A reflection by Kathleen Bauer Cap
I feel the warmth of a summer evening breeze gently touching my face, softly blowing through my hair as we drive south on Central Avenue. We’re not in any hurry, as we cruise, drivers exchange a nod of acknowledgement and a coy smile from me greets the others we meet as they travel in the opposite direction. The sounds of the Beach Boys or Jan and Dean stream from the 57 Chevys’ speakers only interrupted by the occasional roar of a powerful muscle car engine as they pull up next to us at the street corner. Waiting for the light to turn gives us both time to see who can put forth the most sound of power. The sight and sound of this all turn’s heads from those standing on the curb watching the continuous, unofficial parade of cars cruising this warm summer night. As we sit anxiously waiting for the light to turn green, often some guy will yell from the curb, “pop the clutch,” to see who will jump first, peel out leaving a little rubber on the pavement and hope no officers are around to catch anyone. The echo of the engines’ roar reverberates off the buildings of Central Avenue as if in a canyon.
Our rides went from the south end of Central Avenue at the Library to the north end as far as Wimpy’s. At that block we turned around and drove back and forth on the same route. Some nights we parked by Ochs’ Department Store and watched others drive by. As we parked the guys would open the hoods, brag about their engines and of course the horse power they had, how far and fast they pushed their speed dragging on the Western Ave. strip. Most of this bragging would lead to comments and jeers of disbelief, all in good fun. The cars were always polished, a shine to show off the beauty of their beast. Some cars were ‘57 Chevys, Ford Mustangs, Pontiac GTOs or the new muscle cars like the Plymouth Roadrunner, Dodge Super Bees, Plymouth GTX, and the Chevy Camaros just to name a few.
We cruised with friends, listened to the vibrations of great music. We talked about cars but the important topics were where to go for a burger, what was playing at the Drive Inn Movie, or what band was playing at the Sunday night teen dance at Jewitts Point. Even in a small town like Faribault, you never knew who you might meet downtown cruising, old friends and classmates, maybe even that special new person you never knew existed, yet lived all their life in Faribault and will become forever in your life.
If you grew up in the 50’s and 60’s this was your summer evening entertainment. No harm done, girls and guys, lots of cars, cruising, music and fun. This teenage memory is firmly planted forever in my mind and heart.
Can we relive this exact experience? Well you can’t truly ever relive time but you can reach out, get in touch with your memories and see the experience of those sights. Enjoy listening again contently to the sounds of that music of your youth if you attend the Faribault Main Street Car Cruise.
Even 50 years from those warm summer nights, Central Avenue is still there to enjoy some of those same great cars in all their glory. Each summer we are treated from May to September with five Faribault Main Street Car Cruises. Although they don’t cruise the length of Central anymore, they are parked in some of the same spots of years gone by. The excitement starts as each car roles down Central Avenue making sure to rev the engine for some again wanted attention from those standing on the curb. The driver carefully picks his spot, slowly backs in to the curb, and revs the engine up a little more, testing that long ago echo and then parks for the evening. The cars are parked to enjoy all over again. In each car you can admire the shine on the engines, the pristine interiors and in the highly polished exterior you can see your reflection. Even if the reflection shows your age on the outside, you can still feel your forever young desires on the inside, remembering this touch of your youthful teen days in time gone by. The conversations begin to everyone’s delight with old friends and new.
The evening will let you touch the past. The much younger generation comes to see what they missed, the older generation comes to reminisce about the days gone by and enjoy that special time of past teen life we once enjoyed on Central Avenue. Oh and yes I did meet that special person in my life cruising on Central Avenue and after 50 years we now walk Central Avenue, our memory lane, reminisce with old friends about cruising, capturing if only in conversation the joys of our youth. You never get too old for classic muscle cars, great music and the true spirit of the 50’s and 60’s lives on in cars and people.
Kathleen Bauer Cap is a Faribault native, and regular attendee at the Faribault Car Cruise Nights. They are held on the third Friday of each month in the summer. The final event for 2018 will take place on September 21 from 6-9pm. Learn more about that event here. And to learn more about downtown and other things to do in Faribault, click here.