dreamed about that would just look knowing your heart was aching to talk to them, to others with whom you traded insults. The cruising would last from about 9:30 until midnight and then the "gut" would become empty again until next Friday.

The ride home was always a noisy one with everyone talking about the people we had seen. We went there to meet guys but what we really gained was some great friendships with other girls and of course, a strong feeling of independence. Together we went, together we left, and stayed together the entire time. Pretty cheap evening as our meals would cost less than $2.00 and gasoline was 35 cents per gallon at the time. The Boones Farm was $1 a bottle plus whatever we paid the person who bought it for us and cigarettes were about 50 cents a pack. Today I have some great memories of those days and when I run into some of my old cronies we talk about "cruising the gut" and struggle to remember the names of the guys we felt we couldn't live without.


Darlene ~Bloggity Blogger~ said...

That was great, Elaine. I guess kids were petty much alike back then. Our hangout was the local Tastee Freez. My parents didn't allow my sisters and I to go out of town, so we just cruised in town, but so did most of the other kids. Occasionally, we would see a car full of guys from the next town over, but they were looking for "strange". You know... I was so doggone innocent back then that I didn't know that. I went on a date with a guy from the next town. It was a double date with my friend and his friend. But...they didn't take us to the movies like they said. They drove to a secluded trailer. When my friend and I refused to go in the trailer, they went in and was loudly calling us ugly names. My friend and I were so scared that we just made a run for it. Luckily it wasn't so far from town, but I swear, we ran the whole way until we got to a place with a phone. I called my Dad and he picked us up. The boy called me later and apologized. He said that he didn't know I was a "nice" girl and regreted his actions. Then he asked me out again. HA! I told him NO-NEVER! He called me a couple more times before he got the message. Fool me once.....

Other than that unpleasant memory...Thank you for taking me on a cruise down memory lane... Love it!

Elaine said...

Those were some fun days. I was pretty innocent too and also had a couple of close calls, but always managed to get myself out of trouble somehow.

Jenn said...

Loved the post-- but now I must ask-- which part of Michigan are you from? (I'm guessing it is Michigan by the reference to Lansing?). If you are from MI-- I am from Brighton, Mi. I have family from Clarkston, Mi to Bay City, to Grand Haven to Union, Mi. They are all scattered. I no longer live there--in Ohio now.

Anyway-- gas sure was cheap back in the day!! When I started driving it was 89 cents a gallon. It sure has sky rocketed!!

Glad you joined us at the Writers' Post-- hope you'll share your posts with us!!

Cheers, Jenn

Jo said...

Going back and finding blogs I somehow missed. I love this one! I live 30 minutes from Lansing right now. Have lived in Durand since 1977. What town did you live in? Or do you still?
Cruising nights were always fun and here we would end up at the Standard Station or at the park.
It was a different world ~ kind of safe, even. ♥