Wednesday, June 6th: Remember these? Today is Drive-In Movie Day, celebrating the opening of the first drive-in movie theater in 1933. The Park-In Theaters, as it was originally coined, was dreamed up by Richard Hollingshead, of Camden,New Jersey.
Hollingshead’s mother reportedly had difficulty sitting comfortably in traditional movie theater seats. Being a movie fan, he came up with the idea of an open-air theater to watch movies from the comfort of your own automobile. In May 1933 he first experimented in the driveway of his own home, using different projection and sound techniques. He tested for ways to guard against rain and inclement weather. He worked with the spacing of cars, for optimum viewing.
He obtained a patent for his idea and with an initial investment of $30,000, opened the first Park-In Theater, Inc. on June 6th. (Wow! Can ideas be implemented so quickly in today’s world?) Admission fees were 25 cents per car and 25 cents per person, with a one dollar maximum. This first theater seated 400 cars.
Hampered by the Depression andAmerica’s limited discretionary funds, things started out slowly. In 1945 there were only about 300 drive in theaters. Following the end of WW2, popularity spiked. In 1949 Hollingshead’s patent was overturned, opening the way for these popular venues, now called drive-in’s, to open up all over the country. By 1955 there were over 4,000 theaters.
Today very few drive-in’s remain. This venue may be destined as an icon of ‘Americana’. You may have to drive quite a distance to find one, so celebrating IN a drive-in may be difficult. We can still celebrate the memories of this slice of American history. Pop some popcorn, dim the lights and pop in a DVD. Celebrate life, celebrate a piece of “the good-ole days”.