The four-bar and Mustang steering indicate that Mike Fryrear's '30 coupe has been around.
As the cruise winds the rest of the way through town, it becomes obvious that the money never stopped coming in. Sandpoint is the home to aviation (Quest Aircraft), specialty culinary (Litehouse Foods), and medical instruments (Percussion Aire), to name a few. The idea that upscale clothing manufacturer Coldwater Creek planted itself in Sandpoint suggests that the town is more of a destination than a waypoint. The abundance of high-end restaurants around the main store confirms that. While not officially sanctioned, the cruise generally lingers for a few hours.
Two events take precedent Friday night, and depending on family dynamics people generally go two ways (well three if you count the restaurants). The event established a true street dance a number of years back to cater to families. "It was basically created for kids," Gleason said. "I wanted them to have something more-they've never danced in the street. They never had a band in the street or anything."
The second event is the star of the show, so to speak. It starts about sundown, and unlike the street dance it's an adults-only gig. "Because at the dances you can't have kids and sell liquor," Gleason noted.
Chevy '34-35 three-windows are rare as it is, and channeled ones are even more scarce. Thi
Remember how Gleason got Bobby Vee and Del Shannon for the first event? Well for the past 16 years revivalist band Rocky and the Rollers have provided backup for numerous acts like The Crystals and Johnny Thunder. And in its 24 years, Lost in the '50s has hosted 52 original rock 'n' roll and R&B artists. Gleason rattled off a few. "Let's see, we had Little Anthony and the Imperials, Chubby Checkers, the Shirelles, Gary Puckett, Peggy March, Shirley Austin Reeves-the original lead singer of the Shirelles," she said, pausing for a breath. "Johnny Rivers, Gary Lewis and the Playboys, the Drifters, Dickey Lee, and Little Eva," she continued. "We got a chance to have a lot of these performers play for us," she added. "A lot of them are gone now."
If a car show that closes downtown and hosts dances that attract A-list performers sounds like a big-dollar production, let us disabuse you of that notion. The big dance happens in a tin hall at the Bonner County fairgrounds. "It's not a hall that's good for sounds," Gleason admitted. At the same time, the acoustics weren't all that great in the gymnasiums and conference halls that hosted rock 'n' roll when it was new either. So in that sense these dances are closer to the way things were than we'd expect.
Saturday morning cars gather downtown. The show takes over First and Second between Pine and Cedar, which means downtown basically belongs to the show. Though it's a judged show, the criteria are pretty simple. Basically things boil down to what looks cool. In that way it's real informal.
If I had my way I would've conked Russ Gartrell over the head and taken his '39 Merc. Luck
That informality is intentional, according to Gleason. "We take people in as if they've lived here for years." She said it's largely due to the crew who puts on the show: A flagging service for traffic control and some concessions withstanding, Lost in the '50s is a volunteer venture. So instead of confronting disinterested wage earners who'd rather be elsewhere, you meet people whose best interest is your fun. In fact, rather than contracting businesses for certain jobs, Gleason said she makes a point of paying other benevolent organizations. Cub Scouts for example. "We'd rather give money to these service organizations to do clean up after the dance."
The event exists on Gleason's funding and local sponsorship, though you'd never suspect it. Seeing how the event is a non-profit, they can't keep a dime. So they've found creative ways to spend it. And they spend it on the attendees.
Starting at the beginning, Lost in the '50s entry gifts are legendary. "People told me 'I'm sick and tired of goodie bags,'" she said. "I've asked guys what they do with them. They say their grandchildren get some, some of it goes in the garbage, and the rest goes into a junk drawer."
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