Saturday, April 7, 2012

1960's Drive-In Movie Theaters

In the fifties and sixties, a popular form of entertainment was the drive-in movie theater.  For a small price, a carload of people could get in.  You could bring your own snacks or buy something from the concession stand.  While you waited for the sun to go down, and the movie to start, the kids could play on the playground equipment.  The drive-in theater in Lapeer was called The Sunset.

I remember, sitting in the back of my dad's station wagon, filled to the brim with my brothers and sisters. Usually, it would be to see a Walt Disney movie.  We always brought our own popcorn - huge bags of the buttery, salty stuff - and Kool-aid.  We brought blankets and pillows, too, by one, we would nod off before the movie had finished.

I am a member of a group operating at a writer's website called The Writer's Cafe.  I was given a story prompt to write about "three" in some way or form.  Inspired by events of my teen years, I wrote this story about a trip to the drive-in.  This actual trip never happened, but it could have.  Hope you enjoy it!

                 It Happened One Night at the Drive-In      copyright WSG 2012
                                                          by Wendy Seames Garner

Norm pulled carefully into the parking spot, he didn't want to damage the paint on his white 1960 Pontiac Bonneville convertible on the speaker post. Rolling the driver's window up partially, he reached over, grabbed the speaker and gingerly placed it on the window. He adjusted the sound. Mary Wells was singing, “Nothing you can do, cause I'm stuck like glue, to my guy, my guy.” He turned and looked at her, she was smiling. Are you thinking about me, Ruth? Am I, your guy?

It was a hot and steamy July night. A bead of sweat trickled down her neck. He fantasized about licking it. He imagined his tongue sliding across her skin, tasting it's saltiness. Got to control myself. He ran his hand through his mousy brown hair, trying to calm down. Before long, the sun would set and millions of stars would be twinkling in the black velvet sky. It would be a night made for romance.

Her light brown hair was cut shoulder length in a pageboy, the ends flipping up. Bangs cut across her forehead. A little blue velvet bow was clipped just above the bangs, before the hair swooped up, carefully ratted, and liberally sprayed until it wouldn't move. She was just taking off the blue silk scarf, she had used to protect her hair from the breeze that had rushed through the open convertible as it raced down the road. Her sleeveless light blue dress, with it's scoop neckline, fit snugly, accentuating her breasts, before flaring out from a gathered waist.

Slowly she turned to him, she eyes glowed with excitement...

“Let's go play on the playground, until the sun goes down!”

Jumping out of the car, they raced to the playground, set up in front of the giant, outdoor screen. Swinging and sliding with youthful abandon, she couldn't look more beautiful to him. At twilight, they walked back to the car.  The temperature dropped when the sun down, but the humidity was stifling.

Her brown eyes danced with excitement as she talked - which she was doing too much of tonight. He could get lost in those eyes. He only pretended to watch the cartoon - his mind was on other things. She turned her head and looked at him, her eyes seemed to be pleading. He was just about to kiss her when she said...

“Norm, can you get me something to drink from the concession stand? It is so hot and muggy.”

“Ah...sure, Ruth Ann.” he said, pushing his black rimmed glasses back up on the bridge of his nose. His blue eyes filled with disappointment. “Here, just let me out your side, so I don't have to mess with the speaker.”

Sliding across the bench seat, he exited the car. Taking out his wallet, he hurriedly checked to see how much was left after buying the tickets.

“Oh...and can you bring some Milk Duds and some popcorn? Please!”

He returned, juggling a tray of icy cold Coca Cola, Orange Ade, popcorn, and Milk Duds. His juggling act wasn't too good, he lost the Orange Ade, it's contents spilling down his shirt and onto his pants. So back to the Concession Stand he went - with a trip to the restroom first. The line was even longer than it had been the first time. I sure hope my luck improves tonight.

The feature, Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds, was just starting when he returned. Everyone was settling in to watch the movie, the cacophony of sounds quieted down to a few whispers, coughs and an occasional honk of a horn when someone entered the drive-in without turning off their lights.

She was entranced with the movie, watching every move, listening to every line. He stretched, then casually laid his arm across the back of the red leather seat. Slowly, he inched his way across the seat, closer and closer to her. The heat of her young body excited him. Time to make my move. She is going to get scared and turn to me, then, I'm going to kiss her.

Melanie, played by Tippi Hedren, was being attacked by seagulls. In what seemed like slow motion, Ruth Ann turned her head...right past Norm...toward the back seat.

“Tell me when the gulls stop attacking, Wendy, I can't look!”

Wendy, sitting in the back seat, noticed the look of disappointment in Norms eyes. Sorry, Norm...she made me come. There may be three of us, but I sure feel like a fifth wheel.


  1. Wendy, I love this -- the surprise twist at the end! As I was reading, I forgot that the prompt was "three." I was so into your story, remembering the Sunset Drive-in, and wondering if you were Ruth -- I never saw that coming! Great job!