By Joyce Caughron Rhodes
Traveling down my Memory Lane, I knew I would come to the path of ‘Entertainment.’ Do you remember, or are you old enough to remember, the Drive-In-Theater? When the sun, like a comet, moved across the heavens, leaving a trail of golden rays that seemed to set the sky ablaze, we knew it was about time to go to the drive-in. This was a wonderful time in my life and I looked forward to show time. Mr. Utra and Mrs. Frances Burton gave me a job selling tickets. This was between my telephone and bank jobs. Not only did I enjoy this, but the kids did too. Sometimes, Harry Lee was able to leave the store long enough to take me to the drive-in. The kids stayed with him until he locked up the store and then they would come to watch the movie. This was just some of the time and Utra let them in free.
Utra and Frances were very honest and caring people. They made sure everything was run right and it was. I enjoyed selling the tickets and speaking to everyone as they came in. I would lean over to count the number of people in the car, in order to charge the right amount. Sometimes, there would be a special and I would just have one fee for the whole car. Do you remember when you pulled up to the post, you took the speaker off the hook and attached it to the window opening? Most everyone already had the windows down because it was usually hot. The movie goers came prepared; folding yard chairs, (so they could be out of the hot car,) of course, most couldn’t decide which was worst, the heat or the mosquitoes. Most came prepared for this too, with their insect sprays. Some would bring their own snacks and drinks and you could look across the parking area and see people using the fans they brought. Some nights it almost seemed like a carnival. Most everyone shouting out to their buddies parked nearby or meeting new people.
The snack bar was the place to go and especially during the intermission. You could get just about anything you wanted. The popcorn and drinks were the best sellers. The more popcorn you ate, the thirstier you got, so you had to go back for another drink. As twilight smothered in the blanket of night, it was time for the show to begin. I remember each night there was a cartoon, a serial (you had to wait until the next week to see who shot John Doe), some commercials, previews of coming movies and then the feature. Sometimes you could hear children laughing or crying or some adults too noisy. If there was any kind of disturbance, Utra was there with his flashlight, taking command of the situation.
The only bad experience, I had there, was my fault. The ticket selling had slowed down because the movie was in progress. I had my daughter, Rachelle, sitting up on the counter, in the ticket booth with me and she wanted down. I put my hands on each side of her and started to lower her down. She sort of squirmed as I was letting her down and her leg caught a jagged edge of metal on the chair. This caused a bad cut on her leg. Utra came right over so we could take her to Dr. Smythe’s and he was waiting for us when we got to his office. He sewed her right up. Wasn’t it wonderful then to have doctors like Dr. Smythe and Dr. Holified and others who would come, no matter the time, if you needed them? The good old drive-in movie days are over, as well as the good doctors who made all the needed calls. We have so many modern things to be thankful for, but sometimes I really miss some of the wonderful things of the past. They are only memories now.