When I was young, our family owned a station wagon. It was dark green on the outside, and two shades of light green on the inside. It was by far the ugliest vehicle that I've ever been in. But it did have some advantages. For one, we could fit twelve to fifteen people in it, as long as all the kids were in the back, with the rear seat folded down. And second, it was the perfect car for going to the drive-in theaters. My three siblings and I would lie down, side by side, and our mom would cover us with a blanket or an unzipped sleeping bag. Most of the time, my two younger sisters would fall asleep during the movie, which was perfectly fine with me. I got more popcorn that way.
By the time I was raising my own family, the drive-in theaters had all but disappeared in the Bay Area, and I was really sad to see them go. Going to an indoor theater to watch a movie, especially in the dog days of summer, is fine. It just doesn't match the ambiance, nor does it have the allure of the drive-in. If you've ever been driving at night and pass by a drive-in when a movie is on, you might understand what I'm talking about. There was just something magical about those theaters.
It's Really About the Food
That's the reason I really appreciate that the City of Oakley puts on the free Movie in the Park nights. It's the closest I've been able to get to revisiting my childhood. In fact, the only thing that's missing, is the concession stand. Though the city does have a small snack bar with a mobile popcorn machine, their selections are fairly limited. At least, in comparison to what was available at the drive-in theaters.
Thinking back now, that may have been my favorite part of going to the drive-in: getting to eat. Hamburgers, hotdogs, french fries, candy, popcorn, soda; all the things my doctor has been telling me not to eat any more. I would wait in anxious anticipation of the moment when my father would say, "Okay, kids. I'll be right back." Then, off he would go, becoming just a shadow in the darkness. I remember watching him walk all the way to the concession stand, and then wait to see what he was carrying on the way back. I didn't care that I missed part of the movie. I knew the size and shape of every container the theater used, and just by seeing what was in my father's hands as he came back out of the concession stand, I knew what I was about to eat.
The Main Attraction
At the younger age—I was between seven and nine when we owned that green station wagon—the movie we went to see wasn't important. It was the experience of being there. As I walked around Civic Center Plaza that Saturday night, I could tell that, for most of the kids, the same thing held true. The movie that was playing didn't matter. They were there for the experience. Whether they were playing games of tag, or tossing around a football, they were in the moment, and they were enjoying every bit of it.
My wife and I arrived just after sunset, but it still wasn't dark enough for the movie to start. I could feel the excitement in the air, even as we were getting out of the car. The first thing I noticed, was the movie screen. I had never before seen an inflatable movie screen, which is what was being used to show the movie on. At first, I thought the noise from the compressor that was keeping the screen inflated would drown out the sound, or at least interfere with it. However, when the movie started, the noise was barely noticeable. About the same level as the air conditioner at the indoor theaters might make.
At the time I wrote this blog, there were two more Movie in the Plaza nights scheduled, so if you haven't yet taken the opportunity to attend one of them, you still can. Hopefully, this will be an event that the city brings back every summer, for many years to come. To find out more, you can contact the Recreation Department of the City of Oakley, or check their calendar of events online.
Cypress Self Storage – We Will Roll Out the Red Carpet for You
Cypress Self Storage is Oakley's newest self storage facility, and we are opening our doors soon. We get that there are a lot of options for storage facilities in Oakley, which is why we pride ourselves in our customer service. We want you to know that your needs are important to us when it comes to making the arrangements for your storage unit. Whether you choose one of our drive-up self-storage units, one of our interior units, or one of our climate-controlled units, we will do everything we can to ensure you are always the star of the show.