In this photo below, you are standing near the entrance to A&W on Hespeler Road in Cambridge. It is about the middle of May of 1983, a few short weeks into the first season of cruise night.
Of note is the unusual shape of this A&W location. The A-frame main building was actually the original Cambridge location of the Frostop Drive-In. When that location closed, the building was converted to an A&W, with canopy added to the front of the building, and franchise-mandated field stone applied to the outside of the main building. There was seating inside, plus the typical car-hop service known to this restaurant chain.
Outside under the canopy, you can see Jack Durnin’s chocolate coloured ’58 Ford, along with his buddies 1959 Ford in coral pink. Parked backwards under the canopy is Paul Barber’s blue Fargo truck he called “Little Blue”. Next is the maroon coloured Model A coupe of Bob Shantz. The green 1955 Ford at the end is my car, still with its faded paint that was fried from the California sun during the car’s earlier life in the golden state.
You can see me bent down wearing my blue and white “American Graffiti” jacket with the driver’s door open on my Ford. I was prepping my stereo system so I could play tunes for the crowd at the show.
Each week, I used to take my home component stereo system apart, put it all in several boxes, and carry it out to my car to take to Cruise Night. I had outdoor speakers that stayed in their boxes in the floor of the back seat. After driving a half hour from Kitchener to Cambridge, I would pull up into this same spot each week. The reason I insisted on this spot is that I ran a long extension cord from the back seat of my car over to an electrical box located on the wall on the outside of the restaurant. I would hook up my stereo receiver and cassette tape deck together, then plug them into the extension cord. I had long wires that ran from the back of my receiver to the outdoor speakers that I put up on the roof of the canopy. That way, when the music was playing, it could be heard above the crowd and not be blaring in anyone’s ear while walking around the building.
I had recorded dozens of cassette tapes that featured original rock and roll music from my personal collection. I was proud of the variety of music that I presented each week, trying to make this event as unique as I could make it. My song lists included original do-wop tunes, obscure but rockin’ surf songs, and so many others that are not generally heard, but were great tunes nonetheless. These great song played away in the back seat of my car all evening, entertaining the thousands of spectators that would show up at this location of A&W every week.
As the weeks go by, I will be telling you more about the activities at Cruise Night. Stay tuned!