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Cruisin': Back in the 1960's
In Feb. 7 Issue
Russell County News
By Ron Cowell, Columnist

This was a big year for the United States, a presidential election took place and as usual everyone has been looking at the last eight years and all the changes. I think people like to reflect and look back so I thought it would be fun to look back and see what our country was like back in the 60's when a lot of us were Crusin'.

Did you know that in 1960 the unemployment rate in the US was 5.5 percent, the national debt was $286.3 billion dollars. If you can believe this, the average salary was a whopping $4.743.00. Try living on that today. The minimum wage was $1.00 an hour and a first class stamp was only .04 cents. Sad thing is I remember all this.

Here is one that will make you smile, a gallon of regular gas was .31 cents per gallon. You could stop by McDonalds and feed a family of 4 for $2.35, and that's with Dad eating two burgers, fries and a drink. The rest of the family had one burger, fry and a drink. Burgers at McDonalds at that time were .15 cents each. Hard to believe isn't it?

If you took your date to the movies back in 60 popcorn was .15 cents, the movie was .20 cents and your drink was a dime. How did we ever afford all that? If you wanted to buy a shiny new Chevy it would set you back $2,529.00..

Also in the 60's a new dance craze came out that everyone was doing at the Sock Hops and dances and on American Bandstand with Dick Clark. It was The "TWIST" with Chubby Checker. A little known fact is that the name, Chubby Checker, was thought of by Dick Clark's wife. The tune reached # 1 in 1960 and left the charts only to come back again in 1962 to become the #1 song in the country again. The Twist also the first dance where kids didn't touch each other when dancing and a lot of the parents thought that was vulgar. My how times change compared to what we have now.

In the 60's you could find the average family watching the same TV shows. There was Gunsmoke, Bonanza, Lawrence Welk. We watched real cartoons on Saturday morning like Porky Pig, Donald Duck, Mickey Mouse and Beep Beep the Road Runner, Davy Crocket, Sky King, Father Knows Best, Lucy, Leave It To Beaver and that list could fill a whole column itself.

It was a much simpler time…. We didn't get new cars for graduation from our parents, it seemed like a family only had one car. Dad needed that to go to work and Mom stayed home with the kids. I remember Mom and Dad only buying things they could afford because "credit" was something you only used for necessities, not luxuries.

Nobody ever ask for your ID at the bank or the grocery store when you wrote a check. We talked on party lines on the phone, hardly anyone had a private line. I remember I could hitch hike anywhere I wanted to go and would always get a ride from men, women, it didn't matter. You don't dare pick up a hitchhiker today.

Back then there was none of this everyone passes. Many had to repeat a grade in grade school, (that's what they called it back then). If you failed a grade you repeated it the next year. Even in High School if you failed Physical Education you could be denied your diploma.

We didn't talk about our hardships and sacrifice when I was growing up in the 60's. We didn't dare! Our parents had the exclusive right to do that. They had lived through the depression and wanted a better life for their children and paid the price for it. We didn't get $300.00 worth of toys for Christmas like today. And that's a low figure compared to some.

A lot of women didn't have a professional career because they thought it was their responsibility to stay home and raise the kids. In the year 1960 aluminum cans for soda and beer were used for the first time. In 1962 the very first Wal Mart opened it's doors. Also the Polaroid camera company introduced color film prints. In 1961 IBM introduced the Selectric typewriter, that's the one with the bouncing ball that did the typing.

In 1964 the 8 track tape player was the big thing in homes and our cars.

That was followed up with Audio cassette tape and tape players in 1963. A cartridge loading super 8 movie camera was the latest thing. The ladies were sporting hairdo's like the Beehive, Flip or the bouffant. In the mid 60's we say go go boots and mini dresses.

Men were wearing nehru jackets in the mid 60's, wide ties, paisley shirts in bright colors and everyone was wearing bell bottom pants. For some it was bell bottom jeans, tie died shirts and the afro hair style was he thing.

Most homes and cars did not have air conditioning. There were no plastic bags and taking out the trash was a chore no one wanted. There were no drive by or school shootings or guns in schools. The divorce rate was half of what it is today. The illegitimacy rate was about 3% back then. Our language was English and people coming to this country learned it if they wanted to fit in. People wanted to be Americans, not hyphenated- Americans.

During the summer of 1967, a major change came in our music. The 50's and early style of Rock and Roll were all but gone and the Acid Rock was in. The country became a period of protests and civil disobedience, love-ins, drug experimentation and anti establishment, anti military and just plain dropping out. That all made up the start of the Psychedelic 60's.

That's' looking back at the Crusin era in the 60's, almost 50 years ago. Makes you wonder, what is it going to be like 50 years from now. I'm kind of glad I won't be around to see it..

If your Car Club is having an event and you would like us to tell everyone about or someone who you would like to see featured in this article send all information to, . All information on upcoming events needs to be in at least two weeks before the event.

Or if you know someone who is really a car person and you would like to see them featured drop me an email with the persons name, address and phone number and kind of car he/she has, or is working on. Also your name and number.

If your Club or church or group is having an event and you would like to display some classic cars at that event let me know at least two weeks before the event. I will put you in contact with one of the clubs that will gladly bring their cars out for display.

Until next time… Keep Cruisin !

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The Times Journal is a weekly newspaper issued on Thursdays. It was first published on October 13, 1949, by Andrew J. and Terry Norfleet.
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