Cruisin’ reunion: Waynesboro back in the heyday
Story by Chris Graham
Main Street in Downtown Waynesboro was the center of action. Rain or shine, dead of winter or the sticky heat of summer, there’d be cars as far as you could see.
“Back in the ’80s, in the heyday, it would take you 20 minutes to crawl Main Street. And that was OK, because you didn’t really have anything to do anyway,” said Chris Baugher, a Waynesboro native who back in February started a Facebook page dedicated to the Cruisin’ Waynesboro heyday that now boasts more than 2,100 fans and over the weekend was host to a cruisin’ reunion.
The reunion was planned around the fifth annual Main Street Muscle Car Show put on by Waynesboro Downtown Development Inc. The get-together brought people in from as far away as California interested in reliving their good old days growing up in Waynesboro, when the thing to do on Friday and Saturday nights was to cruise Main Street.
Baugher, who now lives in Thomaston, Ga., got the idea for the Facebook page after coming across a similar page dedicated to a cruising culture in a small town in Pennsylvania. He sent the page link to a small group of friends thinking it would be fun for them to use to reminisce, and then saw the group grow to the 1,000-fan mark within its first month.
Talk of a reunion event in Waynesboro started soon after, and the tie-in to Main Street Muscle provided a nice backdrop considering the kinds of cars that were popular on Main Street back in the heyday of cruising back in the 1980s and early 1990s.
“I had a ’79 Camaro. I put five bucks in gas in, I swear, every hour, just to go up and down four times. Gas was cheap then, but we didn’t have any money,” Baugher said.
It wasn’t unusual to see traffic jams at the corner of Main and Wayne in both directions on cruising nights, and in addition to the business at gas stations from cruisers needing fillups, the parking lots at the fast-food places on the main drag were almost always bustling.
It was so busy at the Hardee’s that the store had two security guards on the premises most Friday and Saturday nights for crowd-control purposes.
Complaints about rowdy behavior led to moves in the public-policy sector that effectively curtailed cruising in Downtown Waynesboro by the mid-1990s. The downtown district is now a ghost town on Friday and Saturday nights – a reminder that you’d better be careful what you wish for.
“I’ve had a lot of people my age and older on the wall say, I wish I could get my kids to understand what it was like back in the day,” Baugher said. “We were city kids. We had the county people come in as well. There was mingling. You had your own little group, but you could veer off and hang out with other people.
“I made a lot of good friends and have a lot of good memories,” Baugher said.