After those “Lazy, Hazy, Crazy Days of Summer” it would be time for school to resume once more. I always looked forward to the first day of school (and even the first week, for that matter) so that I could catch up with classmates that I hadn’t seen all summer. After that first week, however, I was ready for summer vacation to return, but, alas, that would be a long way off.
It was September 1964, my senior year of high school at good old Crosby High. The Class of ‘65 would be the last class to graduate from Crosby High as construction was underway for the brand spanking new (ugly) Belfast Area High School.
During the summer I had purchased my very first “kah” which would make me one of the big men on the school grounds (In 1964 it was school grounds not campus, we weren’t sophisticated enough back then to have had campuses). It was a 1957 Chevy Bel-aire two door coup with a 265HP engine and three speed stick. The picture below is not the actual car, but it is identical in body style and color – I’d love to have that car back today.
I would cruise town with my friends in that baby. Cruising town was one of the big events every Friday and Saturday nights in Belfast, Maine during the 60’s. We’d drive for four or more hours and not cover more than a 5 square mile radius. Before the evening was over, a stop would be made at Grace LaFonde’s Pizza Shop (the only one in town) for a cheese pizza. What size? It didn’t matter, there was only one size – round!!!
That car was a “chick magnet” for sure. With a car like that there was always a girl by my side. That was back when bench seats were in vogue and your best girl could snuggle up next to you as you perused the city limits. Ahhh, the good old days of pizza, pretzels, and beer. Yes, there was more than enough room in the trunk that car for a case or two of beer plus the spare tire (a friend of mine had a VW bug, we’d have to leave the spare tire at home in order to have enough room for that evening’s beer).
However, fuel efficiency wasn’t high on the auto makers manufacturing agenda during the 50’s and 60’s. Seven or eight miles per gallon was good enough; after all, gasoline was around 17.9 cents per gallon back then. But, still, it was necessary for a high school student to have the means to keep that “cream puff” fueled up and ready to go, so that meant a part-time J-O-B.
My first “real” J-O-B was at F. W. Woolworth’s as a stockboy that I landed toward the end of my junior year (I mowed lawns during the summer months prior to that). I worked two hours a day after school on Monday through Thursday, from 3 PM to 9 PM on Fridays (that meant that I didn’t get an early start cruising on Friday nights), and from 9 AM to 5 PM on Saturdays with an hour off for lunch. That totaled 21 hours and 21 bucks a week – more than enough to feed the beast and buy some pizza and beer. I don’t have a picture of Woolworth’s but it was located on Main Street in the tall building that’s in the middle of the picture below.
Now, we weren’t bad kids back then, mind you, but we were prone to get into mischief every now and again. The good news is that the cops had a sense of humor and wouldn’t “cuff us and stuff us” as is the case today. Instead, they would just tell our parents what we were up to and the car keys would disappear for awhile – a fate worse than incarceration as everything in the whole wide world revolved around having wheels. So it behooved us to not get into any serious trouble (or, at the very least, not get caught at it) to avoid being grounded.
Social life for a teenager in high school is priority number 1 with receiving an education somewhere down around number 8, 9, or 10. Having a car was absolutely essential back in the 60’s for maintaining a status on the social “who’s who” list. Having a “cool set of wheels” just moved you up to the top of that list and my ‘57 Chevy was a “cool set of wheels”!!! Life was Good.
Take Care Until Next Time - - - -