We would drive through town, go up the roadside park up on the hill, south of town, turn around then drive to the far north end of town. Turn around and repeat that same course dozens of times during a Friday or Saturday night. The whole circle would be no more than a couple of miles. Very few cars would speed, mostly just cruising up and down looking cool. Gasoline cost 35 cents per gallon, so for $5.00 you could drive around all night long. Most of us were drinking beer and having a good ol time. There were drugs in those days, mostly marijuana, but it was easy to stay away from. If you found like-minded friends to hang out with that wasn’t interested in smoking pot, you didn’t feel pressure to do so. But beer drinking was everywhere and the consumption of various hard liquors was common as well.
If you wanted to speed that was left for any of the four main highways leading from town. We would take off out of town and open it up and see what top in speed could be obtained, with speeds of 120, 130 and 140 mph being common. We even had a stretch of roadway to the south and another to the west where we had marked off what was roughly a ¼ mile. That was where we would have drag races. Almost any night a few cars would go out the one of the strips and have a face-off. Most of the time we were cautious not to linger too long after a race, just in case the squealing of tires had been heard by City Marshall or a County Deputy. We didn’t have a fulltime DPS officer until late until late in the 60s. Very seldom did you see more than one officer patrolling the streets of Marble Falls. A lot of the time you may not see one all night long.
The 60s were a time when I suppose many of the Dad’s where in someway trying to re-live their youth through the son’s. It almost seems that many of us drove cars that were much above our parent’s abilities to pay for them. Back then the monthly payments for a nice car was $125 to $150, which in today’s dollars doesn’t seem like much, but a good wage for a working man was $200 per week. The streets were full of shiny new Malibu’s, Mustangs, Roadrunner’s, GTO’s, Charger’s and everything else that is termed a muscle car today.
On this one particular Friday night when I was in my junior year of high school, my best friend Tommy & I made a night of it in his 68 Roadrunner. During this span of time we had decided to do something much more exotic than just drink beer. We would fill an ice chest with finely crushed ice get a couple of gallons of Bali Hai wine. When the wine was poured over the crushed ice it was very much like driving around eating snow cones all night. Very fruity tasting. If you consumed enough of the snow cones you could begin to do things that you could regret.
One might ask how I remember this story being on a Friday night. My brother, being a college freshman was due to come home for the weekend and bringing his new roommate. I had heard stories of this roommate’s car, a 68 Dodge Charger with a 440 CI engine that he had equipped with dual 4 barrel carburetors. You didn’t have to know much to know big motor plus 2 four’s was going to run very fast. We drove around knowing sometime after 9:00 or 10:00 pm that Kenny and his roommate, Otis, would come rolling in.
Marble Falls, being a resort type town and only an hour drive from Ft. Hood (the largest military base in the country) there were soldiers around often. A Plymouth Roadrunner, with two soldiers in it pulled up along side us to inquire if we would like to have a little match off on the drag strip for a $25. My friend Tommy wasn’t into racing that night or any other night. He was very careful and gentle with his 383 Roadrunner. So we declined the offer and moved on. The soldiers continue to rip up and down through town challenging everyone without finding a taker.
Finally we pulled in to one of the local hangouts, The Yacht Restaurant. Sitting next to us were the two army guys. A conversation ensued, a few insults thrown around but nothing that wasn’t expected. When the subject finally came around that “no one in this little shit hole of a town would take them on”, I asked them to hold on for an hour or so and someone would be arriving that I was willing to bet $100 on. Big talk from me I guess, but I knew the roommate had a reputation of showing off his car anytime he got the chance and the car they were in was a fairly stock Plymouth. Seemed like a safe bet to me. They took the bet.
The college boys finally arrived. When Otis revved the engine on that hot Charger the ground shook. Didn’t take soldier boy long to start trying to weasel out on the bet. I wasn’t going for it. A bet is a bet. Words flew. Threats were made. The soldier was sitting in car with me stand by his door, I decided that dragging him out of his window and taking the $100 from him may be the only choice I had. The Bali Hai wine had something in it that makes you a little bigger and a little meaner than you probably are. I suppose military training teaches you not to let your enemy take you captive, instead pull a gun out as if you are serious about a fire fight. And that is what he did. It was a large black semi automatic looking thing. It should have been more intimidating than it was. Instead of backing away, returning to our car and heading down the road for another snow cone I decided to taunt soldier boy holding the gun. I had noticed that every time I let words fly and he would start to raise his gun, the passenger would grab his hand and hold it down on the console. Hold it down without much effort, is what it looked like. This seemed like a weakness on my opponent’s part. That only emboldened me more. Next thing I was screaming for his big bad soldier boy to shoot me. “Come on big brave soldier just use that gun if you think you need to”. It was the Bali Hai at work. Next thing I know he fired up the Roadrunner and hauls it out of the parking lot. I was thinking “Is this who is protecting our country”.
The next morning when I woke up I lay there reflecting on the past night. I was nauseous and my head was still spinning from the Bali Hai. I knew something very crazy and amazing had happened that previous night. Even being a sixteen year old kid, I knew I had pushed fate to it’s’ limit. If my memory serves me correctly, that was the last time I ever over-indulged in Bali Hai snow cones.