“Saturday Nights/Dixie Dog Delights”
My friend, Suzanne, learned to drive before I did. On a Saturday night she would often come to my door and announce, “Let’s go to Fordyce!” a near-by town that had a dairy bar called the “Dixie Dog.” It was a favorite teenage hang out famous for its signature entree–a corn dog on a stick–but it also served burgers, sodas and malts, fountain drinks and excitement.
When Suzanne came by, I’d ask her to wait while I changed into jeans, rolled up just above the top of my bobby sox, and one of Daddy’s white shirts (sleeves rolled to the elbows with shirttail hanging to my knees.) Had it been daytime, I’d have worn Bermuda shorts and a Ship ‘N Shore blouse, but nighttime called for jeans and your daddy’s white shirt. This was the accepted attire for “The Dog.”
First, we’d stop at Thomas’ Esso Station.
“$1 of gas,” Suzanne would say. And for that dollar we got not only gas but our windshield cleaned and our oil and tires checked. Thomas knew our daddies wouldn’t want us running off to Fordyce in an unsafe car.
We paid our dollar and headed south. The radio was always on. When Santo and Johnny began playing “Sleep Walk,” Suzanne turned up the volume full blast! She declared it the sexiest song ever–though I voted for Elvis’ “One Night With You.”
Once in Fordyce, we circled the Dixie Dog first, just to see who was there. If it happened to be too early, we waited by driving down Main Street to check the cars parked in front of the Dallas Theater. No one of interest? We’d then cruise the streets. When The Diamonds’ “Little Darlin’” or The Dell Vikings “Come and Go With Me” came on we’d stop and dance by the glow of the headlights.
We’d then end up back at the Dixie Dog shortly after nightfall. By this time, anybody who was anybody would be there. Carhops were busy carrying out 25 cent hamburgers, 5 cent cokes and 25 cent malts. Big-spenders ordered 50 cent cheeseburger baskets and played the juke box on the serving stations for a nickle. If it was a good song, we’d turn down the car radio to listen.
Mainly, we were waiting… waiting for a carload of boys to drive up beside us. We nursed Coca Colas and shared a large order of French fries, trying to look unconcerned.
Soon, Mike Summers, Tommy Hudson and two other boys drove up.
“Hey, Whacha’ doin’?” the driver asked.
“Nothin.’ Just having a Coke” Suzanne replied.
“Where you from?” Tommy asked, leaning across the driver.
“Carthage” someone answered from the back seat. Usually, it was “Other Brenda” who was daring enough to reply. She’d recently been told she had a beautiful smile and she used it a lot. She also had vibrant red hair which attracted the boys.
“Wanna’ ride around?” The driver asked. We all looked at each other and the consensus was usually, “Yes,” depending on how cute they were and how fancy their car.
We accepted this night because they were cute and were in a ‘57 Ford with huge fins on the back, so we packed eight bodies into a car made for six. That was okay. It just meant we had to sit closer to the boys!
Frankie Avalon implored “Venus” to send him a girl to thrill as we left The Dog to cruise the same streets we’d driven earlier.
Conversation was sprinkled with terms like “Kool Kat,” “Daddy-O,” “Flipped Out,” and “Real Gone” as we laughed and listened to the boys’ manly bragging and hints for future dates. When The Coasters came on singing, “Young 0
Blood” they threw us into conniption fits as they pantomimed all the spoken parts. We flirted. We laughed. It was such a fun night.
All too soon, we saw the lighted clock on their dash inch toward 10:30 p.m. We told them we had to go back to our car because we had to be home by 11 p.m. The boys put up an argument but eventually gave in, (though they’d scored no kisses during the ride).
Back at The Dog, we said Good Night while, over the speakers, the Capris reminded us, “There’s A Full Moon Out Tonight.”
We headed home over the road we knew so well. We spoke of the night–cars at the Dallas and the boys we had met at the Dixie Dog. “Other Brenda” was sure the boy sitting by her would ask her out. He said he played right end on the football team. We doubted this–he was too skinny–but we didn’t tell her.
Just entering town, Suzanne adjusted the volume when we heard the familiar “SHO-DO-SHO-BE-DO” leading into the Five Satins’ “In the Still of the Night”–everyone’s favorite. We grew quiet listening to the romantic lyrics.
Each girl looked out her window at the stillness of the night and searched intently for answers she did not have. Except me. I knew the meaning of those magical words. They promised romance. A dream lover. Someday he would come to me. He’d look a lot like Troy Donahue and would take me to the Dixie Dog and order cheeseburger baskets. He’d be oh, so popular and would play “In the Still of the Night” while holding my hand. “OHHHH WAH!”