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A Return To The 80’s At The Drive-In

If I could go back in time…

It’s a basic desire for most. A masochistic obsession for others.

Perhaps some need to fix a mistake they dwell on too often, a few want to relive a special moment, while a smaller group may wish they could stay in the past forever like a time-jumping Peter Pan.

I must admit I fall somewhere in between. I certainly don’t want to duel Captain Hook for eternity, but getting sprinkled with a little fairy dust from Tinker Bell every now and then, doesn’t sound so bad.

And recently, that magical pixie paid me a visit in the form of the Mendon Drive-In.

My wife and I are about to have our first child and we were driving to the hospital for a tour when we passed by. Being a film buff and proponent for vintage theaters and drive-ins, I knew the iconic Mendon spot well. “Well” as in I’ve read about it, drove passed and heard how it’s a summer must. Sadly, I never experienced it. Until now.

The sign read “Screen #1 ET and The Goonies.”

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There it was. The rush of excitement I hadn’t felt in years. The chance to see two movies I saw as a child once more on the silver screen. Sure, I’ve seen “The Goonies” dozens of times on television and DVD, but the nostalgic experience would be like seeing it all over again for the first time. As for ET, I hadn’t “phoned home” in years and was elated to ride across the shadow of the moon as an adult.

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By the time dusk rolled around, my mind had built up the experience to be a memorable one. And I won’t lie, it completely lived up to my cerebral hype. I had not been to a drive-in since 1990 when my dad and I went to go see “Die Hard 2 and Gremlins 2.” Before darkness fell, the atmosphere was a communal one. Children were throwing around footballs, families were setting up blankets and chairs, many had brought their dogs (my wife and I included) and everyone was clamoring to snag goodies at the snack bar.

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And kudos to the owners of the Mendon Drive-In for offering a smorgasbord of menu items, while keeping things clean, sanitary and for my taste buds, delicious. As always, I went with the popcorn, no butter. Just before the movie began, the Mendon also ran a commercial mentioning how vital concessions are to the drive-in. Hollywood takes practically all the profits from ticket sales and selling food is really the only way for this place to stay in the black. So, for those who want to sneak in some M&Ms go for it, but why not support local business and buy a bavarian pretzel as well at the snack shack.

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By the time ET began, I already had a gleam in my eye and a smile on my face. And the film only made my eyes brighter and my smile wider. It was a wistful leap into history and I loved every minute of it. My wife and my dog nuzzled by my side and a heartfelt science fiction drama glimmering on a screen set high amongst the trees. It’s the type of peace and tranquility I wish I had on a daily basis. Still, once the credits rolled and car headlights slowly flickered on around us, it was clear that I had to leave Peter Pan and Tinker Bell behind. Though, it’s good to know Neverland will be there, waiting for me to return next summer.

 

posted by Seth Szilagyi in 80's Fun and have No Comments

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