June 21, 2006
Remembering The Drive-In Movies
Oh, do I remember Drive-in Movies!
Raising (4) children in the 50's and 60's, it was a joy to take them in their p.j.'s beginning with the amusement area, moving to the snack bar for treats and graduating to comfy, quilted bedding in our 1958 Chevy Station Wagon. It was a pleasant transition for both parents and children during an Ozzie & Harriet "American Dream" generation, especially on Long Island.
The difficult part was finding the right "spot" to park with a working speaker. Sometimes, we had to switch spaces due to faulty equipment w/o audio. Or, if you were like my Mom, she kept switching the view she desired and my Dad (a NYPD cop, no less) accommodated by driving from space to space endlessly. She did the same in movie theatre's but never understood the difference between changing seats or driving around disconnecting equipment, much to my Dad's consternation — he called her the "Fisherman's Wife" who was never satisfied by the catch of the day!
Anyway, we usually enjoyed the Coram Drive-In on Route 112. Of course, the romance really began for us parents (B.C.; Before Children) at earlier drive-in's. In our case, it was Elmont, on the border of Queens, during High School years with special memories but that's another story for another time.
So, what do I miss? The charm and warmth of my children who were always awed by the experience, no matter how often we went. Second best was not paying per person but $3.00 per car, if I remember correctly. In those days, we had a budget and packed a cooler with extra snacks to supplement what we couldn't afford at the snack bar.
What don't I miss? Carrying the kids back to their beds at home, asleep, in the late evening hours. Second worst, the rest room emergencies during the movie or worse, changing a diaper (no pampers then) in a cramped car.
It was truly a family affair with appropriate films except for one time I remember clearly; a double feature thriller: "Play Misty for Me" starring Clint Eastwood and "Frenzy" starring Michael Caine. Unfortunately, a now grown-up adult daughter remembers it just as clearly. Who knew? I don't remember any parental rating guidelines during that time period.
In summary, I have a beautiful memory of when a rainstorm came unexpectedly at the drive-in; the rhythm, the movement and the flow of the windshield wipers just enhanced the sleeping sounds of my beautiful children. The quietude of that moment remains an enchanting experience forever.
Angela Dell'Amore of Riverhead is the winner of The Independent's writing contest. She will enjoy dinner at Della Femina's Restaurant in East Hampton!