Category Archives: Downtown Florence

Childhood misadventures (and memories of Dr. Price)

MRI’s, CT scans, x-rays and angiograms – the older we get, the more those terms become familiar to us. But when was the last time you had an old-fashioned fluoroscope?

I was four or five the last time I had one. Chewing on things like little rubber dolls and fingernails was an “unattractive habit,” according to mama. She tried to discourage me from putting non-food items into my mouth, but how else can a little kid tell what things are made of, if you don’t taste them?

Many interesting things invited a bite or a taste, like the tangy popsicle stick after the frozen orange flavor was gone, or the salty-sweet coated paper lining the Cracker Jacks box, or the chewy wax bottle once the syrupy contents were sucked dry.

But I have to agree, the nickle shouldn’t have been one of those things. That metallic flavor was very different from anything sweet or salty, you couldn’t suck any further taste out of it, and it was entirely too easy to swallow accidentally. Which is what I did, much to the dismay of my mother.

I had to tell her; after all, I wanted my nickle back. A nickle would buy something good, like a tootsie roll or two, and I didn’t come by too many nickles in those days.

Mama’s reaction was a bit extreme, I thought. “Oh my Lord, what did you swallow?!” Bundled into the car in a flash, down to Dr. Price’s exam room we went. From there I was rushed over to a strange room at McLeod Infirmary, conveniently located next door to the doctor’s office.

Lying still on that hard table was scary, especially when all the lights were off. And then came the stern admonishment from normally jovial Dr. Price: Go home, lie in the bed and read comic books, don’t play outside, don’t run or jump or do anything fun for several days, and things will “work themselves out.” And of course they did, in due time.

I quit trying to use my taste buds to determine the make-up of inedible objects for a while after that.

Several years and bouts of sore throats later, Dr. Price made a pronouncement to me with a smile as he prepared a penicillin shot: “Next time you’re in here with tonsillitis, we’re going to yank those tonsils right out.”

That was the last time I was in there with tonsillitis! Believe me, whenever I got a sore throat after that I never let on to anybody. I may have snuck into the bathroom and gargled with salt water a few times, taken an aspirin or two, but no horrible tonsil-yanking for me. I wasn’t sure how they went about it but it didn’t sound too pleasant. I didn’t intend to find out.

I made it from grammar school to junior high without too many misadventures, until the amazing ambulance ride from school to the hospital one afternoon. Sometimes with a head cold I’d get a tickle in the back of my throat, caused by a swollen soft palate. I’d learned that if a tickle evolved into a cough, I could easily stop it with a few sprinkles of table salt. Accordingly my pockets usually held one or two little salt packs (like you get with french fries), and just a bit of salt licked off the palm of my hand would do the trick.

This particular day I was all out of salt when the tickle started. Soon a cough developed, and after a couple of minutes I couldn’t stop coughing. I tried to tell the teacher I needed some salt but she thought I was nuts. Cough, cough, salt, please get me some salt, cough, cough! Instead she got me a cup of cold water, which just made things worse.

Worried by then, she did what any responsible teacher would do: she sent for the ambulance. Now, in those days, there was no EMS – the ambulances looked a lot like hearses. I was a real star, coughing my head off while the attendants in white uniforms laid me out on a stretcher and loaded me in the back of that long white car.

My fellow students watched and waved as off we went to McLeod Infirmary, probably thinking they’d never see me again.

Of course by the time we pulled up to the emergency entrance at McLeod, the cough had run its course. I guess I’d sweated enough from all that coughing that licking my damp salty palms was enough to stop it. There at the hospital door was my anxious mother, who soon understood my problem. A simple cough triggered by a simple tickle, the whole thing avoidable with a simple application of table salt.

No matter, I was there, Dr. Price was there, and I had to be checked out for the sake of the school officials. After a brief listen to my lungs, a look down my throat and a “tch, tch, tonsils still there, hmmm?” I was declared fit to go home. My star status was dimmed somewhat when I turned up at school the next day none the worse for wear, several salt packets stowed in my pocket.

Well, today I seldom have sore throats or coughs that can’t be stopped with a sprinkle of salt. But I do still have my tonsils, thanks to Dr. Julian Price’s penicillin shots – or his “yank-’em-right-out” promise, depending on your point of view!

1950’s Dime-Store Shopping

Evans Street looking west, 1937. Postcard.

Evans Street looking west, 1937. Postcard.

The 100 block of West Evans was a shopping mecca in the 1950’s. Downtown Florence had everything a kid could want, all in one block. Of course, we had our share of department stores and grownups did a lot of shopping in those. But for us kids, the five and ten cent stores were the place to go.

Saturday when the movie was over and it was too early to go home, you went dime-store window shopping. And if sometimes you had to go present shopping, naturally you had to make the rounds to be sure you got the best thing.

One Saturday in early June, I declared my desire to pick out daddy’s Father’s Day present all by myself without mama tagging along looking at every blooming thing in the store. With a smile and shake of the head, she gave me some extra cash for my trip downtown.

After the latest Hopalong Cassidy movie at the Carolina Theater, I went shopping. I turned left on Dargan toward Evans Street, crossed at the light and turned in to Kresses Five and Ten Cents Store. I really loved Kresses. The dark wood floor had a substantial sound when you walked on it, and there was usually something interesting smelling in the air, as well as a nice echoey sound when people talked.

One plate-glass window in the front featured a lady dummy with painted-on hair, wearing a short-sleeve summer dress. Another window had a little kid dummy wearing a sunsuit and carrying a sand pail. Stores were big on dummies. Most of them had heads in the dime stores. Some of the department store dummies were missing their heads, I never knew why…

At Kresses and Woolworth’s there were lots of waist-high counters arranged in a rectangle with a saleslady and her cash register in the middle.

Shallow bins with wooden dividers were arranged around the counter tops. One might contain embroidered hankies, the next one after-shave lotion. After you perused the stuff in the bins and decided on something, the saleslady rang you up and gave back your purchase in a thin paper bag. Then you went on down the aisle to another counter and another saleslady.

Down the right-hand wall in Kresses were racks of ladies undies, nighties and hand-bags, all different colors and sizes. Down the left side of the store was a lunch counter with a big sign picturing an oval-shaped chopped steak and mashed potatoes covered with shiny brown gravy, garden peas, a dinner roll and a glass of iced tea for a “Reasonable Price.”

I didn’t eat there. Daddy wouldn’t have considered any price reasonable if it wasn’t Sunday after church, and Kresses wasn’t open on Sundays.

At the back of the store there were flat tables low to the floor piled with bolts of cloth. Pyramid- shaped shelves held sewing scissors, spools of thread and dress patterns. If you turned right and headed toward Dargan Street, you found the housewares and toy sections with pots and pans, hammers and nails, and every kind of toy imaginable from Red Ryder cap guns to cry-baby dolls.

After Thanksgiving, the Dargan Street windows would gurgle with bubble lights on decorated Christmas trees, Lionel trains running around in circles underneath the trees.

This summer day, I merely glanced at the ladies and kids’ stuff as I browsed through the store, examining Old Spice cologne and cotton handerkerchiefs, billfolds and pocket knives, making careful note of prices as I went.

I considered a little leatherette travel kit with toothbrush, dental floss and toothpaste, but they wanted too much money for that and daddy didn’t travel much anyway. That saleslady gave me a closed-mouth smile like she didn’t believe I actually had any money to spend. I smiled back as I left her counter.

McLellan’s was on the other side of the street so I looked both ways before crossing in the middle of the block. McLellan’s had something the other stores didn’t — long counters and cash registers lined up like cattle stalls near the front door.

You loaded whatever you wanted in a buggy, unloaded the buggy onto the counter and paid for everything right there in one spot. It cut down on hiring so many salesladies, I guess, but McLellan’s didn’t last long. Maybe Florence wasn’t ready for that much self-service.

I didn’t find anything good for daddy in McLellan’s. Walking on down the street, I stopped and pressed my face to the window at several shops to see inside a little better. Painted neckties, Bulova watches and wing-tip shoes were all out of my price range.

Woolworth’s (at the corner of Evans and Irby) had some things Kresses and McLellan’s didn’t have, like floor lamps and big paintings of seascapes. At the back of the store, two ladies discussed pickle recipes over a shelf of glass jars.

Woolworth’s wasn’t as much fun as Kresses but it had pretty neat stuff on sale sometimes. Sure enough, oxblood shoe polish was on sale, but Daddy didn’t wear oxblood-colored shoes. I was running out of options.

Then an aisle display of “Restore Your Patent Leather Shine” black liquid polish and “Long-Lasting Woven Shoelaces” caught my eye. As she bagged up my selections, the nice saleslady said they were sure to please my dad, and I was pleased and relieved to come up with something good for Father’s Day on my very own.

I even had enough coins left over for a cherry coke at the corner drug store on the way home. Not a bad shopping trip for a kid in downtown Florence, in the 1950’s.

Going to the Movies

Saturday movie rituals were set in stone for 1950’s kids in Florence. Get up, do your chores, get your movie money, and trek downtown to the theater. Admission was a dime and a snack could be had for fifteen cents so a quarter would do it.

Kingstree’s Jimmy Richardson (who grew up in Florence) and Florence optician Jimmy Rhodes recall double-features at the State Theater on East Evans Street. McLeod Hospital occupies that space today. Kids patronized double-features when they had enough tolerance to be glued to hard seats for such a long time. I stuck to the Carolina on South Dargan Street or the Colonial on West Evans.

The smell of hot popcorn dripping in butter and dashed with salt wafted to the sidewalk, drawing you in. Ticket in hand, the concession stand was next. With your fountain Coke you could might enjoy Red Hots, Three Musketeers, Milk Duds or Candy Coated Almonds.

If your total worth for the morning was a quarter, it was a difficult decision: popcorn, candy and no drink? Candy, drink and no popcorn? Split a popcorn and candy with a buddy? Good solution.

What a morning it would be! Cartoons starred Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd, Donald Duck, Porky Pig and Petunia, Micky Mouse, or Tom and Jerry. The Newsreel might demonstrate a brilliant new invention or feature a “Rally Round the Troops” speech by the President.

Next might come a Short. What’s a Short? Well, it’s a 15 or 20-minute film that could be a complete story featuring the zany antics of the Three Stooges or Little Rascals. It could also be a Cold War Atomic Bomb scare film, but they didn’t always put them on with kid movies.

Often we’d see the latest cliffhanger Serial episode. Serials were 20 to 30 minutes long, a dozen or so episodes to the whole story. The exciting derring-do of Superman, Batman, or the Green Hornet would alternate with space adventures of Flash Gordon or Buck Rogers.

One week Buck would blast off from earth on the way to some galaxy or other, and by the end of the episode he’d be arm wrestling with alien octopi and dumped into a dungeon. Next week he’d win the wrestling match and escape from the dungeon, only to be led by an enticing beauty into the midst of a another mess. We enjoyed the Serials, but they were just warm-ups for the main event — the Movie!

Hopalong Cassidy, The Lone Ranger, Lash LaRue, Zorro, Roy Rogers, Gene Autry — all were our heroes in the early 50’s. Plots and characters were easy to follow. Good guys wore white hats, bad guys wore black hats. (Lash LaRue was an allowable exception, garbed in black from head to toe.)

At least one faithful sidekick always hovered nearby and could be an grumpy old codger or a naive greenhorn, usually hilariously funny. Naturally a bank robber, cattle rustler or otherwise all-around bad guy was up to no good, and naturally a damsel in distress was tied to the railroad tracks, cheated out of her ranch or robbed of her inheritance. Hoppy to the rescue! Or “Who was that Masked Man?” and his faithful companion Tonto.

Week in and week out, same sort of plot, same sort of ending. Dependable! Good guys always beat bad guys, won fair lady’s heart and saved the day. Plots varied with Monday to Friday films, less shoot-em-up in the musical romances and comedies, more in the detective and war stories. Grownups preferred those.

The Carolina Theater housed a wonderfully dim second-floor balcony where friends could giggle and tell secrets to their heart’s content, contributing bits of unpopped corn or sticky Cracker Jacks over the railing to friends (or enemies) below. If an occasional sprinkle of fountain Coke got added to the mix, the offender might be hustled down the stairs and out of the theater in a flash by an eagle-eyed usher.

The Colonial balcony was a favorite hide-away for boys. My brother Harold remembers the spacious ceiling space in front of the big brass rail as perfect for sailing improvised flying saucers: flattened popcorn boxes.

The Colonial was in the City Hall building, smack in the middle of the 100 block of West Evans. At one time it had been the O’Dowd (Opera House first, Theater later). For a while after moving pictures came to town, the auditorium alternated between live performances of stage plays or traveling vaudeville troupes and movies, either silent or “talkies.”

Advertisements for both often appeared on the same page in the Morning News Review, a flyer for a stage show at the O’Dowd on the left, one for a film at the Colonial on the right. It was puzzling to discover they meant the same auditorium. Eventually the Schnibben family bought out O’Dowd interests and only the name “Colonial” remained thereafter.

The building was set back from the street, the walkway to the ticket office flanked by a pair of ponds complete with lily pads and large, multicolored goldfish. Wrought iron fences kept our feet from slipping in, and trying to spot the swishy tails kept our attention occupied while standing in line for tickets.

It was fun going to the Colonial to watch the fish, even if not attending a movie.

The theaters occasionally hosted live entertainment even in the 1950’s. Lash LaRue came in person to crack his bullwhip from one side of the stage to the other. The Duncan Yo-Yo man came to town regularly, giving a demonstration out in front of the Colonial before moving inside to do fancy tricks with the latest yo-yo model.

Harmonica performances, talent shows, civic and school events shared the auditoriums with movie-goers.

In the 1910-20’s Florence had boasted at least six theaters: the O’Dowd, Orpheum, Imp, Majestic, Airdome and the Mirror. With the advent of film Vaudeville slowly dwindled away, the need for so many theaters with it. By the mid-1920’s Florence was down to three, the O’Dowd, Colonial and Bijou.

In the early 1950’s we still had three downtown theaters, the Colonial, Carolina and State, and our Saturday ritual of meeting friends at the movie was an integral part of our lives. Today you can buy just about any of the old Cartoons, Shorts, Newsreels and Movies on videotape or DVD, even the scary Atom Bomb films. It’s just not the same, though, without the balconies, Cracker Jacks and flying popcorn boxes.

The Dairi-O, the Kudzu Forest, and the Kuker House

Kuker House

Kuker House before 1924

In the early 1950s my family lived in an apartment house in the 300 block of South Irby Street, right behind the Dairi-O.

On the corners of Irby and West Palmetto were First Baptist Church, a gas station, St. Anthony’s Catholic Church, and the Kuker House. The Dairi-O was next door to the Kuker House.

The Dairi-O served the creamiest ice cream, piled high and swirled to a peak atop a pointed cone. Folks from all around the county would stop on their way to and from shopping in Florence to park, purchase and enjoy vanilla and chocolate cones.

The little building was surrounded by a crushed stone parking lot, tough on a kid’s bare feet, but when mother dressed my brother Harold and me in look-alike yellow sunsuits and little white sandals, the ice cream people thought we were adorable. Free cones and dishes of sherbert were easy to get when you looked as cute as we did. We didn’t pull this off too often; we were smart enough not to wreck a good thing. We found other ways to entertain ourselves.

The center of the block behind the house, where everybody’s back yards met, was covered in kudzu for much of the year. All the neighborhood kids laid claim to part of that forest, where trees and shrubbery disappeared in the summer time beneath leafy kudzu vines. Cops and robbers, cowboys and Indians, hide and seek, most any kind of game was more fun in the kudzu. With multiple hide-outs, fox holes and caves, we were limited only by our imagination.

The two-story Kuker house on the corner was empty and the fenced yard overgrown with weeds. The back yard featured tall trees, shaggy shrubbery and a circular drive-way opening onto Palmetto Street. Our front yard adjoined that back yard, and little kids invisible to cars driving by could find adventure playing among those bushes.

One summer day Harold and I felt brave, bored, or stupid enough to take our adventure a step further. We crept up to the old house, found a break in the back porch screen, and wiggled inside through an unlocked window.

Thick dusty cobwebs told us the house had been empty quite a while. Why, then, was there still furniture in the house? The living room still had armchairs. Pictures still hung on the walls. In the kitchen we found a table, chairs, and a kitchen range complete with pots and pans! Dishes on the table contained what must have been flakes of dried-up food under a layer of dust.

A center staircase led upstairs so naturally we were compelled to explore. Second-floor bedrooms still held beds, sheets thrown back as if somebody had just gotten up. A wardrobe stood half open, hangers jutting out. In an adjoining dressing room, a tiny bottle with a glass stopper still gave off a sweet fragrance.

On the floor lay two lady’s slippers, the left and right indistinguishable. A man’s chifferobe still contained shirts and suits. Why?

It was pretty dim in the hallway and we were reluctant to go much further. The longer we stayed the more nervous we got — every floor-board creak seemed like the sheriff coming to get us. We figured we’d better not press our luck, so we made our way downstairs, scrambled back through the window and headed home.

I don’t know how we explained the cobwebs and grime on our clothes, but we were relieved to get away without being “hauled to the hoosegow.” (We’d seen a lot of Roy Rogers movies in our young lives.)

We weren’t the only kids to explore the old Kuker House. Jimmy Rhodes remembers living in the same apartments one time, and the lure of the old house pulled him in, too. He recalls pocket doors that slid back into the walls, and a picture on the wall of President Taft with a man who must have been Mr. Kuker. (President Taft had made a trip to Florence where he spoke to a huge crowd at what is now Poynor Adult Education Center.) Jimmy also wonders why some furniture was left there, long after the people moved out.

And I wonder: how many other kids conned their way into free ice cream at the Dairi-O? How many felt the pull of the old Kuker House? Then there was the day the Martians landed in the kudzu forest… but more about that another time.

Follow the Bouncing Ball

“Kim Jong Il wants everyone to follow the bouncing ball…” said one internet news headline a while back. That sentence startled me for a moment. Kim Jong Il, dictator of North Korea? As I read, I came across a link to an on-line anthem complete with English translation, music, and a little bouncing ball jumping from word to word, all about North Korean soldiers who defend their motherland. It could have been any country, any continent, actually, although the pictures in the background were plainly North Korean.

As the words moved across the computer screen I thought back to the first time I heard “follow the bouncing ball.” Suddenly I was back in the Colonial Theater watching old re-runs and newly released Sing-Along short films, run between the movies with previews and newsreels.

I didn’t learn all the latest catchy songs in the 1940’s and 50’s from records, or radio, or music classes at school — I learned a lot of popular and romantic and novelty songs right up there on the screen.

You Are My Sunshine, The Yellow Rose of Texas, The Sidewalks of New York, Bill Bailey, or Cruising Down the River would appear in large letters with a white ball bouncing from syllable to syllable in time with the music. Sometimes it was just the lyrics, and sometimes it was a Song Car-Tune with cartoon characters following the bouncing ball and singing the songs. The whole movie audience chimed in and soon you, your family and friends knew all the latest songs.

With a bit of research, I learned that “Come Away with Me Lucile” was one of the first animated films to actually have sound. The Oldsmobile automotive company no doubt loved it since it featured the best-known song ever written about a car.

The story line was a bit racy for the day: Lucile was getting ready for a date when a villainous peeping-tom caught a glimpse of her through a crack in her window shade. Lucile yanked down the shade, then reached down to her hemline and pulled off one, then another, then another and yet another dress. Shedding striped, plaid, polka dotted and flowered dress after dress, she went from pleasantly plump to skinny as a rail before getting down to her slip.

She was sliding an evening gown over her head about the time the villain chopped his way through her front door. He sang this little song to her as he chased her around the room, trying to steal a little kiss:

Come away with me, Lucile, in my merry Oldsmobile,
Down the road of life we’ll fly, automo-bubbling you and I.
To the church we’ll swiftly steal, then our wedding bells will peal,
You can go as far as you like with me in my merry Oldsmobile.

The song had multiple verses and the audience followed the bouncing ball through them all, cheering Lucile on to get away from the bad guy. Of course she did. Her hero arrived on the scene and made short work of the peeping tom. Naturally Lucile and her fellow lived happily ever after.

These were forerunners of Popeye, Olive Oyl and Bluto who had many such adventures over the years, some with and some without the bouncing ball sing-alongs.

Movie sing-alongs actually started in the early 1920’s, in the days of silent movies. The house organist or pianist would play popular music of the day in between pictures and invite the audience to sing along. If you didn’t know the song, that was okay; the words were shown on the screen by way of slides. In the middle 20’s animated films and sound came along with various cartoon characters acting out a short story, complete with popular songs.

Song lyrics and bouncing ball accompanied the spinach-guzzling Popeye The Sailor Man, or big-eyed beauty Betty Boop’s Let Me Call You Sweetheart. Pretty soon “Follow the Bouncing Ball” became part of the American culture.

I loved the Song Car-Tunes at the Colonial. In addition to human cartoon characters, Tom and Jerry ran from the farmer’s wife to the words and music of Three Blind Mice. Bugs Bunny outwitted farmer Elmer Fudd, wielding his garden hoe in time with Row, Row, Row Your Boat. I can still visualize Porky Pig and Petunia’s duet rendering of When I’m Calling You-oo-oo-oo,-oo-oo-oo.

When television came along, Sing Along with Mitch Miller became a well-watched TV show, complete with bouncing ball. You could sing with Mitch as loud as you wanted, off key or on, in the comfort of your own living room. Families watched the show together, laughing and critiqueing each other’s singing style.

The Hit Parade and Name That Tune soon came along. We still heard the popular songs of the day, but it wasn’t as much fun without that bouncing ball to follow. They didn’t sing Mairzy Doats and Dozy Doats (mares eat oats and does eat oats and little lambs eat ivy, a kid’ll eat ivy too, wouldn’t you) much on the Hit Parade…

Sing-alongs haven’t died out, though, they’ve just evolved over the years. Nowadays you don’t need a theater or a television set, you can attend karaoke night at a local restaurant or club. You might select your favorite Oldie but Goodie and imitate Old Blue Eyes (Frank Sinatra for you young-uns) “your way” or “dream of a white Christmas” with the Crooner (Bing Crosby).

People still like being one of the audience singing the old songs, and you can count on the crowd laughing and critiquing your singing style!

“Cruising the View”

ETV recently lamented the demise of old style drive-in restaurants, the kind with the speaker on a pedestal right by your car and your food delivered to the car window. A film crew visited the Sky View, interviewing patrons about the way “Cruising the Sky View” used to be. One late 1950’s Cruising the View adventure is still vivid in my mind.

Eating places were as different as car styles in the 1950’s and Florence had a variety of choices for any taste buds. Smiley’s, on East Palmetto where Cheves Street veers off for downtown, offered the world’s best cheeseburgers. Fried chicken lovers headed to Ed Turner’s Chicken Basket at Coles Crossroads. You might drop in to the Sanitary Lunch across from McLeod Infirmary for a hot Apple Jack. If you had a really sweet tooth, you visited the Donut Dinette on West Palmetto for a dozen of those melt-in-the-mouth, hot-out-of-the-grease doughnuts. Quite a few full-fledged restaurants, corner cafes, serious steak houses and fish camps were scattered around town, each one unique.

For teenage drivers, however, the Beacon Drive-in on South Irby offered places to park, grab a bite to eat and listen to the radio. Palmetto Street offered two great destinations with similar fare and service, the 301 Drive-In across from the main Fire Station and the Sky View at Five Points. All three featured curb service, hamburgers, fries, milk shakes and fountain drinks. Remember Clarinets? Cruising the View in the 1950’s came to include making the rounds of all three several times an evening, boys in their cars, girls in theirs if not out on a date.

Tri-Hi-Y met at the YMCA downtown and I was fortunate enough to be trusted with my daddy’s car to attend these meetings. Since they were over early in the evening, all the kids hunted up refreshments afterwards. It was only natural that my friend Sally and I would do likewise. The way this activity worked, we might order a fountain coke at the 301, sip on it a while and watch other cars go by. We’d check out who was driving what and who was riding with who, then crank up and head over to the Beacon. There we’d park again, order french fries, munch and watch other cars go by.

Now, daddy had given me definite instructions about where I could drive his car and how many hours I could stay out, and I was supposed to keep his car in the downtown area. That meant no Sky View ( it was too far out on West Palmetto). But once you’ve cruised the Beacon and 301 a couple of times, it’s too obvious to keep on circling those two. It was only natural that you’d follow the cruising crowd out to the Sky View, right? And if we paid for the extra gas, daddy really wouldn’t mind, right?

Half way out to Five Points, we had a flat tire. In those days there were almost no businesses between downtown and Five Points, no gas stations and no tire companies, only residences. We made it to the phone booth at the Dairy Queen and sat in the car a few minutes, contemplating our dilemma. Who did we know that could change a tire? Having a flat tire wasn’t that big a problem — where we had the flat tire was a big problem! My earlier reasoning about Cruising the Sky View suddenly felt a little faulty even to me.

“Honesty is the best policy,” Daddy had drummed that into my skull a few times and when I finally ran out of options I called him. I was honest. We’d had a flat tire, and we were where we’d been told not to be, out in the middle of “nowhere,” way out on West Palmetto Street headed toward the Sky View. I don’t remember who came to change the tire, somebody daddy called, but I do remember the consequences. No more driving daddy’s car to Tri-Hi-Y meetings, no more going anywhere at night for a month, and definitely no more Cruising the View in his car.

We did Cruise the Sky View in later days (in Sally’s car) and it was still fun ordering a burger here, onion rings there, and a Clarinet somewhere else, watching the other cars go by and seeing who was riding with who.

A few years ago Tim and I would visit the Sonic out on West Palmetto, park and enjoy milkshakes on hot summer afternoons. As we sipped our shakes and listened to the radio, I watched other cars go by and realized cruising is still alive and well with a brand-new generation of teenagers, plus an extra destination or two. ETV may have lamented the demise of the old-time drive-in restaurants a little too early.