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In the Days of the Drive-In

Past pleasures on the (very) big screen



 



While nostalgia isn’t the most reliable witness, the long summer days of youth seem endless now – often filled with golden sunshine, walking barefoot in fresh-cut grass and enjoying time away from school. It meant an afternoon dip in the pool with friends at Wedgewood or Springlake, perhaps a jaunt over to the Oklahoma City Zoo and an evening trip to the local drive-in theater.
 

And what a choice of drive-ins we had: Cinema 70, Twi-Light Gardens and the Skyview, to name a few.

The drive-in theater dates all the way back to 1933, but the real craze began in the mid-1950s, when nearly 5,000 drive-ins dotted the mid-century landscape of America. Oklahoma had its share, as well, with more than 100 theaters scattered across the state.

“As a young child, my family went to several,” says Oklahoma City resident Tammy McKee. “We loved Twi-Light Gardens, the Beacon at Guthrie and Lakeaire over by Lake Overholser. I think the Beacon was probably my favorite, but I really liked all of them. It was just such a simpler time back then.”

There was something for everyone at the drive-in. Kids could play on the swing sets, families could enjoy the smorgasbord of treats at the concession stand and teenagers could spend an evening steaming up the windows.

But a turning point came with the implementation of the Uniform Time Act of 1966. That meant Daylight Saving Time, and with the summer sun still up well into the evening, movie start times became later.


“I was in school in the ’70s, and drive-ins were still popular then,” McKee says. “I remember going on a blind double-date once when we saw Invasion of the Body Snatchers. And another time I went with a group of friends to see Carrie. One of the things I remember is people trying to sneak in via the trunk or under covers in the back of a truck. I was never brave enough to do that; I always figured I’d get caught.”

By the early ’70s, Twi-Light Gardens and Cinema 70 dimmed their lights. The Northwest Hi-Way, located near Northwest Highway and Independence, held on until 1982. Today only a handful of Oklahoma drive-ins still exist, including Guthrie’s Beacon Theater and Oklahoma City’s Winchester on South Western.

“I still remember the build-up of excitement when we put the speaker on the window, knowing the film was getting ready to start,” McKee smiles. “Drive-ins really started my love affair with movies. Unfortunately, today’s generation doesn’t know that much about drive-ins, except in the history books. Looking back, I wouldn’t trade those summer nights for anything.”

 

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More than 20 speakers in a one-track session designed for the digital marketing professional, marketer, business owner or anyone interested in branding, PR, advertising, social media, SEO, search,...

Cost: $250

Where:
Tower Theatre
425 NW 23rd St
Oklahoma City, OK  73103
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Sponsor: BigWing
Telephone: 405.475.4185
Contact Name: Janelle Archer
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This year will mark the eighth time the John F. Kennedy Awards have been celebrated, honoring individuals making a significant contribution to Oklahoma, its communities and its people, while paying...

Cost: $300

Where:
Skirvin Hilton Hotel
1 Park Ave.
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
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Sponsor: Santa Fe Family Life Center
Telephone: 405-840-1817
Contact Name: James Timberlake
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More than 20 speakers in a one-track session designed for the digital marketing professional, marketer, business owner or anyone interested in branding, PR, advertising, social media, SEO, search,...

Cost: $250

Where:
Tower Theatre
425 NW 23rd St
Oklahoma City, OK  73103
View map »


Sponsor: BigWing
Telephone: 405.475.4185
Contact Name: Janelle Archer
Website »

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Price Tower Art Gallery in Bartlesville will host Women Artists of the West's 48th annual juried art exhibition, featuring over 200 original art works, created by women in all mediums, subjects...

Cost: Free 2018-09-21,22,23

Where:
Price Tower Art Gallery
510 S. Dewey Ave.
Bartlesville, OK  74003
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Sponsor: Price Tower Arts Center
Telephone: 918.336.4949
Contact Name: Angelina Bourgou
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Escape the ordinary, and learn about OKC from a different point of view. Relax in the climate controlled cabin on one of our 65’ cruisers, or enjoy the breeze on the viewing deck and listen...

Cost: $15 for Seniors and kids under 12, $20 Adults

Where:
Regatta Landing
701 S. Lincoln Blvd.
OKC, OK  73109
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Telephone: 405.702.7755
Contact Name: Business Office
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A fabulous art auction to raise money to help support Oklahoma A+ Schools at UCO.

Cost: $100

Where:
CHK|Central Boathouse
732 Riversport Dr.
Oklahoma City, OK  73129
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Sponsor: Oklahoma A+ Schools at UCO
Telephone: 405.974.3791
Contact Name: Heather Bryant
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The evening Cocktail Cruise offers stunning views of the downtown skyline, the Boathouse District and Finish Line Tower, the Wheeler Ferris wheel and quite possibly an amazing Oklahoma sunset. Come...

Cost: $15 for Seniors and kids under 12, $20 Adults

Where:
Regatta Landing
701 S. Lincoln Blvd.
OKC, OK  73109
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Telephone: 405.702.7755
Contact Name: Business Office
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Join supporters in communities across the nation for the St. Jude Walk/Run to End Childhood Cancer during Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. This family-friendly event raises funds to support the...

Cost: $10 for adults or children six and older

Where:
Stars and Stripes Park
3701 S. Lake Hefner Drive
Oklahoma City , OK  73116
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Telephone: 405.403.7762
Contact Name: Emily Drover
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Let’s end childhood cancer. Together! This September, supporters across the country will unite to participate in the St. Jude Walk/Run to End Childhood Cancer, an exciting, family-friendly...

Cost: $10 for Registration

Where:
Stars and Stripes Park
3701 S Lake Hefner Dr
Oklahoma City, OK  73116
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Sponsor: ALSAC St. Jude Oklahoma City
Telephone: 405.403.7762
Contact Name: Emily Drover
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Price Tower Art Gallery in Bartlesville will host Women Artists of the West's 48th annual juried art exhibition, featuring over 200 original art works, created by women in all mediums, subjects...

Cost: Free 2018-09-21,22,23

Where:
Price Tower Art Gallery
510 S. Dewey Ave.
Bartlesville, OK  74003
View map »


Sponsor: Price Tower Arts Center
Telephone: 918.336.4949
Contact Name: Angelina Bourgou
Website »

More information

Escape the ordinary, and learn about OKC from a different point of view. Relax in the climate controlled cabin on one of our 65’ cruisers, or enjoy the breeze on the viewing deck and listen...

Cost: $15 for Seniors and kids under 12, $20 Adults

Where:
Regatta Landing
701 S. Lincoln Blvd.
OKC, OK  73109
View map »


Telephone: 405.702.7755
Contact Name: Business Office
Website »

More information

The evening Cocktail Cruise offers stunning views of the downtown skyline, the Boathouse District and Finish Line Tower, the Wheeler Ferris wheel and quite possibly an amazing Oklahoma sunset. Come...

Cost: $15 for Seniors and kids under 12, $20 Adults

Where:
Regatta Landing
701 S. Lincoln Blvd.
OKC, OK  73109
View map »


Telephone: 405.702.7755
Contact Name: Business Office
Website »

More information

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