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Saturday, Apr. 30, 2016

Drive-ins making comeback

Monday, June 4, 2007

Drive-in at Gosport still beckons to summer movie fans.
A fading part of American culture is making a slight comeback -- the drive-in movie.

Many of us remember those days of piling in the family beater and making the trek to the local drive-in on the weekend. The sights, the smells, the fun.

The drive-in is a uniquely American creation and since its inception, the numbers of active drive-ins have dwindled since their heyday in the 1950's. But today they are making a comeback and are waiting for you.

What is the allure of a drive-in? It's like a slip in time. As soon as you pay your money and enter the gates, you are transported back to childhood or at least a time of innocence. You remember the first movie you watched, the first time you had your own corndog or maybe, for the older folks, a stolen kiss on a first date. Whatever you remember though, most of the time it is positive.

The drive-in theater was invented by Richard Hollingshead in New Jersey in 1933. After the initial idea, Hollingshead nailed sheets between a couple trees, hooked up projector, placed a radio behind the screen and voilá, the craze was born.

Hollingshead was one of the first to think of interaction between patron and movie. One of his cooler ideas was to rig a sprinkler system to simulate rain as it rained in the movie. That's what it's all about.

The craze might have ignited on the east coast but Indiana would fan the flames. Indiana is a near perfect location for drive-ins with so many open rural areas. Indiana would hit its peek in 1958 with 125 drive-ins in operation. That number started to slowly wane during the 1960's, until there are now only 21 still in operation.

Among best drive-in around this area was the Meadowbrook north of Greencastle. It has taken on almost mythic proportions in my memories.

Now a great local haunt is the Cinema 67 drive-in. It is located at the junction of highways 67 and 231 South, so it is just a short trip from Greencastle.

Unlike the multiplexes of today, drive-ins like the Cinema 67, have character and personality. Movie houses today are lifeless. They provide a movie but no experiences. The drive-in is nothing but experiences.

So much of the drive-in is not about the movies. It is the sense of communion-groups of people getting together, creating experiences, but most of all having a good time. When was the last time you went to a multiplex and talked to more than the person you brought and weren't condemned for it?

The whole personal movie experience has been forgotten, especially by those at the multiplexes. We want a movie, we want a good time, we want an experience and today, that is getting harder and harder to come by.

Our last great hope is the rebirth of our American drive-ins.

In a day where it seems everything blasted at us is negative, we need this refuge. A place to reconnect with who we are and let the pleasures of yesteryear find their way back into our lives. Let those feelings and emotions we all had as children take a more prevalent role in our lives today and learn to laugh again.

A piece of our childhood is waiting for us to be rediscovered. What are you waiting for?

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