"It Was Better Back in The Old Days"
By Capt. Fred Davis
Published: Friday, May 17, 2013

Life was better in the old days.

I recall back in the day when duck tails were the boy’s hairstyle and Levi’s with a T-shirt (pack of cigs rolled up in the sleeve) were the uniform of the day for school. Girls wore bangs, fluffy-sleeved blouses and poodle skirts.

Dress-up styles for boys were French flannel, pegged pants, pleated shirts with cuff links and chisel-toe shoes. Argyle sox and vests were also popular with the nerds of that era. The girls dress up was actually dresses in polka dots, gingham, starched cotton with nylons and high-heeled pumps.

How times and styles have changed. In the past ,girls rarely smoked and never in public. Drugs were aspirins and cough drops. If a tough guy wanted to get high he could score a Bennie (used by long distance truckers) that just hyped you up and kept you awake. On rare occasions, weed would show up. But it was hard to get and most kids didn’t even know it was out there.

The worst kids did was get someone to buy them beer and head down to the beach or back in the woods to party. Not all teens had wheels, so those that did asked for donations for gas. As many kids that fit would pile in and an evenings out in the city were spent cruising from drive-in to drive-in. If anyone had some cash, an order of fries would be shared with a coke or two.

At some of the drive-ins, waitresses were on roller skates; at others they wore bunny suits. At the Totem Pole or Tee Pee, your orders were delivered by girls wearing Indian outfits. Today, there are only a few drive-in restaurants still operating; Lefty’s in our area and a few A&W’s still offer the service in other locals.

On weekends, groups of cars would go down to Woodward Avenue to view some of the custom cars and check out the cars drag racing between the drive-ins. It was a “see you there” activity that no one wanted to miss.

Today, the “Woodward Dream Cruise” covers about the same area (from Ferndale to Pontiac) in much the same way except it’s a really big deal that takes place the third Saturday in August. Custom cars, muscle cars and every other type added up to 30,000 cruising in 2012. Lots of engines revving, tires burning and open exhaust roaring but the drag racing has been curbed.

Dates back then were usually spent at drive-in movies where you could sit in your car, hang a speaker on your window and eat junk food from the snack bar. Some high-class spots had waitresses taking orders — on roller skates.

In rural areas, because the drive-ins covered large tracks of land that increased in value beyond what the theaters could support, they disappeared. Of the 5,000 that operated nationwide, there are only about 500 left.

While visiting out West, I did find some still operating; a group of eight separate movies in one pack of drive-in theaters in Glendale, a suburb of Phoenix. They are adjacent to a giant flea market that opens on weekends. A newspaper report on the multi-screen operation stated the owner reported their popularity was growing and he had experienced a large increase in customers.

As I see it, we need more efforts made to bring back the old days!




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