34 Miles to Nostalgia

Saturday, we helped Audrey cross an item off her bucket list by taking her to see a movie at the drive-in.

First off, I’m surprised that any of these places still exist. I had not been to a drive-in movie since the early 90s. Sadly, they’re a disappearing relic from a bygone era, much like rotary telephones, roller skating waitresses, and Cuba Gooding, Jr. There is exactly one in the Portland metropolitan area, and the emphasis is on metropolitan area since it’s actually down in Newberg, a good 30-40 minutes south of the Rose City. drivein3

Well, Tara saw that they were showing The Goonies over the weekend, and that’s both a cult classic and a personal fave, so it seemed like a good way to help Audrey with her list. (Other items include going up (and hopefully coming back down) in a hot air balloon, riding a zip line, and embarrassing herself in public). So we loaded the pickup and headed south, leaving at 5 PM to ensure we didn’t miss the movie, which the theater had listed as starting at dusk. Dusk this time of year does not descend upon us until after 9 PM, so we had plenty of time to spare. We’d grabbed sandwiches from Subway and once we got there, set up folding chairs in the pickup bed, talked, read, and mostly made fun of everybody around us. We’re not usually so snarky, but…well…the clientele made it easy. We’ll just leave it at that.


Back in another life, when I was dating my soon-to-be-first wife and living in San Jose, we’d go to the drive-in pretty frequently. Those days, you still had to place a speaker over your door. Now, the sound is broadcast over the FM dial. Times have changed, but the poles are still there; they’re just used as guides for parking (“two vehicles per space, no exceptions!”).

Truffle ShuffleThe sun finally set, the skies darkened, and the screen lit up with Chunk doing the Truffle Shuffle. Goonies never say die! Meanwhile the waxing moon danced with mackerel clouds and it was just the perfect evening. We chose not to stay for the second show, San Andreas, because it was late and we’re old. And Audrey’s bucket list never mentioned anything about a double feature. Actually, we probably would have stayed – not for The Rock Dwayne Johnson’s acting ability, but c’mon, a disaster flick about an earthquake that destroys California? Sign me up! Going to have to catch that one another time, for sure. Sadly, my allergies were acting up, so we ditched the drive-in during intermission and got home about 12:30.


I have to say, I kind of like my daughter’s bucket list. It’s a great excuse for us to do fun things. Next up? The zip line in Park City, Utah – one month from today.

Are there still any drive-in theaters in your town? If so, have you gone lately? If not, why the hell not? What other nostalgic icons of yesteryear do you miss the most?


Published by Mark Petruska

I'm a professional writer and editor living my best life in south central Wisconsin.

14 thoughts on “34 Miles to Nostalgia

  1. OMG Mark, how COOL! It’s been YEARS since I’ve been to a drive-in movie, but I remember them being the BEST; especially if we were seeing a scary movie because being outside (in the dark) made the experience much more frightening! I also remember the food you could buy at the concession stand (popcorn, hot dogs, ice cream and tons of candy).

    ” Those days, you still had to place a speaker over your door. Now, the sound is broadcast over the FM dial.”

    I was just going to ask you if they still had the speakers on the poles that you would place over your door. Half the time those speakers never worked, so you would have to drive your car to next pole, then next pole, to find one that did work.

    I bet Audrey had a GREAT time!

    P.S. Love that last photograph of the movie screen!


    1. We were talking about how cool a scary movie would be! Something like The Shining around Halloween. Or Psycho. We’ll have to file that idea away for a future trip.

      BTW, the concession stand still sells those same treats! They just cost an arm and a leg these days.


  2. I haven’t been to a drive-in movie in maybe 3 or so years now. We’ve still got one in Barbados but it’s customers are slowly starting to dwindle as more and more cinemas are opening up around the island. The drive-in used to be my favorite movie going place over crowded cinemas…my own space, my own volume control, my own comfort!


    1. You bring up some good points. It is nice to be in complete control of the viewing experience! Barbados, huh? I’d think you’d all be too busy blowing conch shells all day to bother with going to the movies.


      1. Haha nah. We don’t have conch in Barbados, actually. Barbados is one of the more developed Caribbean islands.


  3. I’m really sad drive-in movies are not really around anymore, mostly because I’ve always wanted to go to a drive-in movie ever since I saw Grease. Minus John Travolta trying to grab my boob.


  4. I don’t think I’ve been to a drive in since the 70’s. There are two still around here, but each almost an hour away. My son went to one of them with his friend’s family last summer. It’s a great bucket list item!

    Even though I don’t like heights, I do think zip lining looks like fun. However, there isn’t enough money in the world to pay me to go hot air ballooning. That looks like hell in a basket!


  5. I think there might be a drive in near me, but the bigger draw is any number of temporary screens that pop up in the local parks during the summer months. You bring a blanket as well as a few picnic treats and sit on the grass next to your neighbors as a movie plays while a few kids run around in the adjacent playground. It’s really a great experience.


    1. We have those, too – there’s something nice about watching a movie outside, I guess. Kind of like a mini drive-in without the poles. Err…also without the cars…so, not like a drive-in at all, really.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I’m so glad you went … and I’m pleased you instilled that particular dream in your daughter 🙂 I love the drive-in. (Can’t believe you skipped San Andreas. I would have been lobbying to stay.)

    They are still quite popular, at least judging by the hits my drive-in post gets. It’s the second most popular post at my blog. (Of course the hits are a bit seasonal … seems May-Sept are the big months.)


    1. FWIW, I’m thinking we’ll hit the cineplex this weekend since it’s supposed to be hot, and immerse ourselves in all things Dwayne Johnson for two glorious escapist hours!


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