GRANTS PASS, Ore. -- For Tom Blanchard and his classmates at Grants Pass High School in the 1960's, the big gathering spot, especially after Friday and Saturday night games, was Larry's Drive-In, at the south side of Grants Pass. He says "Gosh, those were good memories. Not just the free hamburgers! They were good.But, just the, the high school experience I think was enjoyed more with those kinds of uh, experiences than maybe now. There's so many other things that kids are involved in, but those were, uh, pretty special memories." Blanchard adds "that was where all the guys and the girls went, and it was absolutely, typically; it was American Grafitti all the way. I mean, the letterman's jackets, our rolled up pants and white socks, the guys, uh, drivin' around, Larry's, the people parked in the drive-in's stalls, talkin' to their girlfriends. It was so American Graffiti, you could not believe it. And it was THE place on Friday and Saturday night. That's where everybody was!"
The old Larry's is still there, but it's nothing like Blanchard and his generation remember. It's now known as Herb's La Casita. Blanchard says another hamburger place at the north end of Grants Pass also drew a crowd. "It was Arctic Circle, and the guys name was Stan Commons.A big booster, and a real nice man whose kids had gone through the program, and that was also kind of a hangout."
"American Graffiti" is the George Lucas movie that Blanchard was referring to, and the movie's scenes at "Mel's Diner" are iconic. The "American Graffiti"-like hangouts in Medford were Jack's Drive-Up on Riverside, and Cubby's Drive-In at the south Medford interchange, where Carl's Junior and Arby's are now.
Resterauntuer Stan Smith operated Cubby's throughout the sixties and says he got to know quite a few Medford High students. He says "we had boy car-hops and uh, uh, I put tan pants on them and tennis shoes and white shirt and tie and told 'em to run. Uh, Sid Deboer commented uh, not too long ago, that uh, he learned one thing from me. It was service. I had them run. One of the kids the other day--I ran--guys--I ran into, he said, 'Yeah, we could walk to the car, but we had to run back!". We had Sid Deboer and Danny Miles, and Gary Miller, and quite a few of the local guys. Kids at that time as car hops.'"
Smith says he was even contacted once by a McDonalds representative. "They were selling franchises. And uh, I thought I didn't want anything to do with a franchise operation. I wanted to do my own thing and make my own hamburgers. And uh, and uh, that's before--long before, uh, McDonalds arrived in Medford. Maybe, uh, maybe I missed the boat there! heh, heh."
The big weekend ritual was to cruise down Central and up Riverside in a circuit between Jack's and Cubby's. Ray White says "That had definitely a social component to it. And I actually fell in love at Cubby's! 'Course, it was with the Smith's french fry sauce that I fell in love with, but uh, uh it was--you'd go and you'd see people and it was different than it is now. And we didn't have those things in Central Point either, so, we'd come into Medford to do it."
Smith and his wife finally left Cubby's about 1971, and took over the Mon Desir Dining Inn and made it a landmark meeting place as well. Cubby's was never really the same after they left.
It's been quite a few years since one of Southern Oregon's favorite gathering spots for teenagers, Cubby's, sat here on the parcel, where Carl's Junior and other restaurants and stores are now. A lot of things have changed in all those years. More national chains have pretty much replaced the local hamburger places.
What was Jack's Drive-Up later was Golden Spike Pizza Parlor for years, and is now home to the Sign Dude Sign Shop. Some wonder how these meccas of teen-dom would do today?
Smith says, "I don't know about the culture today. Uh, would probably create a lot of problems. I think uh, people hanging out--probalby the wrong--the wrong people."