(Playground in front, snack bar/projection room
middle, parking all around the snack bar.)
I grew up going to drive-in movies. When I was between 2 and 4 years old my folks would go to the drive-in in Medicine Lodge. I would be dressed in my pj’s for the movie because they knew I would konk out in the back seat during the movie.
I was in high school the next time I went to a drive-in movie in Dodge City. We went to the outdoor big screen on Saturday nights often. One of the reasons we went there was my curfew hours set by my dad.
If we went to the movie in Greensburg, 10 miles away, I had to be home by 10:00. Sometimes we had to leave the movie early to get me home before the curfew. When we went to Dodge to the drive-in movie, it was a 35-minute drive, and for some unknown reason, my curfew was 12:00.
At all drive-in movies the snack bar sat in the center of the parking area. That gave the best picture on screen from the projection room on top of the building. But it was also easier for the moviegoers to get to the snack bar and restrooms.
The three unwritten parking rules most drive-in moviegoers followed:
1. The area nearest the screen was usually occupied by the married couples with children. Usually, there was a playground at the front of the parking lot for the kids that wanted to play before the movie started. That put the kids where most of the other patrons couldn’t hear them.
2. The married without children and older people occupied a few rows just in front of the snack bar and a few rows behind it. It was a shorter walk to get snacks during the movie. It could get dicey walking in the dark from the snack bar with a couple of cokes and popcorn in your hands. You had to walk up and over the short little hills, the cars were parked on for the best angle to the screen.
3. The last rows of parking were for teenagers and their dates. It could get a little rowdy back there with all the unattached boys causing trouble but they were out of range of the owner and most people couldn’t hear them unless they were parked fairly close.
Some kids had pickups and would park backward on the little hill. They would sit in the back of the pickup and enjoy the movie. Sometimes those in the back of pickups were the biggest troublemakers during the movie.
The cost of admission during the 60’s was 75 cents per person (that covered the movie on the screen and the two movies in the cars that were parked beside you).
The guy in the small booth between the in and out driveways would count the kids in the car and collect the money. But there were ways around the price at the drive-in movie and some boys took advantage of it when they could.
Cars in the 60’s were bigger than they are now and they had a huge trunk. We followed a car into the drive-in movie one night with two boys in the car when they paid at the ticket booth. We paid for our tickets and followed the other car in and parked in the row behind it. When the driver got the car parked he jumped out and ran back to the trunk.
I couldn’t believe it when he opened the trunk. There were boys packed in there like sardines. I was surprised that they could get in there in the first place but at least 3 boys tumbled out of the trunk. It looked like a little clown car when clowns keep popping out of it. Who knows how long they had been in there and whether it was worth it to get in free?
When you decided where in the lot and which side of the post that held two speakers to park that determined the window your speaker would hang on. Since I went to the drive-in with my boyfriend in his car the speaker always hung on the driver’s side.
The speaker had to hang on the inside of the window and that was not good when it was cold. The window could not go all the way up with the speaker hanging on it and it let in a lot of cold air. But you could rent little heaters to hang on the opposite window.
You can still see some of the old screens from the past but most are barely standing. They still hold a giant place in history though for the baby boomers generation. We will always have wonderful memories of drive-in movies. To Contact Sandy: [email protected]