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August 2001
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Going to the movies

Monday night I did something that I haven'd done in decades - I went to a drive-in movie. It turns out that one of the last surviving drive-in movies in the country is in the nearby town ofMiller SD. The drive-in movie is a trifle bucolic - as I drove in to the ticket booth I passed a small herd of cows.

Movie start times are a little vague - I was told by a local informant that it would start at a quarter to ten or maybe 9:30. The movie starts when the guy running the projector decides that it is dark enough.

Ticket prices are cheap enough but not outrageously so. I was charged 5.50; there was no senior discount. However kids are let in free. The true bargain is the concession stand which was in a ramshackle little building behind the rows of cars. I got a hot-dog, a small popcorn, and a small soft drink for $3.50. Apparently they haven't heard that movie theaters make their money at the concession stand. Your average cineplex prices popcorn on the assumption that a serious popcorn crisis is imminent.

The quality of the movie on the screen wasn't bad but it is better in your traditional indoor movie theater. OTOH your average cineplex does not treat you with a view of lightning flashes off in the distance. Another feature not found in your average cineplex are the illuminated bugs. At first I thought there were fireflies about until I realized that that insects were flying through the projector beam and being lit up as they flew.

In ye olde days when drive-in movies were popular the quality of screening was not a primary consideration with attendees, many of whom were adolescents who were happy with the opportunity to legally park in a dark place and attend to their own entertainments.

The movie, BTW, was Pearl Harbor. I had seen it before; it was not a movie that I had particularly wanted to see again; then again, it wasn't a movie that I particularly did not want to see again.

The thought occurred to me afterwards that I had watched a movie about a time 60 years ago in a venue popular 50 years ago. It was a case of reliving the past with a vengeance. I also realized that although I was a child during WW II, I remember very little about it. I would have been 6 going on 7 when Pearl Harbor was bombed and Jimmy Doolittle bombed Tokyo. The only thing I remember from that time was that I had a crush on a girl named Virginia. I have never tracked her down. It's just as well. She is probably fat, has buck teeth, and has twenty three grandchildren. Far better to preserve one's illusions in these matters.

Although I was a child during the war I didn't notice it, so to speak. My grandfather had a scrap iron yard which, I assume, provided iron for the war effort. There were paper drives; I remember that. I remember doing my endless calculations on grocery bags - paper was not something endlessly thrown away. But I didn't think about these things or about the war - they were simply part of the way things were. The one thing that I definitely remember from the war was the atom bomb and that was not from the newspaper headlines but rather from a Captain Marvel comic book in which all of the countries in the world lobbed atom bombs at each other until nobody was left. Children know where to get the news that counts.


This page was last updated August 2, 2001.

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August 2001
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