I once attended a township meeting in Nescopeck Township, Pennsylvania. The new township building is located in the middle of a barren field, in the former concession stand of an old drive-in. A woman at the meeting suggested that supervisors make the old screen into a sign for the municipal building, as most seem to miss it the first time they drive past, perhaps making the site’s former use just a roadside memory.
Many would say there is nothing quite like taking in a good flick at the drive-in, especially on a nice clear summer night. Catching a brand new movie on an old screen offers just the right blend of nostalgia and appreciation for today’s advances in film. Sometimes, when I am really capturing the moment, for a split second I swear I could blink and see nothing but ’57 Chevys around me, carrying guys in leather coats and gals with pony tails having a swell time.
Sadly though, I keep seeing more and more empty screens, weed-filled driveways leading up to them. Just in my county, there is one in West Wyoming, Pa. (The Moonlight) and another in Larksville. Northeast Pennsylvania is lucky to have one surviving and very active drive-in, although it suffers from the occasional flood. In September 2005, the Garden Drive-In in Hunlock Creek was closed temporarily thanks to Hurricane Ivan’s wrath. But, it was able to reopen for the rest of the fall season.
The Garden reopened for the 2007 season in mid-April. The drive-in is a tradition for many. My fiance’s parents, both of whom are nearing 60-years-old, still go each Friday night to relive their youthful days. And, like his dad does for his mom, my boyfriend often buys me a snack, a soda and a ticket for an outdoor flick. Okay. We actually bring a six-pack.
Sure, the seats aren’t as cozy as the new high-tech stadium seating in indoor theaters. But the food is cheaper- and fresh and hot. (In fact at the Garden Drive-in, movie-goers can get cheesesteaks, hamburgers, French fries, cheese fries, chili dogs and more-and of course popcorn and candy.) And, you won’t even get in trouble for bringing in your own snacks and drinks.
The tickets are cheaper than indoor theaters, too at $6.00 each. And that, my friends, is for a double feature. That’s right. The Garden Drive-In offers two new movies for one price.
I’ve met many people who have never been to a drive-in. I would encourage everyone who is near a drive-in this summer to take in one of the latest box office hits, to pull into the drive-in with snacks and soda in tow, tune in the radio dial to the station broadcasting the audio, recline the seat a little and gaze through your windshield just like our parents and grandparents did. And, for those on dates… it is a little more private.
To find a drive-in near you, visit www.drive-ins.com or www.driveinmovies.com. These sites have local directories and other information about the history of drive-ins. To learn more about the featured drive-in in this story, The Garden Drive-in, you can visit its site at www.gardendrivein.com.
Indulge in the nostalgia while you can. Before you know it, you may be attending a township meeting in a converted concession stand.