The Times Journal & Russell County News
Wednesday, Jul. 23, 2014 — RUSSELL SPRINGS & JAMESTOWN, KENTUCKY —
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Drive-In movies
In Oct. 4 Issue
Russell County News
By Ron Cowell, Columnist

For those of us who grew up in the 50's and 60 "Cruisin" was a big part of that era. After supper time on the week ends we would get a group of kids together and ride around till it started to get dark and then we would head to the Drive In Movie. Back then when you went to the drive in you didn't pay by the carload, you paid by however many people were in the car. I remember putting two of the smallest kids in the trunk of the car and sneaking them in that way. It worked well as long as you didn't get caught. I can remember getting caught once. We had to spend the next month on Saturday and Sunday raking the parking area cleaning up trash for our punishment. After that they watched us for a while but then we got smart and started going in a different car.

When this story crossed my mind I got to thinking about the Drive In and what a big part of life that was for a lot of us. Over the years with Cable TV and DVD's, the Drive Ins are almost a thing of the past. What we used to do almost every week now is mostly a memory.

Here is a little History of the Drive In Movie Theater.

The first Drive In Theater was invented by Richard M. Hollingshed. He would hang a sheet between the trees for the screen and he put a 1928 Kodak projector on the hood of his car at his home in New Jersey, he placed a radio behind the screen for sound. Richard tested his idea for the sound with the windows down and half way up. He used a lawn sprinkler to simulate rain and see how that effected what he saw and heard.

He found if the cars parked behind each other some were not able to see the whole screen. To correct this problem he lined up several cars and placed blocks under the front wheels until he found the right spacing and angle of the car so everyone could see the whole screen.

The next thing you know Richard was at the Patent office on Aug 6th, 1932. He got his Pat. Number and started making improvements on his invention. On May of 1950 the patent was declared invalid by the Delaware District Court. That's how it all got started.

Kentucky has always shined brightly among the American Drive In States. There are 120 Counties in Kentucky, and at the peak of the American Drive In Boom back in the 1950's there were almost the same number of Drive Ins in Kentucky. To date 86% of all those Drive Ins have closed down or have been demolished. Yet Kentucky still remains one of the Top 10 Drive In States with 17 that still remain in operation.

In Our Area we still have several Drive In Movies in operation. In Stanford there is the Stanford Drive in. This is the second smallest Drive In with a capacity of 160 Cars. It has been hanging on since 1952.

In April of 1996 a tornado ripped the screen apart but in three months  it was back up and running again. They are open seasonally, April through September and have a Flea Market there on the weekends.

A Drive In a little close to us is the 27 Twin Drive In on 27 in Somerset.

The 27 Drive in started late in the Drive in era. It was built nearly 10 years after the Drive In boom in 1967. With everything going good the owners built the second screen in their 13th year of operation. Both screens have been showing movies ever since. They are open seasonally also April through October. The 27 Twin Drive In is one of 2 American Drive Ins that host an annual July fireworks display.

There you have it, a part of the history and cruisin that we did back in the 50's and 60's.

The season is just about over for now but it might be something you want to do come Spring. Just ask yourself, when was the last time I went to a Drive In Movie?

If your Car Club is having an event and you would like us to tell everyone about or someone who you would like to see featured in this article send all information to, . All information on upcoming events needs to be in at least two weeks before the event.

If your Club or church or group is having an event and you would like to display some classic cars at that event let me know at least two weeks before the event. I will put you in contact with one of the clubs that will gladly bring their cars out for display.

Until next time, Keep Cruisin !

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