all of the selves we Have ever been
The world has changed
since we learned of the coronavirus.
People are talking about the ways in which life will continue to transform during and after recovery from this pandemic. In the new future, we may not exchange handshakes or hugs. We may be wearing face masks at social gatherings and carrying canteens full of hand sanitizer.
While we focus on the rituals that we will leave behind, one blast from the past that I hope makes a comeback is drive-in movie theaters. Remember those?
With our concerns about keeping a safe distance and the closing of the retail establishments that took over many of the former drive-in parking lots, it seems like the right time to scale up that delightful form of summer entertainment.
Despite DVDs, cable and streaming services, people still like to go to the movies. There is something about seeing a film on the big screen that makes us feel more engaged, like we are in the story too. Many movie theaters are updating to make a more exciting and comfortable movie-going experience. These modernized venues have bars where you can purchase alcoholic beverages and a growing menu of restaurant foods. Some theaters will even serve you in your seat. People also rave about the new chairs---plump, comfy recliners! There is special matinee and senior pricing and movie rewards club memberships to make attending shows more affordable.
But is all of this really new? The drive-in had this all covered beginning way back in the 1950s.
A trip to the drive-in was no casual matter. It involved a certain amount of planning even if on short notice. There was a level of excitement in the preparations that left a child’s heart brimming with joyful anticipation.
No complaining about the seat selection. You brought your own seat, and you could bring a pillow and a blanket too.
The screen was as big as a building. And each car had its own speaker, so you were in charge of the volume. You could have some control over the people who talk and make noise during the movie. No kid with a brain wanted to be ejected from his or her seat and have to sit outside on the gravel! If you chose to separate yourself, you could always bring a lawn chair and stretch out alongside the car.
If the movie proved to be too long or a big dud, there was usually a play area, a snack bar, restroom, or a neighboring car full of kids as restless you. You could leave your seat and move around in small groups without causing a scene.
There were no rules against bringing your own snacks. If you wanted a full meal, you could bring a feast in a cooler. There was no need to mortgage the house to pay for snacks for a family of six or eight. You could bring a full bar if you wanted as long as your behavior didn’t get out of hand. The theater manager didn’t know and didn’t care.
Your auto was your ticket, one small fee per car. You could bring as many people as you wanted. Talk about good pricing! And, most exciting of all, you could come in your PJs! That was about as risqué as a seven year old could imagine—going out in public in your pajamas. The drive-in got more salacious for teenagers who came there for a cheap date and making out, but they didn’t usually come in their pajamas. That would have been way too obvious.
Some of those old drive-ins had five or six hundred parking spaces. When you multiply the number spaces by the amount of people in each car that is quite a crowd! Will we ever be able to safely gather in those numbers again? Maybe we can. At the drive-in.