Throwback Theater


Photos by Marshall Gault

The illuminated car attracts oncoming movie goers to the pastime of our grandparents’ generation, The Georgetown Drive-In, on Sept.22.

When I was growing up, my parents would tell me stories about going to drive-ins. My mom remembers going with her mom, grandma, and siblings to see the 1979 film, “Penitentiary.” The kids had to cover their eyes through some scenes (the movie was rated R) as they sat in the back seat of their grandma’s Buick. My dad recalled going to the nearby drive-in often as a kid — either going with friends, his mom, or a group of kids from the neighborhood. They would lay out blankets and inhale juice soaked chips, dust, and a little bit of BO.

I remember when my family took our Kia Sedona to the drive-in around the corner; we saw “Hancock” and all the Tobey Maguire “Spider-Man” movies. I remember snuggling up, getting comfy, and drifting off while everyone else in the trunk was mesmerized by all the action. We surrounded ourselves in blankets and pillows, listened through car speakers, and munched on snacks.

Though all of our local drive-ins are now closed and the Sauerbeck family one in La Grange hasn’t quite gotten off the ground — strong storm winds damaged their screen — I still find drive-ins to be valuable in maintaining connectedness.

Sure, it’s easier to drive to the nearest theater where you’ll pay absurd amounts for subpar food and sit in stiff, uncomfortable seats. But that’s no fun and the experience just isn’t as rich.

I haven’t always been pumped about drive-ins — heck, I slept through most of the movies we saw there. Recently, though, I went to the Georgetown Drive-in in Indiana. On their website, which is worth checking out in order to feel prepared, I saw that they have a playground and the original outside speakers from when they opened, which I thought was pretty cool.

That night was rainy so I packed my car with blankets and towels. After dinner, my friends and I went to a nearby Walgreens to stock up on snacks, although the drive-in does have a concession stand with things like hot dogs, pretzels, popcorn, and candy.

When we got to the front gate, we learned that admission for a double feature is $12 per person and, though the concession stand accepts credit cards, the box office only accepts cash. When we finally got in and found the perfect parking spot — there was plenty of space for us to be picky — I tuned the radio to the right station.

There are two screens that show double features every weekend. Usually, the first films start around 8:15 or 8:30 p.m. and the second films start around 10:00 p.m. We only stayed for one, but were lucky enough to be part of a raffle for an old-timey RV just like the one from the old 1975 horror film we had watched, “Race with the Devil.” Though the night was cold and damp, I’m glad I went. I had my legs propped up with the window down, leaning on a friend. That’s the way films should be viewed and it’s just as immersive as any Cinemark theatre, especially with its much bigger screen. Maybe it’s just the novelty, amusements, and nostalgia speaking, but it’s a place I genuinely recommend, especially for a cozy movie night. I believe everyone should have at least one story about the drive-in, even if you have to cover your eyes the whole time. •