Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Spring Break 1961 Trip To Fort Lauderdale Florida

One of the best parts of this story is that the first time we tried to leave Mobile in my 1956 Chevrolet red and white convertible the right rear tire came off as we were going down Old Shell Road. The back of the car went down and the front of the car went up and I saw the wheel go flashing past ahead of me and the car on the right.
I had three other guys in the car and I safely guided it to a stop and no one was hurt but the trip was put on hold. Dave told me I did a good job of driving in that emergency and I guess I did. I have no idea how the tire came off. Either someone did a sabotage job or just forgot to tighten the lug nuts.

Next time we had a different group of guys in the car. Along for the ride were J.C.,Jeff, and Tommy Heinz.
We bought cases of Black Label beer at the local Air Force base. I had my AF ID card. As I recall it was 13 cents a can so we were able to load the trunk with cases of Black Label beer. We later traded cases of this to a group from our frat from Ball State to sleep in their motel room when they were not there.

The trip from Mobile to Ft. Lauderdale was uneventful as I remember. Gas was cheap and the 1956 Chevy convertible was confortable with the top down.

I remember hearing on the radio as we headed south through Florida that the police in Ft. Lauderdale were arresting students for climbing light poles. I think the newspapers carried pictures of some kid who had climbed up a light pole.
Coming from a school near New Orleans and Mardi Gras all this seemed tame to me. But clearly the town of Ft. Lauderdale and the police of Ft. Lauderdale were tired of the publicity the book and movie WHERE THE BOYS ARE (which came out in December of 1960) had created.

My first impression of Boca Raton was very positive as we drove through there on A1A.  The tennis courts and high hedges around the houses were neat and expensive.

Fort Lauderdale was full of college students all right. The Elbo Room was a popular spot. It had been featured in the movie. But I was surprised to find we weren't the only students from our school. I saw quite a few others that I recognized.

We also went to a bar called the Prop Club. So called because there was a big airplane prop behind the bar. I went by this bar in 1972 and it was still there. Now it is gone. No mention of it on the web.

I remember a dance on the beach the city had organized.
I remember the comedian Redd Foxx was playing at a local night club in Ft. Lauderdale and I could see his name on the sign that said "Appearing Nightly".

Now nothing much happened except some sun and sand and beer drinking.
When we got ready to leave we had really no money just a Gulf Credit Card that belonged to one of the guys.

 Leaving town right on the main drag a cop pulled us over and gave us a ticket because J.C. was sitting up on the back seat with the top down. I didn't even know he was there. It was a ten dollar fine. We had no money.
What the police did was take us to the station. I called a couple of guys from another frat who lived in Lauderdale and they came down and loaned us the money.
While we waited I watched a girl from Kansas who had been brought in for something. She called her father to come bail her out. Meanwhile she sat there and cursed the cops.

Ok so we finally got out of town.
Somewhere around Ocala, Fla the car stopped. It was the carb or the water pump. It was late a night. Somehow we found a Gulf Station and got it repaired and we were on our way.

  We had no money for food so we pulled into an orange grove and filled up the back seat of the convertible with oranges.  Threw them in one at a time. Now we had something to eat.
We also stopped at a Snake Farm to see the snakes. No one was around so the guys took the money out of the jars provided to pay for food for the snakes by the customers. That gave us enough for candy bars and the like.

Such an attraction was Florida Reptile Land, on the once popular Highway 301 in Lawtey, about 35 miles Southwest of Jacksonville. (Another Florida Reptile Land, which shared the same postcard photo, operated on Hwy. 19-98 about 18 miles south of Perry.) A free zoo with "Over 100 Different kinds of animals from all parts of the world" was advertised to the curious traveler, along with Gifts, Novelties, Pecans, Candies, Tropical Jellies, Milk Shakes, Orange Juice, Coffee, and Hot Dogs -- which was, of course, the real business of the stand. Note the colorful blades spinning in the wind on a wire over the shop, and the Have-A-Tampa ad painted on the car in the parking lot, both once popular attention getting devices you don't see much anymore  This is the one we stopped at. Just south of Perry, Florida. Note the Gulf Station.
   Somewhere near Pensacola at night a VW beetle went around us. This was on old highway 90. There was no interstate highway 10 back then. The bug had cut us off and we chased it and threw oranges at it as the driver tried to zig and zag to make us miss. Since the top was down on the convertible we could stand up to throw the oranges at the zigging and zagging little VW bug who kept going faster and faster trying to get away from us and out of our headlights. We did no damage and it finally found a place to turn and get off the road and away from us.

Well we got home. It was a nice trip.
  See my post below this one for more on Spring Break in Ft. Lauderdale 1961. And also spring break in Ft. Lauderdale past and present.