O, to go back to the old days


McZENA MUSE - Louise Swartzwalder



ONTARIO — This McZena Muse was sailing around earlier this week, in search of a story.

This is, of course, always the case — the searching for a story. But sometimes that little elusive figment is just out there, beyond reach.

I was on my way to visit a young man who was going to indeed be a story. But getting there I saw something that stopped my heart.

Driving up State Route 314, I came to an intersection and saw this great white edifice, towering over the road to my left.

It was a real drive-in theater.

The sad fact is most drive-ins, a staple of my youth, are now closed. There was one I frequented outside Wooster. The area it was in now houses a big long building, where miscellaneous objects are sold.

I go to this big long building, because it is the home of Restore. This group makes all kinds of pre-owned items available to you.

But to find another closer to my work place: this was a gift.

I drove on up the road to keep my appointment. I could visit the theater on my way back.

The theater remained there, still, looking a little forlorn when I drove back. I turned onto an intersecting road to park and get a photo.

I was not alone there, because an Ohio Highway Patrol trooper was also using the edifice.

The big white frame of the theater of course provided good cover for him. My assumption was the trooper was lying in wait.

It is possible, you know, to find interloping speeders on State Route 314.

I stopped, got out, began shooting photos.

My interest in the theater unfortunately piqued the interest of someone else. An interested person drove up and told me to not take photos, or to delete what I had shot.

I tried to explain my belief that drive in theaters are treasures in the United States. So many have been torn down, and unfortunate owners have had to ask whether they want to put money into operating a theater when films are now digital.

Doesn’t everybody know drive-ins were not only good places to take kids, but were divine as places to associate yourself with a familiar friend?

The question I have for almost everyone who ever went to such a place on a date: what are the names of the movies you saw?

The closeness of such a theater made me think I was perhaps still in my teens. Seeing the theater reminded me of the old days when a flame and I would cruise to the theater, eat popcorn, and probably watch the movie.

Don’t get me wrong. As a person young enough to go to such a theater, I was the kind of person who would always take to heart the message of a pastor at church following a Saturday evening movie event.

These were the days when a pastor could literally put the fear of God in you by telling you every move you made was known to a higher being.

Oh, the gone days of worrying about your facade on a Sunday, and the lingering feeling of guilt that something you did might have been a little bit wrong.

As a child, you would worry a lot. Sometimes that worrying would do strange things to you.

I was reminded of all that when I returned to the office, and found a pubescent zit on my face…..

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McZENA MUSE

Louise Swartzwalder