The Real Main Drag

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Come back with us now to those hot summer nights when half of Fresno's teens were driving up and down Belmont. Or remember what it was like on Fulton St. before Belmont took the title of "Fresno's Main Drag" Remember the Rainbow Ballroom? Post you night life memories here.
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The Real Main Drag

Postby Lost Fresno Guest » Mon Aug 16, 2010 11:57 am

It was 1964 as I remember, that they converted Fulton Street in to the Fulton Mall. It only took a few months to fill in the streets and close it to traffic and with that, we headed over to Belmont Ave. to cruise. But it was nothing like the original main drag.

Fulton Street was much wider than Belmont and had a more classy/regal feeling to it. Not to mention the tall building on each side gave it a very special feeling of place. One thing that Belmont never had was the late night shopping and by that I mean there were always pretty ladies to watch. Check out the great view in the picture below looking directly up Fulton, the “Real Main Drag” of Fresno.
Click on the photo to enlarge (if available in a larger size)
fulton street.jpg
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Re: The Real Main Drag

Postby 47haidie » Sat Sep 18, 2010 1:36 pm

The main drag route in the early and mid 60's was Mars Drive-in, then east on Belmont to Port George, then a left on Blackstone to access Abby where Royal Drive-in was located. Following Royal, it was northbound on Blackstone to Bob's Big Boy at Shaw and Blackstone. Imperial Drive-in used to be across Belmont from Mar's, but wasn't around for long. It turned into a tire shop, which eventually burned down.
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Re: The Real Main Drag

Postby dragnut » Sun Sep 19, 2010 9:01 am

47haidie wrote:The main drag route in the early and mid 60's was Mars Drive-in, then east on Belmont to Port George, then a left on Blackstone to access Abby where Royal Drive-in was located. Following Royal, it was northbound on Blackstone to Bob's Big Boy at Shaw and Blackstone. Imperial Drive-in used to be across Belmont from Mar's, but wasn't around for long. It turned into a tire shop, which eventually burned down.


Hi 47haidie. I'm reading your "drag the main" route" and are you saying that this was the route that most cruisers took? Because I never thought Blackstone played any major role until they cracked down on Belmont int he late 70's or early 80's. I was dragging the main form 1967 until 1971 and I never heard of anybody cruising Blackstone. It was strictly Belmont since Fulton was no longer available. I'm very interested in Fresno "Dragging the Main" history so I would love to hear your comments and clarification.
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Re: The Real Main Drag

Postby Pumper » Mon Jan 30, 2012 10:43 am

I dragged the Main occasionally from about 1964 to 1967. When Fulton closed down, we went to Belmont. I guess you could include the Blackstone section around Royal Drive -in, but, back in the day, when you said "The Main" everyone knew that was Belmont.
Pumper
 


Re: The Real Main Drag

Postby sjvalleydave » Mon Mar 12, 2012 3:15 pm

I totally agree...We dragged the main from 73-late 70's...Set up quite a few street races sitting on the corner of San Pablo and Belmont! LOL Also the Chevron parking lot at Belmont and Van Ness. Go west under the tracks, around the circle, then east till Blackstone, turn right and then a quick left through Bob's Big Boy to get onto Abby. Make a left on Belmont and start again.
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Re: The Real Main Drag

Postby FresnoMike » Fri Mar 16, 2012 3:55 am

By the time I got my driver's license the first (and true "Main") was history downtown. Replaced by a worthless 12-block pedestrian mall - that planning schools use to this day as a prime example of what not to do a downtown business district. Along with suburban shopping centers, the "Mall" is what ruined Fresno's downtown.

Everyone went downtown on Friday and Saturday nights to eat in the locally-owned restaurants and multiple retail shops, see a movie (or two) in one of the many theaters and often just window shop up and down each side of the 12 block long strip, where cool breezes were enjoyed on summer evenings. My dad founded a business downtown in 1953 and my younger brother and cousin used to run all over the downtown area with impunity enjoying the theaters and especially the old Fresno Malt Shop.

The original "Main" I remembered was always bumper to bumper in both directions in each of the two lanes northbound and south. For me there was the excitement of the "cool" or "boss" cars, with loud exhaust and teens hanging out the windows with greased-back ducktails hollering to any passing girl with a skirt. The movie American Graffitti is very much like Fresno, only less crowded. Probably Lucas' memory of a typical weeknight. Fresno was only one of hundreds of towns in the US.

For me however, "Crusin The Main" didn't really start until the summer of '65. For my friends and I, the route, repeated endlessly any given night of the week was a quick ride down Blackstone south to Belmont, a right, which took you past the old Port George drive-in restaurant (Biker hangout - didn't stop there often until later), driving slowly all the way down to the old Mar's Drive-In. If you saw someone's car and there was a space, you might stop for a quick soda, if not, you continued down under the tracks, around the loop near the SE corner of Roeding Park that back under the tracks now going east on Belmont.

My buddies and I would often stop and shoot the breeze in front of the DIY carwash across the street from Mars and examined each others rides or help diagnose problems. Mostly of the car variety. When bored, you would return to Blackstone and then back north the Bob's Big Boy, cruise through, let your engine's cam lope your "bitchin" car barely along, checking out girls and possible races and most of the time exit. If not, stay and order a Bob's Big Boy Combo with a Cherry Vanilla Coke "extra vanilla please!".

Sometimes big drag races were set up here (Also like Amer. Graf.) and long caravans of anxious spectators would follow the combatants out to the narrow two-lane road called Herndon, where the two racers would stop at a line painted on the roadway at Willow and race east. Normally, it was all about bragging rights of my Ford vs your Chevy or Mopar for $20 or $40, but I did have a friend lose his beautiful '62 Corvette to a real nasty sounding Comet from Madera one night. I warned my friend not to do it! I drove a white 63 1/2 Ford Galaxie 500XL with a 427 and 2-fours that was making about 525 HP and was always getting in street races.

Imagine racing 3 abreast on Blackstone in front of Manchester S.C. doing over 100? It was not uncommon to have at least one of these races each night you went out crusin'. Like the kids of today, we also felt invincible and immortal. I am just real lucky to be able to say that my foolish driving stunts didn't ever hurt me or anyone else. One last tidbit: EVERYONE had their radios tuned to XERB in Chula Vista, listening to the 50,000 watt station that nightly broadcast this guy's outrageous show called "The Wolfman Jack Show". He often played a pre-recording of a wolf howling and everyone turned their radios up and you could here through open windows, the entire strip howling!

Rarely did guys and gals hook-up. There was a lot of side by side flirting and sometimes you got lucky. Mostly just meaningless chit chat. Pot came along in the late 60's and that began to change everything. By '71 it began to die out for us old guys and a different hippie sub-culture began.
FresnoMike
 


Re: The Real Main Drag

Postby sjvalleydave » Sat Mar 17, 2012 2:12 am

Very interesting post...By the time I was cruising the "Main" in 1974 in my 1962 Corvette and then my Kawasaki 750 triple, it was all Belmont. Nobody went north on Blackstone till it was time to go home!! LOL When we street raced near Herndon and Willow, it was on Willow racing north...near where the old railroad tracks crossed Willow at a 45* angle...There's a bike path there now! LOL
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Re: The Real Main Drag

Postby Bruce'61 » Tue Jun 26, 2012 9:36 pm

Fun reading these posts. It brings back a lot of memories. I cruised Fulton from about '58 to '65 when I left for the AF. Graduated FHS in 1961 and got my first car that summer. It was a beautiful candy apple blue '51 Chevy coupe raked in the front. It had Dodge flipper hubcaps (later baby moons), and both lake and scavenger pipes. The interior was blue and white tuck and roll. I loved that car. I worked full time the whole summer as a stock boy for $1 an hour at JJ Newberry's (you can see the store at the bottom right of the photo on this site) to earn the $400 to buy it. Cruisin' the main in it at 17 made me think I had died and gone to heaven. As someone said, it was bumper to bumper most nights I was there...certainly on the weekends. An unforgettable time and place. Thanks for bringing back some memories, guys.
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Re: The Real Main Drag

Postby Paradie » Mon Jul 16, 2012 10:02 pm

Belmont Friday nights in my 1968 Pontiac Firebird - Rootbeer Brown with a black vinyl top. It had a White Stripe down the Middle of the hood with Chrome Rims and lifted in the back. I accepted any and all offers to race! I never lost! So if you raced me you should be able to remember losing to a 17 year old girl. I would take them to Golden state to race and let me tell you after you reach 155 miles per hour you don't look down anymore. Once we got tired and met up with all the gang we all headed to Bob's Big Boy for laughs! Good Times!
Paradie
 


Re: The Real Main Drag

Postby mrwilson » Tue Oct 14, 2014 2:54 pm

Fulton Street at night, looking for some fun.
Click on the photo to enlarge (if available in a larger size)
the main.JPG
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Re: The Real Main Drag

Postby Big J » Thu Oct 16, 2014 3:24 pm

Wow, great photo. When is that from?
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