Suburban Diary

One man’s history of local cinema

Driving out of the drive-in, it seems, was the tricky part.
Globe File Photo/1977
Driving out of the drive-in, it seems, was the tricky part.

I read that seeing a movie in a darkened theater puts the viewer into a condition similar to dreaming. I used to dream all week about going to the movies.

On a Saturday, the matinee at the Morton Theater in Mattapan would consist of two feature-length movies that were not always Westerns and an episode of a serial such as “Commando Cody: Sky Marshal of the Universe.” Yes, he could fly like Superman, but he needed manmade equipment that looked like two gray fire extinguishers strapped to his back.

Then there was the candy concession stand where I got my Jujubes, the tiny hard gel candies shaped like thimbles. But I am not going into my love of all the candies at the movies. Suffice it to say I once had 31 cavities filled in one year by our family dentist.


When I began to navigate the perilous world of puberty and beyond, I started to look for girls to sit beside me while I gazed in wonder at how Flash Gordon managed to survive last week’s episode, in which he was up to his lips in water in a watertight chamber filled with alien fish with huge, sharp teeth.

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One time I got up the nerve to put my right arm around a petite and very pretty brunette. I sat through the feature, which starred Gene Autry and his sidekick, Gabby Hayes, a constantly exclaiming “Dagnabit!” old grey-bearded coot, gloating at my good fortune with this girl who lived in faraway Natick.

When I was old enough to drive, I took another young lady, Cheryl, to a drive-in movie near Neponset Circle. I pulled up next to a pole with a speaker hanging onto a hook. I rolled down my window, unhooked the speaker, and latched it onto my half rolled-down window.

Cheryl was my girl as far as I was concerned. Unfortunately, I did not check on this with her. So while the cartoon candy boxes, soda cups, and popcorn containers danced gaily on the screen at intermission, I made a romantic advance.

Cheryl made it clear that it was time to go home, “Right now!“


“Come on, Cheryl. I’ll be nice. C’mon, the next movie is a Steve McQueen movie. You like him, don’t you?”

“Right now!“

So I decided it was time to make a dramatic exit from the drive-in. I made my tires squeal as I peeled out; people in other cars screamed at me, and the movie speaker ripped my driver’s side window off the door of my car.

Lately I sit at home in my cushy recliner chair and watch movies on DVD or recorded on our DVR, while my wife sits on the sofa and reads scads of newspaper ads for sales.

I can’t sneak a horror movie past her hearing and peripheral vision, but I can get away with a Vin Diesel flick for thrills.

George Weinstein lives in Burlington. He can be reached at