Life was slow in my hometown of Glen Ridge, a sliver of a North Jersey suburban community. Just 3 miles long and three blocks wide, it was tucked between brawny Bloomfield to the south and moneyed Montclair, its neighbor to the north.

Nancye Tuttle packed 12 friends into this Dodge station wagon the night that she set out to “Bomb the Ridge.” Photo courtesy of Nancye Tuttle

I grew up there in the 1950s, a time when dads worked, moms stayed home and kids kept busy being kids, riding bikes and skinning knees.

Childhood innocence evaporated in seventh grade, after I’d graduated from grammar school and entered teenage life at the junior-senior high school in the center of town.

We learned the facts of life pretty fast that year just watching upper-class couples steal kisses in the hall between classes.

I had my share of crushes and smoked in the girls’ room. I slow danced and went to make-out parties. I rode in cars with boys.

By 11th grade, I felt pretty grown up. I’d kissed some boys and had worn one guy’s ring around my neck, a sure sign we were a couple and madly in love – for maybe a month.


But two rites of passage remained in my “Happy Days” world before I’d really be grown up. I had to get my license, and I needed to Bomb the Ridge.

“Bombing the Ridge” was the phrase that Ridger teens gave their favorite evening activity, where they’d press their car’s gas pedal to the floor and take off at 70 or 80 miles an hour down Ridgewood Avenue, the borough’s main thoroughfare.

It resembled the “Greased Lightning” scene in the movie “Grease.” But we weren’t drag racing. Our goal was to see how fast we could make the car go from the start, then let it roll to a stop on Ridgewood without stepping on the brake.

I had no souped-up jalopy when I Bombed the Ridge. Instead, I drove Dad’s oversized Dodge station wagon with push-button transmission and three plush seats, which accommodated nine comfortably.

The beige beauty resembled an oversized creampuff, not some speed demon car you could crank up to 80 miles an hour in mere seconds.

The night I Bombed the Ridge, I crammed a dozen girlfriends into Dad’s Dodge. The weight of those bodies alone made reaching maximum speed difficult, if not impossible.


But we all piled in, then I pressed the gas pedal to the floor. That Dodge spit, sputtered and moved grudgingly along – at 5 miles an hour.

“Uh, wait,” whispered my friend Jean, seated beside me on the front seat. “Did you check the gas?”

I looked at the gas gauge and knew what was wrong.

You couldn’t Bomb the Ridge on an empty tank. So, instead of ripping the Ridge at 80 miles an hour, my friends hopped out, and huffing and puffing, pushed Dad’s Dodge and me to the gas station 2 miles away.

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