Elegy for a Drive-In

For the past decade, Sean and I have spent many a summer’s eve at our local drive-in. Many. We’ve had 5 different cars there. We’ve been there in our earliest dating days, the summer of our engagement, after we were married, and with 4 dogs in the backseat. We’ve been there rain and shine, we’ve been there through clouds of mosquitoes and minor tornadoes. We’ve watched movies through steamed up windshields thanks to hot pizzas on the dashboard, and steamed up windshields from lots of making out.

And now the drive-in is closed, suddenly and not suddenly. I mean, there was no warning other than the fact that drive-ins generally have struggled to stay alive and that ours personally suffered a steep decline last summer. First it tried out offering only a single movie (instead of the drive-in’s classic double feature). And the thing is, 9 times out of 10, Sean and I had already seen the movie that was playing – and that’s always been true. We see movies the day they’re released, if not before, and in the summers we’d typically see it again, 2-4 weeks later when it finally hit the drive-in. That movie was usually paired with a movie that had flopped at the box office over the winter, so we didn’t normally care for the second movie, and it was a great time to get in some extra canoodles. To galoche, if you will. The French don’t call it French kissing, they call it galocher, and we were firmly on the French side of the border at this particular drive-in, which had bilingual screens (the french screen often had first-run movies on their actual opening weekends, and we tried not to feel too resentful about it). Anyway, the film offerings went from bad to worse last year, and it was increasingly difficult to find reasons to go. We did our best to support them, always making a point of buying something from the canteen even when it wasn’t strictly necessary (called “le restaurant” during the french intermission announcement, and curiously translated as “de snack barrrr” in the english one).

Anyway, we miss it already. Dearly. Our next nearest drive-in is the Port Elmsley, which is an hour and a half away. I suppose that’s not too terrible; we went last year before ours was even open, and we did a TRIPLE feature and then drove home because we crazy. And we do love our drive-ins. So I guess now we have to be prepared to commute in order to support our “local” drive-in. If you’re lucky enough to have one near you, love it. Hold it close. See a double feature for me.

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9 thoughts on “Elegy for a Drive-In

  1. James Morazzini

    I miss drive-ins but once VHS became the way to see B horror and action films they were on the way out. Unless you absolutely couldn’t go the length of a movie without a cigarette, (like my father), there was no reason to go and see films that already had a good run at the mall multiplex

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  2. J.

    I’ve always wanted to go to a drive-in, but there’s just none here (again, UK weather). Sorry to hear your local has closed.

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  3. Christopher

    I’ve never been to a drive-in–it’s on my list of things I’d dearly love to try but I’ve never been able to find one near me–but I know what it’s like when a beloved, and often struggling, small business disappears. It leaves a hole in more than just the neighborhood.
    One of these days I’ll find a drive-in and get a group of friends together and go. We may not indulge in any canoodling, but there is another drive-in tradition that I think we should respect…I just hope that once we get in they remember to let me out of the trunk.

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  4. StephLove

    The only time I’ve lived near a drive-in was when I was in college. Beth and I went to see Beetlejuice during the summer of ’88, when we’d been dating about a year. Good times… I think that was the last time I’ve been to one.

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  5. Invisibly Me

    Aww that’s so sad. I’m sad for you! We don’t have drive-ins in the UK but I’ve always wished we did. Of course I see them in the movies and think ‘I want to go!’ but it’s understandable given how so many businesses are struggling that drive ins are also taking the hit. x

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