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posted on 3-5-2018 at 03:27 PM
The Last Picture Show
The Last Picture Show
It didn seem right, not right at all. The Redwood Drive In was supposed to be a place for a journey back to the Happy Days. Memories of watching the
original Rocky from the back seat of cheap supreme an oversized American car, or
spending teenage summers half watching a bad horror film in the bed of a pickup were what a visit to the drive in was going to inspire. Even in the
unfamiliar daylight of a March morning, the Redwood parking lots were supposed to be orchards of gunmetal posts, each hung with a pair of bulky
speakers. Instead, there was undulating pavement stripped strangely bare, the spots where the speakers once stood marked by disc shaped concrete
Good business sense, as it turns out, played a significant role in the birth of the drive in. In 1929, a Camden, New Jersey auto parts dealer named
Richard Hollingshead was looking for a way to find customers at a time when car owners were relatively few and far between. In a stroke of
inspiration, he decided not to go looking for car owners, but to bring car owners to him by creating an outdoor theater. After experimenting with the
ultimate in low tech exhibition a projector propped on the hood of his own car to a bed sheet tied up between trees eventually developed the format he
patented in 1932, including ramps to point cars up towards the screen. Hollingshead Automobile Movie Theatre opened in Camden on June 6, 1933.
And then came the big slide. In the 1970s and 1980s, drive ins formerly on the outskirts of towns became an endangered species, forced out of their
habitat by the rising land values of encroaching suburban sprawl. Then there was the bust, decreasing the family and youth demographic, and the rise
of VCRs and cable television as alternative entertainment options. Strip mall multiplexes appeared around the corner. Even the shrinking sizes of cars
after the 1970s gas crunch contributed to the drive in demise. Cheap horror and sex films kept many drive ins alive through lean years, but eventually
most could not survive. By 1990, the number of drive in theaters had shrunk to around 500, the smallest number in over 40 years. Locally, drive ins
like the Hyland, the Ute, the Woodland and the Park Vu (all operated at one time by Redwood parent company, DeAnza Land Leisure Corp.) all went
Throughout the contraction of the industry, however, there remained a fascination with the drive in as an institution. wanted to honor a place where I
kind of grew up, says Greenwell, whose father was a projectionist and manager of the Valley Vu for 20 years. just wanted to show people how much fun
[drive ins] were. It an original American experience.
When Loy talks, it clearly the voice of the industry advocate. UDITOA even held its first convention in 2001, and Loy message is that the industry
actually saw 49 theaters re opened and 18 new theaters built in the 1990s on the verge of extinction. But that advocate voice is one cheap supreme shirts without a trace of disingenuity. He bubbles over with
descriptions of drive in viewing like, experience is just awesome. To see Armageddon on a huge screen with a really nice image some movies, I think,
can be beat on a 60 by 120 foot screen.
Like the drive in itself, there is as much business reality to the swap meet as there is nostalgia value. Attendees expecting from the title meet to
find a place full of yard sale trinkets and doodads will find something considerably more contemporary. For every seller hawking previously owned toys
or flea market classics like framed portraits of Jesus, there are a half dozen selling new clothing at wholesale prices. When weather permits
additional vendors to occupy the open theater parking area, boxes of food items spill onto the pavement near the odd produce vendor. Multiple tables
display the identical Spanish language CDs, consumer electronics, specialty tools, made in China quickie knock off action figures and disturbing of
all animal figurines. It doesn exactly strike an observer as the place to find that buried treasure you bring to Antiques Roadshow. It closer to an
open air Costco.
Jason Randlett, co owner of WOW Wireless, stands at the opposite end of the spectrum. Randlett only recently started pitching his cell phone services
at the Redwood swap meet pitching is what he does, engaging the passers by where many others sit quietly with knitting he already found it a perfect
place to sell. a very lucrative place, he says, there very little overhead. People come in with a trailer full of stuff, sell it and walk away with
the money. Anything you can buy wholesale and sell at a huge discount is there.
The gates open, and the patrons begin winding their way towards their respective theaters. Cars cruise slowly cheap supreme shirts over the rises and falls of the asphalt like boats on choppy
water, the headlights bouncing on and off the blank white screens. And suddenly it becomes clear that the drive in army consists largely of a cavalry
of SUVs, each one facing away from the screen so the cargo area can become a private screening room. Elsewhere, some younger patrons take advantage of
the mild evening to pull out lawn chairs and crank up the movie sound on portable stereos; in other cars, the faint red glow of cigarettes illuminate
the interior. But in many of the vehicles, it a family night on the town.