as told by Steve Corgiat
Paul Corgiat is a lifelong resident of Modesto. Growing up on the family orchard farm, he attended St. Stanislaus School an graduated from Modesto High School in 1958. While in high school, Paul played football, was on the swim team, and a member of the "Regs". His love of fast cars and pushing the boundaries was legendary.
Paul's first car was a 1934 Ford that he acquired in pieces. He was able to reassemble the car and get it in running order so as to "make the scene" cruising 10th Street, going to Burge's Drive-In, and hanging out at the Lucky's parking lot. Back in the day, there was little else for young men and women to do except cruising, the midnight movie at the State Theater, and an occasional trip to the Kingdon Drag Strip in Lodi for a "grudge race", or some other local street. Many of those streets are now well within the Modesto City Limits.
Back in the day, "dragging 10th" and an engine rev at a stoplight, could quickly turn into a drag race on Blue Gum by the old State Hospital (now MJC West), or Paradise Rd. Before the freeway was built, you could easily cross the tracks and be ready to race. Paul would hang out at Burge's with cars parked 4-5 deep, and one night, Paul and his friend backed out of the parking lot, lit up the tires, and went back to cruise, only to end up in a high speed chase with MPD!! They escaped. However, at that time, everyone knew everyone, so their escape only lasted one night, as the police were at his doorstep the next day. This escapade landed in the Modesto Bee as the "100 MPH Chase".
Paul married his sweetheart Vicki Brown in 1960 and went to work for the railroad in 1961. Throughout his life, Paul has been interested in motor sports and has been an active street rodder for more than 30 years. Paul has been able to maintain his old friendships and make many new friends through the years reliving the days of the real "American Graffiti". As Paul says, "it isn't just about the cars, it's about the people you meet along the way".
Paul says it's so cool to have so many people from those years still in town. "We just had our 60th high school reunion, and it was amazing how many people turned out." Paul still enjoys those friendships today and touring in his 1941 Cadillac. "It really was just like George Lucas captured in the movie. No TV, no video games, only one radio station, and we all went downtown to hang out. It was a special time!! "