DRIVE-IN MOVIE THEATERS: A LEGENDARY INVENTION

When I was a kid, I felt captivated by the big outdoor screen movies.  I still am.  I figure as a writer, it’s my job to read books and watch movies.  The fun of it all—the giant screen, characters bigger than life, story lines and music scores being broadcast, back in time from speakers, now from my car radio.  I’ll never forget a Fourth of July back in time: mom, dad, my brothers, a train ride and playground fun before the movie ever started.  Courtesy of the Y and W on Broadway in Merrillville, Indiana. I guess I blocked out the bad stuff, mosquitoes and hot, humid, sweat-producing weather.  All I know is, thanks mom, dad and the drive-in theater for the special memories.      Back then, in the fifties and sixties, drive-in movies were hopping!  Popular as a Hula Hoop, Slinky or tasty treat from an ice cream truck!

Today, not so much.  Boy are some kids missing out.  They won’t think so because of their many modern day “toys” and ways to watch movies which exist.  But, me, I’m still going to hop in my car and head down to the nearest drive-in movie theater, which happens to be the 49er in Valpo, Indiana.  It’s partly the reason I moved here, so I didn’t have to drive a little further, from Kewanna to the Melody Drive-In theater near route ten and thirty-five over by Bass Lake every time I got the urge.      I did a little history checking since I figured this type of entertainment, which I love, is in serious jeopardy of becoming extinct.  There used to be thousands, now, there are roughly only, best estimate, four hundred and thirty-two.  And the history is incredible! The drive-in theater, now that’s what I call a worthwhile invention.  Inventor? Richard Hollingstead.  The year was 1928 and he came up with the brilliant idea to throw a Kodak projector on the hood of his car and nailed a screen to some trees in his backyard and placed a radio behind the screen.  The patent process occurred in 1933 with an upgraded sound system and the charge was .25 cents for every car and .25 cents per person.  Most amazing, some guy named Edward Brown, Jr. took it a step further and built an airfield right next door to his drive-in, so airplanes could fly in too and catch an outdoor flick.  Now if that’s not some fascinating history, I don’t know what is. (See source one.)

I see that other countries besides the U.S.A. also offer this wonderful type of entertainment, countries such as:  China, Dubai—United Arab Emigrates, South Africa, Germany, Norway, Jamaica, Denmark, Jamaica, Russia, Indian, Sweden, Italy, Spain, Aruba, and South Korea, according to my second source for information. (See source two.)

All I know is, I love to go to the drive-in movie.  Sometimes, it’s hard to get anyone else to tag along.  (Once in a while, I manage.) When Sissy, my beloved dog, was still around, she liked to go.  We’d walk during the intermission.  I’m sure she enjoyed the walk and the hot dog I’d buy her for a treat better than the movie.  So, yes, sometimes I just drive right on in and go solo. My friends say, “Oh, let’s just rent a movie or go indoors.”  I reply, “Nah, I’m going to the drive-in.” Who knows, there used to be thousands and now it’s down to four hundred and some.  Maybe they won’t be around forever.  I have to enjoy it while I can. Right?

This 2012 season, so far, no mosquitoes, bearable weather, and some good movies.  The 49er was packed in like sardines the other night for Madagascar 3.  What a tradition.  Viewers relaxing in lawn chairs, kids sitting in the back of trucks, on top of hoods, even on top of vans, glued to a giant screen to forget all the harsh realities of life and just sit back and tune in to a fantasy land of imagination and wonder. The distinct smell of popcorn in the air! Loved it! A pillow behind my head, the rear view mirror pushed up, windows all cleaned with Windex for clarity.  Even a friend on Friday to enjoy it with.  Life just doesn’t get much better than movie night.  Especially under the stars, on a June summer night in Indiana.  Thanks 49er and to all the rest who persevere, just so we can be entertained in a unique, unforgettable way.  In June, that’s when Mr. Hollingstead started it all.  So I’m proclaiming June, right here and now, as Outdoor Drive-In  Movie Theater Appreciation month.  Thanks Mr. H., for your brilliance.

(Many thanks for the following resources:

Source one—http://inventors.about.com/library/weekly/aa980121.htm.

Source two—www.drive-ins.com.)

SIDEBAR:  Updates on literary projects

1. Published Gail’s Tales Short Stories Ebook Version on Amazon.  (Three short stories) 2. Working on American Defector/preparing ebook ready to self-publish on Amazon. 3. Finished trailer for www.newjackrabbitcity.com.

4. Continue to work on Children’s book, unsure of title, but it is the merging of New Jack Rabbit City tales and The Chicago Hares Go West. Check out the NJRC site and stay tuned so you don’t miss the Chicago Hares tale as progresses.

Write-On, Gail Galvan

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