Drive-In Adventures
By Collins Wynn

(Used by permission from the Old Huntsville Magazine.)

I recall at least three drive-in theaters in 1950s/early 1960s Huntsville: Woody's (out on Meridian Street), the Parkway Drive-in which was a bit remote (sometimes a desirable attribute when serious personal matters required attention), and the Cadillac of Huntsville Drive-Ins - the Whitesburg.

Of the three, Woody's was first in the hearts of the Dallas/Lincoln neighborhood kids for two important reasons. 1) It was closest to the neighborhoods - about a five minute walk from Rison School up the railroad tracks; and, 2) There was easy foot access over the wire fence on the right side of the theater. Before having the authority (but not the ability) to drive we often made the short trek up the tracks to Woody's to climb the fence and lay in the grass catching a good flick. Occasionally someone would chase us off but more often than not we stayed for the entire evening. We each had our favorites but all could agree on the top two or three movies of all times (from a 13-year-old boy's perspective). Russ Meyer was our favorite producer - he specialized in movies comprised almost entirely of nearly naked full bosomed young ladies. His greatest production was "Vixen" which ranks up there near the top of the first of the greatest movies ever made.

Another movie, whose producer has long since been forgotten but whose marketing and advertising guy has been memorialized for all time, was "The Birth of Twins." Can you imagine some guy getting possession of a delivery room film and making mega bucks from it simply through advertising and marketing? I can still hear the pitch - "One show and one show only - educational and inspirational - see the miracle of birth." And, just to make sure that every male kid 12 and over came to see it, they added an age restriction of "no one under 16 admitted." No one at the ticket booth ever checked an ID that I saw. Some may doubt; just take a look at the advertising archives of the Huntsville Times.

After we started driving, a favorite past time became sneaking in some un-paying attendees. The ruse was that two guys would drive up to the ticket booth, pay for their admission and drive on in, all the while having 2, 3, or 4 of their closest personal friends stuffed in the trunk. Having served in both capacities (driver and stuffee) I can assure you it was great fun - it was all we could do to keep from giggling out loud and blowing our cover. There was additional fun to be had by the driver if he simply refused to open the trunk and free the stuffees - he could just sit there and listen to the mumbling and cursing of the ones most dear to him. It was absolute power in the purest sense.

We were never discovered by the management but we did have an unfortunate circumstance develop once. Our usual band of hooligans was out riding around one night late in the Blue Goose trying to figure out how to get into Woody's when we didn't have enough money between us for even one ticket - which effectively eliminated the "stuffee" guise. A plan was hatched in which we would kill the car lights and drive slowly and quietly in the out door (in other words, drive in the exit gate). Woody's and the Parkway were particularly suited for this maneuver since the exits were well removed from either the concession stand or the ticket booth - the Whitesburg's exit was too well lit besides they didn't show the really "good" movies. As we started up the driveway everyone was tense and anxious. On top of that it was difficult to see the road because there was a bright light pointing outward hanging directly over the exit (or, so we thought). Just as we neared the gateway, someone spooked the Goose and we took off like a shot headed directly under the light and into the paradise that was Woody's. All of a sudden the Blue Goose slammed to an immediate full stop from about 30 mph throwing everyone to the front of the car (these were the days before seat belts and supplemental restraint systems). It seems the light was not hanging over the roadway but was firmly affixed to a 4" steel pole set in concrete off to the right side.

Because of all the resulting noise, smoke, and confusion we had to drop our movie plans for the evening and retreat quickly. We had smashed up the front bumper without even gaining entrance. O well, whatever! There was always tomorrow night.


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