Do You Remember? Drive-In Theaters or “Outdoor”

Do You Remember? Drive-In Theaters or “Outdoor”

Growing up in small town Wisconsin in the 60’s had its own special charm. While I had a rocky childhood, it’s the summer days spent laying in the grass looking at the clouds, riding bike with my cousins, playing in the sprinkler, eating soft-serve ice cream on Friday night as the carhop roller skated from car to car, and gazing at the twinkling lights of a million fireflies as they lit up the nearby fields that I remember most. Charming as life could sometimes be, even as a young kid, I’d often wonder what I was missing. I’d wait with anticipation as the sky grew dark, knowing that soon I’d be jumping into the back seat of my dad’s Chevy Chevelle. We were headed to the outskirts of town. As we turned off the highway, my senses heightened as I saw the line of cars ahead of us looking like a parade. The ticket booth was straight ahead. Standing like a monument, to my left was the big screen: the Drive In Theater or as we called it “The Outdoor”. During those early years, hard as I tried, I rarely made it to the end of the movie, but Disney characters and fantasies of other worlds danced in my dreams.

By the late 70’s, drive-in theaters were losing popularity as indoor theaters, discos, and fast-food restaurants continued to monopolize the entertainment industry. At times I preferred the action of the nearest city, but I still enjoyed those warm summer nights and the excitement of the big screen. A teenager now, I had graduated from back seat to front and now had the comfort of my boyfriend’s arm wrapped around my shoulders. Rumors always spread about who was having sex with whom, and maybe a few even lost their virginity in the back seat of those old cars. Me, I was always too afraid of getting caught. This being said, going to the drive-in had its challenges. I don’t know what was worse as the movie unfolded. Keeping the windows open so we could feel a breeze on those humid evenings while mosquitos ate us alive, or sweating our butts off with the windows rolled up as we tried to balance the big-ole clunky speaker.

That was a long time ago. The drive-in screen has since been torn down and with it, the end of an era. The rows of pillar speakers are now replaced by fast food restaurants and a supermarket; the sound of crickets exchanged for “Can I take your order please?” Innocence replaced with cell phones, video games, and the internet.

I don’t return to my hometown much anymore. When I do, it’s generally to attend a wedding or funeral. Most who would remember the old Outdoor have died or moved. The current generation doesn’t have a clue and many don’t much care. For me, it feels like yesterday. I still see the silhouette of the screen in my mind. As I close my eyes, I hear children’s laughter. The smell of popcorn still lingers in my nostrils. Tears well in my eyes as I remember the simplicity that doesn’t feel so long ago. Ah, the yesteryears of our youth.

I’d love to hear your favorite drive-in story.

Have a boomin’ week atorvastatin generic.

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