Cruising for Crotch
My time period on Douglas was a little later than most of the rest of the contributors. We were Draggin' Douglas starting in the summer of 1966 until January of 1971 when I was drafted. After I was discharged and returned to the States, known as "going back to the world" as we did not consider where we were to be part of the real world, I stopped regular cruising of Douglas. I was married while I was in the Army and we had considered it "uncool" for married couples to be cruising Douglas. My wife and I might take a pass once a month, if that often.
As my friends and I were very car oriented, nothing else mattered, other than girls. Going "downtown" was simply what you did if you had any cool at all. We called it "cruising for crotch" or "chasing pussy". I guess that we were not too politically correct then.
At a minimum, you had to be downtown Thursday, Friday and Saturday night and occasionally Sunday afternoon. Friday and Saturday night were often long nights as we might not head home until 03:00 or 04:00am. Weeknights we generally went home by 10:00 or 11:00pm as we had school or work the next day.
We primarily cruised a shorter run than some. We cruised from Sandy's west on Douglas to Main where we turned south on Main. Main was a one-way street south bound then but of course that was before Mayor Bob Knight decided to throw away more taxpayer money and build that piece of crap at about Main and Dewey that he declared to be the "Gateway to Wichita".
It was amusing that the "gateway" was on a one-way street that left downtown so you could only see the gateway in your rear view mirror as you left. - - - - - So, being the rocket scientist that he was, he had Main changed to two-way for the short distance between Kellogg to Douglas. That is why today if you are headed north on Main at Douglas you get to sit at the traffic light and look across Douglas at the cars that are headed directly at you pending the head-on collision. Hold on, I started to share my love for idiot Bob Knight, I will get back on topic. One last comment about the impressive gateway with its stainless steel sculptured bustedass windmill things or diseased horse heads or whatever it is that we taxpayers paid for. Since Kellogg is now elevated with the fly-over in the area you cannot even see the damn thing when you drive by on Kellogg as it is down below you.
Good job Bob that was certainly well thought out! Anyway, after heading south on Main we turned west on Williams and followed Century II Drive around until it intersected with Douglas where we turned back east on Douglas headed back to Sandy's. You need to remember that Douglas was 4 lanes all the way from Woodlawn to West Street. The two lane crap in the Delano area and around St. Francis was done to stop the cruising. Unfortunately that and other conditions worked.
We sometimes did a long cruise from Sandy's taking Douglas all the way to West Street and then north on West to Griff's Burger Bar. Griff's was a drive through similar to Sandy's where most of the West High kids hung out when they were not downtown. Occasionally but far less often we would take Douglas to Seneca and head south on Seneca to Pawnee to the McDonalds where all of the South High kids hung out. The long cruises were infrequent as the concentration of kids was less than in the downtown area and therefore they were far less productive in meeting "crotch". We stayed mainly downtown as fuel costs were always a concern. After all you could spend as much as $5.00 to fill that tank with Ethel and we still needed money for cokes and the important beer.
On our route Sandy's was the heart of it all. That is where all of the main action was and everywhere else was on a lower scale. The building that was Sandy's is currently located at Douglas and Grove with Grove on the west side of the building parking and Poplar on the east side of the parking as had been address by others. What has not been addressed is that Sandy's was not always on the corner of Grove and Douglas but it has always been on the corner of Douglas and Poplar. "Wait, what the hell is this guy talking about? How is that possible", you ask. Well, those of us that were there will remember that sometime in the late seventies to early eighties Grove was rerouted to the east which forced the demolition of the filling station that was located to the west of Sandy's.
I do not remember for sure but it seems like it was a Standard or a Sinclair. If you look at a map or maybe Mapquest you will see a street named Grove Drive just west of Grove at Douglas. Grove Drive is the old Grove. If you imagine the current Grove was not where it is today but over on the current Grove Drive position it is easy to see that there was room for a nice full service station with a large drive for pumps. Grove was rerouted from Kellogg east to Central where it transitions back to the old Grove location between Central and Elm. This was done to allow more and improve parking for East High as well as to help traffic flow for the heavy traffic on Grove. "Wait once again, what was that last part? Heavy traffic on Grove? Where exactly would that be going to or coming from?" Hey, I didn't say that Wichita's traffic engineers and planners had their stuff anymore together then than they do today. Has anyone ever seen more than seven cars on north Grove at one time? Sorry, got carried away again.
There were places along Douglas that we would sometimes stop and park like the Quality Chevrolet lot that was east of the main building but west of the used car area that was on the corner of Hydraulic and Douglas.
Another place that we would stop would be on the canal bridge on the east bound side of Douglas. The overhead I-135 "Canal Route" did not exist then and the Douglas Street Bridge was very wide there for some reason with about an extra lane and a half which allowed room to park on the bridge and not impede traffic. Of course you had to at least drive through Sandy's and usually stop and get a Coke and sometimes fries while scouting for girls and what new ride someone had.
When we pulled out of Sandy's we always turned to the east behind Sandy's to get onto Poplar where it was mandatory to see if you could light the tires all the way to corner of Poplar and Douglas. Usually the traffic would not allow that but that was always the goal. That way the tires were good and hot and sticky if you happened to catch the light at Grove with someone that you wanted to gas it with.
We were absolute clean freaks about our cars. We would not even think about going downtown without a clean car. When the streets were wet we would go off to a car wash on First Street and wash off the car and head back to Sandy's. That way you could cruise thru Sandy's with a clean ride when everyone else had a dirty car. There were times that we might wash off the car every hour or so. Of course that depended on how many girls were cruising that evening and if we thought we had a chance of impressing them.
Besides the normal being "cool" and talking to girls as you cruised we employed an unusual approach to meeting a car load of girls. We would get crazy and jump in their car. We would work through traffic and catch them at light and one of us, usually not the driver, would get out of our car and run up to the girls' car and open the passenger's door and sit down, close the door, the light would change and away we would go. There were even times when we were in the downtown area where there was an architectural dividing wall between east bound and west bound traffic that we would jump over the wall and get in a car load heading the other direction.
It was a lot of fun, always good for a laugh even when the girls turned out to not be as good looking as originally thought. I cannot remember even once where the girls really got mad or anything occurred other than a good laugh. Today a maneuver like that would get you shot or run over since the twit would be on her cell phone.
Douglas would go through a transition through the night. Early in the evening, 7:00pm or so things got busy with car loads of kids ages 15 to early 20s out cruising. Douglas was often bumper-to-bumper from Washington to Main. They were mainly out to see and be seen as George pointed out earlier. Around 8:30 or 9:00 things got more serious with looking for members of the opposite sex but everyone was still cruising and there might be a opportunity to "juice it" just a little bit with some guy in traffic. That whacking of the throttle was generally only a roll into first with a full power shift to second gear and then just click into fourth gear and as often was a prelude to festivities later in the night. Around 10:00 to 11:00 traffic reduced as the girls and younger guys that had curfews headed home leaving the older hard core types with Douglas.The cruising reduced at that time and more parking at strategic areas was normal. The focus changed to setting up a race or going to watch someone race. That guy that you juiced earlier might come looking for you or you might go looking for him. Sometimes it was just racing and other times there was a lot of money at stake. Most times it was just fun and hanging out.
The whole activity was very much as it was portrayed in "American Graffiti" so I guess that cruising was not unique to Douglas but a phenomenon of the times. We were cruising long before the movie was made and apparently so was other parts of the nation.
Carnut - - Heh, heh, the biggest waste of Wichita Taxpayers Money?
YOU ARE SO RIGHT CARL, CLASSIC COMMENTS ABOUT DOUGLAS THE ET OF THE CARS AND EVERYTHING CONNECTED WITH IT, ONCE AGAIN I HAVE TO SAY YOU AND JOHN, JERRY ISABEL, LYNN MOORE, JERRY REED (54 WHITE FORD SUNLINER I THINK, BUT IT SAID ON THE SIDE OF THE CAR "THE PERIOD") LARRY HOUSE, WHITE 57 CHEV "THE ALBINO", THOSE WERE THE NAMES OF THE GUYS THAT I REMEMBER AS BEING THE DON GARTLITS OF DOUGLAS.
I ALMOST HAD MY OWN PERIOD WHEN I COULDN'T DRAG DOUGLAS. IN 1957 I WAS SICK TO DEATH OF NOT HAVING A CAR, I WAS 14, NO MORE SHOTGUN IN THE OLDER GUYS CARS I WANTED MY OWN RIDE. MY MOTHER LET ME STEAR HER CAR, NOT ENOUGH SO I STARTED STEALING IT, JESUS WAS THAT GREAT. THE STORIES OF THOSE TIMES COULD ME ONE OF THE MOST FUN CHAPTERS IN MY LIFE, I MET SO MANY PEOLPE FROM 1957 TO MY LAST GREAT YEAR THE SUMMER OF 1965 IN MY YELLOW 61 Bel Air WITH A 350 HP 327 4SPEED 389 GEAR CAR.
IN 1967 I MET MY WIFE CRUSIN KINGSX AT LINCOLN & GEORGE WASHINGTON (but didn't get married until 1995, (i wanted to be sure). LAST NIGHT WE WENT DOWN DOUGLAS TO ABOUT HYDL. AND TURNED AROUND, PEOPLE WERE WAVING AND MY WIFE SAID, "ITS STILL DOUGLAS AND ITS STILL A GREAT FEELING TO CRUISE IT"
OK CARL HERES MY STORY OF THE MOST MEMORABLE MOMENTS ON DOUGLAS.
MY MOTHER BOUGHT A 53 CHEVY 4-DOOR AT YINGLING CHEVROLET IN 1957. SHE HAD LET ME SHIFT AND STEER FROM THE DRIVERS SIDE FOR 4 OR 5 MONTHS. WHEN I TURNED 14 IN SEPT. I GOT A LEARNERS PERMIT TO DRIVE, ALL WELL AND GOOD BUT HOW COULD YOU POSSIBLY BE COOL DRIVING AROUND WITH YOUR MOTHER. ITS A FACT TO STAY COOL I HAD TO MAKE HER DUCK DOWN IN THE CAR WHEN WE WENT THRU THE CONTINENTAL GRILL, SHE HAD NO PROBLEM WITH THAT AND SHE THOUGHT IT WAS KIND OF A GAME. WELL THAT WAS THE START OF A REAL PROBLEM. ONCE I WAS IN A COMFORT ZONE DRIVING THE CAR, RIDING WITH HER WAS NOT COOL ENOUGH, I STARTED TAKING THE CAR WHEN SHE WENT TO WORK AT WESLEY HOSPITAL. SHE WOULD GO AT 6 PM AND WORKED PART TIME UNTIL 10 PM. FOR ABOUT 2 BUCKS WE COULD CRUISE DOUGLAS, GET A COKE AND BE BACK BY 10 PM SO SHE DIDN'T MISS THE CAR. NOW THE STORIES OF THOSE NIGHTS NEED TO BE TOLD BY MY FRIENDS AS SORT OF A WITNESS THAT I DIDN'T ALWAYS GET IT BACK ON TIME. MAYBE ANOTHER TIME THOSE STORIES.
CARL I GIVE A NEW CRAGAR TO GET IN A TIME MACHINE AND DROP IN ON EVERYBODY ON DOUGLAS ON A FRI NIGHT. WOULD THAT NOT BE A GAS?
I ran across this old pic I took out of the window of Charles Gates' personal Fairchild F227. He took a group of us Lear managers to KCMo for the 1980 NBAA Show. We had a great time, however that is not why I sent this.
It is a view showing Douglas from The Elevated Tracks west to about Exposition Street.
...And speaking of railroad tracks there was also a railroad bridge across the river just north of Douglas at this time. Some guys drove a car across the river on this RR bridge one night. I heard it was a '52 Chevy. Maybe someone can remember who it was etc.
Notice also 1st Street went across the river at this time. Bonnie's mom was one of the last cars to cross this bridge the very cold night river ice destroyed it. She was coming off 2nd shift at St Francis around 1am and went around the barricades to get home on west 2nd.
Hi, my name is Don, I am a transplanted Kansan. I now live in another state, but I was looking at''draging Douglas'' on your web site. And it brought me back to 1967, when I first moved out there. Friday night was great, Saturday evening was a close second. Hopefuly you didn't want to travel north or south or you would have to Grove or Seneca. I remember the old building that was imploded to make room for Century 2, the Yingling fire, Sandy's and Griff's, and when Darril Starbird lived on east Harry.
But draging Douglas was a lot of fun for me becuse back then I had a '51 Chevy hardtop with a 327 in it, sure did love that car.
Thanks for the trip down memory lane.
Ok not exactly Draggin Douglas but Draggin McConnell.
Here's some nostalgia pics of McConnell AFB Wichita Kansas Drags 1959 or 60 provided by Larry Wolfe.
Rather interesting to see some Boeing B-47's in the background and some other recognizable buildings of both McConnell facility as well as the former Wichita Airport and Boeing Aircraft Plant.
Some of the notables that ran that day were Bob Sullivan, Earl Beard, Gary LeFever, Jerry Livingston, Lou Kangaloose, Rod Stucky and Tom Hanna.
Carl Fry was there that day and said he was almost run over by Chris Karamasines silently coasting while being pushed back from a run. Carl says he turned around and saw 8 carbs flash by.
And as typical in Kansas on a wide expanse of concrete under a glaring sun, it was searing heat there.
Notice the guys hiding under the trophy truck.
These pics at the air base are Waldo the 32 pickup. It had a really fast flathead in it till this day, it blew up.
The guys standing in the bottom picture are my Dad Dean Sisk and Floyd Forrest. The red 32 5W Coupe at that time had a nailhead buick motor w/6 Stromberg 97s that dad put in a 40 coupe and then sold the motor to Jim Sumner. Dad drove this 32 Coupe before he bought the buick motor everyone (and my dad) said the motor was fast. I talked to Jim Sumner Monday at lunch and he still has it. (trying to buy it for my 34 pu).
Here's a Decal that's been in the window of my Coupe for 45+yrs, anyone know what it stands for?
Not exactly a Draggin Douglas story but cute story never the less From Carl:
It indeed is a guy thing. I have always avoided ANY contact with washing machines.
However... Some years back we had a doghouse outfitted with three wool "army blankets". Both our dog and cat used the doghouse regularly all winter long. The blankets were warm and their cost was really cheap. As rule we would simply throw them away each spring and buy new ones at the Army Surplus Store on east Douglas.
Wellll... the store went out of business, which left me with the task of getting the dirt, hair and so forth out of these nearly stiff-with-dirt blankets. Using Bonnie's machines was out of the question, so I bagged them up (they did smell like a wet dog) in a fifty-gallon leaf bag and ventured off to the VC coin operated laundry.
I chose a late evening time when there were no customers and carried in my three brick-like blankets. They had two really big washing machines. If THREE machines would have been available, perhaps I would have put one blanket in each machine... but, the three blanket and only two-machines meant I would have to stay there thru two wash cycles if I put only one blanket in each machine. I chose to put one blanket in one machine and two in the other machine. These blankets were folded and so stiff, I had to really work to get even one thru the top opening.
All was going well until I noticed the machine with the two blankets was wobbling and making a banging sound. The knob indicated it was attempting to 'spin out' the really foul wash water. Unfortunately the dirt and hair along with the blankets seeming to literally disintegrate had plugged up the small holes in the washing machine's tub, keeping a lot of water in the machine. The machine would wobble for a while and the overloaded motor would trip because it was overheating (I could smell the motor and belts as they got hotter and hotter). This caused the machine to set for what seemed an eternity before it started up again. This machine finally made popping sound and ground to a halt The machine with only one blanket went thru it's cycle without stopping, however when I removed the one blanket... whew!! What a doggy smell and black dog, gray cat hair and olive-drab wool was stuck to everything inside the machine.
I probably should have removed the one semi-wet blanket and two submerged blankets and went home... Not a chance!! I decided to simply put all three in one of the huge dryers as I only had enough change to run one. Plus the place closed at like 11 pm and I did not want to be around in case the owner came in and saw the machine that was still half full of murky sludge and the one that the interior was covered with pet hair.
I opened the dryer door and tossed in what seemed like two hundred pounds of dripping wet wool. These were gas-fired dryers and had really powerful drive motors. This one machine literally shook the entire row of dryers as the heavy load would slam to the bottom of the drum and spin out of balance, catch the load again and slam it to the bottom.
This went on for about ten minutes when I started to smell a burning hair smell. All the dog hair, cat hair and filthy wool blanket material smell was starting to fill the entire room. All the shaking and vibration had caused the exhaust vent 'stove pipe' to slip apart near the inside roof line. I considered climbing on top of the dryers and pushing the vent stove-pipe back together, but it was 10:30 and really was "not my problem".
At this point I opened the dryer and removed what was left of the three blankets. The interior of the dryer was plastered with hair and olive-drab caked-on smelly gunk.
I placed the hot smelly blankets in the large leaf bag that I brought them in and got the heck out of there. I tossed the still steaming bag in the back of my Datsun pickup and headed for the gas station dumpster that was on my way home, vowing to NEVER use a coin operated laundry ever again!!
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If anyone has any Draggin Douglas stories they would like to have posted, please email me firstname.lastname@example.org
A Pictorial Narrative of 'Draggin Douglas' from Grove to NuWay Cafe in 2008.
2008 Douglas West from Grove Street to I35 Overpass
2008 Douglas West from I35 Overpass to Hydraulic Intersection
2008 Douglas West towards Hydraulic Intersection
2008 Douglas West Hydraulic to Railroad Underpass and Old Town
2008 Douglas West Hydraulic to Railroad Underpass and Old Town
2008 Douglas at Old Town Entrance
2008 Douglas at Union Station and Railroad Underpass looking West
2008 Douglas at Railroad Underpass looking West
2008 Douglas West from Railroad Underpass to Eaton Hotel
2008 Douglas West from Market Street
2008 Douglas West towards Garvey Building
2008 Douglas West towards Hotel Broadview
2008 Douglas Bridge West Across Arkansas River
2008 Douglas West from Delano Roundel
2008 Douglas West at Delano Roundel
2008 NuWay Cafe on West Douglas
Now heading back East on Douglas.
2008 Douglas East to Garvey Building From Hotel Broadview 2008
2008 Douglas East to Garvey Building From Tripodal
2008 Century II Convention Center on West Douglas at Water Street
2008 Holiday Inn Plaza on West Douglas at Water Street
2008 Douglas East from Century II Convention Center
2008 Douglas East to Old Town From St Francis Street
2008 Douglas East to Railroad Underpass From St Francis Street
2008 Union Station East of Railroad Underpass
2008 Douglas East to I35 Overpass From Hydraulic Street
2008 Wichita High School East
2008 Douglas East to College Hill from Grove Street
Some Pics of old Wichita Airport.
Old Wichita Airport Terminal
Old Wichita Airport Terminal
Old Wichita Airport Terminal
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A Photo History of Douglas Streetscenes and Locations of Interest from 2002 to 1870.
GM and Kooweetoo Do Wichita Photo Tour
Last Update: 08/05/10