Bitterman gets all nostalgic recounting youthful indiscretions at the drive-in movies. And really, by the time I was old enough to go to them in my own car, I had lost interest in doing so. There were so many more private places to take dates and ingest substances.
But I do have fond memories of the drive-in theatres. They were destinations on weekend nights for families as well as amorous teens and all of them around here had playgrounds up by the concession stand in the early sixties.
Dad made the rounds of all of the drive-ins around Little Rock and I’m sure he was getting mom all bothered whilst we were playing dive bomber on the swing sets. Somehow we weren’t all that interested in seeing Liz Taylor as Cleopatra, though I admit I was pretty mesmerized by the bastinado scene in Lawrence of Arabia.
The Razorback was down on the river and had mosquitoes the size of small birds along with a railroad track that ran right down the edge of the drive-in. If memory serves me, I think they paused the movie when trains went through. I seem to remember that it was a twin screen drive-in with a screen at each end and you could switch movies if you were on foot and didn’t like the one you started with.
And, we always had to hoof it over to the exit gate to marvel at the one-way spikes that kept you from sneaking in the wrong way with your headlights off. There were always stories whispered at school about the friend of a friend’s older brother who tried it.
The Twin City was over in Dog Town (there’s a Kohl’s there now).
Why is it that businesses on the north side of the river always used the name Twin City, but you never see any mention of another city when you’re in Little Rock? We didn’t go there much because of the provincial thing. Folks in Little Rock don’t go north of the river for anything, and vice versa.
The Asher was closest to home and probably where we spent the most time.
About the time I was twelve or thirteen, they started having X rated movies at the Asher. I think they got away with it because the back of the screen faced the highway and the screen itself faced out over the parking lot into a cow pasture that belonged to Coleman Dairy. Which, of course, was this city boy’s introduction to hanging out in cow pastures. If you were brave enough, you would slip through the fence and turn the closest speaker up so you could hear.
This area was prone to being patrolled by the security guards from the movies, however, and sometimes you had to be nimble on your feet to thread your way out of the field without getting caught or cowshit on your shoes. Eventually, we met a guy that worked at West’s Department Store that pointed out to us that you could see the movie just fine from the back door of the store and he would even set a few chairs out there in the alley for us to sit in.
When the guards patrolled along the fence and shined their flashlights on us then, we could thumb our noses with impunity because we were guests of West’s Department Stores. Somehow that was more fun than actually seeing a fourteen foot penis penetrate a Volkswagen sized vagina.
But for pure educational purposes, nothing was better than sitting down with a cold beer and a joint and watching the slide shows over at the Whittaker’s.
Mike worked at a major film processing center here in town, ColorPrint. And he processed slides on the night shift.
Back in those days, film processors wouldn’t print photos of a racy nature. Once they developed the negatives and realized what they were, they would send the negatives back with no prints. The laws were pretty strict, I guess.
But folks in the know realized that slide film develops into positives, albeit ones that have great color definition and clarity of detail. And, what are they going to do once they’re processed?
Well, mount them in the cardboard holders, put them in your envelope and send them to you. Oh, after duping off a set for the operator to take home for his pleasure. Mike had a dresser drawer full of these things. When Frank Zappa sang about your mama’s nasty poodle, I saw the pictures he was referring to.
Now that would have looked cool fourteen feet high on the screen at the Asher Drive-In.