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Wet Noodle Posse | Blog

Thursday, July 23, 2009

A Night at the Drive-in

When I was young and still living in my small hometown, we had a drive-in movie theater on the edge of town. During my youngster years, it was fun to get there early and play on the playground at the foot of the big screen before it got dark. And then it was fun to watch the cartoons that played before the movie. I have vague memories of seeing Woody Woodpecker cartoons there and at the movie theater that operated in town when I was really young. It's been gone a long time. I think it's an accountant's office now.

As I reached my high school years, the drive-in kept people coming in with $5 a carload offers. I drove a large boat of a car (ugly, but roomy), and we'd see how many people we could shove into it. I remember pulling into a spot far enough back that we could all get out and sit on top of the car without being in anyone's way. I can still see the yellow lights that skirted the edge of the cinder block concession stand where we'd buy Cokes and hot dogs.

Sadly, that drive-in has gone the way of many others -- either torn down or overgrown with weeds like kudzu. Some still operate, and they're billed as nostalgia entertainment. Every once in awhile a new one is built, though it's news when they are. I love going to the theater to see movies, love seeing the films on the big screen, but drive-ins had really big screens. Plus, it was nice to sit outside and enjoy the summer night air. You could kick back in your lawn chair or on a blanket and not worry about if you were encroaching on the space of the person next to you. No one's cell phone was interrupting the movies.

About the only thing I didn't like about drive-ins was when the mosquitoes decided to snack on me while they watched the movie. :)

Anyone here a drive-in fan? What are some of the movies you remember seeing at the drive-in theater? I remember seeing ET and Spaceballs. I know there were others, but those are the two I remember.

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At 6:36 AM, Blogger MJFredrick said...

I remember going to a drive-in to see a Star Wars knock-off. My grandfather drove his camper out there, and he and my uncle sat in folding chairs while my brother and I ate ourselves sick.

Literally. I was up all night, and not in a good way.

The last drive in I went to was in CA, when I was in high school, but I don't remember what we saw.

At 7:35 AM, Blogger Margay said...

I used to love going to the drive-in. I don't remember what movies we saw, though. What I do remember is getting dressed in our pajamas and sitting in the way back of the station wagon with our pillows. Hm, come to think of it, there's a reason I don't remember the movies!


At 8:45 AM, Blogger Trish Milburn (Tricia Mills) said...

MJ, it's funny you saw a Star Wars knockoff at the drive-in since that's where I saw Spaceballs, a spoof of Star Wars. Dark Helmet, anyone? :)

Didn't make it through the movies, huh, Margay? One of my best friends in high school couldn't make it through a movie. She always fell asleep.

At 9:02 AM, Blogger Terry Odell said...

Hmmm... the thing I remember about drive-ins certainly isn't the movie.

At 9:26 AM, Blogger Trish Milburn (Tricia Mills) said...

LOL, Terry. Wondered when that would be mentioned. By the time I had any dates, the drive-in was gone.

At 9:58 AM, Blogger Gail Fuller said...

I miss going to the drive-in. It's too bad my children haven't been able to go (too much ambient light where we live). However, I seem to recall seeing The Blob and Return of the Blob. Ah, the classics. :)

Gail, blinks innocently wondering what Terry is referring to :)

At 10:00 AM, Blogger MaryC said...

Drive-ins - what a fun memory.

I remember the food more than the movies though. We used to get deli sandwiches - a huge treat - and then pack the car and head off to the movies.
Then came the year we got a new car. That should have been a good thing, right? It was tragic in my mind because the rule was that no food was allowed to be eaten in the new car. Thus ended my interest in drive-ins.

The only movie I actually remember seeing was Ring of Brightwater. Come to think of it maybe that had something to do with my interest in Scottish romances. ;)

At 11:13 AM, Blogger Judy said...

Wow, you're all so young. :-) Our family did drive-ins because it was the only way we could afford to all go (8, 6 kids and 2 adults). I remember Flubber, Herbie the Love Bug, and other Disney classics. We snuck in popcorn because we couldn't afford the concession stand fare. I hated the scratchy sound from the speakers. How I love CDs and DVDs. :-)

At 11:28 AM, Blogger Mo H said...

I have missed out. I have never been to a drive-in movie. I'm certain if I had I would have attracted mosquitos!

At 12:13 PM, Blogger Nancy said...

Trish, I saw all sorts of movies at the drive-in. My last trip, a bunch of us put 9 people in a Chevy Impala at $5 a carload. What a deal!

I don't remember mosquitoes. I think the drive-in must've sprayed because I'm a walking mosquito magnet. If I'm around, everyone else is safe, alas for me.

At 1:09 PM, Blogger Trish Milburn (Tricia Mills) said...

Gail, I've actually never seen The Blob. Yeah, the ambient light thing messes up stargazing too. Have to drive way out in the country to do any of that.

Mary, no food in the car? Ack! I've never even heard of Ring of Brightwater. Hmm, do love Scottish things though.

Judy, I think I might have seen Herbie the Love Bug at the drive-in too, now that you mention it.

At 1:10 PM, Blogger Trish Milburn (Tricia Mills) said...

Mo, OMG, you've never been to a drive-in. We have got to find one and spray some Off on you so you can have the experience. Although I don't think you get the scratchy speaker experience anymore I think they have you dial in to a special radio station.

At 1:12 PM, Blogger Trish Milburn (Tricia Mills) said...

Nancy, someone else who experienced the wonder of $5 a carload. :) I actually used this experience in my YA book, Heartbreak River. The kids in that even stuff a couple in the trunk. :)

Hmm, I wonder about the drive-in folks spraying for mosquitoes. I was just assuming I was bitten my mosquitoes back them because they seem to LOVE me. Them and chiggers. Ugh.

At 1:15 PM, Blogger MaryC said...

Yes, Judy. Herbie the Love Bug was one we saw too!

Trish - Ring of Brightwater is about a man and an otter who travel to Scotland where he falls in love with the local doctor.
Amazon ( says it has great Scottish scenery. Hmmm - might have to rent.

At 1:19 PM, Blogger Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Oh, Trish, what a lovely memory. Grins. I loved the drive in. My Mama didn't thing concession food was healthy so we packed snacks and drinks and sat in the car and enjoyed the show. :>

I remember seeing a bunch of Disney stuff there. I remember being scared to death by 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea when they had a Disney Classics Marathon too...

At 1:22 PM, Blogger Trish Milburn (Tricia Mills) said...

Mary, may have to add Ring to my rather extensive Netflix queue.

Jeanne, I'm not sure we ever had marathons, but there were several double features. Oh, and concession food wasn't healthy at all, but that's probably why it tasted so good. :)

At 2:40 PM, Blogger Terry McLaughlin said...

The drive-in was a fun family treat. My parents would dress us in our pajamas and take two cars--one for Mom & Dad and one for the five kids. We'd squeeze into the front seat of the family wagon, and Dad would keep the popcorn and candy coming (probably in an effort to keep us quiet and out of our parents' car).

I remember watching one of the Planet of the Apes movies on a rainy night, with the windshield wiper adding an interesting element to the viewing experience ;-).

At 4:21 PM, Blogger Trish Milburn (Tricia Mills) said...

Terry, how funny that you watched a movie at the drive-in in the rain.

At 6:50 PM, Blogger Louisa Cornell said...

Ooh! I remember The Blob at the drive-in! Trish, honey, you are SO young! The movies I remember seeing at the drive-in are all from the sixties! The Magnificent Seven, and every John Wayne movie ever made. There was a great drive-in in Selma, Alabama where we were stationed before we went to England. Years later when I was in college in nearby Marion I heard that the drive-in was still open, BUT it was showing pornographic movies! Can you imagine porn on a screen that big??? Imagine the car wrecks it caused!

At 7:05 PM, Blogger Caren Crane said...

Oh, Trish, I adored the drive-in! My family used to pile into the station wagon and go when I was little. I remember seeing "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang", "Bedknobs and Broomsticks" (I had the lunchbox) and countless movies I don't remember. Probably because I always fell asleep halfway through. *g*

I remember the huge dill pickles they sold in a jar. We could usually get one and share it because they were cheap. All other snacks were brought by my mother in her ginormous purse, plus the paper grocery sack full of popcorn!

At 7:16 PM, Blogger jo robertson said...

I loved going to the drive-in, Trish. It was a real money saver when the kids were little, so we saw lots of kiddie movies. I remember seeing E.T. for the first time at the drive-in and having the eternal argument with my youngest son whether the phrase is "peanuts breath" or "penis breath." LOL

We used to turn the station wagon around, let down the tail gate, and pile in lots of blankets and pillows to watch the movie.

At 8:27 PM, Blogger Trish Milburn (Tricia Mills) said...

Louisa, porn at the drive-in?!! Oh, my. I wonder how many young people were lurking outside the perimeter.

Caren, I had to laugh at your mom's ginormous purse. Reminded me of Linda Howard's speech last week -- the part about her mom having spareribs in her purse. LOL.

LOL, Jo. When we went when my sister and I were young, sometimes my dad would turn the truck around backwards so we could sit in the bed, sometimes in lawn chairs, sometimes on blankets.

At 8:45 PM, Blogger Kate Diamond said...

I love the drive-in! When I was in high school, I went with a bunch of friends. There was always a double feature. I remember "Payback" and "Matrix." I also remember seeing "Lethal Weapon 4." Sadly, I do not remember whatever the other movie was (I think I fell asleep).

At 9:17 PM, Blogger Diane Gaston said...

In high school, I remember seeing West Side Story at the Drive In. And later, in college, I saw Woodstock.

I also had it in my head in high school that I wasn't allowed to go on a date at the drive-in. Now my parents never said I couldn't, but it seemed to me it was an "unspoken" rule, probably known only to me!

At 10:26 AM, Blogger Dr. Debra Holland said...

I saw How the West Was Won, or maybe it was Paint Your Wagons. In other words, I was too little to watch the whole thing. We had a station wagon, and my brother and I were bedded down in the back. My parents wanted us to sleep, but I tried to sneak peeks, until I fell asleep.


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