Friday, February 26, 2016

Remembering The Drive In Movies...!

I'd be willing to bet that most of us went to the drive in regularly, am I right?

I spent many pleasant evenings there in the company of a young girl. Only way to go to the movies back then! Got to watch a movie, get some popcorn, and maybe make out a bit with a pretty girl!

Miami drive-in debuts

American drive-in movie theaters experienced their golden era during the 1950s, but some Floridians were watching movies under the stars in their cars even before then: The city of Miami gets its first drive-in on this day in 1938. The Miami drive-in charged admission of 35 cents per person, which was more than the average ticket price at an indoor theater, and soon had to trim the price to 25 cents per person.

America’s first-ever drive-in opened near Camden, New Jersey, on June 6, 1933, and was the brainchild of Richard Hollingshead, whose family owned an auto parts company. The inaugural feature was a 1932 film called “Wives Beware,” and admission was 25 cents per car and an additional 25 cents per person. The sound for the movies was provided by three large RCA speakers next to the main screen. (The quality of the drive-in experience improved during the 1940s with the advent of the in-car speaker.)

Following World War II, the popularity of drive-in theaters increased as America’s car culture grew. By the early 1950s, there were more than 800 drive-ins across the United States. Although they earned a reputation as “passion pits” for young couples seeking privacy, most drive-in customers were families (parents didn’t have to hire babysitters or get dressed up and their children could wear pajamas and sleep in the car) and often featured playgrounds, concession stands and other attractions. Some drive-ins were super-sized, including Detroit’s Bel Air Drive-In, built in 1950, which had room for more than 2,000 cars, and Baltimore’s Bengies Drive-In, which opened in 1956, and claimed the biggest movie screen in the U.S.: 52 feet high by 100 feet wide. Over the years, attempts were made to develop a daytime screen that would enable drive-ins to show movies before it got dark, but nothing proved successful.

At their peak in the late 1950s and early 1960s, there were some 4,000 drive-ins across America. However, during the 1970s and 1980s the drive-in industry went into decline and theaters shut down, due to such factors as rising real-estate values (which made selling the land for redevelopment more profitable than continuing to operate it as a drive-in) and the rise of other entertainment options, including video recorders, multiplex theaters and cable television. By 1990, there were around 1,000 U.S. drive-ins. Today, they number less than 400 (states with the most remaining drive-ins include Pennsylvania, Ohio and New York).

New Jersey has the distinction of being the home of not just the first drive-in but also the first fly-in theater. In June 1948, Ed Brown’s Drive-In and Fly-In opened in Wall Township and had space for 500 cars and 25 planes.

I had no idea that the drive in had been around that long, but I'm glad that it was there for me to enjoy. Many pleasant memories stemming from the good ol' drive in!

Coffee out on the patio this morning.


Jim said...

I have a lot of great memories going to the drive in as both a youngster and then as an adult taking my children. Sadly, the last drive in theater in our area closed down just last year.

linda m said...

I also have a lot of fond memories of the drive-in. My folks used to pile us kids into the car and we all go. Then as teenager, well you can guess what went on at the drive-in. Back in the early 90's I was living in Glendale, AZ and they still had an operational drive-in. Saw Forrest Gump there. Have a great weekend.

Hermit's Baby Sis said...

Yeah, Bubba - I remember your first job as the exit guard at the old Hi Neighbor Drive-in. You watched to make sure noone snuck in, Daddy ran the concession stand (and made the best hamburgers EVER!), Mom worked the box office. Owned by our friends, it was a real family enterprise - our family and theirs!
Good memories, mostly. Thanks ~

JO said...

I read that they are going to try and make a come back but I don't know. Like the article said the lands have been developed now. I sure didn't know they were that old either.

HermitJim said...

Hey Jim...
Not many of those places left anymore. One more memory bites the dust.
Thanks for stopping by today!

Hey Linda...
I reckon many of our early memories are wrapped up in those memories. Fooling naround the drive in was almost a second nature for many.
Thanks for coming over this morning!

Hey Sis...
Yeah, many memories came from there, both happy and sad! Wonder what the next generation will look forward to?
Thanks for the visit this morning!

Hey Jo...
Some things just can't be brought back to their former glory. Drive ins are one of those.
Thanks for dropping by today!

Dizzy-Dick said...

My wife and I, and after we were married our two boys and the Basset Hound would join us at the drive-in. I remember one time there was a full screen image of a huge bear on the screen just as our Basset in the back seat stuck her head up and saw that bear looking in the windshield. Took quite awhile to get her settled down.

Janet said...

Hi Dizzy,

So funny about your Basset. My parents took me along to see the House of Wax in 3-D when I was really young. It took me a while to settle down too. I still remember it.