My wife and I drove down the lane and up to the ticket booth at about 7pm and found only a half dozen cars in front of us. Well, the projectionist, Paul Lindquist, always said to come early but I wondered how attendance would be on the last big weekend of summer with lots to do and the IPE in full swing.
As we drove on to find our spot, I soon found out we weren't the only early birds. The upper level was almost full, a couple of big RV's full of kids where unpacking and those who needed the front row had staked their claim. We parked just up from the concession stand - four young lovers on our left, a big pickup full of teenage boys on our right and the RV's full of little kids behind. Just what you'd expect from one of the last truly family-oriented, film-going experiences - the Drive-In.
I got out and took a walk around hoping to run into Paul.
I'm a real film buff and was quite taken by the Comox native whose passion for film, nostalgia and charm of old theaters led him to resurrect one of only a few Drive-Ins left in all of Canada. I spotted Paul across the lot directing traffic and finding the proper parking spot for a group in a camper.
There's room for everyone here no matter what you're driving and sitting out in front with blankets and lawn chairs is not only allowed but encouraged. A quick chat, "Thanks for coming, you're going to love this movie, I know where you are so I'll get you in for a tour of the projection room when things settle down but I gotta run." All right, that's what I wanted to hear.
The pace was filling up, people where playing frisbee up front and the boys next door were tossing a football. The RV people, out in their lawn chairs, where chatting with a large group of out-of-towners. There was a great sense of community.
Down front of us, a very young couple got out of the back seat of their parents' car and headed to the concession stand. As they walked by, I noticed they were having some trouble trying to figure out what to do with their arms. The young boy had his folded tightly on his chest while the girl kept her's moving up and down like some kind of exercise move. 'I'll keep my eye on those two,' I said as my wife gave me a knowing grin. 'Doesn't that bring back some memories,' she said. It wasn't long before the kids returned. No problem with arms this time - they were full of popcorn and drinks. As they got to their car, the parents where unpacking the chairs and blankets. A little horseplay inside and our young couple found their arms around each other for a brief moment and, to each other's delight, it seemed to be OK. Well, wouldn't you know, not long after the group got settled, another trip to the concession stand. As they approached our truck, each one dropped down a hand and while looking straight ahead, found each other's and contact! As they walked by, their faces were filled with that kind of nervous delight and with pride. Yup, they're on a date, it's official.
Both the movies were great fun and Paul found me between shows and I got my tour of the projection room. It's amazing what this guy has done; most of what goes on in that room is self made and it all works just fine. The picture quality is the best you will see anywhere on a big screen. As we drove out, I said to my wife how great
an experience the whole thing is. It's not just going to a movie, it's more than that, to which my
wife replied, 'I can't believe were still up and it's one o'clock in the morning.'
Anyone who goes knows. Anyone who has not, must go.
Thanks for the memories.
(re-published with permission)