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Florida, United States
Southern born, Southern reared. It's a quirky place and we are unique folk... These are my people and these are my stories.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Friday with Friends: "Dorothy Love"

Remember Drive-in Theaters? 

You will after you read this:

A Night at the Movies—Southern Style
Dorothy Love

Driving through the mission district in San Antonio last weekend provided a chance for celebration and sadness. Celebration: a new public library, the Mission Reach branch had just opened and the parking lot was nearly full. A very good sign in a city in which a quarter of residents are illiterate.  But then, just a few blocks away, sadness. One of the last drive- in movie theaters in these parts is being torn down.

When I was girl growing up in a small Southern town, the drive- in was the place to be on hot summer nights. For a couple of dollars a family of five could  park in front of a giant screen, hook a speaker over the lowered car window glass and watch a double feature while sipping Cokes, and eating popcorn and Eskimo Pies.  Pure bliss!

During the mid 50’s, we saw everything from classics such as Twelve Angry Men, The Old Man and the Sea, Gunfight at the Ok Corral, Bridge on the River Kwai, and The Big Country to the improbable and supremely silly: Attack of the 50 Foot Woman, Teenage Monster, Queen of Outer Space, Rockabye Baby, No Time for Sergeants. Anyone remember seeing a movie called The Blob?
Of course I was intensely interested in the trailers for the movies my parents forbade me to see: Peyton Place, The Long Hot Summer, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. Mild by today’s standards but very racy for the 50’s.

As I got a older, going to the drive- in was as much about seeing and being seen as it was about the movie. The drive- in was one of the few places in our tiny town where my friends and I could sit and talk and flirt with boys  and still have our parents keeping watch from the front seat of the Ford parked in the third row.  Even now, the smell of popcorn brings me back to those heady days.

The drive- in originated in New Jersey in the early 1930s. By 1950, almost four thousand of them dotted the landscape. But by 2003, the Boston Globe reported the number at 432. Undoubtedly there are even fewer now. Sure, it’s more comfortable to sit in an air-conditioned multiplex sipping on a ten dollar Coke, but I still miss those languid summer nights at the drive in, when the smell of popcorn, and young love, was in the air.

Want to know more about Dorothy Love? Click here: Southern History with Heart

Add your comments! What is your favorite (and keep it clean!) Drive-in memory?


  1. I only have one memory and it was during college, my boyfriend and I at the Admiral Twin here in Tulsa. No clue what movie played. We hadn't seen each other all summer. :)

    The Admiral Twin burned down last summer. Very sad.

  2. I remember watching Elvis movies with Mama, Daddy and Van. I remembering seeing Airport (with Dean Martin, I think?) on my first double date. I remember watching an absolute ton of movies with friends. One gal, Karen (we called her Katie), drove out of the lane and forgot to take the speaker off the window. I guess you know what happened. Funniest moment came when four of us doubled, but taking two cars. Gary and Karen were in Gary's truck. Rick (my date) and I were in Rick's sports car (can't remember what kind, just remember it was snazzy). This movie was so stupid. Some nurse went to work at a lab where plants ate people. A real "B" horror flick. I finally said to Rick, "This is so stupid. Can we just go get something to eat?" (Was the Shake-n-Burger still around back then? I can't remember...) He said we could and to get Gary and Karen's attention and see if they wanted to go or stay. I looked over (they were parked next to me) and started laughing. Both Gary and Karen were sitting in their seats, eyes wide open, totally GLUED to the bigger-than-life screen. It was cold and I didn't want to get out, so I grabbed Rick's FFA jacket (remember those?) and slung it out the window toward Gary's side of the truck. I had to do this several times before Gary realized something was coming toward him. He thought it was one of those plants! He screamed like a girl, climbed over Karen and was out the passenger door!

    I still laugh about it. Funniest moment EVER!