Dave Spencer Steps Back in Time at Central City Cruise-In
You’ve got to hand it to the good people of Muhlenberg County; they know how to do a Labor Day Weekend. Two decades ago, it was the Everly Brothers Homecoming. And ten years ago it segued into the Central City Rock ‘n’ Roll Cruise In. Friday night, I had the privilege of participating in some on-stage activities at the cruise-in—I even sang the entire “Gilligan’s Island” theme song. It was a lot of fun. But then, organizer Hugh Sweatt took me for a little ride, and I went back in time.
CRUISIN' AT THE CRUISE-IN
Now, we didn’t hop into a 1985 DeLorean with Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd, but it felt like it. No we were in Hugh’s mid-80s white Corvette convertible. What a sight. Hugh’s a big guy. I’m a big guy. And there we are—the two of us—in the one Corvette. And it was a blast! Here’s how the cruise-in works. It’s all about lining the streets of Central City with classic cars, hot rods, motorcycles, whatever your vehicle may be and then slowly cruising through town. Broad Street and U.S. Highway 431 are the two main drags, as it were, where cars from all eras move up and down while folks sit on the sides of the streets just admiring and having fun. It’s like a parade. I guess it sounds pretty simple in a written description.But it’s very much like a trip back in time—even more so when your short journey is being narrated by Hugh Sweatt. Now here’s a man who remembers the golden age of hot rod cruising. As we drove up and down the streets, he accurately compared the scene to the classic George Lucas film “American Graffiti.” Everybody in town, and many from out of town, get into the act. And just like back in the day, there are policemen sitting watch making sure everyone minds his p’s and q’s. Of course, some don’t—and don’t care. There’s a train viaduct over 431 in the middle of town. The slickest part of the road is under that bridge. And while we were cruising, no less than 4 drivers were ticketed for “burning out” under the bridge. Hugh told me they all know they’re going to get busted. I guess these particular cruisers just classify these citations as “entertainment expenses.”
THE GOOD OLE DAYS
I suppose I could have done this alone, but I wouldn’t have had the pleasure of Hugh reminiscing about his youth and how he and his buddies used to do this all the time. He pointed out locations where famous hang-outs used to be and indicated to me that all the traffic ahead of us and behind set up a scene just like when he was a teenager. I’m about twenty years younger than Hugh but old enough to remember cruising myself. Only we did it around Wesleyan Park Plaza. Hugh chimed in with his own memories of cruising in Owensboro and hanging out at the old DDI. Now, the DDI was before my time but was the hot spot for Owensboro youth back in the day. It stood for “Dairy Drive-In” but everyone called it DDI. It was located on Frederica Street where Papa John’s stands today. The organizers—Hugh included—have already asked me back for next year. And I can only hope that I can do exactly what I did this time. If you go to the cruise-in, you simply HAVE to cruise. Yes, there’s plenty to do downtown with myriad food booths along with contests and live music from the stage. But thousands show up just to cruise. I can see why. And, I look forward to next Labor Day. Of course, between now and then, all I have to do is find a 1969 Chevy Camaro.