What Happened to the Drive-In Theater?

Last week we drove by an old drive-in movie theater in Sutton, MA. Long closed. It was sad to see it in such disrepair.Rustic Drive In 2

We were able to spot the old screen from the street. For years I had not thought about the ‘outdoor movie’ in a car and was a tad surprised to recall how big the screen was.
If you look carefully, you can see the screen in the distance beyond the deteriorating entrance.

For our family, the drive-in movie was a Saturday night event, not every Saturday; rather it was when Dad and Mom wanted to treat us to the experience of a movie under the stars. Ours was the Cranston Drive-In Theater.
Our only other outdoor movie experiences were the ones at the general store at the beach (click on  my link on the lower right of this page). Who was the genius (It was Richard Hollingshead) to think we could do the same thing sitting in a car looking at such a huge screen?

After Dad paid, $1 for all four of us I believe, I remember pulling to the spot where we settled with our car tilted upward. We rolled down the window, reached out to grab a speaker off its post and hung it on the window. The place was packed. It was dusk.

We waited forever for the movie to start, often jumping out of the car to walk around or to go to the refreshment stand.
The screen lit up as the movie was heralded by white dots and static from the speaker. Then came an endless string of advertisements, most of them telling us to go to the refreshment stand.

I cannot remember a single movie I saw. It was a late start for me and Peter. I made it through the cartoon but fell asleep for the main feature.

So, do you have a drive-in theater experience?

© 2015

Rustic Drive In 1

By | 2017-07-10T16:10:11+00:00 May 20th, 2015|Family, Stories of the 1940's and 1950's|9 Comments


  1. Vin DiBiasio May 26, 2015 at 2:37 am - Reply

    Some Drive-Ins, if not all, had heaters which were about the same size as the speakers I remember using them in the late fall when it got a bit cool in the evening. The cord was long enough to place the heater down near the floor board to keep your feet warm. Depending on whom you were with, you may not have had to need the heater.

    • Ed May 26, 2015 at 11:52 am - Reply

      I forgot about the heater, Vin, probably because the only time I went to the drive-in was in summer with parents.
      I will have an expanded version of the drive-in story in my next book, with any luck and more writing, out by Christmas.
      Thanks for the comments.

  2. Mike Neri May 26, 2015 at 3:00 am - Reply

    It was also at the Cranston Drive In theatre. It was my first (and last) date with a girl. I was very nervous because of the fact it was my first date. My father let me use his car, a Ford Station Wagon. There were two movies, both Cecil B DeMille spectaculars but don’t ask me to name them.

    We watched both movies, and when the movies ended I started the car and drove off. However, I had forgotten to remove the speaker from the driver side back window. After the earth shattering noise of glass exploding out of the car I got out, picked up the speaker, put it where it belonged and drove the young lady home.

    Not only did I have to explain what happened to the window to my father but only a few cars away was a neighbor and good friend of my father who called the next day and asked him what happened (he recognized the car). As you might well expect I did not get to go to many more drive in movies with his car again.

    • Ed May 26, 2015 at 11:50 am - Reply

      Hysterical story, Mike, but I cannot understand why it was your last date. You mean four hours in a car, broken window, discovery, etc. did not make it?
      And when you read my stories of my first date…coming up…you will see that the movies was a date-winner. But…not the drive-in I guess.

    • Ed May 26, 2015 at 12:47 pm - Reply

      I just reread this, Mike. it is SO funny. Thanks again.

  3. Steve Mascena May 27, 2015 at 1:41 am - Reply

    I believe The Rustic Drive In on Rt 146 is still in operation at least it was not too many years ago because we took all the kids to see one of the Harry Potter films.

  4. Steve Mascena May 27, 2015 at 1:43 am - Reply

    I believe the Rustic Drive In on Rt 146 is still in operation, at least it was not too many years ago as we took the kids to see a Harry Potter film.

    • Ed May 27, 2015 at 5:29 pm - Reply

      Yes, Steve, Rustic is still in play. The pictures we took are of the Somerset, not too far from Rustic.

    • Ed May 27, 2015 at 5:29 pm - Reply

      Yes, Steve, Rustic is still in play. The pictures we took are of the Somerset, not too far from Rustic.

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