It was 1980 something

by | Jul 1, 2016 | Editorial

If you’ve still got your Van Halen 5150 cassette, go ahead and click it into the deck and push play. If you could never dig on “Van Hagar” then Bon Jovi or Guns & Roses or Poison or Ratt will work. But you gotta have some Alabama and Waylon, and maybe some Hank Sr. to balance it all out. That’s the diet I fed my Pioneer stereo, the one that lived in the cab of my 1969 Chevy pickup.
The truck had a 400-cubic-inch engine topped with a four-barrel Quadrajet carburetor. I was never a gear head (mechanic-ing took time away from fishing), but I knew how to tweak the Quadrajet to get its full benefit. With one simple adjustment a punched gas pedal resulted in an abrupt roar from glasspacks as twice the usual amount of fuel and air dumped into that small-block motor instantaneously. Satisfying yelps from the too-wide, 50-series tires wrapped around gleaming chrome spoke wheels often accompanied the roar. This is what 8-miles-per-gallon of fuel economy sounded like. And the only thing that made it sound better was hair-band rock with some country twang on the side in honor of my roots. When you put it all together, it was the anthem of summer nights for many Generation Xers here in the River Valley.
The cruise route was 4th Street, down Arkansas Avenue, circle through McDonald’s parking lot then backtrack. Stoplights were our makeshift testing grounds as we jockeyed for position and timing to meet the rig we wanted to challenge just as the light turned red. Then it was a pipe-racking stare down waiting for the green.
And we wonder why our parents worried.
Thankfully, teenagers and how they spend summer nights in the River Valley have changed a lot in the 25-plus years since my white Chevy cruised through town — music blaring, skinny tan arm hanging out the window, the humid night air billowing through my mullet — and I believe it’s for the best. We can’t afford to be wasteful with petroleum. Loud music hurts my middle-aged ears. Too much sun can cause all kinds of skin problems. And mullets… do I even need to mention that our world is a better place without mullets?
But on some summer nights, when the air is thick and the moon wears a mischievous grin, I think back to a carefree time. And I can almost hear a wailing guitar over the low rumble of eight-cylinders pulsing down the streets of Russellville.

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