Cruizin’ North County: New Book From 2 Local Guys Who Remember When
CRAIG KAINTZ AND BILL KASALKO, authors of Cruizin’ North County, will be at the Cross Keys Barnes & Noble, 13995 New Halls Ferry Rd. on Sunday, Dec. 21, from 1-3 p.m. This photo was taken in November at another book sign ing at Barnes & Noble.
BY JANE BANASZEK
Two men who grew up in North County six houses apart share stories, photos, and nostalgia in a new book they co-authored, Cruizin’ North County from Virginia Publishing.
Authors Craig Kaintz and Bill Kasalko have spent years gathering photographs of their favorite drive-ins and movies, restaurants, malls, hangouts, schools, and historic sites. This collection of memories is contained in their 90-page book, which covers North County from the 1950s to 1970s.
Kaintz and Kasalko grew up in Bellefontaine Neighbors in Our Lady of Good Counsel Parish. Oddly, they did not realize they grew up on the same street (six houses apart) until 1980 when they were both working at a firm specializing in employee benefits consulting. They spent the last several years working on this book.
“One evening, after a few glasses of wine, and more reminiscing, we decided that there were so many good memories we would collect the pictures so all of you could flash back to a special time and place,” said the authors in the foreward in the book. “Could there have been a better place to grow up? If you lived in North County, we imagine you would say it was the best place to grow up. This book is dedicated to those of us who came of age in the area of North County, St. Louis.”
Turning the pages of this “pictorial time machine,” brings back some of the forgotten hangouts of our teens. North County baby-boomers will remember the 270 Drive-In and North Drive-In. How many remember taking in a movie at the Rio Theater and grabbing a bite to eat at the original Lombardo’s Restaurant? Many school picnics and family gatherings were held at the old Chain of Rocks Amusement Park. Youth danced at teen towns to the music of Bob Kuban and saw Ike & Tina Turner at Club Imperial.
For a couple of “cruisers,” the authors had to include their cars from the good old days.
Bill said his first was a 1960 pea-green four-door Corvair, with a back seat that folded down and was perfect for the North Drive In or the Olympic. His second car was a 1963 blue Chevy Nova convertible with a white rag top. “The Nova was previously owned by an undercover police officer and had a large spot light that we would jokingly shine on couples necking in Chain of Rocks Park.”
Craig’s cars included a late 1960s Falcon Futura with powder blue leather, “my Aunt Mary’s car,” a gold Dodge Dart, a new green Plymouth Duster with a white vinyl roof, and a red Monte Carlo with a white vinyl roof. “Vinyl was in,” said Craig.
Six chapters are devoted to drive-ins and movie theaters, restaurants, malls and stores, schools, amusement parks and hangouts, and landmarks and historic sites. There are so many good, old photos between these pages that you may find yourself searching faces for someone familiar.
When was the last time anyone mentioned Suburban Garden, North Shore Country Club, the Shady Grove, or the Robert Hall store on Riverview Drive? Well, they’re all in the book and many more, such as the Mississippi River castles, Larimore Swim Club, Katz Drug Store at the Halls Ferry Circle, and the White Castle on Natural Bridge.
The book is full of old photos that are certain to jog your memory and bring a smile to your face remembering good friends and good times in North County. This is the book for you if you’ve ever cruised Circle Steak or ate a “spinning salad” at the Top of the Towers Restaurant.
The authors will be at book signing at Barnes & Noble-Mid at Cross Keys, 13995 New Halls Ferry Rd., on Sunday, Dec. 21, 1-3 p.m Cruisin’ North County retails for $19.95 and is available in local bookstores, Amazon.com or STL-Books.com. The book is published by Virginia Publishing, a St. Louis Company.
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