Thursday, September 24, 2009

I Was Born in the Wrong Era

I always tell my parents that I was born during the wrong era. I think the ideal era in which to live was my parents' era:

They were kids in the 40's- before radio, and electronic toys.  When playing outside was what you did, and not punishment for messing up the house.  Limited only by your imagination, you were whatever you wanted to be: a king, a famous explorer, or a famous radio personality.  Ah, the radio.  I used to listen to Mystery Theater on AM radio as a kid.  I did that because I was drawn by the stories of my parents listening to scary radio programs like The Shadow.  I've never even heard the show and I can repeat this from memory:  "Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men?  The Shadow knows."  Well, they were right; the scary monster I imagined on Mystery Theater was scarier than anything I ever saw on television.  Why?  Because it  was specifically created in my mind and tailored to what I found frightening...not by some tool in Hollywood.  My dad would ride his bike to the Fox Theater to see the Lew King Ranger Show, then would go across the street to an arcade and spend whatever he had left of the dollar that his mom gave him.  Mom wasn't allowed to ride her bike all over hell's half acre, she was probably better off for it.

They were teenagers in the 50's- cruising Central Avenue, Bob's Big Boy, sock hops with The Stroll playing, hot rods and customs, and (what this post is ultimately about) Drive-Ins.

They were in their 20's in the 60's- what a great time to be a young adult.  Politically, there was so much going on.  Voting rights, human rights, the Kennedys, Martin Luther King, the beginning of Viet Nam, the Lunar landing.  The world was changing quickly, and they were old enough to understand it, yet young enough to be motivated to be involved.

They were in their 30's in the 70's- the last of the great eras.  The 70's, in my opinion, was the last vestige of simple and uncomplicated times.  My parents had two young boys by then, and they could let them disappear every summer morning at the crack of dawn, as along as they were within earshot at dusk to hear, "Chris....Matt, Dinner."  Of course that call was always met with a, "Five more minutes, Mom"

One of the things that I really feel that I missed out on was the golden age of the Drive-In Theater.  Sure we went when we were in high school.  But I always felt that I had completely missed the dance.  When my parents went to the drive-in, it was a dollar a car.  So kids would hide in the trunk, hoping not to get caught. Once past the eagle-eyed gate attendant, they sought out their friends and had good clean fun.  And if you went with your girlfriend, it was just such a simpler time...a time when getting to second base was a big deal.

I have two early memories of movies that I saw as a kid.  The first was American Graffiti, released in 1973.  My parents took Matt and me to the Indian Drive-In in Phoenix.  It used to be at 4141 N. 27th Avenue.  Now, there is a sleazy Motel 6 and these apartments on the site.

My other memory is going with my Uncle Red to see Star Wars at the Cine Capri at 20th Street and Camelback Road (also torn down).  I think that was in 1977.

I think that a terrible thing to see is an abandoned drive-in theater.  It really hits home the fact that I missed the boat.  I have posted some of these sad photos.  I have decided that when the Pickle gets running, I want to get with some of the car clubs in Phoenix and see if we can't have some sort of fund raiser/car show at one of the few remaining drive-ins.  Maybe show American Graffiti.

Maybe some day, I will be sitting in the Pickle watching this trailer...or better yet, the movie itself.

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