Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Route 19, along the roadside, and the Skyview

Isn't it always the case that just when you're in a hurry, somehow you end up missing where you're supposed to go. I realized about twenty minutes too late I had turned onto the wrong road. In my haste and hurry to escape traffic and road construction, I had simply turned left, thinking I was one place, when in reality, I was in another.

Random mistake or luck of the draw-- either way, I ended up driving one of the most beautiful, uninterrupted stretched of highway I have seen in years: Route 19, just N. of 44. Straight as a rail running north and south, the road fell and rose, dipping and ascending its hills of green, green farmland. Pastures and fields. Farmhouses worn with years of love and usage, rather than neglected and forgotten. The clouds were th3e perfect shade of grey and deep blue-- dark colours, like a teenager's anger rising and then receding, forgotten and faded.

Just when I thought I was through marvelling at my mistake, just before I turned off onto 44 at Cuba, there it was: a drive-in. Still in use, an old lady with grey hair mowing the lawn that surrounded it. A little research showed me that theatre opened in 1954, and it's still running. So my haphazard waylay meant I got to put a new theatre on my list.

I am a movie theatre junkie who oddly, doesn't like movie theatres. I find going to the movies to be a deeply personaly experience, and highly intimate. Most of the time, these days, movies aren't worth the trouble. But when one is good, it's tough to have those lights go up and get jolted back into the harsh light of day with a bunch of strangers picking popcorn off of their laps and kids running up the aisles. That's why when I go, I go alone, but mostly I just don't go.

And yet, there's a magic to movie theatrea: a hocus pocus and a razzle dazzle. There's charm and a certain sincerity about the important of fantasty and escape in our everyday lives. I spent much of college researching movie theatres and writing papers tracing the economic and cultural development of towns and cities based on their theatres. But it wasn't until I was 25 that I got to go to a drive-in.

There were once over 4000 drive-ins in the US; now they number in the low hundreds, and many are no longer functioning. Missouri still sports 13 drive-ins, but even closer than any of those is the Skyview Drive-in. Located just across the river in Belleville, the Skyview is open and raring to go. At $8.50 a person, the Skyview shows to double-features a night, and is currently open Fri-Sun.

It's one of those things that will make you feel the magic of America. Those times when you used to sit outside, maybe the hum of a radio or music far off in the distance, the sweat rolling down your legs in the sticky heat of summer, kids laughing and running. The drive-in might still be one of those things that is roughly the same as it was when our parents were growing up. Sure there are changes, but I bet it still makes you feel the same...

And these days, anything that can slow time down-- in fact, anything that seems timeless-- is worth all the money in the world. The Skyview costs less than a ten.

SkyView Drive-In