Pawhuskans ‘drag Main’ to rally community spirit

Robert Smith

Your Huskies and Lady Huskies are generally a sociable set. They don’t enjoy being held back, holed up in dreaded anticipation of the approach of the apocalypse.

So they followed the rules of social distancing, but they made plenty of noise and offered their fellow Pawhuskans wide smiles and plenty of waves. Starting just after 7 p.m. last Saturday, dozens of vehicles with their horns blaring cruised down Kihekah Avenue, turned west onto Main Street and motored at a leisurely 19 miles per hour for a few blocks before turning around and retracing their path.

There were automobiles of recent vintages and oldies, too, and they made a few loud passes of the downtown streets before branching out and offering greetings at the Pawhuska Hospital on 15th Street and the fire station on Lynn Avenue.

This was the second consecutive Saturday that numerous Pawhuskans had “dragged Main” in defiance of COVID-19, and it will probably be the last time for a while at least, as ringleader Ron Reed noted it wouldn’t be appropriate for Easter weekend.

Reed, a local rancher, put out a call for the latest demonstration of community spirit last Friday morning in a text message that said the object on the evening of April 4 would be “to honor doctors, nurses, first-responders, ministers and military members” for their service in the resistance to COVID-19. He encouraged participants to bring old cars, new cars, antiques, pickups, jeeps and vans, and there ended up being plenty of variety on the street Saturday.

Reed commented afterward on the sheer enjoyment that participants seemed to take from the event, and he noted that “people of all ages were out.”

Steve Tolson, of the Tolson Agency downtown, called the revival of the “dragging of Main” a great idea and shared with the Journal-Capital that he took part in the activity during his formative years.

“You didn’t have cell phones. You didn’t know who was out until you went out,” said Tolson, a 1980 graduate of Pawhuska High. He dragged Main as a teenager in a 1962 Pontiac LeMans that had been passed down in his immediate family from one sibling to another.

Following the dragging of Main on March 28, Reed had commented on the activity’s roots in the small-town past of Pawhuska.

“Back in the day, every Saturday night folks would drive (drag main) and visit at drive-in eating places but Saturday (March 28) the Pawhuska folks kicked back and sounded off good feelings by driving and honking through Pawhuska,” he said in a text message. “Mic Rabb was noted as holding the record of many, many years ago for driving around the Triangle Bldg 100 times and wanted to make the drag Saturday night.”

What the participants expressed was their inextinguishable joy of life.

Beverly Hawkins Moore, now the assistant superintendent of Pawhuska Public Schools, didn’t make it out for the dragging of Main on March 28 or April 4, but she recalled her teenage experiences as a participant in that social ritual. She laughed as she explained that she dragged Main right after getting her driver’s license at age 16 and had a hard time the next day, convincing her mother that she hadn’t violated a rule against driving out of town. Her mom checked the mileage that had been added to the car and initially couldn’t believe all that distance had been driven inside the city limits.

“Sure did (drive it all in town),” Moore recalled. “Draggin’ Main.”

Reed explained he viewed the revival of this particular aspect of Pawhuska youth culture of yesteryear as a way of following the rules without becoming gloomy.

“We all discovered that we can still have a great time by social distancing with getting out and seeing our friends,” Reed said in his March 28 text. “Even people from out of town texted they wished they could have participated. In these uncertain times this was a true uplifting event.”

Tolson voiced a similar assessment of the value of the activity.

“It put some laughter in a time when there’s not a lot of laughter,” he said.