The 60s Official Site Blog

Dedicated to the memory and history of the 60s from a personal and historical point of view.


Saturday, September 23, 2006

Subject: Ghosts of the Past (A Salute to the Drive-in Theaters)

There was a kind of magic about the drive-in movie theatre. I can still hear the gravel crunching underneath the tires of our car as we entered to find the perfect spot to watch the movie (depending if you had a date or not.) I still can smell the delicious aroma of the popcorn and hotdogs coming from the snack bar. Distant memories still exist in my mind of a time when we loaded up the car for a night at the drive-in movies. I recall the time my buddies and I sneaked in the drive-in hidden inside of the trunk of a 1951 Chevrolet in which the rear seat would easily pop out from the trunk. You should have seen the expression on the faces of the people next to us as they watched as we appeared from nowhere in the back seat of the car. In those days as a young teenager, you did anything to save a buck.

Families could spend a low-budget entertainment evening at the drive-in theatre. People brought lawnchairs to watch the movies under the stars while the very little ones slept in the car with their favorite blanket and pillow. Many families would bring snacks from home to save even more money. It was not unusual to have special nights where you could bring a carload for five dollars or even less. Do you remember that? Drive-in movies were so much of the culture of the fifties and sixties. I have tried and tried to remember the first movie I saw at the drive-in but my memory escapes me, probably due to the fact that the drive-in theatre was supposed to be around forever, at least in my lifetime.

The idea of the drive-in theatre didn't really take off until after World War II. The baby boomer generation made it a hit. In the 1950s more people attended the drive-in than the in-door theatre. The drive-ins had playgrounds for the kids where they could play before the movie and during the intermission. You didn't need a baby-sitter and the cost of the family outing was relatively cheap.

The drive-in was a perfect date location with the parking for a little necking already provided. Steamy windshields were evident in all directions. I guess this is where my first love for the drive-in resulted as a teenager with raging hormones. Of course many girls' parents forbid their daughters to go on dates at the drive-in to protect them from guys like me. My date and I would attend even against her parents wishes. I do remember Goldfinger, starring Sean Connerly, was my first movie I attended with a date.

Today drive-in theatres have gone by the wayside, although there are a still a few in operation and there is evidence that they may be making a comeback.
In the town I grew up in there were two passion pits and both no longer exist as in many small towns across this great nation. Now they are lost in the overgrown grassy fields of urban America. They are friendly ghosts of the past, if only they could speak and tell us more of these drive-in memories.

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