THE TIMONIUM DRIVE-IN

                  
  

Drive-in movies were distinctly different from their fast food counterparts in this regard. You didn't go to drive-in movies to pick up members of the opposite sex. You'd better have one in the car with you. Because, as any teenager back then knew, the drive-in was the one place you could park with your boyfriend or girlfriend and not have to worry about a cop's flashlight shining in your window.

Unlike today's vehicles, which separate the driver and passenger with a console, the standard sized cars then had smooth vinyl seating straight across the front of the car. It was like having a sofa behind the steering wheel.

You always wanted to remember to bring a blanket for privacy, but that was about it. The drive-in provided the food and the entertainment.

The first thing one did after paying the fifty-cent admission fee was to secure a good parking spot. Usually it was in the middle or the back of the lot. The second thing was to check your speaker. They were heavy clunky boxes that would attach to your driver's side window.

In the Timonium Drive-In, in Baltimore County, at least half of them were either missing or simply not working. Not that a lot of my friends cared, but I thought the dialog made good background noise to the mischief going on around it.

And, while we're on the subject, I'm ashamed to admit that on at least one occasion I got interested in the movie. I think it was 'Nevada Smith'. Even today, watching that movie at home, I can only enjoy it by glancing at it out of the corner of my eye.

Our drive-in always played at least two movies, and in between the double feature came some of the tackiest commercials ever, urging you to try the concession's food and drink. They also had a big clock on the screen that would tell you how much time you had before the next feature. I think that when it got down to two minutes, it would turn red and pulsate.

Let me say this right now. In my opinion, my drive-in had some of the worst food ever served by man. Even the mess hall grub in boot camp was better. The popcorn was stale by weeks. The hot dogs were green. The egg rolls were hard enough to be weapons. And the sodas were diluted and under carbonated. Yet come intermission, everyone would flock to the concession stand.

Speaking of intermission, one particular commercial still comes to mind after all these years. No, it wasn't the talking hot dogs or the coke and Pepsi cups engaged in a sword fight. It was the idiotic kid that wanted a popcorn mine!

A genie appeared in front of this ten year old imbecile and told him he'd grant him a wish. Did this kid want a million bucks? No! Did this kid want world peace? No! What this particular boy wanted was a popcorn mine. That's right. When faced with the prospect of wealth and prosperity, this kid chose popcorn.    

Well, he got his wish; an old abandon mine filled to the brim with popcorn. I imagine him today, middle aged, poor, and bloated from years of popcorn abuse, wondering why he made such an unwise choice.


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