Pat Shingleton: "Screening a Movie!"
Continuing our column from Thursday and if you don't have home delivery of "Pat's Official Weather News," it's available at www.PatShingleton.com. As reported yesterday, packing the family into the car and heading to a movie is a familiar event. Kids today are unaware of "outdoor" theaters - also known as the "Drive-In..." Recognizing that I am an official member of the WBRZ Investigation Team, I investigated 6 states that have "Drive-In" theaters. California leads the list with 36 outdoor screens with Pennsylvania offering 27. Washington, Michigan and Virginia offer seven with nine remaining in Florida. Thursday marked the anniversary of the first drive-in theater, constructed in Camden, N.J. in 1937. In the 50s, our parents would pack us into the Ford station wagon and head to our local Drive-In Theater, Spotlight 88, located between New Brighton and Ellwood City, PA. Funds were limited when it came to the concession stand so two shopping bags of buttered popcorn and thermoses of Kool-Aid were also transported. The feature on this particular evening starred Johnny Weismuller in one of his Tarzan flicks. During the trip we experienced periods of showers and upon our arrival, the rain was heavier leading to a tremendous thunderstorm. Audio for the movie was provided from a box-speaker lifted from a carriage-type pole and attached to the car window. "Drive-Ins," operating today, transmit the movie-audio via a pre-set radio frequency. On this occasion, static erupted from the window speaker as the thunderstorm increased. Expecting only a temporary shower, we watched the movie and a brilliant lightning show. Just as Tarzan was swinging through the jungle, with Chita at his side, it happened. At the height of this thunderstorm, we watched and listened with wipers swishing and static audio. Suddenly, Tarzan swung through the jungle and off the screen! Our popcorn was over and so was this flick. The crashing thunder was mixed with an omploding wall as the strong storm toppled the huge screen! We wondered if Tarzan and Chita survived the storm and Dad was more concerned about our survival. He peeled out of the lot in the midst of lightning and rain, making it home safely. The next morning, my brother Denis, discovered the audio speaker still attached to the window of the station wagon.