Nancy Roman

The Drive-In

Summer is finally here!  

I love Summer. And it makes me remember the Drive-In. So here is a reprise from four years ago.



You know what I miss?

I miss the Drive-In.


drive-in. (Photo credit: eaortmann)

Drive-Ins were such a weird invention. Some nut-case (actually his name was Hollingshead) way back in the twenties decided that it would be a great idea to sit in your car and watch a movie.

It took about twenty years to perfect the screen and the sound… and boy, was it far from perfected.  But I loved it.

When I was a little kid, we used to go to the Plainville Drive-In. We’d get there early, because we wanted a good parking space, and because they had a great playground. The playground had trampolines. Oh my God, that was the coolest thing.

My little brother could not figure out the trampoline. He was barely more than a toddler, and he couldn’t jump with both feet at the same time. It was hysterical–for me anyway. He was the baby boy after three girls in a row (me being number three), and everyone adored him. So naturally I was delighted by his stupidity.

I loved the movies but sometimes it was a toss-up whether I would watch the movie or jump on the trampoline all night. (My mother solved that dilemma for me.)

Most kids wore their pajamas to the Drive-In, which I thought was especially festive. Like Christmas Eve in the middle of summer. But my mother didn’t like us to go out in pajamas. Sometimes I could sweet-talk her into letting me change into pajamas once the movie started. Then I’d pretend I had to use the restroom, so I could walk around outside in my PJs.

We’d watch the movie – usually a double feature with a long intermission (filled with dancing popcorn and hot dogs and cups of coca-cola to promote the overpriced concession stand) through our scrubbed, but still blurry, windshield. Sometimes we watched through raindrops. There was a post with a speaker that Dad precariously attached to the windshield. The tinny sound was awful and fantastic at the same time.  And there was always someone who would drive off with the speaker still attached, and they’d rip it right off the pole. I loved that part.

If you opened the windows you were invaded by mosquitoes. If you didn’t, the windshield would steam up. My sisters and I would play tic-tac-toe on the side windows. Of course, there were some cars that were extra steamy.

We saw some wonderful movies at the Drive-In. I think so anyway. I can only recall one. We went to see “Hatari” with John Wayne. My Daddy loved The Duke.

It wasn’t playing at my beloved Plainville Drive-In. We went to the Watertown Drive-In, which we had never been to before. My father couldn’t find the place and we drove around for a long time, so naturally my father had to stop the car twice so I could throw up. We got to the movies late, and my mother let me watch standing outside the car in the cool air. I could hear the sound from the big speakers blaring from the concession stand. Baby elephants followed around a very pretty actress.

When I was sixteen, the Drive-In changed. And changed me.

I went to see “Two For The Road” with Audrey Hepburn – and with Kenny. My mother reluctantly gave me permission. Kenny’s mother did not, but he was embarrassed to tell me, and so he snuck out of the house. We double-dated with kids I don’t remember at all. I do remember the movie. It was exceptional, and it’s still one of my all-time favorite movies.

And then the second feature came on. I don’t remember it any more than I remember the other kids in the car.

The windshield steamed.

Bye Bye, Trampoline.

Hello, Tramp.


  1. Ray G

    Only slightly apropos to your blog:
    I am constantly amazed at how much better John Wayne exists in my estimation, the older I get! Whether it’s his acting, horsemanship, or his legend, the guy just keeps getting better. And, being of the same opinion as your dad was, just makes it better.


    • I like most of John Wayne’s movies. A few are pretty awful though… but “The Quiet Man” is terrific, and a lot of the westerns are great entertainment.


      • Ray G

        My two fave’s are “The Quiet Man”, and “True Grit”. “The Searchers” comes awfully close on their heels.


        • I agree on your first two. I have to confess, although I’ve read so much about it, I have never seen “The Searchers.” I also like “The Cowboys” and “The Shootist.”


          • Susan

            You should have lived in our house -Daddy & John Wayne were almost 1 name. I swear, if , “She Wore a Yellow Ribbon” was on TV on Christmas Eve – you never would have seen us. How I hated that movie for years, but now, I watch it, and it’s not bad. I can still say most of the lines by heart. His 2nd favorite was Quiet Man, but any John Wayne movie would do.


  2. This is great! Loved your ending. Ah, yes, the drive-in. The name of ours was the Plantation. I still remember going in December, 1968 – with Ronnie – in the snow. Have no clue what movie was showing!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Living here in Connecticut, I can’t imagine December at the Drive-In.! “Funny Girl” was really big at that time. How I loved that one!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Reblogged this on ugiridharaprasad.


  4. Loved the drive-in for a while, but being stuck in the backseat with four younger siblings wasn’t conducive to good movie watching. And yes, the mosquitoes were ready in droves as soon as the windows were cracked because the window steamed up. 😀 😀 😀
    Thanks for the memories, Nancy.


    • I remember my little brother falling asleep with his head in my lap. He was sweating and his head was quite stinky. I remember wondering why in the world my parents ever wanted a boy.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ha ha ha. I supposed girls are like that…details, details. Why would any parents want a boy. You are hilarious. 😀 😀


  5. 1955 Teenagers + drive in movies = me 😉…during the 70’s when I was dating age I was not allowed to go on dates to the drive in, just incase that history was repeated 😊


    • I actually think your conception was very cool indeed! I am guessing it must have been a boring movie though. If it had been “Rebel Without A Cause”, you might never have been born!


  6. The drive in in Fort Worth has been revitalized and reopened. It’s called the Coyote Drive-in.


  7. Oh how I loved the drive-in movies! We went to the Maple Leaf Drive-In to see lots of movies when I was a kid. When I was 16 I even worked there as a car hop, taking money for tickets and letting my friends in for free. Of course I can’t think about a drive-in without remembering the days when a boy would take me to a movie there. We’d sit on top of the hood of the car, lean against the windshield, and snuggle close. No steamed-up windows that way. Thanks for the memories!


    • Ah, but the inside of the car gave you more privacy with a boy!


  8. Hell yes I miss the drive in, there is a drive in about 30-40 minutes from here and my daughter often goes with her son and nephew as it works out cheaper and she likes that if her son gets tired he just lays down and goes to sleep.


    • Haha! I remember going to the drive-in with my sister and her husband and their 1-year old to see Star Wars… (the 1 year old is 40 now, by the way). We figured he’d fall asleep right away, but it turned out he thought jumping around the car for 3 hours was great fun!


  9. My drive-in memories are very similar to yours! Added to which, my first summer job was working at the concession stand at the local drive-in. It was a family-owned business and they treated us like family too — a perfect introduction to the working world. It’s sadly long gone now, but I remember it fondly.


    • I never worked at the drive-in, but working at a drive-in figured into my novel in a small way. The character was a lawyer who thought it was more fun than lawyering.


  10. Excellent memory.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. We went to the Skyway drive-in when I was a kid (in Las Vegas, Nevada). The only way Mom and Dad could afford to go out was to take us four kids with them. Most of the movies were way over our young heads and we quickly went to sleep in the back seat. I was always surprised when I fell asleep in the car at the movies and woke up the next morning in my own bed, Daddy having carried me into the house without even waking me up. One blessing of drive-ins in the desert: no mosquitoes! There is still a very popular drive-in here, where I live in Maine, but I’ve never been.


    • That’s a nice memory. I haven’t been in decades, but I think I should go again, just to reminisce.


  12. Ray G

    I see a pattern here! The ladies tell all their drive-in secrets, but we guys are gentlemen and keep silent.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Oh my God, I loved drive-ins and loved “Two for the Road,” one of my favorite Audrey Hepburn movies. You brought back so many great memories. Thank you.


    • I still love that movie. And the music! In my opinion, the best song Henry Mancini ever wrote. I am not much of a musician, but I learned to play that song on the piano.


  14. Same here! Two for Road! Drive ins! Tho my steamy memory is of Bonnie and Clyde. I really really didn’t want to make out with my date, so I kept my mouth full of popcorn (!)


    • I remember being quite shocked by Bonnie & Clyde. Shocked by how violent it was, and shocked that I loved the movie anyway.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Great post and I can relate to a many of those remembrances. And your last two lines made me literally laugh out out, or as the kids may say “LLOL”



  1. Double-dating at the drive-in with Bonnie and Clyde – lutheranliar looks at life

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