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[The following was written as the third installment of the Drive-In Archaeology series, but never made it onto Evil Sam's site. It is being published on the web for the first time here.]

The History of things that didn't happen has never been written.
-- Henry Kissinger


As such, it would seem that many of the drive-in memories shared by many of us who are now aging baby boomers -NEVER HAPPENED. When a new visitor to this web site views the pictures and stories of these once great drive-in theatres, what do they see? What do they think? What flood of memories are brought once again to mind?

There are basically three types of people that visit this drive-in web site. The first, is people who are just surfing the web. What they see does not effect them anymore than reading the dry history of the civil war. They are here and then, they are gone. The second visitor of the drive-in theatre web site are those who have gone to a drive-in, perhaps sometime in their childhood and do have pleasant memories. Frequently, they may visit several times. Each time, they hope to see a picture of the long gone drive-in they visited as a child. These people have fond memories of the drive-in and want to have something to connect to.

The other type of visitor here, it the frequent flyer, or perhaps those members of the American Institute of Drive-in Archeology. They usually have a Ph.D (Preserving Historic Drive-ins) degree. These are the people who are driven to acquire old photos or take new pictures of the drive-in theatre in whatever state they may be found. These are the individuals who make this drive-in theatre web site flourish. If it were not for these individuals, this site would quickly stagnate and fall into oblivion, just like our collective memories of the drive-in theatre.

Once, there were over 3,500 drive-in theatres in the United States. Today, the total number is unknown, but probably around 300 to 500 and that is pushing it. The reasons why this have happened are many and varied. As time marches on, there will be less and less every year. Even though several are reopening for the first time in years, even more are allowing the flickering light of the projection booth to die and the in-car speakers be silenced forever. The loss will affect us all.

Even though many of these giant palaces of dream land are gone, there are memories, pictures and stories still with us. Each day the doom of time continues to toll and more is lost. Each of you reading this piece may ask, "what can I do?" Friends, there is much that can still be done. Today, go take a picture of whats left of the drive-in. Tomorrow it will be gone. The relentless march of time brings change which cannot be undone.

There was a drive-in theatre in Oklahoma City called the Hillcrest Drive-in. It had been open since its gala opening in 1963. It seemed immortal, I had seen many movies there as a child, visited often as a teenager, and continued until adult hood. Heck, I even worked for two years as the projectionist there. I had no reason to think that it would not be there tomorrow. Then, one summer, I noticed it was not open. Thinking back, it turned out that the drive-in had been closed for two years. My how time flies! A quick drive down the highway revealed that the theatre was still there, intact, yet strangely silent. I took stock of the situation and resolved to get some pictures. I shot a roll of 24 pictures one sunny afternoon day. Within a month, the entire drive-in was demolished. All gone, with no notice and no fanfare. This roll of film has turned out to be the only pictures known to exist of the drive-in. Who would think to take a picture of something like the drive-in? Fortunately, I did. And because of that, there are some pictures of that once great drive-in theatre for people to enjoy and bring back memories.

We lament the loss of the drive-in but yet we do nothing to prevent it. Granted, this may be out of our hands. The successful operation of a drive-in depends on many factors which are out of our control. If it goes belly up, it may well be because of decisions made by management over many years. If Wal Mart offers the owner of the drive-in $750,000 or a million dollors to build a new store, can you blame the poor guy for not taking it?

But, who can you blame if there is no record of a drive-in? Who can you blame if there are no pictures to be seen anywhere? Only ourselves. It is up to all of us drive-in theatre affectionados, to take some pictures, ask some questions, find the old lost pictures of these drive-in theatres and get them posted. What can you do? get out and take some pictures! Even if there is only a marquee left standing. I always feel a sense of emptiness when I read a drive-in report and see just a quick description or a note that it was torn down but no picture. A drive in theatre with no name or just the report of ruins is like an unmarked grave. What was it called? Who owned it? Who went there? How many cars did it hold? What was it like?? Take the time to find out and let us all know. I will also prepare a short piece on how to turn up this information. There are gold mines to find, but you have to look!!

On to part 4
Part 1
Part 2