Sunday, August 2, 2009
Polk Street Cruise Night 2009
Its just a strip of road, right? I must have traveled down its length hundreds of times and never given it a second thought.
Polk street is the main street that runs through downtown Amarillo a street like any other - but on this special "Cruise Night" I can't help but feel like I am visiting and old friend. The festive atmosphere, classic cars, the sights, the sounds, the pretty girls, it all comes rushing back.
"Do you know John so-in so? He goes to Tascosa doesn't he?" "Meet ya at the Pig Hip!" "Last one to Stanley's buys the cokes."
But as much as I remember "cruising" "dragging" or "scraping" Polk as a teen, I never ever saw it as alive as it is tonight. Hundreds of people line the street.
Beautiful vintage and not-so-vintage cars, trucks, motorcycles and even bicycles parade by in an endless loop of steel, metal flake paint and DVD players all playing golden oldies.
All I can say is "this is amazing" a dazzling homage to an era of teenage social interaction that was killed off a long time ago by shopping malls, cineplexes and the ever outward urban sprawl of Amarillo, away from downtown.
Way back "when dinosaurs ruled the earth" I cruised down Polk in an ugly brown Buick Electra which my friends dubbed the "big rolling turd." I didn't resent the moniker because at least I had a car they could disrespect. Most of my high school friends were "sans wheels" and it was either the "turd" or a long walk home.
But the cars cruising Polk tonight are light years beyond my old Buick and are more like moving pieces of kinetic sculpture. Idealized versions of the cars we always drooled over when we were kids, MOPARS, muscle cars, GTOs, Stangs, Vettes and Camaros.
Most have been lovingly restored, awash in metal flake and polished chrome wire wheels. A far cry from my brown Buick, that although it had two doors that I couldn't open and burned oil at a rate that would (especially now) make an oil sheik worry, I kind of miss.
Stop me before I digress any further ... Don't get me started telling Polk Street stories ... I have too many.
Tonight's "Cruise on Polk " - sure brought back memories both good and bad - but now blessed with a thing called "perspective" - even those memories of the bad things we did - seem tame by today's standards.
Those memories of my "ill-spent" youth reminded me of who I was- way back when which brought me down the long road to who I am today.
Sure, sometimes we got into a little trouble (we never said we were angels) but we never landed in jail, no one ever got hurt and more importantly our shenanigans were never mean-spirited in intent.
No one went to jail for mooning a cop, pulling a prank in front of the Paramount Theatre or water-ballooning the crowd outside the Esquire.
As much fun as it was, watching the parade of heavy metal on Polk, I couldn't help but feel a touch of melancholy for the proceeding generation of teenagers who never got to cruise Polk, who never got ticketed for doing a burn-out or experienced the all-American fun we had on this short expanse of asphalt in downtown USA.
I'll never reclaim my youth - but for a few hours tonight i was young again.
Thanks Panhandle Council of Car Clubs for bringing it all back.
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