The days of the drive-in revived

Published 11:26 am Sunday, May 31, 2020

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Social media and television have played up the importance of social distancing and rightfully so. One of the means by which families can gather is the drive-in movie, and this has caused resurgence in drive-in movies across America. I have seen cars with the back door opened, so that the children could see the big screen and eat their popcorn and drink their drink while doing it. It reminds me of the good old days growing up, and I could only imagine what someone my age or older would do today if they opened a drive-in movie.

Mr. Bateman, our local drive-in owner, was good to most of us, because he knew that we had a trunk-load of boys and girls. He never said much, until we were older, but he knew. If I owned a drive-in movie, I would have human detectors scanning each car that went through the gates. Please do not laugh, because many of you have done the same thing that many my age have done and sneaked in by way of someone’s car trunk. We never parked next to the projection room, but in the back, where it was dark and where we could open the trunk to let the others out. It was a dark area, and we never thought anyone saw us — wrong!

He knew, and told me later that he thought he could make it up in concession sells that evening. He also knew that once we were there that we would return with a date, and he proved correct on both ends. We never had him fooled, but it was the cars that did it over and over again that made him the maddest.

There was nothing like a good summer day on the river with everyone and making a plan for the evening to continue our fun. Four in the car and a couple in the trunk, and we were in and back together again for the movie. We had to decide who went and bought the concessions for the car since we did not want to let them know there were more than four in our car. Four popcorns and four drinks were shared by all in the car, then afterward we headed to McDonalds, thinking we had gotten away with something. Little did I know that Mr. Bateman got his dry cleaning free as a form of pay back from my Dad. Still, it was fun, and my dad never told me until I was older and out of college. How did they find out everything we did? Guess that was the advantage of living in a small town where everyone knew everybody and looked after one another.

I only wish that the youngsters growing up had the advantage of a drive-in movie like we had. There were many romances made and some were ended at the drive-in and always those of us who just sneaked in to have some fun. We were never bad, only mischievous, and there is a world of difference in the two words. We could not be bad because everyone had their eyes on us, and it really did not matter if they were our parents’ or our friends’ parents’. Whether at school or around town, and especially around town, others had the right to discipline us at any time.

Yes, they were the good old days, and it has taken a pandemic for younger kids to enjoy some of things we enjoyed. I hope that they do, because the drive-in was fun times for me, and I hope you also.

They were the best of times with the best of friends and in the best of places, Washington, N.C.! The Original Washington!


— Harold Jr.

Harold Robinson Jr. is a native of Washington.