Stories by MJ Reporter Willow LaMunyon
Drive-In Movies gets a Medicare Jet-Setters Groovy Review
Many years ago, when I was not quite old enough to be a woman, there was a place to go on Saturday nights where everyone gathered, but privacy was one closed car door away. My boyfriend, later husband, would take me to the drive-in theater where we had the opportunity to do what young couples do. A speaker was hooked inside the window of Larry’s 1951 Studebaker so we could hear the movies we didn’t watch.
Those courting times ended, family life began, parenting and drive-ins took on a new meaning, but they were still the place to go on Saturday nights. Most drive-ins had playgrounds just under the screen for kids to use before the shows began, and watchful parents could visit and brag about their children.
The movies they played were not the popular ones, or if they were, it was after they had made the run of indoor movies. In exchange, admittance cost was always a bargain, and once a month, people could fill their cars with as many people who would fit in the vehicle for a dollar for the entire car full. Naturally, the films were unknown, and you took your chances on quality according to the titles alone.
Our sons were preteens on down when we decided to treat them to a movie that we hoped would appeal to them, and we found one called The Van. A car show was exactly what they would love, so we hopped into our red Ford for the kid’s night out. We got popcorn and sodas from the concession stand, then settled down as the screen flicked on and dancing popcorn boxes sang to us about the delights of the concession stand. The boys argued about the seating order until we let them get out of the car and sit anywhere they wanted in front of the vehicle. The film started with a decked-out van driving down a country road, and we congratulated one another on the choice of the movie. The van slowed to a stop and started rocking. It was a long night for us from there on out. We hadn’t thought about the meaning of the title beyond cars.
It seemed like no time at all until our boys were teenagers and no longer had time to go to drive-in movies with mom and dad. Somehow, we hardly noticed that the drive-in screen was rotting away, and the parking spaces were grown over with weeds. Time changes everything, and I assumed drive-in movies were a thing of the past.
A few years ago, I started hearing about people going to open fields and showing old movies on sheets. It sounded fun, but it was nothing more than a fun rumor as far as I knew. The old outdoor movies were starting to become the in thing again, and I got to see a double feature under the stars. My youngest son Charley and daughter-in-law Karla took me.
There were no speakers, but posts that once held them were still there to mark parking spaces as we turned on our car radios for sound. There was no playground, but almost everybody brought lawn chairs to sit in front of their vehicles, giving kids a play area in their own parking spaces. The movies we saw were new, with one popular and one unknown. They were both excellent. What would a drive-in be without a concession stand, and just like in that distant past, popcorn was spilled everywhere.
The weather was beautiful, the night sky showed off its stars, and there were a large number of fireflies attending the movie. I even thought I saw a drone.
Some things are worth keeping or bringing back. I am so glad drive-in movies made it back.