Tag Archive: drive-in movies

When your husband is an outdoor writer, the one thing you can count on is that there is fish in the freezer.

When you are not a big fan of fish, that pile is not viewed as delightful.

Give me shellfish and I am a happy woman. Crab Cakes, Clams in Red Sauce, Shrimp Scampi and Lobster all make my tummy happy.

Freshwater fish is another thing. I enjoy Haddock; cod and walleye can be interesting. I will eat catfish nuggets and the occasional perch. And that is about it. I do not even serve my kids fish sticks. Perhaps I should to widen their palettes but I hate wasting food, so, no to that.

Ellee's Shore Lunches' Fish Taco

And yet, here is a picture of a wonderful fish taco. What is a woman like me doing with a fish taco?

Enjoying every bite.

But let me start at the beginning of the tale.

It starts with the husband feeling stir crazy and deciding we have to go to our favorite drive-in, the 49’er in Valparaiso, to see the double feature of Cars 2  and  Green Lantern. This is the last night we have that choice so I say OK.

Somewhere along the way, Steelhead Lee comes into the plan. Maybe he called with a fishing report and the husband told him what we were up to. Turns out Lee lives near the 49’er and offers to bring fish tacos made by his business partner/companion, Ellen.

So first is the tortilla that is the slightly thicker homestyle flour tortilla. Those are my favorite as I am not a big fan of corn tortillas. Next is the grilled fish, completely de-boned. There was not one single nasty surprise. Next came the mango salsa and cilantro greens. The final touches are slaw and a lime wedge which I squeezed over the whole thing.  

To say it was tasty would be an understatement. There was so much going on with the warm softness of the fish fillet, the crunch of the slaw, the sweetness of the salsa and limey tartness. I was really surprised that I liked fish this way.

Ellen and Lee run a company that aspires to make the healthiest food you can find on the fair and festival circuit called Ellee’s Shore Lunches. In fact, last year at the Porter County Fair, their booth was written up for having great food that is good for you.

The other goal of the company is to remind people how good a Canadian Shore Lunch makes you feel. You can visit their booth next at the Porter County Fair on July 22-31 and the Lake County Fair on August 5-14. To find their booth, look for the Flying Fish.

Side note: Yes, we brought food into the drive-in. But I also made certain that we bought treats from the concession stand. Dots, popcorn, candy and icecream filled the tummies of my family members.


Product Thursday

A Drive-in Marquee. Picture by Earl 35.

Every summer our family makes great plans to go to the drive-in theater several times. We go at least once a month and love it every time.

We don’t care about mosquitoes or chilly nights. We have learned what to pack and what to buy for the outing.

Picture by Karpati

Our car will be filled with blankets, snack foods, drinks and play items. Hello, frisbees and soccer balls.  We might bring baseballs and gloves as well. Bug spray comes along but I also like the new ‘bug repellant’ bracelets.

My favorite drive-in theatres have a number of great features.

First, a big green area in front of the screen. There does not have to be a swing set here for kids to blow steam before the movie but it should be big enough for at least ten families to throw a frisbee, football or water balloons.

Secondly, the sound system must be in working order. You can have the old-fashioned speakers or present day through-your-radio system. But if neither is working you miss out on the sound and that sucks.

Third, the gravel in the driving lanes must be gravel, not small rocks about the size of an egg.  Kids are going to throw them and run on it. Do not provide weapons or create potential accidents for children wearing flip-flops in the summer time.

Picture by Alvimann

Fourth, the concession stand may be the actual money-maker for the business but make it affordable. I might bring in snacks and drinks. But my kids want ice cream, popcorn, nachos and chilly willies. So I will pony up some cash if you will make it so I can still pay the mortgage.

Now, I know what is happening out there. You are wondering if there are any drive-ins left and if one is near you. If you are lucky, there is one less than 20 miles away. If you are like me, you are an hour or so away from a few good choices. 

One way to find drive in theaters by states is at drive-ins.com. Another site to try is driveinmovie.com. You might have to sift through many theater listings of gone but not forgotten theaters.

When you find one that is near you, look up starting times. Call ahead to find out current admission pricing and start time. Plan your trip and make a list of items to take along (including bug spray or repellant of some sort). Remember blankets or sleeping bags, fun games to play in the grass and fold up chairs.

Just remember that popular movies means lots of people. Get to your drive in early if possible or go on a less popular night so you are not left outside the theater.

Getting to a drive-in is one of the highlights of our summer. Do you have a favorite drive-in theater?

Every Thursday I review a product or service. If you have something of interest, please contact me at bowmankaryn@sbcglobal.net.

One of those nostalgic activities we like to participate in is going to a drive-in movie theater.  

A Drive-in Marquee. Picture by Earl 35.


Yes, they used to be plentiful and nearly every small town had one. It has a Norman Rockwell feel to it. In the 50s and 60s that is where you went on a date. But something happened to the industry in the late 70s and 80s. The land became more valuable for development and people were not going to as many drive-ins.  

A few have remained that have become classic venues. How do they do it?  

My personal experience is that the great drive-ins treat their customers right by having green areas for play before the movie, concession stands that do not over price you to death and security that makes their presence known without bullying. It is not rocket science. Treat the paying customers right and they will come back!  

We went to the Harvest Moon Twin Cinema located in Gibson City, Illinois. We like going there and have recommended it for years to friends. We even saw one of my daughter’s girlfriends there with her family. So Sara watched the movie from their car and visited with her friend at the same time.  

This was a special double-feature weekend. Screen One was showing The Prince of Persia and Robin Hood. Screen Two was showing Shrek 4 and Iron Man 2. We went for Shrek and Iron Man. Who can resist a Scottish Ogre and Robert Downey Jr.?  

Take a ball or a frisbee for the green area. Picture by Solicity


The movies were good but the experience was better. We had a family Frisbee game in the green area and had to avoid the football throwers. There was a sandwich run to the concession stand and fresh melon in the cooler. We sat in our chairs and watched the movie in all the comfort we could want. Our youngest rolled himself up in a blanket on the ground during the first movie. Later, he sat on my lap.  

On the way out we threw our garbage bag (given to us at the entrance) on the semi trailer that had a target sign. My 13-year-old missed with the two bags we had but they landed on the trailer. And yes, there were mosquitoes but we sprayed ourselves with poison to keep them at bay.  

I appreciate that this owner makes us clean up after ourselves. I love his merry-go-round that comes from the 1940s. The bathrooms need to be modernized but that is for the future.  

What I hope is that the company keeps going so that when I have grandchildren, I can take them to experience watching movies with no air conditioning, plenty of bugs and the chance we will have to run into the car because of rain. Not that it will stop the movie from playing because it won’t.  

Looking for a drive-in near you? Try this website http://www.drive-ins.com.  

Share your favorite drive-in movie memories in the comment section.  

Karyn Bowman lives in Kankakee County with her outdoor writer husband and four children. Become friends with Karyn on Facebook.