When Dragging “Main” Is Not Enough
I enjoy driving back and forth on three town blocks for hours on end just as much as the next person. Don’t get me wrong. But sometimes it’s just not a satisfying experience.
Dragging “Main” was our primary activity on Friday (after the football or basketball game) and Saturday nights in high school. We didn’t actually spend much time on Main Street. Fourth Street was the main drag in town.
The Fourth Street circuit was bookended by the Methodist Church and Grade School on the north and Dr. Poling’s office and Leinwetter’s Funeral home on the south. We put in hundreds of miles on that one street over the course of a school year. On a good night, there would be twenty other cars honking as they drove by. Some nights there were only a handful of cars.
Dragging “Main” without getting bored was an art. The best at the craft knew how to mix up the evening with a stop at Dunker’s Radio and T.V. side lot to chat with someone in another car; drive around Atwood Lake; go up High School Hill; around Kelley Park or stop at John’s Dew Drop Inn for a game of pool (or in my case Frogger).
On a slow night, the masters of dragging main would mix up who was in the car or combine one carload of passengers with another. The best nights were spent in cars that could easily pick up KOMA out of Oklahoma City or, if you were lucky, WLS out of Chicago. A good tape deck with 8-tracs from now classic bands such as REO Speedwagon, Journey and Foreigner helped, too.
But, even these tricks of the trade were not enough to satisfy. Sometimes you had to get creative. Or, go home out of sheer boredom.
Matt Cunningham, Tim Yount and I faced that dilemma one night. I can’t remember if it was early fall or late spring. I remember it was cold enough for jackets. We just couldn’t get fired up about steering the family Chevette around the streets of Atwood. Hard to imagine, I’m sure, but that’s how we felt.
Our first attempt to liven up the evening fell flat. Singing Christmas Carols in October or March (whichever it might have been) annoyed more than entertained our audiences. After awkward experiences at three houses we climbed back into the Chevette to brainstorm plan C.
I don’t know who the fourth, fifth or sixth person was to join us in the car. I don’t even remember how we came up with the idea. But, by the time there were seven or eight riding along we were on a mission.
People started to notice the number of passengers in the car as we cruised down Fourth Street and through the Dunker parking area. Some people lobbied to join us. After a few more bodies we realized we had to be more strategic. We needed freshmen and others of diminutive stature. At one point, we stopped at John’s (Dew Drop Inn) in search of people near five feet and 100 pounds.
The rule we made for ourselves is that the car had to be drivable (a relative term clearly with no regard for safety). Our goal was to shoehorn in as many people as possible and still drive down Fourth Street. We packed people on the floor, popped the hatch (the most comfortable seat available) and rolled down the windows to accommodate protruding body parts. Our final tally exceeded 20 in the car.
My dad was in the middle of his take pictures of everything phase of life. We stop at our house where I ran to find my dad while the rest of the passengers tried to hold their positions.
Our night that began in the doldrums became one for the record books – or at least the scrap books.