Drive-In Times

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Did you know that the drive-in movie theater was patented in Camden, New Jersey, in 1933? Richard Hollingshead, who worked for a chemical company, is created as the inventor.

There’s something uniquely Americana about drive-in theaters, though there are many left. In an age where multiplexes show a million movies with surround sound and tricked-out snack bars, and where people are just as happy (sometimes) to watch a movie on the train going to work, the experience of the drive-in just isn’t as noted anymore.

I grew up in the shadow of a drive-in, the Moonlight (pretty great name for a drive-in theater). It was only a few miles away from our house, and I saw my first movie there – Bambi, if I remember correctly.

It’s been closed for many years, but it sounds like it’s trying to make a come back. Which would be pretty cool for the neighboring towns.

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On my recent sojourns to Northeast Pennsylvania and back, I actually passed TWO drive-in theaters, both still operational.

The first on was the Laurel Drive-In on Route 309 in Hazelton, PA. Obviously, it was still closed for the season, thought it looked like one guy, at least, wanted to get a good spot.

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The overcast sky still held hope for the summertime blockbuster, though. You could almost hear the tinny dialogue coming out of the speakers.

The next one I passed wasn’t on Route 309 but just off it. On the drive-back to NJ, I stopped in Tamaqua at Tony’s for lunch. (potato soup and meatloaf.) I had been taking my time, and now wanted to pick up the PA Turnpike to finish the drive. To do so, I had to continue down 309 for a ways, then hang a left on Route 443 and pick up the PA Turnpike off of that, at the Mahoning Valley tollbooth in Lehighton.

Along this way, another drive-in came into view, the Mahoning Drive-In, operational since 1948.

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According to their website, it’s still 84 days (from today) till opening day. In the meantime, their sign is valuable advertising real estate, an area Crystal Spring Tree Farm seemed only to happy to take over (I had no idea about that whole White House fact…)

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Doesn’t seem like much has changed since this drive-in opened. Maybe touched up the paint a bit.

The chains prevented me from exploring much further, like I did one time, back in 2012. I kept my distance this time.

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Wonder what movie they will show on the big screen come opening night 2017?

I’m now hopeful the Moonlight can open up for this summer. If so, perhaps me and the family will be able to take in a movie this summer. Might not be a bad way to spend a warm summer evening in Northeast PA.

Popcorn with butter, please!

© Mark Krajnak | JerseyStyle Photography | 2017

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