It was the summer of 1966 and I was sitting in my car, a 1959 Pontiac Bonneville 2 door hardtop painted a beautiful metallic Kelly Green. I was at Oscars drive-in on the traffic circle in Long Beach, California. It was the local cruising hangout in that part of town. The cruisers and the racers would all congregate there to show off their cars. It’s what we did then. Among other things. The parking lot was an L-shape with the racers on one side and the cruisers on the other.
I can’t swear to what others were drinking in their cars but, I was known as Mr. Quarter-a-cup. The coffee was 25 cents and I would always leave the carhop a 25 cent tip per cup. I didn’t use the door tray because it might have scratched my paint or kept me from exiting the car or the lot when I felt like it. Behind the drivers seat was piled with coffee cups that I had driven off with from time to time. I would return most of them, eventually, but some ended up in my kitchen cabinet, I must admit.
I was one of the cruisers. My car was as far from a racer as you could get. I wasn’t a low-rider either, just a pure cruiser. We, my friends and I, would drive to Hollywood Blvd. and cruise up and down the Blvd. turn down Vine and continue on down Sunset Blvd. then turn around and go the other way.
The traffic caused by custom cars, racers and the curious in general would keep everything at a crawl for hours on end. You never knew what or who you would come across either walking or driving down those Hollywood boulevards. Famous cars or famous people were everywhere. It was quite a time back then.
We would drive from one end of the boulevards to the other and repeat it all over again until we either hooked up with some girls or ran low on gas. Usually it was the gas that got us first.
Trips to Hollywood didn’t happen every week-end. Most of the time we would just go to Oscars, get a good front row seat, drink coffee and watch the cars drive by. Between Hollywood Blvd., Oscars and the other drive-ins in the Long Beach area, it was like a car show every night of the week.
One night, while parked in the front row, I saw a red Ford T-Bird convertible, a ’56 or ’57 I believe, come cruising around the end of the parked cars to my right. You always cruised from right to left. It was the rule. Sitting on the hood of the T-Bird was a cute little thing who seemed to be having quite a time for herself. She was holding something in her hands but I couldn’t tell what it was. As her driver proceeded in front of her captive audience, the little gal on the hood started shooting everyone in their cars with squirt guns. This, she thought, was very funny. Not everyone agreed.
As they made their second or third pass, several of the once spotless custom cars they were soaking decided enough was enough and left. At least for the time being or until they could wipe them down to sparkling condition again. It was a pride thing.
The space next to me had become vacant and, low and behold, the two young ladies chose that spot in which to park. They backed in, as we all did, for a little rest, I presumed. I introduced myself and thanked the shooter for the impromptu shower. We all talked for a while and, being a gentleman even then, I bought them both a drink. You know, coke or coffee, something like that.
Just before they were getting ready to leave, I asked the gunslinger her name. She said, “Do you really want to know?” and I replied in the affirmative. She said her name was Annabella Esterella Theodosha Bean but everyone just called her Ann for short. Well, I could see why!
We talked for a short time longer when she said it was time for them to leave. I said my good nights to them both, the driver started her car and put it in gear. Now, sometime while they were sitting there, the driver must have reloaded the squirt guns because as they pulled out, Annabella Esterella Theodosha Bean got me with both barrels. She smiled and said, “See you next-time.” I thought to myself, “Yes, you will. You most certainly will.”
When they left, I talked to a few of the other guys who got blasted with the squirt guns and we devised a little plan. Over the next couple of nights, we waited for the return of the squirt gun girls. We were beginning to think they weren’t going to come back but, sure enough, they showed up one night and we were ready for them. As they pulled into line to make the circuit around the parked cars, we, in the front row, got out of our cars and waited. When the little red T-Bird got right in the middle of the front row we all ran out, surrounded the little convertible and opened fire.They never had a chance.
Annabella Esterella Theodosha Bean and her accomplice were soaked from head to toe and laughing to beat the band, as were we all. The whole parking lot was in an uproar with laughter as they got out of the car and surveyed the result of our retaliatory attack.
After that, most of us kept squirt guns in our back seats although they were seldom if ever used again. But as they say, better safe than sorry, right?
Annabella and her friend were regulars after that and became one of the cruiser crowd. Shortly after summer had passed, my friend Phil and I were inducted into the service of our country for the next two years and we kind of lost track of the Oscars crowd. We had other things on our minds.
When we got out in September of 1968, things didn’t seem quite the same. We were different, the times had changed or, whatever had happened, just happened. Who knows?
One thing that hasn’t changed are the memories of those days. When we think of them, we are still in our youth. Young and curious and adventurous to whatever extent that might be. Everything is fresh again. The girls are just as pretty, the cars are just as shinny and we, old men now, are just the way we were then. There’s a lot to be said for memories.
One, in particular, that has stuck with me is the memory of Anabella Esterella Theodosha Bean. That name will stick with me till the very day I die. She may never know what an impact she had on me that one summer night in 1966. Oh that name. Oh that girl. I hope she had a good life because she is still giving me enjoyment to this day. Thanks Annabella, wherever you are, for decades of smiles.
Have a nice day and pleasant memories!