DRIVE-IN THEATERS
               ...Many "Passion Pits" Still Thrive Today

The Frenchman Louis Lumière is often credited as inventing the first motion picture camera back in 1895.

What Lumière actually invented was a portable motion-picture camera, film processing unit and projector called
the Cinematographe.

Lumière and his brother were the first to present projected, moving and photographic pictures to a paying
audience of more that one person, though but four years earlier the Edison company successfully demonstrated
the Kinetoscope, which enabled one person at a time to view moving pictures.
New to Drive-In Theaters? Thanks to Drive-ins.com, here is a list of dos and don'ts...

Before you go:
Not all drive-ins allow you to bring pets. Call ahead.
Some drive-in theaters are only open on weekends.
Find out when the box office opens. Arrive early to get a good spot for the show.

What to bring:
Lawn chairs, blankets, pillows, or sleeping bags. Some drive-ins encourage you to sit
outside your car.
A portable radio (and extra batteries) in case you want to sit outside of your car.
Mosquito repellent if you're in a humid region. Some drive-ins even sell the classic
PIC coils.

What to leave at home:
Laser pointers. Drive-ins frown on these because they interfere with the movie.
Food from outside the drive-in. Some drive-ins sell a permit for bringing in outside food, but most prefer you do not bring in food.

During the show:
Avoid letting your headlights shine on the screen or on others. Use your parking lights and drive slowly. Newer cars may require that you
put your emergency brake on to disengage daytime running lights.
Some drive-in operators encourage the ritual of horn honking to communicate enthusiastic agreement while some drive-in operators
consider it rude and inconsiderate.
If tuning in the movie soundtrack on your radio, be sure to put your key in the accessories position. You may also want to start your
engine occasionally. This will help prevent having a dead battery.
If you do find yourself with a dead battery, let the staff know. They are accustomed to this and will know what to do.
Give the drive-in concessions a try. Concessions sales are the drive-in's main profit center. Drive-ins do not make much money on ticket
sales. That money goes to the studio to pay for the movie. If you want the drive-in to stick around, patronize their snack bar often!

Last but not least, be sure to let the staff know if you enjoyed your night out at the drive-in.
With additional improvements, during 1896 Edison unveiled his Vitascope projector, the first commercially
successful, projector in the United States, and a new era began which led to silent movies and eventually to
"talkies."

Why mention motion pictures in an eColumn about travel?

Well, I'm glad you asked! This feature is perfect for the person who likes to mix movies and cars!

    Flash forward to 1932 in Camden, New Jersey, when chemical
    company magnate Richard M. Hollingshead, Jr. conducted
    outdoor theater tests in his driveway at 212 Thomas Avenue in
    Riverton. He nailed a screen to trees in his backyard, set a
    Kodak projector on the hood of his car and put a radio behind
    the screen.

    Feeling the tests were successful enough to warrant the next
    step, he opened a drive-in theater the next year on Admiral
    Wilson Boulevard in Pennsauken, by advertising, "The whole
    family is welcome, regardless of how noisy the children are."

The theater cost $60,000 to build and had spaces for 400 cars. Hollingshead charged 25 cents per car, plus 25
cents per person, though never more than $1.00 an auto.

Was it popular? Well, theater workers noticed license plates from 43 states during the summer of 1933.

Hollingshead's drive-in only operated for three years, long enough
for the concept to catch on in other states. In 1935, he sold the
theater property and opened a drive-in in Union, New Jersey.

Meanwhile, the April 15. 1934, opening of Shankweiler's Auto Park
in Orefield, Pennsylvania, was followed by Galveston's Drive-In
Short Reel Theater (July 5, 1934), the Pico in Los Angeles
(September 9, 1934) and the Weymouth Drive-In Theatre in
Weymouth, Massachusetts (May 6, 1936). In 1937, three more
opened in Ohio, Massachusetts and Rhode Island, with another
12 during 1938 and 1939 in California, Florida, Maine, Maryland,
Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, Texas and Virginia.
Michigan's first drive-in was the Eastside, which opened May 26,
1938 in Harper Woods near Detroit.

The drive-in's peak popularity came in the late 1950s and early 1960s, particularly in rural areas, with some 4,000
drive-ins spreading across the United States for people of all ages to enjoy a movie in the privacy of their own
vehicles. And with the addition of concession stand food, what could be better?

Originally, audio was provided by speakers on the screen and later by an individual speaker hung from the
window of each car, which would be attached by a cable. This system was largely replaced by the more
economical and less damage-prone method of broadcasting the soundtrack at a low output power on AM or FM
Radio to be picked up on your automobile radio.

Though the craze has since dwindled (due in large part to television, video recorders and changing consumer
tastes), lately there has been a resurgence of sorts, thanks to the inception of "Do-It-Yourself" Drive-Ins which
feature modern inventions such as LCD projectors and micro-radio transmitters.

Today, thanks to the men and women who continue to keep the tradition alive, nearly 500 drive-in theaters dot the
landscape in both the United States, Canada and as far away as Australia. And what an experience it still is!

Even if you must travel a distance to enjoy a slice of nostalgia (Drive-ins.com offers an interactive list of drive-in
theaters and show times), it's worth the effort!
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