Memories of Drive-In Theatres in Tucsonby Tyler Woods on Oct. 04, 2009, under Life
I live up the street from the De Anza drive-in theater. For years I kept telling myself, I am going to relive my childhood memories, pack up a cooler, gather my friends and spouse, and head to the movies! Week-after-week, year-after-year, I kept telling myself that: I am going to go to the drive in. I watched the lines at the De Anza time-and-time again and last night, was the last time I got to watch the cars line up for a nice evening at the movies, because last night was the end of drive-ins for Tucson. And it got me thinking….
Growing up, there seemed to be lots of drive in theaters. The one my parents took us to was the 22nd Street drive in, which closed in 1979. When that drive in closed it felt like a door to my childhood closed. As a child, my mother would pack up sandwiches, toss in some chips, soda, and drive us to a corner market to pick out a few pieces of candy to take to the drive in. She never popped the popcorn that was the treat we got to go for during intermission. There was nothing like movie popcorn, especially at the drive in.
In fact, all the treats tasted better at the drive in. It must have been that “drive in” taste that even made mom’s dry peanut butter and jelly sandwiches taste pretty good. Though on some Saturday nights, mom and dad would stop at Hardee’s or Sandy’s and let us get burgers for the movies but no fries because we had to have plenty room for popcorn with extra butter.
Tucson had several drive-in movie theaters, now if memory serves me there was The Fiesta, The Cactus, The Midway, The Prince, The Biltmore-Miracle Mile, The 22nd Street, The Rodeo, The Apache, and, last but not least, The De Anza. These theaters generally showed a double feature and often a late night viewing. For five bucks, an entire family could go and watch some of the greatest movies of all time!
I grew up with Disney on the big outdoor screen. The Gnome-Mobile, The Jungle Book, The Love Bug, The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes, and Bedknobs and Broomsticks. Watching Science fiction and mild horror flicks were equally as exciting. As long as there was popcorn and a speaker hanging from the car door, life was good.
Sadly enough, our last drive in closed this weekend, and those days of watching movies under the stars will become distant memories. No more sticky floors at the drive-in snack bar, no more taking a few outdoor chairs and sitting outside, no more making out and steaming up the windows, these are all memories that we get to keep tucked in fond place in our hearts.