The Times Journal & Russell County News
Wednesday, Jul. 23, 2014 — RUSSELL SPRINGS & JAMESTOWN, KENTUCKY — russellcounty.net
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CRUISIN': Back in the day
In July 12 issue, Russell County News
By Ron Cowell, Columnist

The other day I had a young person ask me, “What actually is Crusin, just riding around in a car?” It took me a while to think about my answer and I realized that over the years the work “Crusin” has changed its meaning for me.

Back when I was young and in my teens Crusin meant getting a bunch of guys together and pool our change to come up with at least a dollar so we could get 4 gallons of gas and ride around all night looking for girls.

That’s right a dollar. Gas back then was only 26 cents a gallon. Hard to believe ain’t it.

Or Crusin could mean the same thing if you were lucky and had a girl to Cruise with you. You could ride around, usually on the same streets going to the same places over and over again, listening to the radio.

Back then AM radio was the big thing. The only music you could find on FM was elevator music. You know, the kind that they played in the doctor’s office, that stuff that puts you to sleep.

Where I grew up our Crusin route was down Woodville Road, cruise through McDonalds then down to the Big Boy then off to Main Street and drive through Don’s Drive In.

It would be nothing to put on a hundreds miles just driving that circle with your car all shinned up and looking good. On your last trip of the night you would make that circle and top it off with a trip across town and drive through Mels, then home. I’m sure no matter what part of the country you were from you had your route also.

If you had a headlight out you did not even want to get close to where everyone was because you didn’t want anyone to see you with a headlight out. That was just not cool! You would head to the Auto parts store to get a headlight and replace it right then. There was NO WAY you wanted anyone to see your car with a headlight out.

Not everyone had a nice car with a good paint job but we wanted to cruise also. So what did we do? Well, the same as the guys with the new cars, shine it all up but then add a twist. Get yourself a can of primer and prime a spot on the car. That made the car acceptable to others because you were working on it so it was OK to drive in public even though the car had it’s imperfections.

When I say shine the car up that’s just what I mean. Not only wash and wax the outside, but wash out the trunk compartment, under the hood, the wheel wells, door jams and all.
We didn’t have sound systems that would make people 100 yards away hard of hearing. We just had AM radio with that good old rock and roll coming from the speakers. We knew the words to almost every song.

I remember they came out with a record player that would play our 45’s in the car. Yep, what a prize that was. That idea didn’t last to long though.  It actually worked pretty well and unless you hit a major bump the record would not skip. The big problem with the car record player was the sun.

If you left your records in the car, the sun and the heat would soon take care of the records so they did not play ever again. It wasn’t to long after that they came out with the 8 track tape player.

Well that’s just some of what Crusin meant to me when I was young. After being ask just what is Crusin the other day I realized that as I got older Crusin meant a lot more to me now. I’m sure people have their own meaning of the word but for me crusin today means a lot of memories.

When I go to a Cruise In today, I look at all the classic cars and hot rods and each car will spark some kind of a memory. Maybe it will make me think of a friend who had a car just like one of them.

As you walk around looking at the cars usually they have someone playing the old music from back then. Each song is a reminder of a place I have been, something I was doing at that time, an old girlfriend. Just about every song has a memory in it.

It makes me wonder what ever happened to an old buddy or an old flame from back then. It’s reminder of a simpler time and places I’ve been and people I knew.

I have two classic cars now. Back when I was young I would have felt like I was cool.

Today my cars are what  I wish I could have had or even afforded back then. I enjoy standing around talking to others about the Good Old Days and the fun we had and the cars we drove.

So now that I am older the word Crusin means so much more to me then it did back then.
The next time you hear about a Classic Car Show or a Cruise in stop by and walk around. I’ll almost bet that there will be a few memories pop back into your head that you had long forgot about. Hope to see you there.

If your Car Club is having an event you would like us to tell everyone about drop a line with all the information to djron47@yahoo.com. All information on events needs to be turned in at least two weeks before the event.

Also with summer here you may want to have one of the Clubs in the County bring their cars for display at your club or church or function.  Once again drop me a line and I will get you in touch with the Clubs in the area. The clubs of Russell County are more than happy to show off their cars.

Till next time; Keep Cruisin.
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Russell County News is a weekly newspaper issued on Saturdays, and is mailed free to every address in Russell County, Ky. It was first published on February 1, 1913.
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