By August 22, 2022 Read More →

Where Were You In ’62 

Where Were You In ‘62 

By Middagh Goodwin

On August 1st, 1973, American Graffiti, the coming of age film co-written and directed by George Lucas, premiered at Los Angeles’ Avco Center Triplex. The film’s release was staggered across the country, opening on August 12th at New York City’s Sutton theatre and, on August 15th, 23 more theatres, including 9 in Detroit and 5 in Denver, would begin showing the film. American Graffiti opened with great fanfare in Modesto on November 21st, 1973, at the Briggsmore Theatre, with George Lucas and his family in attendance. Lucas was presented with the Key to the City by Mayor Lee Davies. Releases of the film across the country would continue into January of 1974.  

Throughout its original release, American Graffiti became the second-most successful movie in the history of Universal Pictures and number eleven on the industry’s all-time. The most-successful North American theatrical engagement of American Graffiti was a 63-week run at the Varscona in Edmonton, Canada. The movie’s longest run in the United States was a 54-week run at the Colorado 4 in Denver. 

American Graffiti was inspired by Lucas’s time at Thomas Downey High School and dragging(cruising) 10th and 11th streets in Downtown Modesto. Every June, Modesto celebrates our history, car culture, and one of the best movies of all time with the American Graffiti cruise, car show, and festival, along with dozens of other car shows all summer long. Along with the Legends of the Cruise markers on 10th Street, the Cruise Route signs on 10th and 11th and the opening of the Graffiti USA Cassic Car Museum, Modesto truly is the Home of American Graffiti.

The film’s iconic tagline, “Where were you in ‘62?” holds special significance to Thomas Downey High School’s graduating class of 1962, having inspired classmate George Lucas to create the legendary film. The class will be celebrating the 60th anniversary of their graduation on Saturday, September 24th, at the Graffiti USA Classic Car Museum in honor of their shared history. 


All graduates of the TDHS class of ‘62 are invited to join your classmates for dinner, drinks, a DJ, and dancing. Share old memories and new stories with classmates while surrounded by classic cars and memorabilia. 

Invitations have been sent out to everyone the planning committee has current addresses for, but there are some they have had trouble tracking down. If you know one of the 636 members of the graduating class of ‘62(many who went to school together K-12). Please help by sharing the information so they can join the celebration.


For more information, email TDHSKNIGHTS62@AOL.COM or call 209-541-7045


About the Author:

Middagh Goodwin LIVES Music. He has been booking and promoting Music, Art, and Comedy in the Central Valley for years. He ran the award-winning Plea for Peace Center in Stockton for 5 Years and has booked bands from A-Z. In addition, he is the managing editor of ModestoView and writes the MAMAView and GeekView. Middagh works with the Modesto Area Music Association and books Music in the Plaza. In addition, he owns and operates Graffiti-Con, where cars and pop culture intersects. More recently, Middagh has been working with the Graffiti USA Classic Car Museum, helping to create unique events that help raise funds and awareness of the museum and its mission. On top of that, you can tune into one of two shows that Middagh Goodwin hosts on KCBP 95.5 FM; This is SKA and MAMA Radio.