When we used to listen to the radio.

“Hey hey mama said the way you move,
Gon’ make you sweat, gon’ make you groove. “

Led Zeppelin – “Black Dog” – Page/Plant/Jones – 1971

It was late spring of 1971 and I had just finished up my first year of college. My parents had sold my ’65 Pontiac Catalina coupe when I left, so now I needed a car. A friend of a friend had an old ’63 Volkswagen Beetle that wasn’t running. I handed over $150 in cash and paid the man to tow her home.

After a few days, I had her cleaned up and running pretty well. She was red with white interior and a sliding canvas sunroof. Most of my friends, probably twelve or fifteen in total, also had Vee-Dubs. We would all gather ’round when someone needed work done, pitching in to help.

We would all mount our tires “backwards” so they looked wider and we took off the narrow “running boards.” I painted my rims red to match the body color. Most of our cars had rusty bumpers, so we trimmed them off, too. I put a “hot rod” freeflow muffler on mine and it sounded all so cool.

We had an eclectic group of Vee-Dubs. They ranged from ’59 to ’70, a couple of convertibles, a Squareback and colors from grey primer to black to red to yellow. One guy filled all the body seams on his with Bondo and painted her green – with spray cans.

Down at the corner, there was a huge old oak tree in front of the bank parking lot. That’s where we would all hang out after work. By then, most of the guys had shoulder length hair and the girls wore skin-tight hip-hugger bell bottoms. Someone always had a bottle of Southern Comfort and inevitably there would be a few “cigarettes” passed around.

And then we would go crusin’. Sometimes it was to one of the local Metro Parks for swimming and other activities. Sometimes it was just down to the pool hall. If we had the cash, it would be off to the Grande or East Town for a concert.

Regardless of where we went, it was always in a line – ten, twelve, fifteen – Vee-Dubs in a row, windows down, hair streaming and the radios on, all tuned to WRIF-FM and blasting out the latest rock ‘n’ roll. We were a rolling, stoned band of gypsies and WRIF played the soundtrack of our youth.

What was the soundtrack of your youth?

William Stephenson Clark


Filed under Just Plain Fun, Music

57 responses to “When we used to listen to the radio.

  1. As a child, 1980s rock, pop, etc. they played on a now defunct for many years radio station, B-100.
    In the 90s, my tastes expanded. I didn’t look like the typical ‘wigga.’ I loved wearing dresses and I looked more like someone who’d buy Amy Grant and Bryan Adams instead of Public Enemy’s Fear of a Black Planet and Cypress Hill. I remember having to have my mom buy me the first Cypress Hill album when I was 14 because it was considered so explicit. It had such classics as “How I Could Just Kill a Man” and “Hand on the Pump.” All I knew was I loved the sound and the “don’t give an F” attitude. The stories in rap music of the 90s were fascinating too, but yep the sound more than anything. In my world, Ice Cube, Ice-T, and Vanilla Ice all sounded great!
    But shoot, I listened to virtually everything in those days. I loved The Cranberries, always I loved Madonna, Bjork, Alanis Morrisette. I loved Nirvana, but loved Hole better, an all female band fronted by Kurt Cobain’s wife that always sounded like “I’m-a-girl-and-I’m-totally-pissed-off.” Dance music, pop, just everything.
    In the ’00s, as I lived through my 20s and am now 32, the radio may play 40 new songs and I like 2 or 3 of them. Maybe I’m just old, or maybe music just started to suck with the beginning of the millennium.

    -Great post and I think owning a Beetle would be just the coolest thing, older or newer version, but please be automatic.

  2. doo-wop began it for me. I graduated high school in 1965 and by then we had moved on to rock n roll. I remember well when The Beatles made their American debut on the Ed Sullivan show. The Animals, “House of the Rising Sun” was the kind of music that spoke to me. Simon and Garfunkel remain among my favorites to this day.

    I danced the twist, the hand jive, mashed potato, the swim, the locomotion, monster mash, and the funky chicken…

    My friend Linda Clark had a beetle and we could get more kids in that car than most people would imagine.

    I grew up right here in Wichita. We dragged Douglas stopping at The Continental on the west end, Sandys on the east end and going out to The Town and Country at Hillside and Pawnee. You would find everyone you knew in one of those places, and meet lots of new people along the way. Sometimes there were short breaks to drive out to someplace a lot more private but we all came back to draggin’ Douglas and doing the route.

  3. One night a bunch of girls were together at Sandy’s — NE corner of Douglas and Grove — where we met a whole carload of guys we knew. We girls squeezed into the guys car and drove out to Sim’s Park for a bit of ‘makin’ out.’ Evidently we were gone too long ’cause when we returned the tow truck already had Sylvia’s car (actually her folks!) hooked up. At that point there was no gettin’ the car back without paying the tow fee. The guys drove us to the tow place and we all pooled our money. ;-(

    Ah well, you had to take the fun with the not so fun.

  4. Speaking of pooling money, we could pool our money to buy $1 worth of gasoline and get a little over five gallons which would take us anywhere we wanted to go for the entire night.

    • At this time I earned 25ยข an hour babysitting and at 16 I hired on at the Ben Franklin dime store for 75ยข an hour.

      • fnord, about this time (1966 in my case), I began working for Dillons at $1.15/hour. Given the relative costs in those days, I may well have been fiscally better off then.

  5. I graduated from high school in 1968. The “British Invasion”, Surfing Music, Psychadelic Rock, among other things, are a part of the soundtrack.

    Unlike many of my cohort, I listened to a great deal of Bob Dylan, music that “spoke to me”. I preferred the Rolling Stones to the Beatles; the Temptations to the Supremes.

    Due to a dearth of FM stations in those days (and car radios to receive them), our listening on the radio was AM “Top 40”; KLEO was a biggie. This changed once I matriculated at KU. There was an “underground” FM station from Kansas City, KCJC as I recall, which had an interesting mix of stuff one couldn’t hear anywhere else (usually on between midnight and 5 a.m.). A normal night would consist of the DJ doing the required ID, followed by a total side of an album being played, then either dead air or sounds of drags on”cigarettes” being followed by some other album, often without identification of the artist or name.

    Back to high school; we would “drag Main” (actually Washington) from the AT&SF tracks on the South, then North to the intersection with U.S. Highway 160 (15th street, as I recall), thence East to Dick’s Drive-In, through Dick’s to see who was there, thence West to Washington, thence South to the tracks, make a U-Turn, repeat. If any of us had any spare $$, we would stop at Dick’s, order something, see if we might entice any females into our vehicle, share the food, flash the headlights so the car hop would come to get the tray, then resume the driving. Discretion compels me to go no further in this reminiscence.

  6. itolduso

    Great times, great music. Great friends. Great movies at the multiple Drive-Ins. Great parties at the Casino, and at the Sound Circus, and at the …..can;t remember… Band (New Destination) owned the bar at 47th and Broadway.

    I graduated HS in 1972. A little later. Fooseball came around somewhere then. Too much time in the student union.

    • Freebird1971

      I beleive it was called Central Station. I remember the Stage Door Inn and dollar pitcher nights

      • itolduso

        Yep, you are right. And I remember the Stage Door Inn, but can’t place where it was. Also, Dr. Redbirds Medicinal Inn. Great sandwiches, and ice cold beer.

    • wicked

      O. M. G.

      There was a liquor store at 47th & Broadway where we got our stuff. I looked way too young, so I never went in, but there were a couple of friends (girls) who could always manage to get a bottle without an ID. We did our drinking mostly at the drive-in.

      The summer after we graduated, I had two friends I would hang out with the most. One was a lifeguard at the pool, so we’d wait until she got off work about 9:30 in the evening and then go to Wichita to see a drive-in movie. I still have all those ticket stubs. I remember seeing Woodstock at the drive-in. I think it was the Pawnee. Or maybe the Twin-Meadowlark.

      • itolduso

        I saw woodstock at the Pawnee, with a couple of quarts, sitting on the hood. Girlfriend trouble (my fault of course) , so I waS by myself.

  7. itolduso

    thanks for the memories

  8. Freebird1971

    Interesting show on the History Channel about 1968

  9. wicked

    I was a Wichita kid until we moved to a small town when I was 12. Most of my dragging Douglas came after I graduated in 1969. In fact, I met my now ex in the parking lot of East High…across the street from Sandy’s. He was with one of my cousins.

    We dragged Main in our town, like all the other small towns. Eight blocks from the west at the corner by the local cafe to the high school corner on the east end. If we wanted a longer drag, there was a 1/4 mile outside the city limits on east to ‘Chisholm,’ a small roadside park where the Chisholm Trail marker used to be. I lived within that 1/4 mile and knew the sound of the cars of just about every guy in high school. Headlights and taillights, too.

    We also spent a lot of time parked in the city park on Main. Sometimes someone would hook up a set of big speakers to their 8-track and set them on the roof of the car. We talked, did some drinking (cops tended to ignore if we weren’t blatant about it) and listened to music. Spring, summer, fall, winter, it didn’t matter.

    As I’m sure it is with the rest of you, I have too many memories to share here and would probably take the rest of my life to do it. Of course I won’t.

    They were the best times of my life, in spite of the teenage angst. ๐Ÿ˜‰ That would be my time capsule trip. I doubt I’d change anything, just enjoy…one more time.

  10. Freebird1971

    18 to buy 3.2 beer, 21 to vote

  11. Freebird1971

    The Stage Door was at Harry and Topeka and I remember Dr Redbirds and Shakeys Pizza at 13th and Oliver we gathered there after games

    • wicked

      What club was on north Hillside? On the west side of the street and was second floor? (I think.) Only went there once when my college roommate was in town. Her car was broken into in the parking lot. Suffice it to say, we never went again.

      We always went to the Shakey’s at Pawnee and Seneca…after going to the Battle of the Bands at the Cotillion.

  12. Freebird1971

    I also remembering registering for the draft,in a sense it was crossing over into adulthood

    • WSClark

      Ha! I graduated from High School, turned 18 and registered for the draft, all on the same day.

      I also had a date with Mary Lou………………….

      • Freebird1971

        I remember Dad taking me to register guess he was wanting to make sure,he was against the war but was also a firm believer in doing the right thing. In later years he told me if I had been drafted he had made arrangements for me to live in Canada,made me look at him in a very different light. My number was 92 so I joined the National Guard on a Monday and the next day my induction notice came.

        My date was with Mary Lou’s sister Mary Jo and their cousin “Mary Jane”

      • Registered for the draft on my 18th birthday as well. Still remember that day.

        My dad, who made members of the John Birch Society seem like “pinko, Commie liberals” [his term]), was violently opposed to the Vietnam war, but there was no way I was going to Canada (or anywhere else). When the first draft lottery occurred in 1969, my day was awarded number 88, much to his dismay, and he discussed my exploration of conscientious objector status. I, on the other hand, decided to rely on my 2S for the rest of my college years, sure that the Vietnam War would be over before I graduated. Wrong.

    • Freebird1971

      IIRC The Cedar was on 13th,how bout Kirbys? I can’t believe I’m remembering all this stuff that I haven’t thought about in years

  13. Freebird1971

    Jefferson Airplane,Black Sabbath,Led Zep, Deep Purple and Black Oak Arkansas played on my 8 track(after sliding a matchbook under the cassette)

    • Didn’t have an 8 track, but vinyls of most of the aforementioned were omnipresent on my turntable in my college days, along with some Bob Dylan and Moody Blues post Meet the Moody Blues. Black Oak Arkansas; hadn’t thought of them for quite a while.

      • Freebird1971

        Black Oak is still around with 2 original members mostly playing clubs though.
        Alice’s Restaraunt was another fave.

      • I still have a large collection of vinyl. Although it disappears a few at a time each visit home from the son who lives in Boston. Much to his sister’s dismay. I leave the argument to them and laugh.

      • Speaking of vinyl; my daughters have been amazed at their parents’ collection. The wonderful art on some of the covers (various Moody Blues, Santana, and, of course, the Beatles’ Sergeant Peppers) seems to fascinate them the most.

        EDIT: Not to forget Cream, Wheels of Fire.

  14. Freebird1971

    Sergeant Pepper’s Parlor was a favorite

  15. Freebird1971

    The club was just south of 17th on Hillside and I think it had the word hill in the name,it will come to me about 2am

  16. WSClark

    Love this stuff, “Teenage Wasteland!”

    Back in the day, I had this horribly odd talent. When a song was played on the radio, I could remember what track, on which side it was.

    Goofy as all Hell!

    Don’t ask me where it came from – but it amazed my friends and especially my girlfriends.

    I just thought about that – made me laugh out loud!

    • wicked

      I can remember what year the song came out by remembering where I was and who I was with when I hear it. I do 1967 the best, for some reason.

  17. Freebird1971

    Steppenwolf “Magic Carpet Ride,The Pusher” are still classics

    • WSClark

      CCR, the original Fleetwood Mac, Detroit area bands, Beatles, Stones, the Who, Hendrix, Airplane, B,S & T, CSN, Motown!, the Allman Brothers, Cream, Traffic, Pink, Procol Harum, Ten Years After, the Chambers Brothers, Janis, Sabbath, etc………

      I was privileged enough to see all those bands and performers in their prime, with the exception of the Beatles and Stones.

      • Freebird1971

        No Skynyrd?

      • WSClark

        Never was in a position to see Skynyrd. Bad timing. Liked their stuff – I love most all music.

        I did see some of their forefathers, but never had the chance to see them.

  18. wicked

    I whined long and hard–not really meaning to, just feeling sad–that I had nothing on which I could play my vinyl albums. Last Christmas, two of my daughters pooled their resources and bought me not only a turntable, but a Crosley that enables me to plug in a flash/jump drive that will change any song on an album into an MP3 and save to the drive.

    You’d think that as long as I’d whined I’d have at least half of those albums copied, right? Uh, no. I haven’t even tried it except for the included radio. But, oh, what a night when I dragged out each of those albums that I’d forbid myself to look at. I oohed and aahed, forgetting I even had some of them. One of these days…

  19. Freebird1971

    I saw the Stones at Arrowhead several years back,don’t remember a whole lot,was engaged in some “immoral” behavior but was tolkd I had a good time.

    • Immoral? Human.

      And, you faced the consequences. Guess that makes you responsible. ๐Ÿ˜‰

      • Freebird1971

        I practiced my humaness for a lot of years before I finally accepted responsibility,life has never been better,and I still have good times AND I remember them!

  20. Freebird1971

    The “immoral behavior” comment was a nod to Will about something earlier today on the TBTHNN

  21. WSClark

    Funny. Shockingly, a poster on the “Nameless Blog” states that I am “immoral” because I have not been married for over 20 years, and having not been acting “virgin-like” during that time.

    I’m telling you, I’m a bad, bad, boy!

    • This person makes judgments about someone other than themselves? Do they have the rights to vengeance too?

      • WSClark

        Ah, this individual is a cartoon. “It” claims to speak for TRUE AMERICANS and similar such comments.

        “It” gets very indignant when I insist that positions are to be backed with facts. That, of course, makes me a LIAR.

        Go figure.

      • wicked

        If I ask for a definition of an UNtrue American, will I get one?

        Of course it’s all in the opinion/view of the person answering. A waste of time, I’m sure, knowing that bunch.

    • wicked

      How does this poster know these things?

  22. Ok, cool! The world laughs at cartoons, and we all need laughs.