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juke box Just like Woodward Avenue in Detroit, Van Nuys in Los Angeles, or just about any small town in a America, the greater Seattle area used to have a youth social network called “cruising.” Way before the distraction of supermalls or electronic entertainment other than juke boxes or pinball machines, so many of us found the opportunity to get together while being seen in a car. The car you drove was like a suit of clothes; it told people who you were. Golden Gardens, Alki Beach, Rat City and even The Gut in Portland were all known places people gathered and cruised. But the one place that everyone knew about was the Renton Loop.

driveinIf you start on 2nd Street, The Loop moved west along 2nd past Renton High School. Take a turn south on Rainier and turn left on 3rd at the old Triple X Rootbeer, (or across the street, Dag’s Drive-in) and The Loop moved east on 3rd. The interesting part of The Loop was that the eastern border never seemed to be fixed. Most often we would, all turn north on Burnette Street at the old Williams & Swanson Cheverolet dealership, but many times cruisers would go all the way to Williams, Well or even Main. Remember that years back, many of the north-south streets were not one way . . . once we chose where to turn north, The Loop continued on by turning west on 2nd again.

burgerThere were no rules about where to cruise in Renton. Turning off The Loop onto a side steet might be with intent to go to Don’s Quick Stop on Sunset and try to get someone to buy beer you weren’t technically old enough to buy yourself. Or maybe trying to do the same thing at The Melrose, or Dino’s Bistro, or at the 7-11 . . . hey, it used to be a rite of passage! Buying a pizza at Pizza Pete’s was always on the menu, or a burger at Herfy’s, or even the occasional trip to McDonalds on Rainier. Most times though, staying on The Loop and stopping at Dags or the Triple X was the first choice.

renton motelAnother reason that we used to get away from The Loop was to race. Not just a quick stop light blast, but a challenge. Once a challenge had been thrown down and accepted, a location was named. In the 1960’s, going south of the Burien Highway (before I-405 was built) on Rainier brought you onto the Kent Highway. Kent Highway was a two lane road that was surrounded by swamp land as soon as you passed the old Holiday Inn - you remember - the one with the airplane on the roof. It actually was sort of like American Graffiti, as just off the west side of the Kent Highway in the middle of the swamp was AM radio station KREN, transmission tower and all. Once I-405 had been built and Highway 167 began to take shape, the racing moved around. I might even have had some personal experience racing down behind the Renton Business Park. There were many other places racers chose, these are just a few that bring good memories.

safewayThere were many urban legends that orignated on The Loop. Maybe they contained a degree of truth, but most were just fun to repeat. I recall stories about gang knife fights in the old Safeway parking lot, when Safeway was where A&H Drugs used to be. Or stories of the Renton P.D. trying to run radar from the open field west of the Renton Business Park to catch cars racing on Powell Street. If you don’t think there wasn’t a bit of racing on Powell Street, drive by and look at the “No Racing” signs prominently displayed today. They really are a smiling reminder of the past. You will have to help me with some of the urban legends you recall. This far down the road the memories might not be so accurate, but that’s what urban legends are all about. The fun is in the telling.  

I really have to wonder how many memories this site will kindle. Girlfriends found, races won, fights picked, cars broken, mischief done and what made each of us decide to move on to those responsibilities that life inevitably brings. In the famous words of Steve Bolander (Ron Howard) talking about John Milner (Paul LeMat), “You can’t stay seventeen forever.”  

Or maybe you can . . . let me know what you remember best. Send me photos or videos of cars cruised or hopefully of The Loop itself. Together we can make this site the kind of place that brings great memories and is a reminder that once we were young.  

My Best, 



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© Jeff Holy | 2011

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