Growing up on a farm in Wisconsin in the 1960s was fun. It was a ton of work, but I don’t remember thinking of it as work. I do remember the “special” things we did each week and other stuff just once every couple of months.
The weekly fun things were the Friday night trips to the grocery store with my dad, followed by a fun dinner (usually Dairy Queen-yum!). Between my dad and my younger sister (his favorite by the way), it was always an enjoyable experience. My sister did everything in her little power to make him laugh. It was most times, her physically acting out. Walking down the aisles as a mini-Hunchback dragging one arm and then talking to dad like the old movie icons: “Hey Roy (his name was Ray), can I hab dis?” Holding a chocolate bar in her hands. He AWAYS gave into her! I’m pretty sure it was mostly because she could make him laugh after a hard week at work.
The semi-monthly thing I remember was the outdoor movie theater. Dad would make up a bunch of snacks (popcorn, mini-sandwiches, and cool-aid), so we never needed to buy stuff there. Mom made sure we had blankets and pillows because we ALWAYS fell asleep before the movie ended. It was just us, our family, enjoying several hours together. Yes, there are other families in cars around us, but we never knew they were there once the movie started. We were in a world all our own!
We would load ourselves and all of our supplies into the car, and away we went. First stop was always the long line of anticipation – the drive-thru ticket taker (which NEVER seemed to move fast enough):
The next phase was for all of us to scream at dad to “pick that spot, no – pick that one over there” to make sure we had the perfect place for all of us to witness the glory of the big screen (oh silly us – the area was designed so that every spot was for ideal viewing.). Once found, the astounding addition of the speaker was added to the car. It had to be hung on the partially rolled up window (oh – no electric windows for us back then) in just the right spot. Several adjustments were made to position and sound for our absolute listening pleasure.
There was the allure of the mystical Snack-Shack left hanging in the back of all the innocent child minds. All cars had to pass it on the way in (bonus for the theater to entice the kids – sneaky!), thus urging everyone to run and purchase the necessary munchies and drinks BEFORE the previews started. Get there fast. Get there now. Don’t interrupt the family movie night while the movie is running!
Our parents were brilliant! They made the most of one of the cheapest, easiest ways to entertain the whole family:
- We had food.
- We had drinks.
- We had blankets and pillows to keep us snug even on the coldest evenings (we NEVER turned on the car and wasted gas just to warm us up).
- WE WERE TOGETHER AS A FAMILY!!
The last statement was the best of all. We were together as a family, and that was the best thing:
- No one was calling on the phone (yes youngsters – we had phones that hung on the wall or sat on a stand. Oh, and they did NOT tell us who was calling, because there was no fancy answering machine, so we had to answer the phone.) to interrupt us.
- No one was stopping over unannounced. (Actually, our family had tons of family get-togethers which include kids playing on the farm while adults talked, played poker, and gossiped.)
- No one or nothing could stop us from being all together, and having fun as a family should.
So, AMC Theaters (or whichever indoor theaters might happen to read this), here’s a money-maker idea for you:
- BRING BACK THE DRIVE-IN’S:
- Make everything drive-thru:
- Take tickets like they used to right from the cars as they pull in.
- Create a drive-thru Snack-Shack. Have the snacks posted just like fast-food restaurants have today. Make them long enough and large enough that the whole family can read the menu on their way to put in the order. They (through the speaker system, also just like modern fast food) state their order, pull forward to pay, and pick up the goodies. All from the convenience (and distancing) of their vehicle!
- Now here is where you should spend some money: speaker or sound system. The old drive-in sound systems were large and clumsy and sometimes had static. With our modern technology, you should be able to come up with a much better, lighter system. Still make it hook into each vehicle for that personal family experience. Maybe something wireless?
- One last update addition: A unique bathroom system. I’m not sure how to do this, but if you can figure out an automatic system that can tell how many people in vs. how many people out. You could still have several stalls, but the structure would know to unlock the “in” door when someone used the “out” door. You could hang plastic sheets along the waiting hall so that people would have to stand and wait between the layers. Perhaps an overhead sterilizing spray would go off as the “out” door would open, and people would move up to next-in-line?
- Make everything drive-thru:
I know you all think I’m on crack or something after reading this idea – well, no, I don’t do drugs. I just read an article about the fight between AMC Theaters and Universal Pictures because movies need to go out, even when the theaters have to be closed. I understand and sympathize with both sides of the story, so I came up with this beautiful idea for them all to get along.
Theaters make money.
Movie-maker companies make money.
Safe distancing protocols would still be maintained.
FAMILIES HAVE A FANTASTIC TIME ALL TOGETHER!
I say we start throwing this idea out there and get it done! BRING BACK THE DRIVE-INS!
You can also check me out at: https://lifelessonslived.com/ for all the fun things I have learned in life.