Over the Memorial Day weekend, my family and I went to the drive-in theater. My fiancée and I were sitting outside of our vehicle waiting for it to get dark enough for the movie to begin. As we sat there we began “waxing nostalgic” about going to the drive-in when we were kids.
Do you remember being a child and going to the drive-in, dressed in your pajamas and playing on the swing set, see-saw and whatever else your drive-in may have had? I remember going in my pajamas and running around with other children who were there as well dressed in their pj’s. We had a station wagon and my father transformed the back into a makeshift bed for my brother and I and we sat back there and watched the first movie. The second movie was when my father usually told us to lie down and go to sleep so he could enjoy the movie in peace. Do you remember just before the movie started how the marching food would come on the screen with the box of popcorn leading the way as the band leader and we would then tell our parents that we were hungry and ask for some of the greasy pizza they made there or a hot dog that was barely cooked? Those were the days, My Friend.
Today is June 6, 2010 and it was this day in history that the first drive-in theater opened in 1933 in Camden, New Jersey. It was called a Park-In Theater and was the innovation of a man named Richard Hollingshead. Hollingshead got the idea from going to a theater with his parents and his mother had trouble getting comfortable in her seat. This gave him the idea for watching movies from the comfort of your vehicle in an open air environment. With an initial investment of thirty thousand dollars, Hollingshead opened Park-In Theaters, Inc. about a month after he received a patent for the concept. After the patent expired, drive-in theaters began popping up all over the country but were not tremendously popular until after World War II and reached their halcyon days in the late 1950’s and into the 60’s.
With about five hundred drive in movie theaters left today across the country, they are no longer what they once used to be. They used to have a little speaker that you would roll up in your car window and have given way to FM radio broadcasts through your car radio. The drive-in that my family went to over the holiday weekend no longer had a swing set or anything for children to play on, no more singing and dancing food on the screen before the movie began but at least it was a comfortable way to watch a movie or two and was comparatively cheap to see. Plus you can bring in what food or drinks you want to and even sit outside in lawn chairs if you prefer. They may not be what they used to be, but the drive-in movie theater is still the biggest bang for your buck.