America is a fascinating and spacious mix of artifacts. I can remember long family trips to Florida and other parts of the south where my eyes would gaze for hours at the things strewn across the landscapes. Archeology as seen from a moving car window, where the practicality of getting to a destination is the priority over stopping, exploring and learning.
Now I am 43 and for the most part I am still rushing around, chasing my own mouse trail, as Joe Strummer would say. But recently I was afforded 48 hours of untethered joy as I drove my youngest daughter to farm camp in eastern Ohio. We not only had a great time together but the ability to, for once, stop and explore, turned out to be a simple gift.
The drive-in theater: an iconic purely American invention that was perfectly born during the post war economic boom, is truly a relic to behold. They are aging monuments to cinema, automobiles and the space to breath and relax. They are so purely American. And it is sad to see them be just a memory now. Although I saw a few drive in movies as a young man, my connection to the cinema was much more solidified around airconditioning and Donkey Kong and Pac Man video games. So these sites are strange and ancient to me.
The scene portrayed here is only vaguely recognizable as a drive-in theater. It is almost as much a billboard pointing towards some forgotten road as it is the massive screen to which a massive projector displayed movies. The vegetation creates an implication that decomposition is occurring. It is believable that five years from now this piece of history maybe nothing more than a pile of rotting wood. Or gone entirely, replaced by a strip mall or parking lot. Yet this is site is no more less than impressive than the Roman aquaducts, the sewers of Paris, or the abandoned artificial harbor of Arromanches. I have no less respect for it than the towering cliff face of El Capitan. It is beautiful, splendid and strong. For me, it is emblematic of the things I passed up, both on the road and in life. It is the passing of time and the beauty of the road.