Friday, October 12, 2018

Let's All Go To The Lobby

There was a time when almost every town of any size had a drive-in movie theater. We simply called them drive-ins.

Drive-ins showed all the movies that the walk-in theaters showed. They had concession stands so you could buy snacks and drinks just like a regular theater. But you could also take your own snacks so you could save some money.

Some drive-ins charged by the car to gain admission. Some charged by the person in the car.

The ones that charged per person are the ones who spawned the tradition of sneaking people in under blankets on the floor of the back seat or in the trunk. You see it often in the movies.

When you entered into the drive-in lot you found your favorite place to park your car. There were slopes to park on so that the front of your car was slightly elevated. That way you could slouch comfortably in you seat and see the movie perfectly.

Mounted on a post was a speaker that you hung from the window of the car so you could hear as well as see the movie. If you were really lucky no car parked on the other side of the pole and you could use that speaker too. Stereo.

This was a great way for a family to see the movie. The children could dress in their pajamas and fall asleep if they wanted to. Bags of popcorn and soft drinks of choice were already in the car.

You could take blankets along. Often they were spread on the roof or hood of the car. The children would stretch out to watch the movie.

At the front of the parking lot below the giant movie screen was a small playground. While waiting for it to get dark enough to begin the movies the children could play. It allowed them to get rid of some of the energy built from the excitement of being at the drive-in. They could also run up there during intermission.

Speaking of intermission those cartoons they show of the hot dogs and buns singing "Let's All Go To The Lobby" have been around as long as I can remember. There are a series of commercials to entice you to visit the lobby located in a cement block building in the center of the parking lot. There you could buy popcorn, soft drinks, and candy. They sold hot dogs and there was a condiment bar with ketchup, mustard, and relish. All were overpriced which made them taste better.

Fridays and Saturdays were date nights. The drive-in made for a good date. There are many reasons. It does not cost a lot of money. If it is a double date the costs can be shared. Probably the most appealing is that there is plenty of opportunity for snuggling.

Often we would have a group of "steadies" (those who were in exclusive dating relationships). We would arrive at the drive-in at about the same time and park our cars all around each other. It kept "outsiders" away. It was like having a movie party.

The best part of the drive-in was on the screen. The action began with a couple of previews for upcoming movies. There weren't as many as you see today because they only advertised the movies coming to the drive-in.

We got to see twice as many previews. The reason is that our drive-in, The Gordon Twin Drive-In, had two, count 'em, two movie screens. They showed different movies so we had a choice.

After the previews we usually saw at least one news reel and maybe three cartoons. That was settling-in-time to get ready for the first movie. You might even get lucky and they would have a short movie .

Did I say first movie? That is because there were three movies. The first was a new movie. Hopefully it would be a good one. The second was an older movie perhaps considered to be a classic even if it was not more than a B western or a sappy comedy. Often the last was a horror movie.

They saved the scary ones for last because the small children were asleep. For the daters it was a good excuse to huddle together for comfort.

It is sad that the drive-in theater is a thing of the past. There are very few left in the whole country. They were such a staple of life in the fifties and sixties.

If you have not been to the drive-in and get the opportunity please go. If nothing else you will be able to say you did it.


  1. The last time I went to a drive-in movie was in 1968 in Poughkeepsie, New York, just before we moved to Florida, with the wife and three small children. The children lay on a bed of blankets and quilts in the back of our brand new 1968 Ford station wagon. The movie was "The Sound of Music"! Good memories today, Emma!

    1. I used to take my children too. I was happy when they had heaters to help keep the car warm in winter.

  2. What I remember about drive-in movies was that they were great places for teenagers to go with their steady and make out.

    We still have two in my area that the kids and grandkids love to go to in the summertime.

  3. We had several to chose from. There still is one drive in, way, way out in the country.

    1. They used to be all over the place. Now they are hard to find.

  4. In my old childhood memories there comes the cinema only that we watched as children with my parents dear Emma!

    though there is slight memory comes in mind of big white sheet upon which projector threw the light and we saw the movie in the village only few times but no theater or cinema was near
    we had to take drive of two hours to reach cinema so it was occasionally and expensive fun

  5. In the drive-in of my youth, there was a playground so bored children could get out and play.

    1. Yes. They would wear themselves out and fall asleep in the car so the adults could watch the movies in peace.

  6. There wasn't a drive in the NJ town where we lived, but there was one on off the highway about a 20-minute drive away. We didn't go often when I was growing up, but I remembered everything you mentioned in this post, Emma. And, you are right in saying it's a pity there are not more left.

  7. Can you imagine, Emma: I've never been to a drive-in (I think they are very rare in Germany). But in summer we have about 12 cinemas in open air in Berlin, at least.

    1. It must be glorious to watch in the open air. I will be writing about the "free show" from my childhood soon.