Life in the Ville by Jimmy Del Ponte
(The opinions and views expressed in the commentaries of The Somerville News belong solely to the authors of those commentaries and do not reflect the views or opinions of The Somerville News, its staff or publishers)
I felt the need to go back and talk about the drive-in theaters that were such a big part of our childhoods. I did a story back in 2008, so I figured I’d toss the subject out there again seeing how the summer is winding down. So put on your PJs and let’s hit the drive in!
In 1972, there were 83 operating drive-ins in Massachusetts. The ones nearest to us here in Somerville were: Fresh Pond, Suffolk Downs, Saugus, Revere, Neponset and, of course, the two in Medford.
One was The Meadow Glen Twin, and the other was The Wellington. I don’t think I have to tell you what now stands on the sites of these two iconic entertainment centers. Some (not me) snuck in six packs of Schlitz. The concession stand sold “rubber hot dogs and greasy eggrolls.” There was something special about the popcorn that was sold at the drive in. I remember Dad picking kernels off the seats for days after our drive in outing. I recall a large trough in the restroom. The best memories were when the whole family piled into the big old 53 Chevy and headed out for a night at the drive-in movies.
Some of the movies we saw at the drive in were classics! The Blob, 007, It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, A Hard Day’s Night, Grease, Goldfinger, Zebra in the Kitchen, Night of the Living Dead, Bride of Frankenstein, The Birds, The Warriors, Towering Inferno, Blazing Saddles, Monty Python and The Holy Grail, and The Love Bug.
We went over to the Big S restaurant to get onion rings and fries before hitting the drive in because there’s were tastier (and cheaper). Speaking of cheap, remember having three kids in the front, four in the back, and three in the trunk? That was in later years when we had our driver’s licenses.
How about that bumpy ride over those little hills trying to find the right spot with a speaker that worked? How many times did those big old clunky speakers scratch the car window? We were all glad when the sound system changed to a spot on the AM radio dial. Someone said they once got twelve people in an old Ford Galaxy 500! Ah, those wonderful old bench seats! Sometimes we would end up at the drive in after a day at Revere Beach riding the amusements. Talk about a day made in heaven.
In our younger days, Mom and Dad let us watch the first kid’s feature and then we would go to sleep in the back seat. I remember how big of a deal it was when it was drive-in night with the family. It was a part of Americana that will never be repeated. I feel lucky to have so many great memories.
What happened at the drive-in stayed at the drive-in. Don’t forget the lounge chairs, the cooler and the bug spray.