The Secret Life of Melanie O.
Sunday, April 12, 2009
Disappearing landscapes
Last night, Dan and I did something that we haven't done since we were kids.

We saw a movie at the local drive-in.

Drive-ins used to be the staple of Saturday night dates and family fare back in the '50's and '60's, but somewhere along the line, as towns expanded, the land that drive-ins sat on became too valuable. Most have been sold off and converted to strip malls or business parks. In some places, like Liverpool, NY where I grew up, only the neon sign remains of what used to be the community social gathering place in the summer.

I can remember as a kid, my mother popping a whole paper grocery bag full of buttered popcorn (in the days when you could only get paper). We'd bring our own softdrinks, and my sister and I would hunker down in the back seat under a blanket so that my parents wouldn't get charged for us, and we'd see Disney movies like The Absent-Minded Professor in black and white. It was exciting to hide from the ticket booth - we felt like co-conspirators with our parents, who didn't have a lot of money to spend on entertainment. There was always a double feature, and my sister and I would often nod off in the back seat before the end of the second feature.

There was a little play area near the screen that active children could play on until it got dark enough to show the film. And the concession was always advertised with cartoons. I wanted something from the concession stand, just because of the cartoons.

The drive-ins started to close during the recession of the early 80's, but if you look hard enough, you may find one that's still operating in a neighborhood near you. If you get a chance to go, you should. They're a part of life that is fast disappearing - and with the drive-ins, go those memories of lazy summer nights, necking with your girlfriend or boyfriend in the car and steaming up the windows, and feeling like the center of your own little world in your car.

Now... come with us to the drive-in ... just one more time.

posted by Melanie O. at 7:05 PM -
  • At 10:33 PM, Blogger YesterdaysLace said…

    What fun!! I remember them well. I think the video tape craze killed them off more than anything else.

    Do they still have the "dancing coke and popcorn" during the intermission? :) Let's all go to the lobby, let's all go to the lobby. LOL

  • At 9:51 PM, Blogger gardenbug said…

    When I was little, the charge was for the car. You could pack as many people as you could in the car and the price was the same. Later, they charged per person. I don't remember getting you in for free. Either We paid for you, or children were still free. I am so sorry to see drive-ins go. They were wonderful.

  • At 4:43 AM, Blogger Karen said…

    The last time I went to a drive-in was about 10 years ago. It was early summer in the North Country of New York and there were so many swarms of mosquitoes that we had to stay in the car with all the windows rolled up. Unfortunately, there were 4 of us in a vehicle with no air conditioning so it was a steamy movie. I don't even remember what we say - the windows were too fogged up to look anyway! We all chatted and laughed and headed back when we saw other cars leaving!

  • At 7:47 PM, Blogger LivinginOz said…

    Karen - you just reminded me about how bad the mosquitoes are in upstate NY in the summer. Our drive-in was on a lake, and you were at the mercy of the little beasts, due to having to hang the speakers on the car window. I definitely don't miss those! It was nice for us - it's cold enough that their population is at a minimum now.

  • At 10:59 PM, Blogger jeepdriver said…

    I enjoyed your trip to the drive in. I was just thinking of the many times I went to drive in movies when I was a kid and then as a young adult. We still have roughly 383 drive in movie theatres remaining in the U.S. I've always thought it would be cool to have a retro style 50's drive in featuring old films and a crew wearing 50's style clothing, but I think "home entertainment" centers and DVD's are tough to compete with.

    I've always admired your site. It's very cool. The retro pin up photos of you are lovely!

    Take care!


  • At 9:33 AM, Blogger LivinginOz said…

    Thanks, Paul, for your comment. I'm really happy to hear that there are still some Drive-Ins left in the US. I'm actually surprised that it's that many. Yay! I love the idea of creating that whole '50's experience. I'd even wear a poodle skirt for that. ;)

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About Me
Name: Melanie O.
Home: Durham, North Carolina, United States
About Me: Female, American health and beauty-conscious professional who has rekindled a childhood love of dolls.
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