The Sunday Drive
A comment made by my friend Diana during one of our email exchanges
prompted me to conjure a ramble about "going for a ride" on Sundays. The carefree cruise referred to as the
Sunday drive was prevalent during the Sixties when veering off the beaten path was more of an affordable
luxury than it is today with the exorbitant price of gasoline. Riding along in my automobile…Cruisin’ and
playing the radio… Chuck Berry’s "No Particular Place to Go" was released in 1964. Highlights of this same
year: Lyndon B. Johnson won the presidency in a landslide election against Republican, Barry Goldwater. After
three civil rights workers were murdered in Mississippi, LBJ signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, legislation
originally proposed by his predecessor, John F. Kennedy. Beatlemania and The British Invasion rocked America.
Cassius Clay won the Boxing World Heavyweight championship from Sonny Liston.
In 1964, the minimum wage was $1.25 per hour, the average yearly
income - $6,000, gas per gallon cost 30 cents, and the average cost of a new car- $3,500. According to Stephen
Roedel’s article written for Philadelphia Car Examiner, the ten best styled machines of the decade you might have
seen on the road while cruising along a Sixties Sunday drive include: 1960 Chrysler 300F, 1961 Chevrolet Impala
"Bubble Top," 1963 Corvette Stingray, 1963 Ford Thunderbird (my heartthrob), 1965 Buick Riviera, 1966 Oldsmobile
Toronado, 1968 Cadillac Eldorado,1968 Dodge Charger,1969 American Motors AMX, 1969 Ford Mustang Mach I.
Since my dad liked Plymouths, my recollections of riding along in
an automobile, cruisin’ and playing the radio put my sister and me in the backseat of a red Plymouth Valiant or a
Plymouth Suburban station wagon. Often the two of us scrambled along the backseat of the vintage autos my father
restored where those Sunday drives to nowhere in particular paced themselves to a crawl. Chances are if he didn’t
take us to Crescent Park or Rocky Point Park on a Sunday, he’d navigate the narrow, winding, back roads where nary
a telephone pole intruded. Many a time he’d pull over into the brush to avoid colliding with an oncoming car in no
man’s land. Though our excursions may have meandered through the rural areas of neighboring communities, my sister
and I were none the wiser for their proximity to home, so enchanted by our forays into the wilderness.
During the Sixties you could trust your car to the Texaco man with
the star who cleaned your windshield, checked the oil, and pumped air in the tires if warranted before you went on
your merry way. At 30 cents per gallon for gasoline, the Sunday drive afforded families a cheap thrill before or
after stopping for burgers at a car hop, or maybe a sundae at the ice cream parlor. The Sunday drive, a pastime of
yesteryear, serves as a poignant reminder that happiness is a journey--not a destination.
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