It’s Friday night. Not just any night, but FRIDAY NIGHT!! Mom’s not cooking supper and we don’t care. It’s FRIDAY NIGHT!! My brother and I sit on the edge of the sofa and wait. It’s after 6:30 and we are waiting for Mom and Dad to get ready because it’s FRIDAY NIGHT!! Finally we hear the jingle of Dad’s key chain, which means we are in the final count down. Then those wonderful exhilarating words….”You boys ready?”…..Yes!!, because it’s FRIDAY NIGHT and that mean we’re going to the DRIVE-IN!!!!!!!
It’s 1956, I’m 9 and bro is 7. We already have our pajama’s on and the reason for the pajamas is by the time we get home tonight, Mom and Dad will have to carry our comatose butts into the house and put us into bed. We have to look both ways as we run out of the house in hopes the guys won’t see us in our pajamas. I’m still wearing my Roy Rogers pj’s from last year but, bro’s are so faded I can’t tell which cowboy it originally was from when they were mine two years ago.
We jump in Dad’s 1955 Desoto and patiently wait for the folks to get on the stick. “You boy’s pee?,” Mom asks.
“Yes ma’am.” we both lied because we knew if we went to take a leak, our folks would runn off and leave us behind. Then we pulled out into the street and begun our Friday night trip to the Starlite Drive-in! Now, it takes about 25 minutes to get there….that’s 4 hours in kid time. We both scan the terrain for landmarks as we travel. Our greatest fear is that Dad might have to pull over for gas and that might cause us to miss the cartoon feature! The sun is starting to set and that’s a bad sign. Bro is already beginning to whimper.
Finally! We can see the glowing road marquee with it’s million little flashing light bulbs. The cars are lined up to get in and once again we are seized with fear. As we slowly wait our turn to pull in we study the marquee. ‘THE BLOB’ staring Steve McQueen and “The Bad Seed” with Nancy Kelly. The second movie is when we’re suppose to fall asleep.
We finally pull up to the little ticket house and there we can smell the enchanting vapors of fresh popped popcorn. We get one box to share, but, that’s OK, cause the concession stand is waiting! Dad counts up eleven rows from the front and then drives mid way across the designated row and parks. He has figured out that this strategic location allows for the most optimum of viewing pleasure. Dad rolls down the window and ceremoniously brings in the sound icon called the ‘speaker’. He spends a few moments positioning the device and then carefully adjusts the sound mechanism. My Dad was a master of sonic perfection. Finally, it’s almost dark and Dad gets out to make a quick trip to the concession stand and restroom. “You boys need to pee?” Mom asks.
“No ma’am,” we lied because we had heard about the gypsies that hung around the restrooms. Just as the big screen begins it numeric countdown, Dad’s back with our provisions. Four hotdogs, two orders of fries, four sodas of various sizes and a box of Tootsie Rolls. We sit on the edge of our seat with hotdog in mouth, soda in hand, fries in lap and eyes mesmerized on the gigantic screen that has now exploded to life in bales of Technicolor with a Woody Woodpecker cartoon.
Much later, after “THE BLOB” was over, we used our empty soda cups to pee in and poured it out the window down the side of Dad’s car. We seldom ever remembered much about the second feature and, as routine would have it, the next thing we knew, we were waking up in bed Saturday morning.
The Starlite Drive-in will always hold a special place in my heart for all the wonderful movies and hotdogs I enjoyed there. A few years later the drive-in served me well as a writ of passive as I became a man in the back seat of my old ford, on row 30…..during the second feature.