It was 78 years ago today that the first drive-in movie theater opened. It seemed the Depression would never end, and the young manager of a Camden, New Jersey, auto shop was looking for a little fun. He was also thinking of his somewhat hefty mom who wasn’t comfortable in regular theater seats.
So, thank you, Richard Hollingshead, Jr., of Whiz Auto Products. You not only ushered in a fresh form of entertainment, you gave this country a completely new culture of movie watching, car hopping and dating etiquette. Or lack thereof.
I was about seven, I think, when the young neighbor couple invited my sister Marilyn and me to the drive-in in Centerville. It was a huge deal. Even though they bought us root beer, which we both disliked, and the movie was a Jerry Lewis flick, which I still dislike. My first drive-in double-date was with Donald Harbert…think it was a Jimmy Stewart film and it had cattle in it, but I was far too shy to remember much more of the evening. Including the other couple. But I remember every detail of my one drive-in misadventure at the Highway 2 & 65 junction big screen. Won’t mention the guys’s name, but let’s just say his dad was the local veterinarian and he had an amazing new car with power windows. The first I’d seen, come to think of it. He promptly fell asleep, leaving me to watch The Bible in its entirety, freezing because the damned windows were down and I didn’t know how to close them. (I was wearing the pink-checked empire dress with the grosgrain ribbon tie and had taken all afternoon to get ready, which included my father grumbling at the bathroom door on a couple of occasions.)
Let’s just say we didn’t have a second date.
And that I personally hope never to see Noah and/or John Huston on a giant screen guiding an infinite number of animals into an ark two by two.