Everyone of a certain age has their “bouncing around the back” of a station wagon story. Usually one that entails fake wood siding, and sibling squabbles that rival those of Cain and Abel. I’m sure I have a few myself, but the reality is that my memory just isn’t that good. I keep only about five to ten years back in active usage, another ten are sometimes brought up for the occasional recollection, and the rest are more vague. What I have instead are moments in time, and composites of things that probably happened again and again but have been entwined into one memory.
That’s how it is with the drive-in for me. It was one of our regular family outings when I was young, and the only thing I still associate with station wagons.
I remember heading with my parents and brother to a long since lost to time double drive-in.
I remember going in pajamas, and having blankets and pillows in the back of the station wagon so we could go to sleep when we got to tired.
I remember that it was always my parents who fell asleep, or at least my Dad.
I remember staying up to watch the second movie which was usually racier than the first although I’m sure still pretty tame.
I remember one of the movies was Walking Tall. Of all the movies that I saw on our many, many trips to the drive-in, I have no idea why this is the one that I remember.
I remember watching the screen on the other side while listening to the audio on my side.
I remember the large metal speaker that hung from the drive’s side window of our car providing audio for the show.
I remember burning little round incense to try to stave off the mosquitoes that seem to like drive-in as much as us, and who found easy access to the inside of the vehicle through the window that couldn’t close because of the speaker.
The isolated memories continue, but the emotional recollection is what is strongest and what I return to often. I always smile and feel pure joy when thinking about a drive-in. I’m sure it’s one of the reasons that when I had my own children, it became a family ritual for us as well.
I even owned the station wagon, although no wood siding. Technology also impacted the experience and for a few outings, the kids were tucked in back with pillows, blankets and a portable DVD player to watch something animated and G rated while the adults sat outside the car and watched the actual movies that were playing on the screen.
Even with changes in how the drive-in was experienced, the feelings of joy remained and were passed down to my girls who love going to the drive-in as much as I do. The one summer we missed going is still brought up to me regularly, and a mistake I will not make again. We are also lucky in that we have access to three different drive-ins within an easy distance which has to be some type of country record especially for a state that spends much of the time covered in snow and in temperatures far below acceptable for outside movie viewing.
Sadly, one of our drive-ins didn’t open this summer and I worry that one day they’ll all be gone. I hope not. I know I’m not the only one who finds summer evenings at the drive-in to be so much fun. I need there to always been one within driving distance, and there is hope for my future drive-in experiences. One of the drive-ins close to us successfully obtained funds, through project drive-in, to upgraded to much-needed digital equipment.
On our outing to the drive-in this year, we went to the Bridgton Twin Drive-In for one of their retro nights. They were showing a double feature of Grease and Footloose. It was just me, four teenage girls, a ridiculous amount of candy, and a chance to see a young Kevin Bacon again. It was perfection.
I especially enjoyed the outrage displayed by the teenagers I was with as they loudly, and without reservations, announced all that was wrong with the messages in Grease. They universally were annoyed that Sandy changed who she was for Danny. The story line may be dated, but the music sure holds up. And, that’s another benefit of the drive-in. You can talk, laugh, and yell at Danny when he annoys you.
The drive-in season is rapidly winding down along with our warm temperatures and longer days, but if you’re able to squeeze in a trip, I highly recommend it. The drive-ins are only open on the weekends now, but there’s still a little time to catch one more show.
Here’s a list of the drive-ins in the Southern Maine area. I hope there are some drive-ins where you are located too!
969 Portland Rd
Saco, ME 04072
Bridgton Twin Drive-In
383 Portland Road
Prides Corner Drive-In
651 Bridgton Rd
Westbrook, ME 04092
** Sadly, Prides Corner Drive-In did not open for the 2016 summer season. No announcement yet on whether they will be reopening in the future or not.
Here’s hoping that drive-ins will be around for years to come, and that future generations will get to experience the joy of spending a summer evening at the drive-in. Enjoy the show!