Tahlequah Daily Press

Columns

February 2, 2013

Cruising: Back when pop bottles bought gasoline

TAHLEQUAH — I’ve seen the teenagers parked along Downing, hanging out in the lots of businesses whose tolerant owners don’t run them off. They’ll be in groups of three or four, lounging on the hoods of their cars, waving and yelling as their friends roar up and down the four-lane.

That must be the cruise route for Tahlequah kids. But I’m originally a Fort Gibson kid, and we didn’t usually make it over this way when I was in high school. We small-town types headed to Muskogee to mingle with what, in hindsight, was undoubtedly a much rougher crowd (and thus the school mascot, the Roughers).

The cruise route started somewhere on Okmulgee, usually around the Civic Center but no farther east than Main. After sailing west through what was left of the downtown core and through the residential area where a lot of the rich folks lived, you’d hook a left onto 32nd (otherwise known as Highway 69) by what used to be a Safeway store, with its convenient parking lot. Then you’d rumble on south toward McDonald’s, troll through the lot, swing back northward onto 32nd, hang a right onto Okmulgee, and roll east until you found somewhere to turn around and start all over again.

The two stopping points were the Safeway parking lot and McDonald’s. Managers of those joints, aided by bored cops, tried to disperse the kids. We’d leave for a while, and maybe cruise through Honor Heights Park, but we’d always end up back at McDonald’s or the Safeway parking lot – some of us with our shirts on inside-out or, it was rumored, with the odor of Boone’s Farm on our breath.

There was a trick to cruising: the ability to lie to your parents with a straight face. Most fathers did not approve of this activity for their daughters, because they suspected the objective was to be picked up by a boy and spend the entire evening at Honor Heights in the back seat of his car. There could only be one outcome: a pregnant daughter who would dump her baby on its grandparents, while she went back out to cruise. My father was not about to raise a grandkid. If rug rats materialized, their mothers would be “on their own.” Many of my friends heard this same threat. It never seemed to occur to the parents that as long as their teenagers were cruising, the girls could not be engaging in the activity whose byproduct would render them “on their own.”

Cruising took gas money – even in those days, when fuel was 49 cents a gallon. I had a meager allowance, if I did my chores (I usually didn’t), but it was never enough. And my father would have never handed over cash for an activity that could spawn a rug rat – or any other activity, except a church function. So I went to a lot of church functions. That story didn’t wash if I was hanging out for the evening with non-Baptist kids, or Baptist kids who were not known to frequent church functions. We couldn’t steal for our supplement; being Baptist, we knew such behavior would consign us to a place that stank of brimstone, and where we’d never need to worry about the affordability of a fashionable overcoat.

In those days, all soda pop bottles were redeemable – as opposed to kids who cruised Okmulgee and 32nd and wound up “on their own.” But people who cleaned out their vehicles at a car wash often threw away a stray bottle or two, and there were always eight to 10 bottles cast aside at any given wash. So we’d collect them, cruise to Safeway, get the deposits, and fill our tanks. One car wash was usually enough for an evening’s excursion.

As far as winding up at Honor Heights, that usually only happened in my circle of friends when one of us was actually dating someone. Otherwise, there were far better sources of entertainment – like egging cars. Victims could be broken down into two categories: other girls, and boys. A girl victim was always a chick we didn’t like at the moment, usually because she was dating a guy one of our friends wanted to date. The boys were actually divided into two subcategories:  a boy one of us liked but whose attention we couldn’t get except through the application of hen embryos, or a boy we didn’t like, either because he dumped one of our friends or because he was just oblivious to the fact that one of us liked him.

But eggs were expensive, and only used when we had an exceptionalhaul at the car washes. Otherwise, toilet paper had to suffice. We couldn’t score eggs from our parents’ fridges, because if confronted by a suspicious dad, we could think of no plausible reason for taking a carton. Toilet paper, on the other hand, could be explained; sometimes places that hosted church functions used really cheap toilet paper, or one of us had a cold and might need to blow her nose.

The next trick was getting home before curfew. But we’ll reminisce on this issue and more when you join me here next week. For now, I’m out of room – and talking about cruising takes a lot of space.

Kim Poindexter is managing editor of the Tahlequah Daily Press.

1
Text Only
Columns
  • A twist on words can get you into trouble

    The misuse or mispronunciation of words can be forgiven in children, but in adults, it’s water-cooler cannon fodder.

    July 28, 2014

  • Keeping the interest of boys is just a matter of ‘gross’

    A couple of my friends complained to me recently that they didn’t know how to “connect” with their teenage sons, and that they are growing apart from the sweet little boys to whom they once read bedtime stories.

    July 14, 2014

  • ‘Different’ situations aren’t so very different, after all

    “Well, that’s different!” It’s the favorite phrase of the hypocrite, when confronted with his glaring flaw.

    July 7, 2014

  • Threats on social media or elsewhere won’t change any minds

    I try not to take political positions on my private Facebook timeline. I used to sometimes, in what I considered a polite way, but that offended friends left and right – literally. And sometimes I watched in horror as a thread degenerated into name-calling between people I respect, but who happen to be polar opposites on the political spectrum.

    June 30, 2014

  • Striking the hyphen, and other journalistic maneuvering

    A couple of years ago, my office phone rang. With no greeting or fanfare, the caller indignantly said, “Did you know they’ve taken the hyphen out of ‘fundraiser’?”

    June 23, 2014

  • taylor.armerding.jpg IRS spins email yarn as Obama slips past another scandal

    Forget everything you've heard about email. All digital trace of a former IRS official's email over the 25 months the agency harassed conservative groups has mysteriously, improbably vanished. Gone, too, is the White House's accountability as President Obama slips from another scandal.

    June 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Front-load washers are harbingers of foul-smelling fabric

    May 27, 2014

  • Beetles in the office aren’t up on blocks

    We have more dead beetles here at the Daily Press office than you can shake a can of Raid at.

    May 12, 2014

  • NOLA always worth your time, especially for Jazz Fest

    When it comes to New Orleans, you can have a “glass half-full” or a “glass half-empty” attitude.
    Either you see anniversary celebrants enjoying a romantic dinner at the Court of Two Sisters, or the aging transvestite hawking her wares on Bourbon Street. You hear the joyous sounds of Zydeco music from the band on the corner, or the lewd cursing of the drunken frat boy at Pat O’Brien’s. You smell the enticing aroma of Cajun cuisine in the French Quarter, or the fresh puddle of vomit on the sidewalk.
    I’m a cynic, but I take the “glass half-full” approach to New Orleans. My family loves the city’s character, even with all the blemishes that repel respectable folks, and we especially love the Jazz and Heritage Festival. That’s where we were last weekend. The main action is out at the fairgrounds, with its sweltering temperatures, stick-tight-laden grass, and sea of sweaty bodies packed in around a dozen stages and 60 or so booths selling local food and crafts.

    May 5, 2014

  • Selling of lies in the dreaded car game

    Recently, my husband and I did something that is discussed in the same tone of disdain reserved for Communists, salesmen, politicians, lawyers, and sometimes, journalists. We bought ourselves a “furrin” car.
    We decided on a foreign contraption because my husband now commutes to Tulsa every day, and a quick calculation revealed the horror our three-quarter-ton diesel Chevy would visit upon our bank account. That vehicle gets a comparatively impressive 18 mpg, but doing the math on the current price of diesel and a 150-mile daily round trip is enough to send anyone to the nearest toilet to hurl up the previous meal.

    April 21, 2014

Poll

Do you believe school administrators and college presidents in Oklahoma are paid too much?

Strongly agree.
Somewhat agree.
Somewhat disagree.
Strongly disagree.
Undecided.
     View Results
Tahlequah Daily Press Twitter
Follow us on twitter
AP Video
Netanyahu Vows to Destroy Hamas Tunnels Obama Slams Republicans Over Lawsuit House Leaders Trade Blame for Inaction Malaysian PM: Stop Fighting in Ukraine Cantor Warns of Instability, Terror in Farewell Ravens' Ray Rice: 'I Made a Huge Mistake' Florida Panther Rebound Upsets Ranchers Small Plane Crash in San Diego Parking Lot Busy Franco's Not Afraid of Overexposure Fighting Blocks Access to Ukraine Crash Site Dangerous Bacteria Kills One in Florida Workers Dig for Survivors After India Landslide Texas Scientists Study Ebola Virus Smartphone Powered Paper Plane Debuts at Airshow Southern Accent Reduction Class Cancelled in TN
Stocks