When I was young, sometimes Daddy would come in from work and start popping popcorn. We immediately knew—we were going to the drive-in theater. That was a big deal for us because the drive-in always ran several cartoons before the movie started then they showed the first half of the movie, there was an intermission, then several more cartoons, then the second half of the movie. Daddy would make pan after pan of popcorn. He and Mother got a large sized grocery bag, then there were smaller bags for my sister, brother, a friend, and me. Daddy always let me take a friend to the drive-in. We didn’t have to worry about running out of popcorn, Daddy would always gladly refill our small bags.
At the drive-in, Daddy would always pick a spot between two empty parking stations. Each station had a speaker mounted on a pole with enough cable to reach into a car. Daddy’s strategic parking was important because of the way we watched the movie. My friend and I would get out of the car and stretch two blankets under it. We then crawled under the front end of the car with a speaker from the next station and our bags of popcorn. The cars parked on a 2-foot rise so the front of the car was higher than the back. Under the car was a perfect place to watch the movie since we could lie on our bellies and look up at the movie.
It was quite different for my sister who was born with congenital hip dislocations. She had a number of surgeries on her hips and the doctors actually cut both of her femurs into then rotated the hip balls joints 180 degrees so they fit into the sockets as they were supposed to. She spent many months in a body cast that included both of her legs and ran up to her upper chest. In order for her to get around the house, Daddy made a scooter. It was a rectangular frame made from 2x4s. Canvass was stretched over the frame, which was mounted on 4 casters. Sister laid on it on her tummy and used her hands to propel herself around the house.
Once Daddy came home with a bushel of special apples, each was wrapped in tissue paper. One evening we were going to have fried apples so Mother took several out of the box and unwrapped them. Each had one bite taken out of it. Mother went back to the box and started unwrapping apples. Each one had one bite taken out of it, then was rewrapped and placed back in the box. It turned out sister had wheeled herself up to the box and tasted every apple.
Back to the drive-in, I sort of got lost thinking about my precious little sister and what she endured as a child. During the intermission, Daddy would give my friend and me a nickel so we could buy a soft drink. We would run to the snack bar, get our drinks then return to the car with drinks for Mother, Daddy, and my sister.
Years later when I was dating my wife to be, we went to the same drive-in. I can’t remember a single movie that we saw, but we surely had a good time.
I still remember with great joy the family nights at the drive-in, both as a child and as a young adult.