DRIVE-IN MEMORIES

69 comments

 

 

image

 

Remember drive-in movie theaters?  If you are old enough, you probably have fond memories of those precursors to football tail-gate parties, where instead of hanging out in our cars at a football stadium, we did it  at the movies.   For baby boomers, going to the drive-in for a double feature was a typical family outing in the summer. Growing up in the 50s and 60s, my family were big patrons of the drive-in.   As soon as it was dusk,  we would load up the station wagon with toys and food and  head off to the neighborhood drive-in.  Before we left, my dad would spray everybody down with mosquito repellent. The dreaded culprit back then wasn’t West Nile Virus, but St. Louis Encephalitis – remember that?!   The movie that was playing was almost incidental to the experience, which was, of course the attraction.   If you had a cool mom, she would back up the car to the screen and open the lift gate on the station wagon so the kids could lay down on blankets and pillows and watch the movie.  The parents would then sit outside on beach chairs.  It was most fun when two or three families went together and you could run back and forth visiting each other’s cars.

    image

  To get a good spot, you had to leave well before the sun set.

 We never cared what movie was playing mostly because you could never hear it.   The metal speakers that hung off the car windows were so poor, you could barely make out the dialogue over all the scratchy static.  We would always bring a car load of food and candy, probably to save money, and also because the concession food was so terrible.  But, that didn’t stop us kids from begging to go buy some red hots or popcorn every 10 minutes or so.   

 image

Photographs of abandoned drive-ins portray a unique desolate beauty.

 

Of course, trips to the bathroom were more frequent than those needed during a church sermon.  Mostly they were just another excuse to go back out to that great concession stand with its candy and greasy hamburgers and soda pops in glass bottles.    Those were fun days and just thinking about them takes me right back to our ever-present station wagon with the padded “way back” that my dad always had installed, ready for our long summer road trips that we took across the country.  Whatever happened to those days?  Today we take planes everywhere, but back then, we drove to national parks and camping grounds.  We drove all over  America, so it doesn’t seem all that strange that we would also go see movies while sitting in the security of our own cars. 

 

 

image

An abandoned drive-in ticket office.

e

The first drive-in was in Pennsauken Township, New Jersey – built in 1933. It cost just 25 cents a car plus 25 cents a person to get in, which was actually more expensive than an indoor movie.  In order to attract customers to the new drive-ins, advertisers came up with reasons to see a movie in your car: you could smoke during the movie,  you could talk as loud as you wanted without bothering anyone, and you had the freedom to eat in the privacy of your car.  An even more important attraction was that sleeping babies and toddlers could be brought, bundled up in their blankets and pajamas - saving the expense of a babysitter. The earliest drive-ins didn’t have the individual speakers – there was just one booming speaker up front that most likely disturbed the surrounding neighborhood. In fact, in the early days, a lawsuit was brought in Detroit claiming the sound of the main speaker traveled over two miles!

 

  •  
    image 

 

That original drive-in in New Jersey closed within a few years and the outdoor theatre business became tied up in messy legal affairs for years.  But, still, the idea slowly gained in popularity.   The introduction of the in-car individual speakers in 1946 was seen as a  major improvement.   With the war now over and the soldiers back home, it meant hordes of new customers for the drive-ins.  The baby boomer generation quickly added to those numbers.    To fill the demand during the 1950s,  thousands of drive-in were quickly built around the country.  One remaining problem was the movie studios who felt that the drive-ins cheapened the movie going experience.  Hoping to drive them out of existence, the studios kept first run films for inside theaters only.   Still, by 1957, there were over 3,700 drive-ins in America aloneThe genre was also popular in Australia, England and Denmark.

 

 

image

 

As the popularity of drive-ins grew, so did the experience.  Many theatres incorporated amusement park rides and playgrounds, along with bigger and fancier concession stands.  They also provided in-car heaters during the winter and bug spray in the summer.  In the 70s, the speakers were abandoned when the sound was made available through car radios, first on the AM dial, and  then later on FM.  

 

image

While drive-ins were sold as wholesome family entertainment, they began to get a reputation as a place to “neck” and they were nicknamed “passion pits.”  Before long sex in the cars wasn’t the only issue, but sex on the screen was.  Huge images from spicy movies could be seen for miles and some churches began to object.  As the popularity of drive-ins started its decline, the desperate owners began showing racier and racier films to attract more customers.  The days of the pj-clad kids at drive-ins were over.  

 

image

 

By the 1980s, drive-ins were a  thing of the past – mostly due to multi cinema houses, where people had  8 to 10 movies to choose from and of course, there was now cable TV.  Another often overlooked reason for the decline was the valuable real estate the drive-ins occupied.  Many suburban neighborhoods sprang up around the once remote land and the urge to sell was matched by the amount the owners were paid.  In the 90s, the number of theatres left standing was only 750 – a number that remains constant today.  Recently, there has been a small resurgence of the family friendly drive-in.  Some drive-ins have marketed themselves as a nostalgic trip back to the 50s – hosting theme nights where customers dress in costume and  car shows where owners show off their remade muscle cars and hot rods.

 

 

 

image

 

 

In two towns close to Houston,  there are now two new drive-ins.   In 2005, the owners of the Crossroads Drive-In in Shiner constructed a new drive-in theatre, the Starlite, on Highway 59 near Kingwood. The following year, the Showboat Drive-in opened in Hockley near Tomball. For those Houstonians who are willing to make the drive, it is still possible to see a movie under the stars, just like the old days.

 

 

image

Cars line up two hours before showtime at The Showboat in order to get a spot.

 

The Showboat was built by two brothers who wanted to return to the good old days of the drive-in.   Their theatre has the usual gravel drive which produces that distinctive crunching sound -- immediately bringing to mind those nights spent at the drive in, years and years ago.  There are two screens and a 1950s style snack bar with video games for teenagers. The owners laugh about the kids who hide in trunks to get in free – and they say they just look the other way. Working here, they claim, is more fun than toil.  Some five years in the making, the brothers call The Showboat a dream come true.  Cars line up two hours before showtime for a nostalgic tailgate party and to get a good spot.  On weekends, the theatre can fill up quickly – the venue is extremely popular.  Go HERE for information on the Showboat drive-in.

  

 

 

 

image

The desire to return to the days of wholesome family fun has spurred on a new business – the home outdoor theatre.  Today, you can set up your own drive-in theatre, or back yard theatre, with systems that are sold for a few thousand dollars.  Other places provide the equipment as a rental for a one time party.  How fun!!

 

 

image

Courtney, the Houston blogger of Inside the Loop, had a back yard movie party a few years ago – HERE.  She sent out invitations to 25 friends, rented the popcorn machine and a big screen and set up a drinks table.

 

 

image

And of course, there was a candy concession stand.  So cute, love the chandelier!

 

  image

They rented the big screen and set it up in the backyard.

 

 

 image

And they watched a vintage movie – Charade.  Isn’t this the cutest idea ever? 

By the way, Courtney now runs her own business, selling textiles from southeast Asia HERE.  OK, I’m going to buy a few of her scarves!! 

 

 

 image

This family set up another back yard party – the kids sat in box cars.  Too cute!

 

 

image

You can either buy these systems – or rent them.  They cost upwards of 2 and 3 thousand dollars – so I would think renting at first would be a good way to see if you really would use it a lot.  This party, above,  wasn’t too concerned with the “décor” – they were more serious about the movie.

 

 image

Some backyard screens are inflatable.

 

 

image

Of course, styling the backyard is a must – isn't this darling!  Pottery Barn set up this party.  They used a sheet – but a sheet isn’t really a good screen, it wrinkles and moves in the wind.  Better to rent a real screen. 

 

 

 

image

Design Sponge showed this cute party  - the cuter the better, for sure. HERE.  One blogger wrote that she set up the outdoor theatre each weekend during the summer and her kids and neighbors loved it.   Such a great idea for family togetherness.   We would have a problem in my family – no one would want to watch the same movie!

 

 

image

On Pinterest, these are really cute movie party ideas.

 

 

image

Here, they had a Christmas party – a good idea for someone in Florida or Texas only where the weather would be warm enough!

 

 

image

This family had plenty of land to set up a permanent outdoor theatre – along with a firepit.  They then enclosed the entire area with logs and rocks.  My sister in law should do this at her ranch.  She has the space – and it would be so much fun to sit around the firepit and watch a movie.  Usually, we just watch Kirk’s antics instead.  ha!

 

 

Wondering why I even got interested in outdoor movies?  Writing a blog involves lots of research.  I’m always looking on the internet or in magazines or books for inspiration, hoping to find something to write about.  Sometimes, I look for days before finding something that interests me.   Lately, I’ve fallen in love in Californian Colonial Spanish houses – ala Reese Witherspoon’s ranch – and so I’ve been looking at lots of Los Angeles and Santa Barbara real estate ads.   That’s  how I stumbled upon a house designed by Belzberg Architects.  Which lead me to Belzberg Architects web site, which then led me to THIS house:

 

 

image

And yes, it’s not what would usually catch my eye.   Normally, I wouldn’t even take the time to study it, but……    Built in 2007, at 5800 sq. ft and located in Los Angeles, this contemporary house has two structures on the property.  At the right is the main house while the garage and guest house is on the left.  The house is sited to the views of downtown – which are stunning.  The house has won many awards, including two from the AIA.  Notice the distinctive wooden slats that covers the back side of the house and the guest house. 

 

image

The house over looks the valley and further out to the coast.  The doors open to make the living area an indoor-outdoor space.  There’s no need for walls for art work.  The views ARE the art!

 

image

Inside or outside – it’s hard to tell.   If I owned this house, I would remove the centered hanging fireplace and furnish it with antiques – French and Oriental – it could be stunning with old patina woods that play against all the glass and slick surfaces.  Think Saladino…a few busts or urns, here and there.  A frayed, old rug.  A Spanish styled dining table piled high with books….

 

 

image

A view at night of the pool and the long side of the façade on the right.  That fireplace!    

 

 

image

The slatted wood on the side of house creates a shadow play along the walls and floors, so interesting. 

 

 

image

A view through the living room – wait - is that a billboard back there?? 

 

 

 

image

Actually, it’s a movie screen that reaches across the front of the guest house above the garage.  See the two people watching the movie at the bottom right of the picture?  It must be hooked up to a computer in the house because you can see the Windows application at the very bottom of the screen.  Incredible!   This is L.A. after all.   I wonder if a studio head lives here?    Underneath the screen is the garage, with the guest house beyond and above it.

 

 

 

image

The balcony seats are located right off the living room in the main house.   I wonder if there is a fire pit there too?   I just LOVE this!  I wonder if they leave a photograph on the screen when movies aren’t playing.  What photograph would you put there – or would  you have a revolving choice of them? 

 

 

image

Here you can see into the guest house on the right, with its two story living area. 

 

 

image

The back side of the guest house is covered in the wood slats, just like the main house.  The shadows must be incredible in the two story living room. 

 

 

 

 image

The Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust

 

I wasn’t familiar with Belzberg Architects, but they have quite an impressive resume, including this building, the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust which appears to grow organically out from the ground.   Take a look at their web site to see more of  projects, HERE.   I actually found their web site when I was looking at a house that is for sale in L.A. that I particularly liked.   Belzberg  designed that house and I planned to show it here,  but then I found the movie-screen house which led me to back yard movie parties and then to drive in movies.   I know it’s a circuitous route to take to write a simple story, but there it is. 

In Part Two of this story – I will show you the house for sale in L.A.  It’s got a back story to it that I discovered but it was just too much to combine it with this story.  So, until next time!

 

ANOTHER CHAPTER OF READERS KITCHENS

152 comments

 

Today we have two readers kitchens to show.  But as is usually the case, their houses are also pretty, so I thought you would enjoy seeing the other rooms and not just the kitchen.  One house is in Austin, Texas and the other is here in Houston.  And for those who say I only show white slipcovers – both houses are much more colorful!  Enjoy!!!

 

 

AUSTIN, TEXAS:

image

The first house is located on a huge residential lot that measures just over 1 acre.  Look at the size of that front lawn!  And the backyard is just as large.   Can’t imagine how nice it must be to spread yourself out on all that land!  This house was built in 1994 and the owners gutted the kitchen when they moved in.  There was laminate flooring and carpet and brass hardware throughout, which the owners also replaced.  The house is 4 bedrooms and 3 baths and is just under 4,000 sq. ft.  It was placed on the market and they got a contract on the first day it was listed! Amazing. 

 

 

image

Walking through the painted black front door, you enter a two story foyer with a staircase that connects to a landing which spans the area above the entry.  On the left is the dining room and on the right is the office and living room.  Aren’t those stairs pretty?!

 

image

Looking towards the right at the office and the living room.  The stairs have wood treads which makes it look so rich.  And I like the black bannisters.  I’m thinking of painting my stained brown ones black too.  I keep seeing that look and really like it. 

 

 

 

image

Here is the before picture of the living room.  You can see the bannisters used to be brown before they were painted the rich black.

 

 

image

And after.  The owners put down hardwoods throughout the downstairs and much of the upstairs.  They painted the walls a deep green-gray shade and added a new fireplace screen.

 

image

Another view towards the staircase which is the focal point of the first floor.

 

 

image

And looking from the living room to the foyer. 

 

 

image

The office, right off the front door, also now has hardwoods.   Love those blue lamps with the red leather sofa. 

 

 

image

Before:  The dining room was carpeted.

 

image

And after, hardwoods and  moldings were added to the room, along with curtains and a crystal chandelier.  Notice the grouping of small mirrors – that’s a good idea - use mirrors instead of the more usual series of framed prints.

 

image

View of dining room off the main hall.

 

 

image

Before:  the family room was carpeted and had brown stained cabinets, along with a ceiling fan.

 

 

image

And after, hardwoods were placed throughout this area, including the kitchen and breakfast room.  An Italian style chandelier replaced the ceiling fan.

 

 

image

And looking into the kitchen.  

 

image

And after, the cabinets were painted white and the backs of the shelves were painted a dark brown for contrast.   The white brick was also painted – black.

 

image

Notice the painted shelves – even the sides are painted, not just the backs.

 

 

image

BEFORE:  The kitchen was gutted, but the footprint stayed basically the same.  The main difference is a breakfast bar was added and they removed the sheetrock wall between the kitchen and the breakfast room.

 

 

image

And After:  The all white and stainless kitchen is now totally different looking!  And so pretty, too!    The large sheetrock divider between the breakfast room and the kitchen was removed to make a seamless connection.   Restoration Hardware lighting fixtures, Rohl hardware and Shaw’s farmhouse sink.  Love the breakfast bar.

 

 

image

Looking over the bar into the family room.  Marble counters and white subway tile backsplash, along with Viking appliances.

 

 

image

Notice the dark painted island with the wood top.  The upper cabinets have glass doors.  Cute station clock over the black painted pantry door.  Notice the bottom of the cabinets – with the attractive arch.   The owner painted her doors black, a touch which is nice and gives more importance to builders grade doors. 

 

 

 

image

Overlooking the breakfast area. 

 

 

image

Here you can see how the dining room is across the main hall from the kitchen. 

 

 

image

Notice the chunky carved “legs” at the bar.

 

 

image

The breakfast room overlooks the back yard.  I love the hardware on the cabinets and love the look of their hardwoods.  Oops- just noticed the white slips on these two chairs!!!  Sorry!!!

 

 

image

Upstairs is large family room for the couple’s daughter.

 

 

image

And a craft area for mom.  This would make a great home school space.  I think these hardwoods are really pretty.  I really like the wide planks.

 

 

image

A guest room.

 

 

image

And the daughter’s room.  Plus, look at the cute play area behind the curtains.

 

 

image

It’s a library for the daughter with a soft rug to lie down on the floor and read.  What a great idea!   I’ll bet the daughter develops a love of reading having her own library.   No pictures of the master bedroom.

 

 

image

The back yard is something else.  There’s a large deck off the house.

 

 

image

The deck is furnished with an outdoor couch and dining table.

 

 

 

 

image

Way back there is a dining terrace, a fire pit area, and a playground.  Must be amazing.  Hope they had dogs!   No wonder they had a contract pending on the first day. 

 

 

 

HOUSTON, TEXAS:

The second home is located in Houston, right behind the popular shopping area – Highland Village – near the upper crust River Oaks neighborhood.   The area where this house is located is small and filled with empty nesters and young families who are tearing down the older, smaller one story houses and building new, larger two story ones.  The reader who sent in these pictures did just that.  She says they built their house and she designed the interiors, though she claims she isn’t an interior decorator.   Could have fooled me!   

The house was on the market when she sent in the picture and she said all her decorative items were stored away according to the realtor’s wishes.  Plus the stylist insisted she leave out her toaster, something she doesn’t usually do.  Funny!!  She told me that she thought the readers would enjoy seeing her kitchen since people always comment on how much they like it.  And I agree – it’s beautiful. 

BUT, I know this house – I’ve driven by it a zillion times and it has masses of curb appeal.  I’ve always wondered what it looked like inside, so I was thrilled to get these pictures.  Why can’t that happen all the time??  Drive by a house you love and then you just happen to get the pictures of it in your email?   That would be heaven!   Yes, I do love the kitchen, but I also like the entire house – so I thought you would probably too.  The house, built in 2008,  has 4 bedrooms, 4 bathrooms and is just under 4,000 sq. ft.

 

 

image

The house has tons of curb appeal with its white stucco walls accented by old Chicago brick.  There is a front courtyard behind a charming gate flanked by gas lit lanterns.  I just love the façade of this house – can’t you see why I have noticed it before!!

 

 

image

Notice how cute the front door is – with its arch and glass panes.  The walls have a subtle stucco paint treatment which gives them texture and depth.  I think that wall treatments like this add so much to a house. 

 

 

image

The stairs wind along the wall in the front hall.  Towards the end of the hall is the family room.  Notice the beautiful hardwoods.   And notice the treads on the stairs – they were painted to look like stone. 

 

 

image

According to the homeowner, the house was designed to be comfortable and family friendly.   The large kitchen opens off this space, as does the dining room.

 

 

image

Looking back towards the front door.  The wet bar is under the stairs and is open through a wide arch to the family room.  I love all the arches.   

 

 

image

The wet bar – love those small tiles on the backsplash. 

 

 

image

Off the family room is the kitchen and I think it is soooo pretty!!  I love the colors – the blues and creams with the black honed granite countertops. 

 

 

image

The creamy subway tile backsplash plays off the cream colored cabinets.   I just love the way the cabinets are painted – blue and cream.  And the stove hood and tiny window swags give it a touch of folly.  I can’t tell if those are fabric shades or painted boards.  Either way, I love the way they look.

 

 

image

And notice how the dark ceiling beams play up the black countertops and the small touch of black accent behind the stove.   Just beautiful.  To the right through another wide arch is the dining room.

 

 

image

 

Off the kitchen is the dining room.  The layout of the house is interesting – the rooms all open off each other which is great for entertaining.  The owner told me she designed the house for having guests feel comfortable and I can see how that’s true.  Instead of having a formal dining room away off in a part of the house that no one uses but for holidays, I can see how the family probably uses their dining room for everyday evening meals since it is located so near the kitchen and family room.

 

image

And that groined ceiling!  Wow!!!  It is made out of old Chicago bricks – and it’s a stunner.  What an amazing detail – it adds so much texture and warmth to the room.  The furnishings are perfect with the style of the house.  It almost seems as if the house was in San Miguel de Allende instead of Houston.  

 

 

image

And looking back at kitchen.

 

 

image

The powder room has a chest that is now repurposed as the vanity with a cloisonné sink.  The walls have a handpainted damask pattern that is very subtle.   Not sure who painted all the walls, but I love the different treatments.  It makes the rooms all just a bit more special.   Even the hand towel is so pretty!

 

 

image

Off the family room is the office/library. The walls are hand painted with a raised fleur de lis pattern.

 

 

image

That’s a really pretty sofa, the soft blue tufted leather.  There are touches of blue that are carried from the kitchen, to the study and up to the master bedroom.

 

 

image

The media room has another interesting wall treatment with nailheads that give the appearance that the walls are leather!  Another great idea.   And instead of lots of stadium seating, they added two comfy chaises, along with a coffee table made of faux leather books.  Love the way she designed this room.   It looks like a great place to watch a movie.  

 

 

image

Upstairs, the master bedroom highlights the golds from throughout the house and the blue color found downstairs.  

 

 

image

And the master bath combines the browns and light blues together – such a pretty combination.  The marble is especially pretty!

 

 

I hope you enjoyed seeing both readers’ kitchens!   Even though they actually submitted their kitchens – and both are so pretty -  I thought you would enjoy seeing more of their houses.   And I know you enjoy seeing a pretty house from Houston that isn’t white and doesn’t have slipcovers and seagrass!!

 

NOTE:

The finalists for the Aidan Gray contest have been submitted to owner Randal Weeks.  Hopefully, we will know the winners soon.  I can’t wait to find out who won myself!  AND, I can’t wait to start showing you all the entrants.  

 

 

AND, FINALLY:

 

If you are in Houston, CdT sponsor Memorial Antiques & Interiors (MAI) is having an anniversary open house this Wednesday:

 

image

 

image

At the open house,  Bryan Batt, star of “Mad Men” and interior designer, will be on hand to sign his new book, “Big Easy Style.”  Besides his successful acting career, Batt and his partner own a décor store, Hazelnut, in New Orleans, where they offer their interior design services. The just recently published book is filled with photographs from houses in New Orleans.    It features Batt’s colorful designs and others – including the popular blogger The Visual Vamp

 

 

 

image

Big Easy Style is filled with pages of colorful interiors in New Orleans, such as this house with its vivid blue lacquered walls.

 

 

image

While at MAI, be sure to visit Pruitt and Littleton’s space which showcases their beautiful artistry.  Their work is also seen in Batts’ “Big Easy Style” and they were instrumental in bringing Batt to Houston for the signing. 

 

image

A console, formerly stained brown, becomes a beautiful painted chinoiserie piece under the talented hands of Pruitt Littleton.

 

image

And also while at MAI, visit CdT sponsor’s 2 Lucy’s booth.

 

image

They have a HUGE assortment of French and English antiques hand picked in Europe.  Their booth is jammed packed with wonderful items – too many to choose just one, which is always an antique lover’s problem.  Last time I was there, they had good selection of oversized station clocks, if you are in the market for one. 

 

image

And more.  They have tons of confit pots if you are looking for those!!

 

Can’t make it to the signing?  Click on the picture to purchase Big Easy Style from Amazon.