My last full day in Caloundra and mum came down to the cafe to enjoy a hazelnut latte with me. The day was a bit overcast but, apart from being a bit muggy, it didn’t really look like rain.
Dad reminded me that today is D-Day…or it was in 1944. But it is also the 80th anniversary of the first drive in theatre.
First drive-in theatre
It was lovely night in Camden, New Jersey when a long line of cars queued up in front of the gates into the Park-in Theatre. It was the idea of Richard M. Hollingshead, Jr, devised because his mother couldn’t get comfortable in a traditional cinema seat (I completely understand that). Richard experimented in his drive way, with a projector on the bonnet of his car and a blanket nailed to a tree.
The very first film shown in a drive-in theatre was Wives Beware, starring Adolphe Menjou. Apparently it was a comedy and it was just over an hour in length. It only lasted a week in the cinema so it probably wasn’t much good.
I remember going up to the drive-in on O’Connell Street, Kingswood. I think it was the first place I ever saw a movie (Fantasia), with mum, dad and my sisters; us kids in pyjamas. A little later, it was a great place to take girls and panel vans, with or without pyjamas – and you didn’t have to pay if you parked on the hill beside it.
Drive-ins aren’t such a big thing now (it seems that real estate is more valuable than family entertainment although quite a few are just deserted reminders of a more family friendly age) and so the numbers have fallen off a bit. During the height of their popularity, a quarter of all cinema screens in the US were drive-ins. These days, they only account for 1.5%.
Sadly, the Kingswood drive-in is no longer there. It closed in 1984 (having opened in 1965) But I remember it very well.
And, in the ‘Religion is Stupid’ category
Today, back in 1981, a train driver in India was rattling along the tracks, pulling carriages with about 1,000 passengers in them, when a cow decided to walk across the tracks in front of his engine. Given the fact that cows are sacred in India, and given the fact that trains aren’t that good at swerving, the driver slammed his brakes on.
Because the rails were wet, the train went a bit haywire and the last seven carriages plunged into a swollen river. 600 passengers were killed. The driver survived; the cow probably survived. How comforting.
Meanwhile, a couple of photos taken during my final evening stroll.