Jack’s Mid-Missouri Memories: Taking The Drag
You could probably go to any town in the United States and it would have a street the kids call “The Drag”. The location may change, but never the purpose, which for guys is a place to show off hot cars and meet girls.
Taking the Drag
As shown in the movie 'American Graffiti,' teens have always loved to take the drag. Sedalia’s drag has changed locations since I was a boy the fifties. Back then it was once around Garst Drive-In (the now closed Eddies Drive-In, west on Broadway, around the Wheel Inn (another Icon from my youth that has been replaced by a modern business building), then back to town, north on Ohio Street, west on Main one block, south on Osage, east on Second, and back to Ohio to start all over again. Some rebels, or non-purest may have tried a different route then this, but the real cruisers did it that way.
The drag changed when downtown changed, and now it is made up of fast food restaurants and shopping centers. The biggest problem with that location is the speed. How can you cruise for the opposite sex at 40 or 50 miles per hour? The slow easy pace taking the drag used to have gave a boy or girl plenty of time to observe the other cruisers, as well as the people walking along the street or leaning against each other on the street corners. It has to be hard at highway speed to get a good look at prospective dates, and with the gender bending clothes and hairstyles of today, you might be flirting with disaster.
Now when I drive downtown, I miss the crowds that used to spill over into Ohio Street, especially during the holiday season. In those days, when school was over for the day, high school kids would head for town to have a shake or malt at the Crown Drug Store located at 3rd and Ohio with their current girlfriend or boyfriend. Those of us who had no significant other could be found leaning against the post in front of the drug store, watching those lucky enough to have a car drive by and wish we were riding with them. I think of the Ohio of the '40s, '50s and '60s as a wonderfully chaotic place where shopping was secondary, and the main reason to go downtown was the social atmosphere that filled the streets.
Today, downtown is a more quiet, sedate place where you can actually hear the sound of car tires gripping Ohio Street. I miss those noisy days of honking horns, the laughter of my friends and watching the girls walk by.
I can only hope that the kids of today carry fond memories of their drag days into their older years like my friends and I have. It would be a shame if that American tradition died the way so many things from my youth have.