ABOUT THE FAROS
Seven young men, who just weeks prior had graduated high school, sat around in one of the boy’s bedrooms and discussed the viability of forming a car club with a public identity. Several possible names were discussed, and “Faros” was chosen, simply for the fact that one of the boys had the artwork, and even some printed membership cards. It would seem that years earlier, one of the boy’s older brother had been involved in a plan to form a high school fraternity called the “Faros,” but the plan never came to fruition. Rationale was that the cards would be free. So to save a few bucks, the Faros was formed in early August of 1960.
Word got around Modesto, and about 20 other similar-aged boys applied for membership. By-laws and a constitution were prepared, and regular weekly meetings began. Officers were selected and the legend was born.
For 13 years, the club prospered as young men transitioned their high school lives into Faros brotherhood activities, and then more permanent stature as they married and started families, went away to war (Vietnam), started new careers, or moved away to college experiences. The Faros filled a need for so many boys who, at high school graduation, were terribly unsure of what path to follow: career, higher education, or marriage? The comradery of the fellow Faros and their public image as nice young men who loved to hot rod their cars, party, and chase the local young ladies, was a safe haven for those still trying to decide what path to pursue.
Faros activities included joint meetings, auto excursions to the coast, the mountains, and local lakes and parks. All Faros had a long white canvas coat called a “Fog Cutter” with appropriate Faros emblems, and were an imposing sight as they lined up along 10th St. in Modesto most evenings.
Membership remained fairly stable until about 1973, when gas prices skyrocketed and cruising became an expensive habit. The Faros, for the most part, became stagnate, and would probably have only been remembered by past members if it wasn’t for famed producer/director George Lucas memorializing the Faros in the iconic film “American Graffiti.” George Lucas, a graduate from Modesto’s Thomas Downey High School, lived next door to Garry Second, who had been an active Faro when he and Lucas graduated high school in 1962. George and Garry were the best of friends, and although never a Faro, Lucas was well acquainted with the club via his good buddy, Garry.
The film depicted the club as a bunch of fun-loving delinquents while in truth, the boys, as a club, never got into any serious trouble, and did many public service deeds over the years. The story might have ended here, but in 2011, at the urging of a couple past Faros, the club got together and planned a monthly get together that continues to this day. About 160 boys transitioned through the club in the 1960-1973 period, and currently about 30-40 remain active via the monthly “Club House” meetings. Those boys of yesteryear relive the past by participating in local car shows and owning a classic car that, of course, has a Faros plaque prominently displayed.
June 8th of 2016, at the annual week long “Graffiti Celebration,” the Faros were honored to be inducted into the “Legends of the Cruise” walk of fame in Downtown Modesto.
In 2018, the “Faros” name and “Stylized Emblem” became trademarked. In 2019, new officers were elected, the constitution was rewritten (revised), and all apparel has been standardized moving forward. The Faros have a private “Club House” where all meetings and inner club activities are held.
The Faros stay involved with the local municipalities, chambers and civic activities by way of supporting when called upon. We govern ourselves as a fraternity, we enjoy ourselves as a car club.
The Club has already seen the passing of many past members. In an effort to help maintain the historical and traditional aspects of the Faros and Modesto in the 1960s, for the first time since 1973, the Faros are allowing a limited number of new members who own classic cars to join the fellowship. It is hoped that this slow infusion of younger men will keep the story alive for the future, and the memory of young men looking for an identity, hot rod cars, CRUISIN’ 10th and 11th street and later McHenry Ave. that is the legacy of THE FAROS.