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Day 3

September 18, 2010
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We used to have a drive-in theater called the Starlite about 15 minutes from the little town where I grew up.  When I was very small, I can remember my parents putting my brother and I in our footie pajamas and popping a brown grocery bag of popcorn, and then plopping us in the backseat of the car and driving us to the movies.  I have no idea what they watched.  Once the pre-movie cartoon was over and the popcorn was gone, my brother and I would fall asleep.

When I got older the theater was still there and my friends and I would talk someone’s mom into driving us down to watch whatever was playing.  We’d pack the car as full of people as we could because we paid by the carload, not by number of people in the vehicle.  We’d pull into a slot and put the little speaker on the partially rolled down window.  Sometimes the speakers worked; sometimes they didn’t.  When they worked they sounded terrible, but hey– the movie was cheap and we had fun anyway.  The real bummer would be on nights that the river fog began to roll across the bottom land and through the parking lot.  It would get so foggy that we could no longer see the big screen in front of us.  It was the danger of seeing a movie on a damp summer evening.

We got old enough to drive ourselves to the theater and would occasionally do so.  But by then the facilities, which were never exactly luxurious by any stretch of the imagination, were becoming rather decrepit.  It was better to go to the mall where you could actually hear the movie without it being garbled through a little tin can speaker and you never had to worry about fog or rain or obnoxious people in pickup trucks who would park in front of you and then put lawn chairs in the bed of the truck and block your view of the screen.  It was progress, you know?  We had no idea that something was actually being lost.

The Starlite closed down and reopened a few times over the years, if I remember correctly, but it was finally razed.  By then it was probably a matter of “knock it down before it falls down”.  I wonder if kids today even know there was ever such a thing as drive-in movies?

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. September 19, 2010 7:36 am

    We still have a couple here in the Indy area but they are huge multi-screen complexes. Still, the kids get to toss a frisbee around at the grassy “playground” before the movie starts and battle monster moths at the cement block concession house just like we did. We try to go at least once a summer for tradition’s sake. Thanks for the memories!

  2. September 19, 2010 8:39 am

    Lisa, you should come visit me! We have several drive-in theaters in the area that still show movies through the summer. Sooooo neat! It’s a little piece of history and it’s really popular around here, so I don’t see them going anywhere anytime soon :)

  3. September 19, 2010 8:56 am

    We had a drive in just down from my house growing up. It was knocked down when I was about 8 or 9 I think. I remember packing up in the station wagon and going. I don’t remember what we saw either.

    In Ohio the drive in is still up and running just outside Fairborn and other cities. Now you tune your radio to a certain channel and the sound comes in on your car speakers. When we first lived in Dayton you could still get in paying by the car load and but this second time they charged 5 dollars for anyone over 10. Still a good bargain for two movies, if you can stay up that long. The only thing that ruined the movie…the WPAFB flight line. Those big ole planes flying over, couldn’t hear a thing! I am glad my kiddos got to experience it though.

  4. Deanna permalink
    September 19, 2010 8:42 pm

    They are alive and kicking in Tucson, AZ as well. We loved going to the drive in – except we bought a bucket of chicken from KFC for romantic evening! Elizabeth loved going with her friends.

  5. Janet permalink
    September 23, 2010 3:55 pm

    I saw my very first movie at a drive-in with my mom: Disney’s The Fox and the Hound. :o)

  6. Kellie permalink
    September 23, 2010 7:48 pm

    *sigh* Good times… Lots of memories…

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