Lost loves are both bitter and special. Consider it a love letter.
I saw a list of things you must do here in the Garden State in the NJ Monthly and most of them were things most people wouldn’t bother doing at all.
Like going to the Pine Barrens to listen to local blue grass bands. Or see the world’s largest glass bottle at the Museum of American Glass in Millville.
It’s a tough pass for most people.
But number 9 on the list https://njmonthly.com/articles/jersey-living/52-things-you-must-do-in-new-jersey/ was like hearing an old song that makes you melt for your love lost . The one that got away.
The drive-in cinema.
They mostly talked about the Delsea Drive-in in Vineland. The only others in New Jersey are pop-ups, seasonal at best, makeshift drive-ins that have come in response to the pandemic.
But the Delsea is the real deal and had been around since 1949, closing for a while and reopening in 2004. A true full-time drive-in theater and the only one of its kind left in the state.
There was a time when drive-in movies were as popular in the Garden State as dinner parties. We all had our go-to. Mine was the Amboys Drive-in in South Amboy. I’ve been to others but this is the one I frequented the most.
Say what you want about the cheap, tiny speakers you’d hang in your window not being the best sound quality. (At least they would later be replaced by an FM frequency to tune into your car radio.)
Bad it all you want while watching a movie through the windshield wipers on rainy nights.
There was something magical about watching a movie in your car. That was the weirdness of it all. The same awkward feeling you get when making a fort out of a blanket and mom’s dining room chairs.
You felt oddly like it wasn’t going to happen yet. You felt like you got away with something.
And the snack bars! There was nothing fancy about the burgers and hot dogs at these places. It was second rate fare for sure. But it was somehow perfect.
Do you remember those who had playgrounds for children? What was hysterical about them was how old and dangerous they were.
Many literally had a construction pipe cast in cement on the floor where children could crawl and knock their teeth out if they weren’t careful. Luckily, the parents didn’t care. It would have been OUR fault.
Plus, you get what you pay for. Remember there were always dual features? And between movies there was an intermission where the silliest of shorts played to encourage you to visit the snack bar.
How awful is that? !
Now all my memories of Jersey drive-ins date back to my childhood. The Amboys closed in 1979, years before I was fired. So, I never had this experience of a teenager kissing at the drive-in. Even if I wanted to.
Vineland’s Delsea would be my last chance as an adult. And I wanted that to happen with a certain person. But it’s a lost love of a different kind.
The opinions expressed in the above post are those of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Jeff Deminski only.
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