A picture similar to this was doing the rounds on FB not so long ago, along with the caption: “Like this if you recognise what it is.” Ha, ha! Most kids today couldn’t even begin to guess.
Last week found me reminiscing about the family excursions we used to make to the drive-in [theatre] during my childhood. The conversation about drive-ins was unfamiliar territory for my British friends who had never experienced them.
I guess this way of watching movies was a benefit of growing up in a country with great weather. But it was being together as a family that made it a joy.
Occasionally we went down to play on the swings in front of the giant screen until it was time for the film to start, but usually my brother and I would wait impatiently on the back seat, fidgeting and arguing over something trivial like who had the best view.
If it was a balmy evening we sometimes laid a blanket down on the tarmac, still warm from the day’s sunshine. Our excitement mounted as the sun began to set and Mum pulled out the packed sarmies. “Yum, egg mayonnaise,” I declared. “Yuck!” gagged my brother, preferring the ham. If we were lucky there were homemade scotch eggs too, followed by fruit or biscuits and washed down with milky coffee. And if Dad was feeling magnanimous he would walk us over to the cafeteria where they sold “horrogs”, chips, Coke and other childhood delights.
Only one drive-in movie has stayed with me all these years… Grease. My little-girl imagination was entranced by the music and dancing, along with Olivia Newton-John’s golden curls and dazzling smile.
With the film over it was usually a long wait to get out, with all the cars queuing for the same gate. There were always several smart alecs who left early – before the film had even finished – their headlights spoiling the enjoyment of the rest of us as they tried to miss the rush. The pillows and blankets we’d brought along drew us into happy sleep as Dad safely trekked us home.
Johannesburg’s last drive-in theatre closed its gates in 2012, and I don’t know if the drive-ins in Port Elizabeth, where I was born, are now shut. But the joy-filled memories remain with me.
Do you have happy memories of the drive-in? Or any other family traditions you remember fondly?