Friday, May 8, 2009

Bring Back the Drive-In Movies!

The first patent for the Drive-In Theater was issued on May 16, 1933 to Richard Hollingshead. Richard was a young Sales Manager who longed to invent something that would combine his two loves, movies and cars. He experimented in his own driveway at 212 Thomas Avenue, Camden, New Jersey. On Tuesday June 6, 1933 in Camden, his first Drive-In opened. The price of admission was 25 cents for the car and 25 cents per person. The 'Automobile Movie Theater' was an instant hit despite the poor audio quality. Three main speakers were mounted next to the screen. The sound quality was not good for cars in the rear of the theater or for the surrounding neighbors.The largest drive-in theater in patron capacity was the All-Weather Drive-In of Copiague, New York. All-Weather had parking space for 2,500 cars, an indoor 1,200 seat viewing area, kid's playground, a full service restaurant and a shuttle train that took customers from their cars and around the 28-acre theater lot. How cool was that?
Or how about the Drive-In and Fly-In of Asbury Park, New Jersey which had the capacity for 500 cars and 25 airplanes. An airfield was placed next to the drive-in and planes would taxi to the last row of the theater. Yes, the Drive-In has a lengthy and interesting history.
The Drive-In's peak popularity came in the late 1950s and early 1960s when they were named "Passion Pits" due to the privacy it afforded its patrons!
With something for everyone including playgrounds, miniature railroads, merry-go-rounds and patio chairs, why then did they die off?
Unfortunately, over time land became far too valuable for drive-ins to operate successfully when in most cases business was summer-only.
As I stated in a previous post, nothing beats a large screen and surround sound for the big budget action movies, but a part of me still longs for the old time fun and nostalgia of a Drive-In.
Thankfully they're not all gone. Granted, it's often a lengthy jaunt out to the nearest one, but that pleasant summer's night drive just heightens the experience.
No need to line up at the concession stand; The Clicker and I have taken in a few Drive-In's and delighted in preparing our own banquet for the occasion.
Ahhh yes, nothing quite like dining alfresco on pre-popped microwave popcorn, pizza or sandwiches, juice boxes and a thermos of coffee. Life is good. Bring along a blankie to cuddle up and munch by. (Some insect repellent doesn't hurt either).
The price is still good considering you'll be entertained by a double-feature.
Get there a little early and people watch. I like to see who the Drive-In's attract. People with dogs, people with small kids, people with frisbees, people with lawn chairs, people in trucks and vans and people in pyjamas.
Do yourself a favour and take in a Drive-In this summer.
Watching a double feature under the stars is an enchanting cinematic experience.
The disturbing dancing weiner and bun are gone, but you can still steam up the windows!

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