Remembering the drive-in experience - but not the movie

The drive-in theater was--and still is--American memorabilia at its finest.
Long before TV the drive-in was high on the list of entertainment media. It offered ultimate privacy for timid folks embarking on the dating scene. Holding hands and the ever-popular yawn-stretch-and-encircle were standard moves in this state-of-the-art arena.

There were several drive-ins in

the North End: the Aurora and the Sky King. In the South End, there was the Duwamish, the Midway and, a favorite with a real country feel, the El Rancho, which was covered with grass.

A favorite of the Madison Park set was the Sunset drive-in in Eastgate. The drive along Lake Washington Boulevard, just past the Leschi area, was most pleasant. Winding up the hill to the entrance to Interstate 90 and turning left to head east was as convenient for us as it was for the Eastsiders coming the other way.

The preparations in taking a date to a drive-in were more thorough compared to a downtown movie. The vehicle would be a home away from home for a couple of hours, so comfort was of the essence.

First and foremost, the special person asked to the movies was someone you either went to the mixers with or studied with. Once the date was made, endless hours were spent detailing the mode of transportation: the beloved car.

The "in" thing to do was to show up at the drive-in early, find friends and park near each other, creating a section clearly segregating the "cool" set. We leaned against our cars enjoying the movie and socializing.

Before the movie started around dusk, the projectionist projected a red dot on the screen, and those with a spotlight would try to catch the elusive red speck.

Remember the speakers? Re-

member the announcement to remember your speakers? "Replace your speakers into the holders before leaving the theater."

No matter how many times that announcement was made, it was forgotten, leaving dozens of bent speakers, broken windows and pride behind.

The wires became invisible to those who chose to run full throttle, disregarding the parental warning to walk, not run. At a lull in the movie, the sound of a herd of small feet could be heard in the distance and "Wham!" someone would run into the speaker wire, and in unison, everyone would cry, "Whoops!" Little, embarrassed feet would walk meekly away.

Remember how good fresh

popcorn was and how there never seemed to be a napkin to wipe the buttery salt from your hands? The pant legs worked fairly well until someone in the snack bar pointed out the oily bright butter stain.

Another announcement that is forever emblazoned on my brain is, "The snack bar will be closing in 10 minutes." Even if hunger weren't an issue, all of a sudden, there were long lines to get that last remaining overcooked hot dog or a box of Milk Duds.[[In-content Ad]]