Spring is in the air and summer will be here shortly. With both comes the return of activities that the warmer weather can only bring. And one of those I was able to enjoy just the other night…the Drive-In.
There aren’t many of these left in existence today. Most will say it’s because of the rise of the multiplexes and their huge screens, digital surround sound systems, stadium seatings and plush recliner seats. While I love the movie theater experience, no matter how amazing it seems to get each and every year, I continue to be drawn to finding drive-in theaters and reliving one of the good moments I had in my childhood.
It’s true as they say, the older one gets, the more nostalgic one becomes with things of the past. While my childhood was filled with many unsettling moments, there are some that I am beginning to remember when I felt happy, the more that I heal. Going to the drive-in was one of them.
In my hometown, Poughkeepsie, NY, there were at least four drive-in’s in local proximity that my family would go to quite often throughout the summer. My family liked following the same habits a lot so that when we would attend the drive-in on a summer night, it would always be the same pattern. Dinner would be McDonalds take out where I usually had two cheeseburgers, an order of fries, and a diet soda. We would eat it after finding the spot to park the family station wagon which was faced backwards towards the movie screen. I can still remember sitting on the tailgate, eating that meal back then which I always found to be delicious. Today I’m not so sure but that’s because I’m a more health conscious person and McDonalds isn’t the first place I think of when it comes to eating healthy. Anyway, I usually devoured that meal so that I had a good half hour to hour on the playground that was situated right below the large movie screen. I spent most of my time riding on this contraption that doesn’t really exist anymore because of the danger it brought over the years. I can only describe it as a circle of interconnected benches that sat on top of a spindle, that someone would grab onto and run as fast as they could until at the last second, they would hop on it and enjoy a dizzying spin. Between that and the swings which I usually loved jumping off of once I got really high, I was always quite excited by the time the first movie was about to begin. My parents were pretty strict about the movie ratings with my sister and I. So for most of those drive-in experiences, I could only watch the first movie and not the second as it was beyond my age range they would tell me. With it, I was supposed to fall asleep but never really did. I remember one time I peaked over the seat without getting caught and watched a bit of Animal House that was “R” rated. I know today that wouldn’t be that big of a deal to many children who’s parents allow them to see just about anything at the movies but for me it was exhilarating.
Thankfully, there are others like me around today who are nostalgic and still enjoy going to a drive-in during the warm summer months. Poughkeepsie still has two in operation but I live no where close to there now. Unfortunately in the area of Massachusetts where I still live, there aren’t any close by. Where my partner lives though, there’s one still left behind in operation and that’s where I found myself with him this past Saturday night. There are some differences today from back then that I notice have evolved over time. Gone are the playgrounds where I once would have played. Gone are the bright colored poles with the small radios that would have gone on a car window to listen to the movie. And gone are the reel to reel devices the movies were brought in on, having been replaced by digital versions. Regardless of those changes, I still enjoyed my time there watching Oblivion and Identity Thief. Although I must say, what’s funny is that I really liked the first movie which my parents would have allowed me to see as a kid. The second movie, the “R” rated one, I didn’t like at all.
Thinking back to just a few years ago, I probably wouldn’t have enjoyed going to any drive-inn because everything that I thought of with my family brought back the bad memories and not the good ones. As I have worked hard this past year in turning my entire will over to God, I have found more healing from all those not so happy childhood memories and begun to remember all the good ones. Going to the drive-in was just one of them and now today because of all that work I am doing on myself, I can enjoy this experience and think back to a time in my life where I knew my parents loved me and that being a kid was pretty cool.
Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson