Kenneth, born and raised in the South, resides in Hamilton, Alabama. He enjoys sharing his unique perspectives on life through his writing.
I Admit It Right Here
there is more to this subject that I can digest. I do not feel bad for this because my subject is far more important, more-needed and remembered than my unimportant feelings. The subject is about my memories about my all-time favorite place located in Hamilton, Ala., and frankly, the place is still there: our drive-in. But it went by the name of: Ford Drive-in, and probably more well-known by any merchant anywhere. Or known better than any political candidate ever. When you were young and had the pleasure of hopping into your car and picking-up your favorite gal and heading to your drive-in, you can hold your head up with a pride that cannot be replaced or torn-down. If I sound passionate it's because I am.
The year was 1970. My tenth grade in Hamilton High School, of course in Hamlton, Ala., and yes, our town is still standing. Survivors, enduring the worst times and standing strong when its over. This best describes "the show" (the drive-in) because it was more than "just" a drive-in. If you haven't wrapped your head around this all-American hub of enterainment, drive-in's, then I will try to enlighten you very soon.
The Ford Drive-in Was Probably
no different than yours. I know that a lot of you are like me and still live in your hometown. Let's be honest. I wouldn't go to court and testify that Ford's Drive-in its life and demise was the reason that I stayed home to work and raise a family. No. That would be really superficially too dramatic to stomach. Like I said. I am still living here because my life stayed here. I have my wife and three grandkids here. One more thought about my hometown: even if I were to move to another locale, I would be sick to my stomach missing Hamilton, Ala., and this is the truth.
Our drive-in had a huge screen with white tiling that was put together in order to give the film a clear image. The parking area was bigger than most drive-in's that came along before the drive-in era disappeared. All in all, we all loved it. Now to keep the length down to a moderate length, I am going to give you a few personal thoughts as well those of my closest buddies and what a few rank starangers to say either when their car windows were down or in the famous Bedford Snack Center.
The Facts About Ford's Drive-in Theater
As you probably read in a few lines above, you read my synonym for "go to the show," which for us meant "head over to the drive-in theater and have a great Friday night," because this was the night that all of the working class of Hamilton lived and worked for: the start of the weekend. Friday night would be meaningless unless a few hundred cars and trucks filled with ya-hoo's and yeah, man's filling the air ready for fun. The truth is this: Ford's Drive-in Theater, since its opening, was never without support. I remember when the film, Woodstock, was released and I drove all by my lonesome in the rain to watch this show. But a friend of mine and his girlfriend were in their car just over a speaker post or two, but their wipers were never off because of a hard rain falling.
Fact is, we used to refer to our drive-in as Bedford's Drive-in Theater and we were incorrect. The real name was Ford's Drive-in Theater and to this day we still do not what the name, Ford's, stands for. But Bedford, we understood. (a) Mr. White Bedford owned and operated his drive-in and loved it. He worked as his own ticket manager and did a bang-up job.
Ford's Drive-in Was . . .
Flat land with a rhythm of banks where cars parked near a wooden stake with one speaker to place inside the car to just hear the film. Ford's Drive in was the always-present of every brand of man's shaving lotion as well as woman's perfume, both bought at a local drugstore This was Ford's Drive-in.
our "haven," when we were 16, and able to con our parents into letting us use the car for Friday night to see the latest Sean Connery 007, but we only lied about liking Connery. The girls who we dated always smelled fresh and nice and we knew how to steam-up the windows in our cars.
our rites of passage when we crossed the line from the movie poster box that stood on the entrance. The red, wooden boxes had chicken wire to keep us from "borrowing" the posters to place on our bedrooms. We didn't call it robbery, but "creative securing" the now-vintage posters.
our cars made-up of Chevrolet, Ford, VW, and pick-up trucks from the same big automotive plants in Detroit, MI., all except the VW brand. The guy who drove that car was always an outcast. Sure, it was a sad fact, but I would sometimes sneak away from my buddies and show the guy some friendship. And by doing this, I never lost anything by doing this deed
In our drive-in, Ford's of course, we had this pack of rather "colorful" girls who were 18 through 20, but looked as if they were high school seniors. They were the masters of eyeliner, rouge, and the reddest lipstick this side of Chicago. So we clever guys, went to the drive-in going stag to see if we could talk one of thes beauties to get in the car with us to uhhh, "talk." Really!
In our group, we really didn't have that much trouble. Except one summer night, our oldest friend, James Childers, (the oldest member of the famous Childers Gang who with yours truly, engineered the "Ill-Fated Watermelon Raid") who sat in the back of Gary's 1961 Chevy and Donnie Avery, (my far-away cousin) did not like him sitting in Donnie's seat, so Donnie being the clever one, went outside and collected a few handfuls of dry sagegrass that grew around the wooden pole where the speakers were kept and he sat fire to the grass and tried to stuff it under the car where James sat. James just stared into the flames and grinned. I thank that Donnie skulked off and got in someone else'scar to head for the bootlegger.
You could set your watch by the way our Ford's would not have that many customers. There was a competing drive-in in Gu-Win, Ala., a nearby town, and this facility promoted X-rated, adult films, but the adults had to have an I.D. proving that they were 18. The Vietnam Conflict was still going strong from 1970 throughout 1972, and these guys who had received their draft cards made it to the "adult" drive-in, but you had to sit-through a family film before you could see those black and white adult films--which compared to the TV shows in 2020, are really better and safer shows than on our own TV today.
Yes, there was a good share of "friendly robbery" at Ford's. A gang of mechanically-minded guys would fix the back seat of one of their cars and one or two guys would sit upfront while three other guys were sneak inside in the car trunk, but they also carred a cooler full of cold suds. This was fun for the older guys. I knew, and I was already signed for the Draft, if I were to engage in some suds-busting that my dad who had an excellent nose, would give me the "Third Degree" and make me sweat until I fessed-up.
Finally, yes, yours truly, James Childers, Gary Childers, "Oz" Ausborn and Allan Coons sneaked-into Ford's Drive-in Theater one Sunday night because we did not have school on Monday, so we took our time to plan and execute the operation of getting free movie fun. We slowly walked down a forest that grew adjacent the drive-in driveway and one-by-one, we ran and laid flat into some high grass growing near the huge screen. Were we frightened? YES! One of our crew mentioned spending a night in jail for this offense and one-by-one we ran back into the forest to freedom.
Now. I only scratched the surface of Ford's Drive-in, but maybe in the future I will share an episode with my two older, older guys and tell you how one of them was drunk and helped to wire a speaker back into the back of the drive-in to listen and watch the shows.
Both guys have long sid4 went to Glory, but I do not think that they would mind me sharing this with you.
Thanks for reading.
November 27, 2020_______________________________________________
URL's That Match Pictures in This Hub, And those photos are not of the real Ford's Drive-in Theater, but used to keep the title, drive-in, on readers' lips.
Can You Just Imagine . . .
"How our lives and country would have not changed unless TV had been invented?"
— Me. Ken Avery
© 2020 Kenneth Avery
Gypsy Rose Lee from Daytona Beach, Florida on December 01, 2020:
Thank you for this I really enjoyed reading. I even have memories of drive-ins. I was too young to have drive-in dates but I do remember in my childhood spending summers in the Catskill Mountains. There were a few drive-ins and this was int he 1960s so on some evening someone would pile us kids in a car and take us to the drive-in. I just loved it,
Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on November 29, 2020:
I remember the fun we had as a family going to the drive-in movies. My parents would bring all kinds of edible treats, and invariably we three kids would fall asleep before the movies ended. But it remains a fond memory for me as a child.