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06 June 2016

Guess what turns 83 today? Happy Birthday drive-in movies!

(Courtesy: www.movies.com)

And I bet the popcorn was rubbery and cold that first night in Camden, N.J. back on June 6, 1933.

That's when Richard Hollingshead Jr., an auto parts salesman, invented the drive-in movie by putting a projector on the hood of a car and parking it in front of two bedsheets tied together and strung up in the yard.

Why, Richard?  Why did you do something that launched a million childhood memories and, more than likely, had more than a little to do with the Baby Boomer population explosion back in the 1940s and '50s?

According to an article posted on the movies.com website on this anniversary date in 2013, it was a gift for Mom:

"'His mother was — how shall I say it? — rather large for indoor theater seats,' Jim Kopp of the United Drive-in Theatre Owners Association told Smithsonian."

The drive-in movie fad caught on fast, of course, especially in the '40s when the concept of in-car speakers enhanced the experience.

"The 1950s were the heyday of the drive-in, with over 4,000 theaters across the country. Audiences primarily watched B movies, since regular theaters usually had dibs on screening first-run films. And yes, there were some X-rated features shown at drive-ins. That seems awkward, but remember that drive-ins were a mecca for public make-outs and steamier shenanigans.

"Still, drive-ins were largely a family venture, since babies and young children could be tended to during the film without interrupting fellow viewers. Hollingshead advertised his theater with the slogan: "'The whole family is welcome, regardless of how noisy the children are.'"

There are a few drive-ins scattered around these days, but you have to seek them out.  The thriving home-viewing market basically the drive-ins out.  That and the fact that movie fans discovered they could make their own rubbery, stale popcorn at home.

Do you have a memorable drive-in experience you'd like to share?  Here's a link to one of mine.

Post yours here as a comment and we'll all time-warp back to carefree youth when movie screens had swings and slides in front of them and -- in later years -- what was lighting up the movie screen was often of little or no importance.



I loved the drive in movies in Lake Charles, LA-- but hated the mosquitos that would whine in our ears then bite our exposed arms and legs.. The first thing we'd buy wasn't a Coke or pop corn, but a PIC mosquito coil to burn in the rear seat window ledge. Once the coil was lit, the smoke gave effective mosquito relief (and they still sell them today!). The speakers at our favorite drive-in, the New Moon, were mostly tinny, loud and even slightly garbled, but it didn't matter to us because we could talk, eat, and even fall asleep if we wanted.

My dad built a booster-type seat that fit into the back seat of the car. That way when my sister and I were little we could see over my parents heads and still be able to see the screen.

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