Ahhh…..those nights at the local drive-in!
Remember how, as teenagers, there would be 6 of us crammed in the FJ or the Zephyr and one hiding in the boot, as we’d head off to the drive-in for some innocent fun and some hi-jinx and to watch a movie of course.
Later, and a little older, it was the ideal place to take the new girlfriend for some serious pashing and as much as you could get away with! (Mind you, that was never very much)!
Drive-in pictures theatres were a phenomenon of the latter half of last century and many baby boomers I’m sure will remember nights of their lost youth spent in a crowded car with good friends at the local drive-in.
It was on 28th of December 1954 when the Blue-Line Drive-In first opened on the corner of West Beach and Military Roads, West Beach. Press reports from that time show the excitement that the drive-in caused with “tangled traffic scenes in the area when thousands of motorists tried to see the opening. Cars were queued for miles and many just parked outside on the side of the road hoping to watch the films from outside the fence”.
Showing on that opening night was John Gregson, Kay Kendall and Kenneth Moore in the classic veteran car comedy ‘Genevieve’. The supporting program was a Heckle and Jeckle cartoon, newsreel and a featurette.
In those early years there were two nightly sessions, the first starting at 8pm, and the late show at 10pm. Visibility of the screen from the road created a problem for both drive-ins and local councils as many cars parked in the streets and roads outside the drive-in hoping to watch the screen without paying. In October 1955 Henley and Grange Council decided to take action against motorists parking in West Beach and Military roads and introduced fines and parking restrictions.
The second drive-in to open was almost 12 months later, the Mainline Drive-In theatre at Gepps Cross in October 1955. It was Australia’s first drive-in / walk-in theatre (with a capacity for 500 cars and seating for 400 patrons). It was followed by the Shandon in Seaton in early July 1956, the Hi-Line in Sprinbank in March 1957, and the MGM Metro at Marion in June 1957.
It’s great fun to think back to that era and remember those cold wintery nights when all the windows would fog up and you were continually wiping the windscreen to watch the film, or the nights when it rained and some cars had to run their engines to get their windscreen wipers working.
Remember too, driving off with the speaker still attached to the rear window or trying to smuggle extra kids in by having one or two hiding in the boot?
There were flat batteries and flat tyres, fun times and very romantic moments as well.
The drive-in picture theatre is now pretty much just a memory but they were great times and you know the scary thing is, it doesn’t seem all that long ago!