The M & T Drive-In Warner Robins

By
Home Stager with Donna's Designs

In the 1960s,  my parents would load my baby brother and me up in the back seat of their Ford Galaxy with blankets, pillows and a bassinet and we'd head out for a night at the movies at the M and T Drive-In Theatre. 

 

It was located at Hwy 247 and Ignico Drive in Warner Robins from the mid-1950s to the mid-1970s.  A church now stands in the large area that once housed a big movie screen, a concession stand and a parking lot that held about 300 cars. 

 

We'd cruise the parking lot slowly, driving up and down row after row to find the best parking spot always hoping to find one closest to the concession stand and bathroom. 

 

Once parked, my dad would  roll down the car window half-way, reach out and unhook the large, heavy speaker from the post and hang it on the window by the metal clip attached to the speaker.  Then he would adjust the speaker knob that controlled the volume and the voices inside of the metal box would put sound with the mouth movements showing on the big screen.

 

Unlike the sit down theatres today, there was always an intermission at the drive-in.  A red and white box of singing popcorn and a smiling cup of Coca-Cola would dance across the big screen sending movie goers to the concession stand.  My dad would give me some change and I'd hop out of the car and walk to the concession stand buying me a hotdog with ketchup and mustard and an ice cold cup of Coca-Cola.  If the weather was cold, then I'd come back with a cup of hot chocolate.

 

The drive-in theatre was the brainstorm of a chemical company magnate, Richard M. Hollingshead, Jr. from Camden, New Jersey. 

 

In 1932, Hollingshead experimented with outdoor theatre tests in his driveway.  A screen nailed to trees in his backyard, he set a 1928 Kodak projector on the hood of his car and put a radio behind the screen to test different sound levels with his car windows up and down.  He added blocks under the front tires of vehicles in the driveway to help him determine appropriate size and spacing of ramps so that all vehicles could see the movie screen.

 

On June 6, 1933 he opened the first drive-in movie theatre.  The concept caught on and across the country, other states opened drive-ins.  The popularity of the drive-in was that the whole family could go to the movies without having to hire a babysitter.  

 

The drive-in popularity peaked in the late 1950s and early 1960s when there were about 4,000 American drive-ins.  Eventually, the drive-in theatre started to decline due to the arrival of color televisions, VCRs and video rentals. 

 

According to www.driveintheatre.com there were 128 drive-in movie theatres in 1954 in Georgia.  Today there are only 4 drive-in movie theatres; Atlanta, Jesup, Commerce and Blue Ridge.

 

In December, usually on the day of the Warner Robins Christmas parade, Chick-Fil-A hosts a movie night in the shopping center parking lot.   Two Christmas movies are shown on a large blow up screen in the parking lot and the sound is projected through your car radio or a loud speaker. 

 

I have to admit that I plan my whole month of Christmas outings around Chick-Fil-A movie night.  It's just another way of bringing back a nostalgic past time only this time I get the front seat.

Donna Hunter Glenn is a weekly columnist for the Houston Home Journal and Warner Robins Times Newspapers and is the principal decorator and owner of Addressing Rooms Interior Decorating and Home Staging in Warner Robins, GA. 

Comments (7)

Harry F. D'Elia III
RentVest - Phoenix, AZ
Investor , Mentor, GRI, Radio, CIPS, REOs, ABR

We had a drive in when I was growing up as a kid.

Jan 11, 2010 02:26 AM
Anonymous
Karen Helms Carr

I haven't thought about the M & T in years.  You brought back a lot of great memories.

Mar 26, 2011 06:19 PM
#2
Anonymous
stephen dell

my dad, joseph, was manager of the m&t in mid 60's and i worked there during high school...those were great times and recalling my days there has been pleasant. wish there were still drive-in's like it now!

Jun 06, 2012 03:32 AM
#3
Anonymous
Donna Glenn
Hey Stephen, Would you happen to have any pictures of the M&T? I'd love to see some if you do.
Jun 06, 2012 06:28 AM
#4
Anonymous
stephen dell

hi donna,

unfortunately i do not have any...wish i did though, dad died in 98 and it would be nice to see pictures of him in those happier times. the M&T was a hopping place and all us young folk that worked for him then were lucky to have his work ethic to emulate. i google satellite looked there and was sorry to see it gone...know many of us old timers probably have fond memories of it, jet engines and trains roaring and all! 

Jun 06, 2012 07:32 AM
#5
Anonymous
Donna Glenn
Stephan those were the best of times! I miss those old "Andy Griffith" days.
Jun 06, 2012 07:54 AM
#6
Anonymous
stephen dell

i still watch that show...yeah it was a time that seemed more secure and innocent. for the most part the movies we showed were wholesome and entertaining. at 62 i find that today i am often at odds with the entertainment industry's ideas of suitable fare...oh well what you gonna do!   

Jun 06, 2012 08:58 AM
#7