Friday, June 4, 2010

The Original Passion Pit

Last week I was supposed to go see Sex and the City 2 at the Vineland Drive-In Movie Theater. But alas it turned out that they were not going to be showing it there. Nonetheless, this made me nostalgic for drive-in theaters. I've been to a couple other drive-ins, and yes, for an actual movie, not just the great swapmeets they have there. The Van Buren Drive-In in Riverside is one I've been to, and watching Kate Hudson in The Skeleton Key whilst I was there was quite frightful I must say. But you don't go to a drive-in just for the movie. It's the whole experience. According to the website, the first drive-in opened on June 6th of 1933. But the inventor, Richard M. Hollingshead, had been working on perfecting the drive-in since 1928. He actually patented his invention in 1933 (although it was declared invalid in a Delaware District Court in 1950). The whole draw to a drive-in was to be able to sit in your car and see and hear a movie. It wasn't until the fifties that the "boom" of drive-ins hit. During this time the experience of going to the drive-in was improved, and you might say, exaggerated. There were pony rides, boat rides, miniature golf, and animal shows. Trailers shown during intermissions were used to raise concession sales, where people were served fried chicken, pizza, and hamburgers, some even with car-side service. From Long Beach to New York some of the largest drive-ins held upwards of 3000 cars, and some were even air-conditioned and heated with full-service cafeterias, playgrounds and shuttle service. Even though I was unable to go to a drive-in for my beloved Sex and the City, I was pretty happy to watch it at the ArcLight in Pasadena, because at least there I enjoyed my reserved seat, cushy accommodations and of course a few drinks with my gal pals. At least we still have a few of the original "passion pits" left today, so I'll have to venture out to one with the significant other soon.

Drive-In Movie in Los Angeles, CA 1949
Photograph by J.R. Eyerman from the LIFE Photo Archive)

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