The Drive-In Theatre

The Drive-In Theater - Life imitates commerce imitates art.

The Drive-In Theatre
The Drive-In Theater – Life imitates commerce imitates art.

KGIL – Drive In Pre-show and Intermission Feature – July 18-31, 1962 -John Wilson Collection –

The Drive-In Movie Theater – once a staple in the diet of 1950s and 1960s America. Faded from view in the 1970s with the advent of home video and the ensuing VHS/Betamax wars – all but extinct today with streaming video, Netflix and iPads. Rumors that the once lowly temple of cheap entertainment is making something of a comeback, during these precarious times, is causing many to gaze vacantly into space, unsure what a Drive-In exactly is, while others wax misty over sultry summer evenings being able to do in a car what you couldn’t do in your local movie house.

Drive-ins were something of a rite of passage during their heyday. As a kid, it was a Saturday night adventure; packed into the family car, lumbering off to the hinterlands where you sat with a twenty pound bag of popcorn while you tore off chunks of the crispy manifold Chicken your mom made because buying anything at the drive-in was too expensive, and she had the chicken down to a science; wrapping it in aluminum foil and securing it to the engine block so it would be nicely done by the end of the 20 mile ride to Valley Circle Drive-in.

As a teenager it was cramming as many of your friends into the trunk and only paying for two admissions because getting away with something was a rite of passage too. You could smoke, drink warm beer and raise a certain amount of hell because it really was outdoors and not even the management seemed to mind. As a dating ritual it afforded technicolor entertainment while allowing exploration of urges and the making of certain assurances as love scenes on the big screen couldn’t hold a candle compared to the one going on in your Ford. And you could never recall the name of the movie you saw anyway and had no idea what it was about.

The Drive-In Theater was a cultural oasis – it embraced just about everybody who had a car and a wide swath of society lined up, paid their money, followed the dancing flashlights, drove to assigned spots, unhooked the metal box draped over the iron stand you parked next to, hung it on the drivers side window, turned on the speaker, listened to a pre-show avalanche of nondescript tunes and plunged head-first into three hours of urban bliss.

And to jog your memory, if you are one of those who remember those weekly summertime pilgrimages, is one of those pre-show and intermission dee-jay programs, beamed to your car speaker, just as it did in July 1962. This one made by local station KGIL in the San Fernando Valley.

Good times were guaranteed for all.

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