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Thursday, December 5, 2013



When I was a young lad with a newly acquired driver’s license the place to go was the drive-in.   In New Jersey there were drive-ins a-plenty.  Within a ten mile radius of my home there were three drive-ins. 

The Amboy drive-in’s giant screen was highly visible from the northbound Garden State Parkway when approaching the Driscoll Bridge.  In the 70’s the Amboy Theater occasionally showed X rated movies.  I don’t recall any accidents, but traffic over the bridge often backed up during certain scenes.

Generally the drive-ins showed two movies, one would be a crappy Annette Funicello "Beach Something" movie, the other would be a seriously crappy movie.

We didn’t go to the drive-in for the movies, we went there for the freedom to be kids; kids in our own cars without rules.  There was no one to shush us, no one to tell us that we couldn’t smoke, couldn’t sneak in some rum and coke, or couldn’t just ignore the screen and make out with your date.  

The seven words that would ruin any Saturday night were, “Why don’t we just watch the movie?”

My first drive-in experience was with my parents and brothers at about the age of five, “Gone with the Wind.” I fell asleep after an amputation scene.  I’m pretty sure that scene ruined any chance of my ever becoming a surgeon. 

Years later I entered the drive-in from hiding in the trunk of a car to avoid paying for a ticket.  I don’t think the theaters minded, regardless of how many people were in a car, the car only took up one space…more kids meant more popcorn sold.   We thought we were beating “The Man,” and the owners sold extra bags of 2 cent popcorn for 25 cents.  Now that was a “win-win.”

Later, the drive-in became the venue of choice for getting close with your best girl.  A lot of action went on during those crappy movies, but I never came close to needing that precaution I bought from Billy Hopkins for a dollar.  It remained in my wallet leaving a telltale ring which told all your friends, “Yeah, I’m prepared…just in case.”

My last trip to the drive-in came when my first born was still a baby.  What money we saved by not needing a baby-sitter,  we paid in frustration because that little dickens cried during the whole show. 

I think there are still a few drive-ins left, but they are clearly not long for this world.  Movie theaters in general may not last verses the competition of DVD’s, Netflix, and paid TV; drive-ins do not stand a chance as real estate becomes more valuable. 
I guess the drive-in’s time is past.  Hell, you can park anywhere and watch the latest movie on your i-phone.  There is no need to sneak in anywhere when it is free on the internet, and the internet doesn’t know who you are or where you are.  Want to get away with your best girl?  Apparently there is no longer a need for any “movie” pretense.

I pretty much experienced the circle of life at the drive-in theater. 

I saw my first movie at a drive-in.  I thumbed my nose at “the man” for the first time by hiding in a trunk and sneaking in to the drive-in.  I smoked my first cigarette at the drive-in and drank too much booze for the first time at the drive-in.   I experienced my first outside boobage at the drive-in, and I tried to rock my first baby to sleep at a drive-in.
Good-by drive-in theaters.  We just do not need you anymore.

Still I am glad you were around when I was growing up.     


  1. We had two here in town. One is now a trailer park with a 7-11 and the other is just a piece of abandoned over grown land until someone wants to put in a trailer park.

  2. I think anyone our age will agree everything you experienced was universal, regardless where your grew up. My most vivid drive-in movie experience was when joke...set the big screen on fire. ( For the record, it was NOT me.) The funny thing was, nobody left the parking lot, and I doubt many people even looked up to see it. ;)


  3. I also miss Drive-In theaters. I remember being taken as a kid to see Ben Hur, in my pajamas. Of course I fell asleep and didn't see the end of that movie until twenty years later.

  4. i went to one or two shows. it was weird - parked next to a group of friends, each couple in their own vehicle, but still too close to risk 'making out' with them around.

  5. We used to go often--& even watched a LOT of the movies!!

  6. I love the drive in. We used to go all the time as children it is a pity they are all closed down. Brings back such wonderful memories.

  7. My father used to say it was unbelievable to him to be born the year the Wright brothers flew a plane (1907) and live to see a man on the moon. Generations have their childhoods obsoleted.
    I doubt boobs, beer and cigarettes will ever succumb.

  8. Drive ins were just about tapering off when my husband and I first came to America. There were some theaters around but we were careful with our money so by the time we became comfortable with money, most theaters had closed down. Still feel bad about not having that experience.

  9. It was at the Corral Drive-In that one of my guy friends showed me how a one-armed man counts his change.

  10. If you find that you're missing the drive in, drive down to Virginia. :)

    I've spent time at the drive in, too, back in the day. And there was a bridge near ours that we'd hope to see a peak of something if we were traveling by at night.

    I haven't been to this Goochland theater yet, but would like to brave it once... just for old time sake.

  11. we had 2 drive ins nearby, both are gone now. one is a sam's club, the other a security company.

    as with yours, only the nastiest movies were played and there was no need for trunking as they had a car-load discount.

    sadly the kill-joys had monitors who interfered with other requisite activities usually associated with the drive-ins.

  12. Ahhhh I wrote about the drive-ins a couple of months ago... so did a search and heeeere it is... what fun and it's kinda sad.

    Lots of great memories ...

    Our neighborhood cinema just announced they are closing. tooo bad. We could walk to it. I don't enjoy going to movies any longer because I can't hear that well and the noisy people won't hush and it's sticky ...


  13. I have fond memories of drive-in theatres. I remember once going to see a movie with a boy I didn't like, the arrangement was set up by my mum with the son of her best friend who was visiting. The whole time I was there I sat stiffly and actually watched two movies I had no interest in.

  14. I remember going with my friend's family to a drive in and it was so exciting because they had one of these new cars called HATCHBACKS where you could put the back seats down and we lay in sleeping bags to watch the movie. I still rennet the feeling of technical wizardry the hatchback gave off back in those days! Other times with my parents were kind of fun but watching movies at the drive in sucked - the sound was bad and you had to crane your neck to see past your parents in the front seat.