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Monday, December 30, 2013

Pop A Cork And Turn Up Your Heater


The Skyview Celebrates New Year's Eve

The fun of New Year's Eve parked in a frigid auto is debatable, yet here was Winston-Salem's Skyview Drive-In promising the moon to patrons willing to brave elements and join in a four-feature marathon. When do inducements become too many? Freebies here seem overwhelming. Outright cash prizes were rare, if not unknown, at drive-ins close to Greenbriar. This is one of very few I've come across. Our Starlight did not issue $ reward --- live turkeys or chickens occasionally --- but never money. Winston-Salem and the Skyview were then an hour away on two lanes. Spoiled as we now are with interstates, such a drive would seem murderous. Bribery of patronage was consequence of winter chill that kept cars off the Skyview lot between fall and arrival of spring. Your choice if attending was a dilly: freeze to death or run the heater, that last an option that spent gas and made nights out expensive. But maybe you'd win a twenty-five gallon gas ticket they were giving away, or even the $35 bankroll; anyway, you were a cinch for a midnight cup of joe, and would need it by then, plus a free ducat for showing up on such a foul night. Maybe weather would be mild ... that could happen in Forsyth County on NY's Eve ... but I've just checked forecasts for tomorrow night, and Winston-Salem is in for a thirty-degree low. How different would 2013 be from what patronage experienced on this early 60's occasion?

4 Comments:

Blogger Scott MacGillivray said...

The interesting thing to me about the Skyview ad is the four slug cuts from the pressbooks. The distributors would create big, splashy two-column or three-column ads for their latest movies, but I've noticed that the neighborhood theaters and drive-ins used the smallest available ads (when they used pressbook art at all). By the late 1950s many productions were made independently for major-studio release, and everybody had to get credit, while the stars' names had to command a certain percentage of the space. Look how much copy the ads are legally obliged to cram into the limited area: "A Euterpe Production in Color / CinemaScope and Metrocolor"; "M-G-M presents a Sol C. Siegel Production," etc.

10:57 AM  
Blogger Mike Cline said...

My family's VILLA HEIGHTS Drive-In Theatre (just 45 miles from Winston-Salem's SKYVIEW usually ran an "all-nighter" on New Year's Eve and drew good attendances. At the end of the night, each car got a free pass to a future show. We did coffee and donuts in the concession stand as well. No cash awards or gas cards, however. We weren't that generous. Patrons didn't seem to mind running their engines during the winter nights.

1:15 PM  
Blogger Dave K said...

Heaters at the drive-in! Well, I've spent most of my adult life in Minnesota and, believe me, drive-ins packed it in by mid September, re-opening in early June (actual temperature, not wind chill, was 23 below this morning for instance.) But I grew up in New England and many of the outdoor theaters supplied heaters all through the off months. Bad news: those things worked, well, not so hot! Good news: you could actually see, not just hear , all the feature attractions and a cartoon (Connecticut drive-ins, I may have noted before, were notorious for starting the show ridiculously early in the summer, many a program I remember starting off with a still sunlit screen and Mr. Magoo's disembodied voice).

2:07 PM  
Blogger John McElwee said...

Donald Benson contributes a "Drive-In Funny":


Did you hear about the Norwegian who almost froze to death? He went to the drive in to see "Closed for the Winter."


(Courtesy of a Prairie Home Companion joke show)

4:19 PM  

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