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Riding Around

In The 70's on July 20, 2013 at 6:05 pm
Let's Ride

Let’s Ride

One thing we did a lot in those days was ride around aimlessly. You could argue that this was a waste of time (as many of our parents did), but we loved it.  Our  cars served as  moving ‘think-tanks’ of sorts, as well as a means to escape boredom and our only chance for adventure.  Taking a cruise with good friends- sometimes smoking a joint, sometimes not- but always moving from place to place, listening to music and having deep conversations was quality time. We pondered philosophy, science, world news, emotions, books, ideas and relationships on these wonderful rides. And naturally- we also discussed the painstaking minutia of our latest crushes and the merits of Robert Plant’s tight jeans as well. And we  often laughed until we cried. 

We had basic destinations in and around our town. These were  places  we drove to ‘on purpose’- albeit in very, very roundabout ways.  The Big Three: The Beach, The Other Beach, and Gallaher’s Estate. The Beach included both Calf-Pasture and Shady- one strip of beach divided by a fence into two, hosting baseball fields, miniature golf, a marina, and an over-sized parking lot, which was the hub. We never played baseball (surprise! surprise!), rarely played miniature golf, didn’t use the marina (other than maybe to pee behind a yacht at night after the restrooms were locked) but we used the heck out of the parking lot: it was our rec center, meeting place and ground zero on weekend nights.

The ‘Other’ Beach was  in the snooty, upscale town to the north of us, where celebrities lived, and big money resided (or people who got in before the real estate boom) While they did everything in their power to keep us from littering up the landscape with our more-than-five-year-old American made (gasp!) cars and non-designer clothes, we didn’t care, or abide.( I think we were mistakenly still under the impression that it was a free country!) 

Besides, we thought it would do Buffy and Biff some good to see that their lily-white, upper class existence didn’t entitle them to erasing the rest of us, stray dogs to their pedigree. And, trust me, you haven’t lived until you’ve seen Ritchie Rich scrunch his face up, while adjusting the yellow sweater he’s tied over the shoulder of his pink Izod shirt at the mere sight of a ten year old American made car. Priceless! 

We’d drive around on the quirky winding roads and lanes for hours, being careful to follow the speed limit to the letter so as not to get pulled over and banished. We’d  look at the mansions, trying to figure out which celebs lived where: Paul Newman over here, Martha Stewart over there, that famous musician over here.  Often, all we could see were towering locked gates and stone-walls, but still! We knew they were in there! (This was before the word ‘celebrity’ made me sick, and TMZ  eradicated all the mystery and glamour of celebrity via over saturation) We took it as a personal compliment that movie stars-who could live anywhere- had picked a place so close to us, and never once considered the decision was made in spite of us.

  

Gallaher’s Estate, was a town park, a place we referred to as ‘Galla-GERS with a hard ‘g’ – never realizing, until decades later there was no second ‘G’ at all.  ( Our ignorance was partly due to the whittling down of the name to ‘Lers’)   An English field stone manor, it was built in 1930 by some rich guy, and was inherited by the town and turned into a park. The main-house- a giant stone mansion, sat on 220 acres, which was locked to the public most of the time. But we weren’t there for the mansion, we were there for the grounds. The property was covered in trees, woods and trails, and stretched for miles. There was an oversize circular driveway and small parking area, where we’d all meet up. It looked just like the Playboy Mansion, (though there was  no Grotto, or-thank christ!- Pauly Shore) It attracted a  high rate of rowdy teenage hooligans (according to disapproving adults), but as you well know, those were my people. Not all of them, of course. Like everywhere else, there were different cliques with which to align or not.

The Grateful Deadheads- with their tie-dye clothes, suede moccasins (if any shoes at all) and floppy sunhats, were laid back, peace loving, 70’s  hippies who would often play hacky-sack (‘stoner soccer’) behind the grand estate, braid flowers into each other’s hair and flash fluttery peace signs to one and all.  They listened to bootleg recordings of Grateful Dead songs-none of which, from what I could tell, had a beginning or end. It always sounded like you were plopped down in the middle of an endless jam.  A single song could last an hour. Rumor had it, that in person, onstage, band members could leave the stage, go out for dinner and return, while the same song would still be going.

The music was mellow, but strangely- it didn’t seem to matter what the Grateful Dead played- just as long as it was them playing it. Because I wasn’t a fan, I often felt like Jerry Garcia and Co. were getting away with something, because no matter how far out the jams wandered (and trust me- they went to space!) a deadhead would give it a glowing stamp of approval. Some fans I knew  packed up and followed the Dead on tour.  You wouldn’t notice they were missing until they re-appeared in  little circles on the grass, playing acoustic guitars and making the beaded bracelets they sold outside tour venues, reminding you of their presence and of the 60’s. (By the way- even though we didn’t mesh musically-these were the kindest people in the park) 

Deadheads hanging out before a show. Peace and Love.

Deadheads hanging out before a show. Peace and Love. Peace and Love.

 

There was also another group,  mostly  guys, who drove  hand-me-down  Saabs, Volvos and Subaru’s, wore brown sandals, smoked incessant (hydroponic) reefer and played Frisbee in the main lot. They often brought dogs-Retrievers and Labs wearing bandanas around their furry necks, who played canine frisbee at pro-level. These dogs would be flipping through the air, catching the frisbee backwards, catching it with their tails. This crowd listened to  Neil Young, Emerson, Lake and Palmer, The Allman Brothers and Jethro Tull (who I hated- even though they’d been my first concert. They lost me at gross lyrics about snot and the incessant flute playing sealed the deal. Plus, they weren’t cute. Shame!)

Ah, man- Rover bit my Frisbee!....('Needle and the Spoon' plays in background..)

Ah, man- Rover bit a hole my Frisbee!….(‘Needle and the Spoon’ plays in background..)

Then there was us: mostly high school kids, wearing faded jeans and jean jackets with band patches and concert t-shirts, thinking we were so cool, but often embarrassing ourselves by cheering for the idiot doing burn-outs in the parking lot in the jacked-up Charger, or puking in the woods after three beers.  Blasting Zeppelin and throwing up the devil horns, the guys had long hair and pukka shell necklaces-the girls often rocked the ‘Farrah’ hairdo (guilty), along with Maybelline blue-eye-shadow applied with a heavy hand. We loved Black Sabbath and Van Halen, and though we didn’t attend Ridgemont High, we were no doubt the Jeff Spicoli’s and Stacy Hamilton’s of Gallahers. Aimless and shameless. We should have been embarrassed, but instead we had the times of of our lives.

The hairstyle that launched a million hot rollers

The hairstyle that launched a million hot rollers

 

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