The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

Tell me ’bout the loud-muffler days


And the Judds sing, “Grandpa, tell me ’bout the good old days, sometimes it feels like this world’s gone crazy.”

Gather round, young ones. Here’s the thing. We weren’t all that different, way back there in the Happy Days ’50s. Boys liked girls. Girls liked boys. The girl-girl, boy-boy stuff was probably going on, but you never head about it.

Crazy us, back then we thought it helpful to wait until AFTER the wedding ceremony before moving in together. We didn’t think the bride and groom should help make the bed the morning OF the wedding.

Just like you, we liked to dress cool. But young girls didn’t wear shorts falling off their butts, and if they did, you wouldn’t see tattoos on their backsides. About the only time we saw a tattoo was when some guy’s older brother came home after six years in the Navy, or maybe when we went to see the fat guy at the circus sideshow.

All the stuff you like, we liked, too. Except maybe drugs. We didn’t do a lot of drugs back in the ’50s. When we told our parents, “We’re going out for some Coke,” we meant a soda pop.

Drag racing? Look, there was a front-page story in the Albuquerque Journal last week about how kids in that town cruise Montgomery between Eubank and Wyoming looking for action. Drivers exchange cocky glances, girlfriends cuddle close and gaze adoringly, engines rev, the race is on.

One 16-year-old girl told the reporter she was drag racing her dad’s pickup and he had no idea she was racing it. Like dad will read that and somehow not connect the dots. OK, maybe we were a little smarter back in the ’50s.

We cruised Sierra Way above Highland in San Bernardino. Same deal. Engines roar, tires squeal. Here’s the difference in our generations: It is in how society reacts to any given event.

Albuquerque confronted its street drag racing by establishing a “Barely Legal Drag Night” at the city’s dragway.

The modern attitude is, this is not good for the kids, poor darlings, or the public, so let’s give them an alternative.

Back then, the attitude was, this is not good for the kids, poor darlings, or the public, so let’s arrest them. And they did. Including me. (GRANDPA!) Extra heaping of humiliation: I lost the race.

Since confession is good for the soul, and since the statute of limitations is long expired, I will admit this teenager was frequently cited for loud mufflers. The drill was, get the problem fixed, take the car to a police station, rev the pipes, and have the cop give you an “atta boy” pat.

The cops never figured out, and I never told Brother Bill whose quiet Ford was the same model as mine, that I would simply switch license plates and drive his car to one of the numerous stations located in the vicinity of Redlands. It would not have been pretty had the cops figured me out and issued unsuspecting Bill an arrest warrant for conspiracy to dupe law enforcement.

And the Judds sing: “And Grandpa, take me back to yesterday, when the line between right and wrong didn’t seem so hazy.”

A little hazy, maybe.

Ned Cantwell is a retired newspaperman living in Ruidoso. Contact him at:

[email protected]


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