Log In   ·   Become A Member

Sixty-Something: The Nostalgia Of A Drive-In Experience

T.J. Clemente

The 2020 North Fork TV Festival was held via drive-in. (Photo: TJ Clemente)

There was a time earlier in the lifetime of most sixty-something folks that the mighty drive-in movie theater played a prominent role in our social lives. It was a way for families, teen dates, and groups of friends to go to see feature films and enjoy a different way of seeing movies. I don't recall ever going to a drive-in theater in the wintertime. My recollections are of hot summer nights - and only once when it was raining.

In these recent COVID-19 times, the "drive-in" concept is making a comeback. Recently a few organizations, such as Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center, The North Fork TV Festival, and The Gateway Playhouse, have used the format to present movies, concerts and even a festival. It has shown innovative, forward-thinking, proactive individuals trying to think outside the box during this pandemic.

Going to such an event, the North Fork TV Festival, this last weekend brought back some nostalgic reminiscing. My first recollection was as a very young single digit kid who went with my family and my cousin's family in two cars to a drive-in, while visiting them somewhere on Long Island.

The first thing I recall was driving there and folks waiting on line in the cars and paying to enter the outdoor facility. Then you would see the actual really huge outdoor screen built on a huge wall towering over the parking lot. In those days, it was magical seeing Lauren Bacall's face three stories high and talking with that look she usually gave when she delivered her lines. I remember the weird metal speaker that would attach to the car window and its bizarre sound, sort of like the movie sound was coming out of a tin can. You could not control the sound, so everyone in the car had to be quiet or miss the dialogue. Yet, if you got out of the car to go to get refreshments or to the bathroom, you could hear the dialogue of the movie as you passed all the cars. It was surreal. I distinctly remember passing a convertible car as a young kid. In the car at the drive-in were two pairs of teens on dates doing some intense kissing in the front and backseats. I "tried" not to stare, but did catch a glimpse of the intense locked-lipped energy. I remember thinking, "wow they are missing the movie."

Then there was the going before the movie to buy popcorn and soft drinks and other treats. I remember my dad ordering like five popcorns, and four large soda drinks. My dad was never a soda pop drinker that I ever recalled, but, of course, he had a beverage of his own that he shared with my mom, and I know it wasn't milk.

I recollect sort of a children's park in front of the screen with swings, monkey bars and benches where the kids could go before the movie began. However, once the movie was about to begin, almost everyone headed to their cars except a few who watch from lawn chairs! You see it wasn't just going to the movies, it was like going to what we later in the wonderful sixties called "a happening."

Much later, in my teens and early twenties, I also remember driving on highways at night on trips and passing drive-in theaters and peeking to see what movie was on the screen. Seeing Godzilla on a big screen from a car doing at least 65 MPH is an experience I remember, and yes, for those brief seconds I still got scared.

Slowly, one by one, drive-in theaters closed. Some sort of aged like old world ruins, others became strip malls or industrial parks. For some reason, they all just died off all over the USA.

But now due to COVID-19, the concept has made a comeback. I am not sure if this is a comeback or just drastic measures in desperate times, but there I was last Saturday at the Borghese Winery grass field in front of a big screen surrounded by rows of cars. Yogi Berra might have said, "It was déjà vu all over again."

Related Articles:

Be the first to comment on this article. (Just fill out the form below)

Submit Your Comment

Please note, you are not currently logged in. Your comment will be submitted as a guest.
To submit your comment as a member, please click here.
Your Name:
* Comments will be reviewed and posted in a timely fashion
* All fields are required
What color is the sky?
(For spam prevention, thanks)
East End Tick Control
The East End's only New York State licensed dedicated tick and mosquito control specialists!

Hamptons Carpet One Floor & Home
We pay less,and so do you.With over 1,000 stores in our buying group, we can get the lowest prices from the best flooring manufacturers — and pass the savings on to you.Visit our other locations: Hamptons Carpet One Floor & Home, 675 North Sea Road,Southampton, NY 11968

Southampton Masonry-Visiting the Southampton or the Wainscott locations is an exciting experience.
Southampton Masonry has been serving Long Island's masonry and tile needs since 1975. Delivering quality products from Manhattan to Montauk for over three decades. The company's continued success is due primarily to their number one priority: customer satisfaction, with a promise of prompt and courteous service from the professional, knowledgeable staff. Southampton Masonry has the largest inventory on the east end. As direct importers they can offer a large variety of the finest quality products at the most competitive pricing for both your interior and exterior projects.

Southrifty Drug 54 Jagger Lane, Southampton Village
Southrifty Drug is a small, neighborhood pharmacy with limited shelf space, and we have to be very selective about which over-the-counter items we carry. As a result you'll find a no nonsense concentration of very effective, high quality and useful products on our shelves. In this new section, we feature a number of these products that we feel are especially worthy of your consideration.

Burner Law Group, P.C.
Burner Law Group, P.C. are full service elder law attorneys concentrating in the areas of Estate Planning, Trust and Estate Administration and Litigation, Special Needs Planning, Guardianship and Elder Law. Offices in East Setauket‚ NY, Westhampton Beach, NY, and New York, NY.

Suburban Propane in Bridgehampton, New York has been serving proudly supporting our community for 90 years.
Suburban Propane has been serving the energy needs for home owners and business in the Hampton’s for decades. We offer friendly service by local professionals you know and trust, plus the peace of mind that comes from knowing we are among the leaders in the industry for safety.