I remember the first drive in movie I ever saw as only a quick black and white flashback that has almost, but not quite, been lost in the quicksand of time.
It was the summer of ’63. My dad and I were driving down a dark ribbon of highway towards home.
Home wasn’t in the city, but in a tiny town where street lights played hide and seek in the shadows and a little white clapboard church in the centre of town boasted the warning or, perhaps, the suggestion, “Turn Back to Your Bible for the Answer.”
Anyway as we rounded the curves of Highway 11, there off in what seemed like a huge field, was this huge screen lit up with moving figures.
A drive-in movie.
My dad pulled over to the side of the highway and, from the safety of that old ’57 Chevy, we watched that movie free of charge.
O course, it was our own version of a silent movie, but, to me, a child, knee high to a grasshopper, it was like stepping onto the peripheral edge of a grown up world which I knew nothing about.
Probably, to my dad, the fact that watching a movie while parked on the side of the road cost nothing, was a matter of no little significance, but, for me, that wasn’t even in the equation!
I remember the softness of the night air, so warm and gentle it seemed you could wrap yourself in it, like a blanket. I remember great clusters of stars pinned to the sky with invisible clothespins.
And I remember feeling good, like all was right with my world.
I thought about that very first drive in movie, the other night when I was sitting in my daughter and son-in-law’s back yard watching Jurassic Park successfully shown with the benefit of a white sheet and a borrowed movie projector.
It was one of those nights of summer when time stood still in a good way.
The air was soft and warm, like a blanket you could wrap yourself in. Muted voices of adults and children drifted across the yard as people settled themselves in lawn chairs and swings. The younger set sprawled on blankets and on the trampoline and a lovable dog with a severe overbite wandered about, his brown eyes about begging popcorn and attention,
The delicate scent of wave petunias and sweet peas got all mixed up with the aroma of buttered popcorn that wafted gently over the back yard.
For me, the temptation of popcorn and red licorice quickly overruled any thoughts of counting calories and I grabbed a generous helping of both.
Settling myself in my lawn chair with a bag of buttered popcorn in one hand and a handful of licorices in the other, I was totally, deliciously happy.
And as the movie came on, I was once again transported to the night of long ago when I sat in an old Chevy with my dad on the side of a road and watched a few scenes from a black and white movie which we couldn’t even hear.
I ate my licorice and munched my popcorn and watched the light from the projector turn flying insects into fireflies. During very scary scenes I distracted myself by looking up at the night sky and the cluster of stars pinned there by invisible clothespins.
And, once again, thanks to good and simple things like backyard movies and family and friends and a dog with a huge overbite and summer nights, I felt the feeling, the good feeling, like, once again, all was right in my world.
Treena Mielke is editor of The Rimbey Review and a columnist for Black Press, The Pipestone Flyer’s parent company.