Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Drive-In Movie Theaters . . . great memories!

Whatever happened to drive in theatres?

Some of my fondest childhood memories involved going to the drive-in movie theatres with the family.  We would pop massive amounts of popcorn, fill the cooler with drinks and sandwiches, gather pillows and blankets and off we would go for a night of watching movies at the drive-in.

The movie wasn't always the main attraction for us kids.  Most drive-in movie theaters in my area had massive playgrounds.  The sound of laughter from the kids at the playground and the smell of food from the refreshment stand would hypnotize us into wanting to watch the movie from the playground area.  My parents usually took lawn chairs and would indulge our desire to hang out at the playground area with the other kids.  It was euphoric for us . . . it was such a festive atmosphere buzzing with people everywhere.

How about those intermission clips featuring dancing popcorn and soda?  I loved those intermission clips!  I can't believe that we loved that nasty pizza from the refreshment stand . . . it was more like cardboard with tomato sauce and melted cheese!

My parents didn't have to deal with not being able to take us to R-rated movies . . . they didn't exist.  It was an innocent time and we were able to be kids without having sexual innuendo in our face 24/7.  It was simple family fun and we went often.  The only problem we had was keeping the mosquitoes away!

As I approached high school age, the drive-in movie theaters were the big hang out on the weekends.  Seems like we kind of chased the families away and took over.  There was a theater in particular that we shared with three other high schools as the cool hang out.  Those were great times!

Movies started changing and became sexual where it didn't have to be, in my opinion.  A good story is a good story without the sex.  Those movies embarrassed me . . . especially since we hung out in mixed company.  Not that I'm a prude or anything, but I was so very innocent . . . but you know, I feel like most of the time it is just not necessary, even now.  The movie makers love to shock us, although we have become desensitized and are no longer shocked.  I would not like to be a kid growing up in today's time . . . this is their "normal".

Little by little, we lost interest in going to see movies outdoors . . . and during the 70's and 80's, thousands of drive-in movie theaters closed.  Malls became popular and the single movie theaters turned into multiplex theaters.  I guess with lowered attendance and revenue, drive-in movie theater owners found that they could make more money by selling the land to developers and get out of the business.

It is sad . . . I often think of those times and how cool it would be to see a movie outdoors and relive those times for just a night.  However, in my area there is only one left that I know of and it is in a bad part of town . . . but I don't think I would feel safe in a drive-in movie theater in these crazy times of high crime in the best part of town. The times have drastically changed since those simple, innocent times that I loved so much.

What are your memories of drive-in movie theaters?
Do you still go to them or would you go if they were available in your area?

Learn more about the history of drive-in movie theaters, 
find a theater in your area and much more . . .

Photo credit:  Date: 8/19/1961; Artist: George Hughes; Title: Drive-In Movies; Copyright: 1961 SEPS. All rights reserved.


blueviolet said...

I was always really excited to go because we could stay up late, wear jammies, and eat snacks, but the reality of it was less than wonderful. It was humid and miserable and the mosquitoes were absolutely horrendous!

Kittie Howard said...

Lovely post! I could so relate and so wish, like you, movies today concentrated more on plot and characterization than sensationalism thru waaaay too explicit sex scenes.

Shady Del Knight said...

You summed it up nicely, Gina. Those days are gone and there's no getting them back because it's a different world now. Going to the drive-in movie theater was a weekly summer event in the 50s and 60s. If you were born and raised here in Florida I don't know how you tolerated the heat, humidity and mosquitos. I grew up in Pennsylvania where most summer nights were comfortable. The majority of drive-ins were family friendly. There was never any rowdy, drunken behavior to ruin the good clean fun. Your biggest worry, as you pointed out, was that the cardboard food in no way resembled the tempting treats shown on the screen at intermission.

Gina Alfani said...

@blue violet and @Shady . . . I have lived in Florida all of my life and it was very hot and humid, but was what we were used to. The mosquitoes, on the other hand, were not so tolerable. We would get those coil thingies that are like incense and it worked ok.

@Kittie . . . I don't watch very many movies. When I do, it is older movies on cable.

Thanks for the comments :)

Don E. Chute said...


Drive Ins so need to make a comeback, especially here in Florida.

With today's technology the sound and visuals would be fantastic.

Not to mention bringing your own refreshments and avoiding being raped by the concession stand at our multi-plexus.

I getting right on this:>)


Doug Kueffler said...

I recall a movie rating system from my childhood; it was the Catholic Church system: A, B, C. A was ok. B was for adults, and C was Condemned. In my memory, A "B" movie would be PG-13 in today's rating system, and a "C" movie would be rated R today.

Anonymous said...

Miss those drive-in movies when summertime rolls around ... it doesn't matter how big television screens get, they can NEVER MATCH a wide open cinema screen.

The smell of hot buttered popcorn, gas fumes, the forbidden beers appearing mysteriously, and those scratchy speakers - LOL!


Nicole said...

I remember being at a drive-in theater when Princess Diana died. They announced it during the intermission between the movies. That's about all I remember about it. I know I was seeing a Disney movie but I forget which one.

The Budget Diet said...

Today's generation of teens doesn't know what they're missing! It was a cheap date, too!

yogi said...

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Lisa Taylor said...

great post. going to the drive-in was a big part of my childhood. Always kinda an adventure. When I was quite young I wore my pj's :-) It had an ambiance which we're missing nowadays.
Following you on networked & google, from the blog hop.
Blessings - Lisa


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