Cruising: What Ever Happened To The Good Ol’ Days?
A few nights ago I took my wife and kids to a local theater to watch my favorite movie on the big screen, American Graffiti. Like most hot rodders, I have a DVD copy of the movie and I watch it frequently. However, I hadn’t seen it on the big screen since the first time I saw it in 1973 when I was just a kid! About half way through the movie, my fourteen year old daughter Deanna leaned over and asked me “is that what cruising was really like?”
This got me thinking about the good ol’ days when I used to cruise, and wondering what happened to our beloved pastime? First of all, the movie American Graffiti takes place in 1962, two years before I was born, so my cruising era began closer to 1982. Honestly, not much had changed; we drove different cars obviously, but by the 1980’s the world had not yet become as crazy as it is today. Kids were still kids back then, most of us didn’t carry weapons… And back then when you saw the red and blues in your mirror, you pulled over.
So what ever happened to cruising?
For me it was a combination of things; I got married to a woman who hated the car culture (a move that I quickly regretted). And I left the Air Force for the Army where I went to flight school, which took up a tremendous amount of my time. Surely that’s not what happened to everyone; it seemed to me that cruising just suddenly died overnight. Did we as a society just tire of it collectively? Did we all outgrow it? Or was it the pressure from municipalities that ended it?
In the 1980’s things were still harmless. Different types of cruisers (at least in Phoenix) hung out on different parts of Central Avenue. We all cruised together and got along with each other. The lowriders stayed on the south side of Central and rarely strayed north, but when they did there was never any trouble. One day, there were no more cruisers. Today there are organized cruises in every city. For the most part they lack the spontaneity and camaraderie we used to enjoy. It’s just not the same when you have to schedule a time to cruise.
Funny isn’t it?
When you were a kid cruising your favorite spot, you always wished you had your dream car and a hot babe to cruise with you. When we get older and buy or build our dream car and are married to a hot babe, we no longer cruise! I get it, cruising has never really been something that old timers do, but even young folks don’t cruise any more. Maybe they just don’t need to. I mean we cruised hoping to meet girls and win street races, and these days kids “hook up” in other ways and race their cars at organized street races. They just don’t know what they’re missing.
Back to my busy life with no time for cruising.