Photo Above: McHenry Outdoor Theater, McHenry, Illinois
As the Sun starts to set, so does the time I knew. Growing up on Friday, or Saturday nights the parents used to get us in our pajamas, pack a couple of bags of Okee-Doke Popcorn, usually cheese and regular, and put us in the car and take us to the Cascade Drive-in, in West Chicago, Illinois. We used to go when I was real young in the 69 Camaro that was my Mom’s, or the 69 Barracuda which was my Dad’s. The Camaro was Blue with a white rag top, what a beautiful car.
When the upkeep got to expensive for those cars, my Mom and Dad bought an 83 Citation, It was Maroon with a Hatchback. Again they would pack us in that car, and at the Drive-in they would put the seats down, and we could lay in back. We would usually try to make it through the first movie, and sometimes on a rare occasion we would make it through the second one to.
I remember seeing some great movies there, but before every movie they would either run a cartoon, like popeye, heckle and Jeckyl, or a Bugs bunny Cartoon. Sometimes if we were lucky they would run a Three Stooges short until the sun set far enough down for the movie to start. This is not a practice alot of Drive-In theaters do anymore that I would love to see brought back.
We saw such movies as Karate Kid 2, The Last Star Fighter, Space Camp, Starman, and the Three Amigos. Those days the theaters had playgrounds, of course they were monkey bars, swings and maybe 1 or 2 other items. Playrounds became a thing of the past when people became sue happy, and the playgrounds were all metal equipment. The Insurance companies basically told the theaters no more. Another sad notation in our American culture.
Years later my family moved to the McHenry County area. It was fairly rural but the one thing we did have and still do, if we can keep it alive is the McHenry outdoor theater. I worked there 11 summers, and I enjoyed every minute of it. The crews I worked with became my summer family, and I even met my ex-wife there. Even though we wound up getting divorced we had 3 beautiful children together. My kids when they were younger would get in the car and we would take them because daddy was working, and they could watch a movie. They basically spent every summer night when they were younger at the Drive-in.
Now the McHenry Outdoor Theater is facing its biggest challenge. It is becoming to expensive to run 35 mm film anymore, and alot of companies will not produce first run films in 35 mm format. Most theaters have now switched over to digital, and McHenry is trying to do the same. If they do not raise the money to put in Digital Projection they could be facing a grim, and heartbreaking future.
Most Drive-ins I remember are now a thing of the past. I do not like this because people have become to lazy, and would rather spend time on their couch with cable or red box and watch movies in the comfort of their own home. I would rather be at the outdoor sitting in my car enjoying a double feature, or even a single feature because some theaters do not have double features. I want to eat popcorn, drink Coca-Cola, and eat hotdogs, pizza, and burgers.
So far this year I have relived some of those old memories I went to the McHenry Outdoor a few weeks ago, and just last week I went to the Harvest Moon Drive-in, in Gibson City, Illinois. Harvest Moon Is a Twin Drive-in in the middle of Gods country. It is the worlds first wind powered theater, with digital projection on each screen. It has a wonderful little concession stand to.
If you want to see the McHenry Outdoor stay open please patronize it, become a good customer. Lets not forget the Drive-In It is a good family night, and we do not want to forget the way America was. Thank you for reading this I really hope you enjoyed this!!!
Photo above: Harvest Moon Drive-in, Gibson City, Illinois