As summer comes to a close it makes me sad because it’s my favorite time of year. It also makes me step back and realize another season has ended. It seems we just kick off Memorial Day, gear up for the Fourth of July when all of a sudden August arrives and another summer is gone. I always miss those sights and sounds of warm lazy days, the barbecues, picnics, trips to the beach. It all comes to an abrupt end too soon. By the time pre-season football gets here we’re into getting the kids ready for back-to-school and it’s winter again.
That’s why now I think is a perfect time to revisit some of those June to August things we used to love to do as kids. To wile away the Texas summer, we used to pile into the car to swat mosquitoes the size of bumblebees, swelter in the July heat, all just to watch a movie under the starry skies outdoors. It was called a “drive-in” movie. That’s where you stayed in the car and put this gigantic speaker on the side so it would hang off the window and you could hear. I know. I know. It sounds lame. But it wasn’t at all. In fact, believe it or not, it was a very big deal to get to go to the drive-in. At least it was at my house. It certainly didn’t happen every weeknight or even every weekend. It turned just another boring night of television into something to look forward to, something different other than same old same old. I remember my sister and I bonded, maybe for the first time, over Grease, Danny Zuko and Sandy Olsen. Then there was the time after her kids came along that we sat through an anniversary special of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Going meant we’d either bring a cooler with us filled with soda pop, or our own hotdogs and popcorn to save a buck. Or if it was really a special occasion and we’d brought our own money, we’d get to make the trek to the concession stand for Cokes and their hotdogs, or the grilled cheeseburgers with fries. Or maybe we’d get nachos for later if it was a double feature. I always got the nachos just in case. And if for some reason, my parents couldn’t or wouldn’t take me, I’d end up begging a friend to go with them. I even remember the first time a guy took me there to make out.
Times may have changed. But spending time with friends and family at a drive-in still brings back memories. Good ones.
Now, there are only 16 drive-in theaters left standing back in my home state of Texas. And only 368 drive-ins left across the U.S.
Honda is trying to do something about that by launching Project Drive-In. Since the movie industry is converting from film to digital some of American’s oldest drive-ins can’t afford the upgrade. It costs almost $80,000 to make the conversion. By the end of the year the majority of drive-ins will close. Honda wants to prevent that from happening. They’ll donate five digital projectors to five lucky recipients. By getting the word out, we can all be a part of saving a little bit of history. But time is running out. There are only 21 days to act. Go vote here on who gets the money from Honda.
Let’s #savethedrivein if for no other reason than it’s a part of Americana. It’s a part of childhood. Those trips with family and friends are memories that I’d hate to see a generation miss out on enjoying because the drive-in no longer exists. People say seeing a movie at the drive-in was a special treat back in the “old” days. Let’s help preserve that for the ages.
Photo courtesy of Boise City Department of Arts If you’re interested in some facts and figures about drive-ins, visit their website.