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Drive-In Theater Memories: Vintage Ads & Marquees

Ah, the drive-in theater. Most Neatoramanauts think they're like bigfoot; they've heard of them but have never seen one. Well, now's your chance.

I grew up in drive-ins, most especially the old Belknap Drive-in in Ft. Worth, Texas. Long gone today, its former site is occupied by apartments - the land just became too valuable with urban sprawl. But the Belknap was great - all you could cram inside of a car, even the trunk, for one low price, a double or triple feature, a playground for small children, right under the screen, kids in pajamas everywhere, a great snack bar with inside seating so you could watch the film, mosquito coils, and they even had a laundromat so mom could do a load or two of washing. And of course, you could bring in your own food and drink. Of course, for many teens, it didn't matter what was playing, if you get my drift. I sat through several dusk-till-dawn features in my youth, always war or horror movies, either old ones or true B-Movies. Nothing like it today.

Drive-ins in the USA largely became extinct in the 1980's; they used to be everywhere and most are now gone. Only in far West Texas, where there is lots of there there, and in the Rio Grande Valley do drive-ins still exist so far as I know, although I have read that they may be making a comeback. I'd welcome it.

In memory of Days Gone By, Flashbak offers a series of vintage ads (people actually read newspapers back then to find such information) and marquees of the era. Sadly, in a last-ditch attempt to survive, many drive-ins began offering adult films (you know the kind) and these pictures reflect that. A sad end, indeed, to go out that way. May the new generation succeed; every kid should experience a night at the drive-in.


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Massachusetts still has 4 but none of the ones that where in or close to Boston still exist. The Neponset Drive-In was the go to back in the sixties and conveniently (for use pajama wearers) had a Dairy Queen on the other side of the highway for the ride home.
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There are 2 in Orange County NY (Warwick and Fair Oaks). Spent many a summer night at the Fair Oaks Drive In during my teen/young adulthood years.
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At its peak of popularity in the 1950s, there were more than 4000 drive-ins. Currently, there are just over 300 left in the United States.
Several factors have been cited for the demise of the drive-in. They were no longer"Passion Pits." The 1960s and the sexual revolution made the "alternate" reason for going to the drive in less appealing. Mall multiplex theaters made it easier to go to the movies. The purpose built movie theaters downtown also fell out of fashion.
The spread of cable TV made movies more available at home, a development enhanced by video recorders.
For many of the marginally surviving drive-ins, the final nail in their coffins was the shift away from film to digital projectors. A feature movie on 35 mm film cost $1500 to print. Shipping cans of film reels to individual theaters adds to the cost. In 2014, Paramount shipped its last 35 mm film print movie; "Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues." Most studios and distributors followed suit. Digital movies are cheaper to distribute. However, marginally profitable drive-ins could not afford the $50,000 to $80,000 necessary to be able to show digital movies. And as a result many closed permanently.
There are some survivors. Here is a good source to find one near you. http://www.driveinmovie.com/
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We had drive-in style places to eat, but we didnt have an actual outdoor drive in movie thing. Wish I couldve experienced that.
That being said - drive-in hamburgers and shakes are the best.
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