Saturday, March 27, 2010

Cruising the boulevard

Kenmore is the part of Akron where I grew up.
The people who lived there were working class, blue-collar types who toiled at Goodyear, Firestone, General Tire or Goodrich, or they worked for a tire-related business. No one was wealthy in Kenmore; those people lived in west Akron and, most likely, supervised our parents. Most of our parents both worked, and as we got older, more and more of them divorced.
While our parents bowled (what was the name of the bowling alley on Waterloo Road near Main Street?) or played euchre on the weekends, we roller skated at the Arena Roller Rink where we smoked cigarettes, "made out" under the coat racks and, of course, roller skated.
Kenmore guys loved muscle cars. The louder they rumbled, the better. Guys would drive down my street, pass by my house (and Lisa Spak's, who lived across the street) and rev their motors as they passed (sending Lisa and me both to our bedroom windows). I got to know the sounds of different guys' cars that I didn't really have to run to the windows - Troy Silver's Cutlass had a high-pitched waaaaaa sound under the hood, especially when he was pissed off at me and would fly at full speed down my street. John Shipley's car, which I think was a Chevelle (correct me if I'm wrong, John), had a killer sound system for back then; he was way ahead of his time as he would blast Jimi Hendrix's "National Anthem" from his woofers and tweeters. Tom Cox would drive by in his piece of sh*t El Camino that lacked an exhaust system (which required passengers to ride with the windows open year-round) or his friend Brian Fields' Corvair with the WMMS buzzard painted on the trunk. Mike Perenkovich's multi-colored whatever-the-hell-that-was ...
Cruising was a big deal when I was in high school. Sue Zurzolo would pick my friend Jodi Gump and me up in her huge boat and we'd cruise around, driving by people's houses, honking and then driving away really fast so they wouldn't see us. We'd drive by guys' houses we liked. We'd drive by girls' houses we didn't like. We'd smoke cigarettes and cruise, trying to find other people who were out doing the same thing. We had places we'd go to hang out - that old strip mall at Arlington and Waterloo roads, where the cops would come and chase everyone away. Does anyone remember The Ledges behind Rolling Acres mall?
Lori Orlando would pick us up in her dad's Ford Falcon (I think it was a Falcon?) that had push-button gears, and we'd cruise the boulevard and end up at KB's, where she and he would end up yelling at each other.
A cool car for guys meant more "friends" and girls. One guy showed up at school driving a shiny bright orange restored late '60s Camaro or Firebird. No one knew who this kid was until he rumbled into the parking lot. Suddenly, he was wearing a black leather jacket and hanging out with our guys (who all wore black-leather jackets). Behind his back, they all said his car was full of bondo (a filler for rusted-out cars) and that's why he had to paint it orange - you had to use bright colors to hide the bondo. That bondo didn't keep him from getting invited to parties, though.
When I see the new Camaro, it takes me back to my neighborhood. I got my driver's license with my ex's '68 Camaro, which had no power steering, no air conditioning and had a custom-size steering wheel that was about the size of a dinner plate. It was full of bondo.
The new Camaro brings out the Kenmore girl in me, and makes me want to shop for a black leather jacket, pop in some Nazareth and cruise the boulevard. No smoking, though.

1 comment:

Athina said...

this is so great! Do you know that even though I went to neighboring high school Coventry, the Kenmore strip was so well reputed that we would go there just for cruising! My best friend drove a Camaro and she wasn't afraid to rev it at a red. I still love stick shifts and would own an old firebird if I had the means to work on it!