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Elaine Smith

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Member Since: May, 2010

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Ridin' Around - Taillights in Chrome, 8-Tracks on Wheels
by Elaine Smith   

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Books by Elaine Smith
· Cowboy Rhymes 'n' Dreams of Other Times
· One Wrong Move - Can Kill
· The Perfect Place?
                >> View all



Publisher:  Blazing Star Books ISBN-10:  0982769016 Type: 


Copyright:  August 2010 ISBN-13:  9780982769010

In 1980, gasoline is cheap, cars are fast, and in-car 8 track tape players bring mobile rock & roll music like never before. It is a special time when dormitory room doors and windows stay open, cars are left unlocked, and most cops actually have a sense of humor. College and local kids run right into wild and hilarious adventures and have surprisingly tender moments. Crazy stunts, wild chases, entertaining stories, true love, great friendships and dreams come true are all found in "Ridin’ Around."

Blazing Star Books

Through the stories of the hilarious escapades—and sometimes heartbreaking experiences—of a group of college-age friends, Ridin' Around: Taillights in Chrome, 8-Tracks on Wheels will take you back to the world of small-town America in 1980. The music, the cars, and all the pleasures of a simpler time—like Saturday nights spent just cruising up and down “the drag”—are the backdrop to this funny and nostalgic story of guys and gals living it up. Hang on  and ride along for the pranks, the brushes with the law, and the zany adventures!
Author Elaine Fields Smith, drawing on real-life experiences, vividly captures the joy and the pain of young adulthood…and how the friendships that help us get through it can last a lifetime.


In Central Texas, live oaks usually grow in groves of between just two and several hundred trees. Occasionally, the trees on the outer edges of the grove grow horizontally, rising only a few feet from the ground, stretching out from under the taller, older trees to reach the sunlight. The Sittin’ Tree was such an oak, the lone survivor of a grove that stood in the path of a new road through the park. The trunk emerged from the earth near the edge of the riverbank and was about four feet in diameter. It rose no more than six feet in vertical height—but it stretched some twelve feet horizontally. The tree’s eventual height was uncertain, as the trunk was quite long and the canopy reached across the narrow river. This configuration made it perfect for climbing and sitting. Janie, apparently recovered from her dizziness and possibly trying to escape Gene, scrambled up the trunk, politely setting her butt down on the rough bark of the tree. However, Gene wasn’t far behind. Glenda and Tanya looked at each other, shrugged, and in a most unladylike fashion started climbing. All four perched on the horizontal tree like “birds on a wire.”
Except these birds wore sneakers and swung their feet.
“Hey, look!” Tanya pointed toward the park road where a car approached. She cupped her hands around her mouth: “HEY!!”
Evel was making a razoo through the park before heading home to shower and get ready for Saturday night. Slowing, he crossed the low bridge over the river, then turned a corner. Surprised to see the yellow Camaro parked by a picnic table, he let off the accelerator, slowing even more to take a closer look around. No one was at the table or in the car or anywhere in sight. Evel shrugged and stepped on the gas pedal again. He slammed on the brakes upon hearing Tanya’s shout.
“Hello! We’re up here!” Tanya’s hands were still cupped around her mouth. Janie and Glenda waved.
What the hell? Evel backed up quickly and expertly slid the Thunderbird into a parked position directly beside the Camaro. He walked over to the tree with an amused look. “Ahem. There’s no need to go out on a limb for me.”
“Oh, don’t worry about him. His bark is much worse than his bite,” Glenda said.
“I’m stumped for something to say,” Gene added. They were on a roll.
“I don’t know about you tree, but I’m crackin’ up!” Janie exclaimed.
“Look out. We might be at the root of all evil!” Tanya added.
Evel slapped his thigh. “If this is the way things are goin’, I’m gonna leaf!”
“No, don’t go…Ohhh!” Glenda cried. She slipped and fell from the limb. Gene tried to catch her, but she dropped beyond his reach. It really wasn’t very far to the ground, so she landed on her feet in front of Evel. But inertia took over; she fell toward him. Evel easily caught her by the elbows, steadying her small frame. Glenda felt his strong arms on hers and looked up into his eyes. Suddenly, she found herself peering deeply into the man whose very blue eyes were also gazing into hers. The attraction was palpable, almost tangible.
Each felt the sensation of the connection like a lightning bolt.
They stood mesmerized for a few seconds. Then, as if on cue, the physical connection was broken, as each took a step backward and looked away.
“Will you be out later? Would you wanna go ridin’ around?” Evel asked quietly, as his eyes returned to her face.
Glenda stood very still for a second—still feeling the electricity. She glanced up at him with a smile. “Oh, yes, I surely would.”
“Good. Well, I’ll see ya later.” Evel felt awkward but relieved—an odd sensation for the King of the Drag. “Maybe we could drink a beer.”
“No thanks. I don’t drink beer—it looks like pee.” Glenda startled Evel with the off-hand comment. “Besides, I’m silly enough without alcohol. Get me a Dr Pepper, and I’m a happy camper!” Evel nodded, considering his curiosity of finding a good- looking college girl who didn’t drink beer and drove a hot rod car. Amazing. He looked up at the three on the tree. “If y’all ever wanna branch out, let me know!”
“Now, that’s what I call corny!” Tanya replied.
“Tan-ay! He’s funny! But whack him for me anyway, Glenda!” Janie called jokingly.
Glenda moved toward Evel, attempting to smack his arm with her hand. But he dodged the blow and hurried to his car, laughing. He was gone in a flash of silver, so to speak.
Tanya watched the Thunderbird rumble away. “He really is pretty corny. Hey, I think I hear pizza callin’. Are y’all hungry?” Janie reached around Gene to slap her roommate’s arm.
He automatically put his hand on her back to steady her. Tanya leaned back to avoid the blow, but Janie was still able to deliver the whack.
“Yes. I’m hungry. Yeah, he’s corny. But man, is he funny. Uhh ohhh, look out below!” Janie lost her balance and grabbed the others. They all fell laughing from their tree.

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Reader Reviews for "Ridin' Around - Taillights in Chrome, 8-Tracks on Wheels"

Reviewed by Jan 11/29/2011
Ridin' Around--Tailights in Chrome, 8-Tracks on Wheels is an awesome trip that anyone who came of age in the late 70's early '80s will want to read. Elaine Fields Smith sincerely and poignantly brings alive memories so spot on as well as universal stories that stand the test of a time for college students in those magic moments of the waning 20th century. Learning life lessons while driving fast and feeling the wind through your fingers held out the open window were part of every day life. The road Glenda, Tanya, Janie and others take as they complete college are full of unforgettable highs and lows of friendship and love and growing up in a period not often written about, but worthy of these memories.

Smith recalls the truths of those times in a way only an observant, honest and genuine storyteller can bring to life over 30 years later. She easily brings readers right back to a time when Camaro's, Corvettes, Thunderbirds, TransAm's and pick ups were as important to a teen's life as their friends. And music was all the more memorable and remarkable because of a new-fangled technology called the 8-track. It "was wonderful to have mobile music at your fingertips" the girls of Central Texas University recall.

Dairy Queens and Taco Bells, Boz Scags and Otis Day and The Knights, love that deepened slowly, all in good time, life lessons from families where troubles ran deep, and the special relationships shared with dads and their daughters who were growing up--all of that is part of a decade that was at once happily na•ve, kinder and easier than the life of today's college kids. My kids, many young men and women whose parents grew up exactly as Smith captures--they wouldn't go wrong gifting their parents with Ridin' Around--Tailights in Chrome, 8-Tracks on Wheels by Elaine Fields Smith. We'll be remininiscing forever!

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