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Unearthing a Forgotten Drive-In

Out for the clichéd Sunday Drive, I dragged my “better half” to a flea market in nearby London Ontario recently and came up with just one dusty VHS tape of an Art Carney, Michael Landon flick I wasn’t familiar with. Titled Where Pigeons Go To Die it was Landon’s next to last film before passing away far too early at only 54 years of age. Landon for me was a wonderful conveyor of family entertainment on the small screen from Bonanza thru Little House. I’ll confess now to having never watched any of his Highway to Heaven series.

Back to the Drive-In story. It’s while taking the back roads home which is about an hour drive that I pulled a not so legal U-Turn on the “old highway” that used to see way more traffic before major highways took the majority of traffic away from those roads that used to connect small towns. The following photos are what we found and for me convey a sadness of a time in movie history that has all but disappeared. I can’t speak for your area but where I am located, the nearest drive-in is at least 50 kms away and wouldn’t ever dream of having anything but the latest superhero or kids film over a weekend.  Not sure about you but I can still recall ads in the paper from my childhood that had all night terrors playing on weekends that I wasn’t allowed to see and of course my parents had no interest in going anyway. But that only fueled my hunger to see them eventually.

On to the pictures.

Causing that illegal U-Turn….

Years ago, cars would have got in line to see what was beyond the blue fence and pull up at the stop sign to pay their way.

 

Once inside the gates be sure to maneuver your way around the one still standing pole that offered lights in between features or on your way out after the last feature has played to an end.

Hopefully you might find a speaker set with a good angle to the screen so keep yours eyes peeled.

 

Before the show starts lets head on over to the concession stand and see what’s inside.

Hopefully there won’t be a long line.

 

No problem at all. Why don’t you grab the popcorn.

 

Hot buttered for me please……

Before the movie starts……. just in case. I hate to miss any part of the show. You too? 

 

Say, isn’t that the projector room? 

Wonder if we can get a look at what the projectionist sees from inside?

 

When our walk about the grounds came to a close, it was kind of sad to see a tangled mess of colored pipes and concrete near the base of the screen and sure enough, I could make out the teeter totter within the wreckage.

Surprisingly, I found a few keep sakes that I’d like to think I rescued from finding their way to the same resting place as the teeter totter.

Any drive-in memories to share? My first time I think was seeing Grizzly in ’76 after nagging my parents till they’d had enough. Honestly, it’s a part of movie history I wish I’d experienced more of but alas, I was born just a bit to late for the glory years of the drive-in craze.

10 Comments »

      • Mad, Mad, etc. World in a drive- in. Second feature. In the back seat the preschooler and the toddler were finally asleep. The baby, pre-baby car seats, was sleeping in his mother’s lap.
        From the moment Jimmy Durante ‘kicks the bucket’ until the credits rolled, I was cracking up. Trying not to laugh too loud. Trying not to slap the steering wheel too loud. The baby woke up. My wife tried to get him to sleep again, but he would no more close his eyes, and I would howl with laughter. The two boys in the back woke and complained that Daddy kept waking them up.
        What a riot. And every time I watch it on DVD, I can still hear the baby crying, the older boys complaining, and my wife trying to get me to shush up.

        • Thanks for sharing and what a great flick to see at the drive in and just hilarious that you had kids hoping to get some sleep in the car. This in itself makes for a great film clip if only you had been on camera with a wife (hopefully not in the Ethel Mermam style) trying to get you to quiet down. I too love that film and continually revisit it. “Did you see the way he went sailing right out there?”

          • Believe me, Mike, my wife has never acted in that Ethel Merman ‘style’ with me or the marriage would never have lasted these 56 years. It would have lasted about as long as Merman and Borgnine’s real marriage lasted. Although there are times, when she’s hollering for me, I use Dick Shawn’s quote, ‘I’m coming, Momma! I’m coming!’

          • lol. Congrads! That’s a long and successful union. As it’s easy to confuse movies and reality, one sure has to wonder what old Ernie was thinking on that very short marriage. If your real name was Sylvester that line would be even more hilarious!

  1. Drum roll please……And the star post award this month goes to “Mikes Take On The Movies” round of applause.
    What a find! A side hobby of mine is going round derelict buildings and would of been buzzing much like you to find this.
    Very much enjoyed that and love the story to go with it. BTW the steering wheel was made for U-Turns. lol.
    I hope Boris Karloff was on hand to take down any snipers hidden in the drive-in?

    Bit of a Wolfman connection with Michael Landon 🙂

  2. I heard most of them went to the wall in recent years because they couldn’t afford the new digital tech and that was the way films are provided now. Sadly, living in the UK, we never got to experience the drive-in. I’m afraid the weather was probably too much of a hurdle!

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