I spent my senior year in high school working as the ticket-booth guy at the soon-to-be-defunct Island Auto Movie, and so I feel profound pain over the Death Of The American Drive-In Theater. But the drive-in isn't dead in Wisconsin!
We're fortunate that photographer Dave Glass captured the Island Auto Movie in all its glory before it was replaced by an office park in the late 1980s.
I'd thought that damn near all the drive-ins were gone, but then I made my yearly trip to the in-laws' vacation cabin in Door County, Wisconsin. Naturally, I had to stop at the grocery store for some Wisconsonian food and drink. My family comes from Minnesota, so I figure the love of greasy cheese products and beer must be a genetic thing.
It turns out that the Skyway Drive-In in Fish Creek, Wisconsin (on the Door County Peninsula, about 70 miles north of Green Bay), is alive and well! There was quite a crowd on Monday night, with lawn furniture, screaming sugar-addled kids, and trucks with couches in the beds backed into the spaces.
The last time I'd been to a drive-in as a customer was just after I quit working at the Island Auto Movie, late summer 1984, when I was dragged into a double-date situation that paired me up with a girl who drove the ultimate drive-in car: a 1971 Lincoln Continental Mark III. She turned out to be 15, so it's fortunate that I kept my just-turned-18 meat-hooks offa her during the double-feature of Karate Kid and Against All Odds, but you couldn't have asked for a better car: huge bench seat, opera windows, and just a general sense of chrome-plated class.
Sadly, the 2004 Honda Accord, which is the car I borrowed from my mother-in-law to take my lovely bride to see Inception at the Skyway, turns out to be a terrible drive-in car. The main problem— which, admittedly, isn't limited to the modern Accord— is the lack of a bench seat. In fact, the Accord features bucket seats designed by Japanese sadists to prevent any sort of contact with your date. By God, even if you're not some sort of degenerate priapic octopus who sees the drive-in as your personal steamed-window passion pit, you still want to be able to at least put your arm around your woman. Not in an Accord! But the problems don't end there. The '04 Accord has a really low roofline with a big tinted strip across the top of the windshield, so there's no angle that lets you see the whole movie screen. The radio controls are incredibly bright and can't be dimmed with the headlights off, which means you've got this bright-ass light shining in your eyes when you tune in the movie soundtrack on the radio (sure, proper drive-in equipment includes the speakers you hang on your car window, but a Communist conspiracy seems to have replaced them with radio transmitters). What would Joe Bob say?
Photo source: Car & Driver