Today is Friday, June 6. It is the 158th day of the year with 209 days remaining in 2008.
On this day in history in 1933, the first U.S. drive-in movie was opened in Camden, New Jersey. Those first drive-in moviegoers got to see Wife Beware, a flick not destined to be a classic. The screen measured a huge 40 feet by 50 feet and was easily seen by everyone in the first cars in the front to the 500th car in the back row. Everyone (including the whole town) could hear the sound, too … with a slight delay for the folks in the back row because the sound emanated from speakers mounted next to the screen. Admission was 25 cents per person plus 25 cents for the car, maximum $1.00.
As drive-in movies became popular throughout the country, families would regularly park their cars in the front rows so the kids in their PJs could play on the swings and monkey bars before the movie started and they could fall asleep. The rest parked wherever, since a good number of those moviegoers weren’t there to see the movie anyway! By then, each vehicle was supplied with a speaker attached to a power pole. Seems like the one in my car always had a short and you could only hear every 10th word spoken.
Nicknamed passion pits, some of the outdoor theaters offered in-car heaters and through-your-radio sound. Now, they have all but disappeared. I remember a sign at my drive-in theater that warned “anyone stowing away in the trunk will be tossed out of the theatre immediately.” I was horrified. Who would have done such a thing? It had to be the older kids, not us. Never.
But I remember those times at the drive in – slapping mosquitos, fanning my face with my date’s baseball glove, and being irritated when the sound box shorted out and we never knew how the movie ended.