Monday, June 08, 2009

Lawrence - My Hometown

McGovern’s and the Den

By Richard E. Noble

McGovern’s and the Den were on route 114 heading out by the Den Rock Drive-in Theater. As typical insane teenagers from the 60’s we used to drag race out in front of McGovern’s.
My friends got me into a drag race one night. I had the use of my sister’s ‘55 Mercury. It was really a neat car and it had a stick shift. My friends were all pumped up. I pulled out in front in first gear but when I shifted into second everybody in my 55 Merc let out with a huge groan. I didn’t know how to speed-shift. The other guy, with his Olds 88 hydromatic, zoomed past me like I was standing still. That experience ended my drag racing career.
I also remember playing tackle football out in the middle of the highway. That was nuts. But in those days at 9 o’clock in the evening on a Saturday night, route 114 was deserted. That also explains the drag racing - after all in order to drag race both sides of the highway had to be used. Of course, this still doesn’t explain playing tackle football on the asphalt pavement.
Both McGovern’s and the Den were packed on weekends and especially after football games. Cars would circle through the Den parking lot over and over trying to nab a prime spot. Girls would cluster on the hoods of cars, giggling and laughing and attracting the boys’ attention as they drove round and round.
My biggest memory from the Den was a rather interesting experience. The whole episode started on the Hampton Beach Casino boardwalk. I had a 1946 fluid drive DeSoto. It was my first car. I bought it for ten bucks. It was a Sunday evening and everybody was heading home. Four or five local girls were dashing up and down the Casino looking for a ride to the Den. This wasn’t so unusual. Boys and girls would often ride to the beach with one group then bum a ride home with another.
One of my buddies knew one of the girls. She was somebody’s sister. We agreed to give them a lift. They piled into the back seat and me and my two buddies rode in the front seat. They each had a beach bag of clothes and we threw those in the trunk.
My old DeSoto was big. It could hold a lot of bodies. The space between the back of the front seat and the back seat was as big as in a hearse.
My recollection of our ride to the Den was quite rowdy. I was rather shy and not used to having a carload of females. They were giggling, singing songs and asking any number of silly questions. They were all quite attractive and very bold. They would ask me some provocative question and when I would stutter or the backs of my ears would turn red, they would go into a spasm of giggles.
When we got to the Den and got their bags out of the trunk, the girls all asked if they could use my vehicle to spruce up a bit before stepping out into the “lime light” of the Den parking lot. The Den parking lot was also a kind of showplace for the girls. They had to look their best. They were fresh off the beach when we loaded them up - no lipstick, no nothing. The girls blocked all the windows by hanging up skirts and blouses and beach towels.
When they finally emerged they looked like the McGuire Sisters. For you younger folks that means they looked good.
The next morning I was aroused from a sound sleep by the screaming and ranting of my outraged mother. She was running in and out of my bedroom waving pink, green and yellow panties.
It seems that she had passed by my car in the backyard on her way to the garbage shed when she detected the smell of perfume and girly powder wafting from my 1946 Desoto. She began foraging around inside the car and found several pairs of girl panties in my glove compartment.
Though my mother was quite beside herself, I was somewhat proud that my mother would think that I was teenage boy enough to gather up a glove compartment full of panties.
Why the girls left their panties in my glove compartment is still a mystery to me.

Richard E. Noble was raised in Lawrence, Mass and is now a freelance writer. He has published six books. Two of them have Lawrence as their setting, A Summer with Charlie and Honor Thy Father and Thy Mother. A Little Something is a book of poetry -parts of it inspired by life in Lawrence. Hobo-ing America is a workingman’s tour of the U.S.A and The Eastpointer is selected pieces from his award winning column about life in a sleepy fishing village in the Florida Panhandle. Noble Notes on Famous Folks is his most recent production.