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.