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Sunday, November 8, 2020

60 years of memories: Hanging out in Butler

ON THE SQUARE

60 Years of Memories of Butler

by James Ring

 

We weren’t totally bored while hanging out around Butler in our youth. True, there wasn’t the diversity of activity of a Big City, but neither were there the hazards and headaches. One could always participate in the evening ritual of “Crusin’ The Strip”, burning up gasoline or parking in one of the vacant business lots along Highway 71. Only a few shop owners objected to the use of their premises, and for the most part cruisers cleaned up after themselves. If you got rowdy and tore up something on the weekend, parents or the Law, or both, would have you out there on Monday fixing it.

 

Why on the Strip, instead of on the Square? Because, that’s where it was happenin’; there was 24-hour traffic and places to serve it. A nice long stretch of pavement was an open invitation to “laying rubber” and in case an impromptu drag race needed to be run, the highway led out of town to a quiet road for the duel. Because the local policemen knew most of the cars and who owned them, there was friendly competition to avoid warnings and citations.

 

There were, of course, more gentile attractions. My favorite was the roller skating rink, ran by Raymond James, on Adams street, even with the humpy floor on the back turn, and I spent many a noisy hour grinding laps there. To catch a movie, there was the SkyView Drive-in Theater, where the new football field is located. To reduce the head-count in the vehicle, it wasn’t unknown to drive in with stowaways in the trunk, until they began to charge by the carload. The old tinny speakers wouldn’t cut it today, but cars didn’t have stereo either.

 

Bowling was an option, first in the old converted Nu-Show walk-in theater that sat where the abandoned Sonic is today. It only had six lanes as I recall. Barney Zellmer later built the bigger Tower Bowl, beside the cable TV tower at the south edge of town, which is now the Thrift Store. There was always a couple of open lanes for practice with a date, or you could just watch the leagues play.

 

After the Butler public swimming pool opened for the summer, it was a good hang-out. Other entertainments were ball games during the school year, perhaps a school play and maybe a traveling circus or carnival at the Fair grounds in the summer. Rodeos and 4th of July shoots came yearly. It seems like there was always “something to do”, even if we thought we were fighting boredom at the time.