DRIVE-INS CHALLENGED BY 21ST CENTURY TECHNOLOGY - Trip Down Mt. Zion Drive-Ins Memory Lane

(05/27/2014)

By Bob Weaver

The Mount Zion Drive-in, among America's last movie drive-ins, opened in 1952. It opened Memorial Day weekend.

The latest openings are being challenged by 21st century technology with the end of the use of 35mm film to project the images on the silver screen.

The drive-in has been making do with the last distribution of movie film, with some first-run films still available.

"We will keep plugging along until we can't anymore," said Bonnie Sands. The opening date will be announced shortly.

The conversion of the film to digital technology has put pressure on small-town movie venues, the conversion costing $70,000 up.

The peak of drive-in's in the USA came in the late 1950s and early 1960s with some 4,000 drive-ins spread across the country.

Among drive-in's advantages was that a family with a baby could take care of their child while watching a movie, while teenagers with access to cars found it a place to cuddle up.

The Mt. Zion Drive-in, like many others, has allowed families to spread a blanket on the ground and enjoy the great outdoors, snack bar and playground.

In the 1950s, churches and media labeled the venue as an immoral "passion pit," off-set by some of them being used for Sunday church services, sermonettes to be heard in one's own car, without getting dressed-up.

Older Calhoun residents, most of them spread across America, have fond memories of the local drive-in during its hey-day when cars would back up on Rt. 16 waiting to get through the ticket booth.

Original owner John Cook would actually be a "traffic cop" with a flashlight after the movie to see drivers got safety back on the highway.

In the 1971 coming of age movie "The Last Picture Show," the characters lamented about the closure of their small-town movie house.

Movie house operator Miss Mosey said, "Nobody wants to come to shows no more. Kids got baseball in the summer, television all the time. If Sam had lived, I believe we could've kept it goin.' But I just didn't have the know-how."

Character Duane responded, "Won't be much to do in town with the picture show closed."

Forty years later, with the advent of dozens of electronic gadgets and venues and hundreds of TV channels, the prediction is really coming true.

America's entertainment is being held in their hand and in the comfort of their own home.

Another line from the 1971 film, "Don't get out much anymore."

Take A Trip Down Movie Memory Lane:

See   MT. ZION DRIVE-IN OPENS FOR 60TH SEASON - Sultry Summer Nights, Parents Got "Passion Pit" Warning


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