Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Boy, Do I Remember These...!

I can remember spending quite a few very pleasant evenings at the drive-in, usually in the company of a young lady!

The concept is really a nice one. Most of the drive-ins we went to were pretty nice as well! Heck, at one time I even worked in the snack bar! Some of the best popcorn I ever had, let me tell you!

Jun 6, 1933:
First drive-in movie theater opens

On this day in 1933, eager motorists park their automobiles on the grounds of Park-In Theaters, the first-ever drive-in movie theater, located on Crescent Boulevard in Camden, New Jersey.

Park-In Theaters--the term "drive-in" came to be widely used only later--was the brainchild of Richard Hollingshead, a movie fan and a sales manager at his father's company, Whiz Auto Products, in Camden. Reportedly inspired by his mother's struggle to sit comfortably in traditional movie theater seats, Hollingshead came up with the idea of an open-air theater where patrons watched movies in the comfort of their own automobiles. He then experimented in the driveway of his own house with different projection and sound techniques, mounting a 1928 Kodak projector on the hood of his car, pinning a screen to some trees, and placing a radio behind the screen for sound. He also tested ways to guard against rain and other inclement weather, and devised the ideal spacing arrangement for a number of cars so that all would have a view of the screen.

The young entrepreneur received a patent for the concept in May of 1933 and opened Park-In Theaters, Inc. less than a month later, with an initial investment of $30,000. Advertising it as entertainment for the whole family, Hollingshead charged 25 cents per car and 25 cents per person, with no group paying more than one dollar. The idea caught on, and after Hollingshead's patent was overturned in 1949, drive-in theaters began popping up all over the country. One of the largest was the All-Weather Drive-In of Copiague, New York, which featured parking space for 2,500 cars, a kid's playground and a full service restaurant, all on a 28-acre lot.

Drive-in theaters showed mostly B-movies--that is, not Hollywood's finest fare--but some theaters featured the same movies that played in regular theaters. The initially poor sound quality--Hollingshead had mounted three speakers manufactured by RCA Victor near the screen--improved, and later technology made it possible for each car's to play the movie's soundtrack through its FM radio. The popularity of the drive-in spiked after World War II and reached its heyday in the late 1950s to mid-60s, with some 5,000 theaters across the country. Drive-ins became an icon of American culture, and a typical weekend destination not just for parents and children but also for teenage couples seeking some privacy. Since then, however, the rising price of real estate, especially in suburban areas, combined with the growing numbers of walk-in theaters and the rise of video rentals to curb the growth of the drive-in industry. Today, fewer than 500 drive-in theaters survive in the United States.

Ya know, sitting at home on the couch with a date just isn't quite the same somehow. The drive-in will always hold a special spot in my memory as one of my favorite places to go!

Wish I had a place like that again, don't you?

Coffee out on the patio this morning, OK?

17 comments:

thecottagebythecranelakeolof1 said...

I've always wanted to go to one of those, but it doesn't work up here. In summer we have perhaps three or four hours with darkness at night and it doesn't get dark until 1130 pm :-) :-) :-)
But I sort of grew up with them anyway since I saw them so often on movies from the US :-)

Have a great day!
Christer.

JB said...

Ahhh Yes! I definately remember and miss the old drive-In.

Gorges Smythe said...

A few years ago, we still had a couple within an-hour-and-a-half drive of my home, plus one five miles up the road. The one up the road is closed this summer due to sickness in the family, and I don't know if the other two are still there or not. We used to have five in town.

dakotas5 said...

Back in the 90's we watched "Tornado" during one up in Illinois. Talk about special effects.

Ben in Texas said...

Man Oh Man do I remember those. I made some "front page drive in news" more than once back in the early 60's.
There is one still in operation near here, I just haven't been yet.
http://www.galaxydriveintheatre.com/

Phylis (N/W Jersey) said...

We had three of them when I was growing up and now there is only one left in nearby Warwick, NY. They were open all year and in the winter, they gave you a heater to hang in the back window - they were horrible! Smelled like burnt salami! My kids loved to go to the drive-in as most of them had playgrounds to keep the kiddies happy before the movies started. Good times back then.

Sixbears said...

There's a drive in about 35 minutes down the road from me. It's a fairly new one, so the idea hasn't died.

There was a huge one about 20 minutes from town when I was kid. Playground, snackbar,the works. Loads of fun.

Anonymous said...

I have fond memories of drive-ins too. I smuggled (and was smuggled in return, lol) in some trunks on the way in. Cars used to have some good size trunks back then, that or I've gained some 'insulation' along the way (probably both). 8^)

These drive-ins were great family attractions, especially if you had no way to afford a babysitter, you brought the little tykes with you. What you saved you spent at the snackbar though, lol.

Any way, good times. Ours had a on site laundry service that did good business. You drove in, dropped off dirty laundry and went on to see movie. On the way out, you stopped by for clean and pressed laundry - easy peazy!

Thanks for the memories HermitJim.

Baby Sis said...

Bubba -

I guess you mean Pug Ward's family drive-in, where Daddy ran the snack bar, Mom the ticket booth, and you at the back gate with a flashlight to keep "sneakers" out. I remember they lived in an apartment under the screen! And Mom wouldn't ket us go on dates to a drive-in until we were 18 - I never did 'cause I was sure she would pop up from the backseat if I tried it!
Good post - thanks! Big hugs -

Dizzy-Dick said...

Oh what memories you bring back. Went to a lot of drive-ins when dating and then even after we had two sons, took them and they and the dog liked it. Sure do miss those good times.

linda m said...

Nothing beats a drive-in for a date. Many a good time was had there. I remember "car" night - one price no matter how many people were stuffed in the car. I know there are still a few drive-ins out there but none in my area - so sad! Thanks for bringing back fond memories.

JOJO said...

Yes lots of memories in a drive in.
I'm not sure but I think there is still one in Tucson. And coming up the mountain I saw one in Globe, AZ that seems to still be in business. Thanks for stirring up the memory.

Hope all with Mom is right again.

Be there soon for that patio coffee get to gether.

Ben in Texas said...

BTW, You clicked on Google's home page link today? It leads you to a page that celebrates the Drive In Theater.

HermitJim said...

Hey Crister...
I can see where the drive-in wouldn't work in Sweden. Much better when seen after dark!

Thanks, my friend, for coming by today!


Hey JB...
I think most of us have some pretty fond memories of drive-ins!

Thanks for taking the time to visit today!


Hey Gorges...
Wow! 5 in one town. That's pretty good!

At least you had a good selection of what movies to see!

Thanks for coming over this morning!


Hey Dakotas5...
Good to see you again!

That must have made the film a lot more exciting! Did it make you nervous?

Thanks for coming by today!


Hey Ben...
I figured you for a drive-in guy in your younger days!

Thanks, buddy, for coming by today!


Hey Phyllis...
The one we went to the most had two playgrounds. One in the front and another in the back!

Burnt salami? Man, I don't even want to know what that smells like!

Thanks for coming by today!


Hey Sixbears...
I do have to admit that they were a lot of fun! Fairly cheap for a family as well!

Glad to know that there are still a few in operation!

Thanks, my friend, for coming over today!


Hey Anon 7:13...
A laundry? That's pretty cool! Never heard of that one before!

Maybe we need more of those again!

Thanks for dropping by today!


Hey Sis...
Yep...the old "Hi Neighbor" drive-in!

When I was still in high school, I worked the snack bar, doing the popcorn mostly!

Sure am glad yo came by today!


Hey Dizzy...
One thing that made it good for you is that the pups could go along!

Thanks for coming over, my friend!


Hey Linda...
Sort of like taking a trip back in time, huh?

Seems like most of the memories of the drive-ins were good ones!

I sure do thank you for the visit today!


Hey JoJo...
Think we should all get together and make some new memories at the local drive-in? Might be interesting!

Thanks, sweetie, for coming over today!

Bob Mc said...

Oh boy, do I remember them. Spent many an evening in one in my teenage years. Haven't seen one in years.

BBC said...

Best place to watch a movie and play with tits.

Anonymous said...

Heh...I suspect you played with your own more than any others BBC...