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.