The Harmless Pranks We Pulled During The Time of The Ford Drive-In

The drive-in: A truly American icon

This piece is dedicated

to the late writing genius, the late Dr. Hunter S. Thompson. (and my close-friends: Steve Sullins; Billy Sullins; Allen Coons; James, Gary and Glenn Childers; the late Donnie Avery and Dwight “Oz” Ausborn. And Tommy Roby, Jerry Colburn and Buddy Sullins (older brother of Steve and Billy), who paved the way for my friends and I and many more puberty-shocked teenage guys.)

Sincerely, Kenneth

In our beginning

1971. My year. Oh yeah. Man, oh man. Driver’s license, my dad’s ’64 Chevy, a pack of regular Marlboro, and my unorthodox, square peg in a round hole buddies all converging at Ford Drive-In. Oh, the times we had and most of them illegal.

That was our teenage lives. Border-line jail time and birthing hard laughs to make old age bearable. We thought we had really uncovered the meaning of life. We thumbed our noses at noted, noble professors of psychology and sociology at major universities. We felt very cocky and frankly, it felt great. As long as we had Ford Drive-In, and the other items I mentioned, we didn’t need the outside world—or its rules, blues, spotlights and ridicules.

This is not a comedy-rendering, but a near-reverent tribute to a true American legend: The drive-in. At Ford Drive-In, we thrived, thrilled, and lived on the heavenly-aromas of hotdogs and hamburgers cooking while tons of popcorn was popping. We we’re unknowingly-addicted to the aroma of various scents of cigarettes, cigars and cheap whiskies and beer. Yeah, man. We were men. The hair on our chest proved it.

There wasn't a way to not have a good time at the drive-in

An innocent time gone

Real life in the cars at the local drive-in

Nothing stays the same

Then the breezes would change and our senses were teased with the sensual smells of endless brands of perfume worn by fast girls who dated slow guys who failed a grade or two, but that trade school experience and stock boy job at the local Piggly Wiggly made him as good as any high school student. Alright. I’m a good sport. I’ll reveal a few of the fast girls’ names. There was “Rosa,” “Margie,” “Wanda,” and “Cheryl,” who loved red short skirts. So did we. I need to stop and finish this dream I am currently enjoying about Ford Drive-In before I finish this story.

Tick . . .tock. Tick . . .tock. Tick . . .tock.

Whew! Thank you, dear readers. I might share with you that things, even in my dreams, haven’t changed that much at our heralded and celebrated Ford Drive-In. I even smelled the aroma of cheap gasoline burning from the line of cars that always appeared at our “Haven of Hollywood Heroes,”: Sean Connery, Joe Namath and well, we could care less about famous film stars, it was those sizzling-hot female stars we were after—Ann-Margaret, Raquel Welch and Barbara Parkins. And I cannot leave out, Sharon Tate, Lee Grant and the always-mysterious, Jacqueline Susann. Yeah, man. Thoughts of carnal knowledge always flooded our minds.

Pure adrenaline: Movies shown at the drive-in

The drive-in: A teenage oasis in the "desert of life"

The Ford Drive-in gone: A wound that never healed

Sadly, and with many Voodoo curses made on a straw doll representing “progress,” and a few hundred straight pins stuck in his rump, I’m sad to say that Ford Drive-In is only an ugly place on the side of the hill it used to stand. A few speaker poles serve as a loving, taunting reminder of our time when we lived. Really lived. But Mr. White Bedford, the owner’s little wooden ticket booth and announcement center (made over those huge cone speakers), is gone. Not many where I live even care to save his memory, and the limitless-sad, bad, and unspeakable memories made at Ford Drive-In.

Man, oh man.

Now that my eyes are dry, here are only a few “acceptable for public viewing,” . . .

One of the first drive-in ads

Updated drive-in poster

Priceless advertising

Classic sound-system found at drive-in's

Attention HugPages editors:

I am giving you a friendly "heads-up," to let you know that this hub is a great candidate for your Hub of The Week Mention.

“10 Harmless Pranks That We Used to Pull at Ford Drive-In.”

  1. Waiting for the film to start then sneak behind a buddy’s car and set-off a pack or two of Black Cat firecrackers.

  2. Placing a raw Irish potato in the tailpipe of another buddy’s car—while he’s deep into his moves making-out with a waitress from one of our local teen burger joints.

  3. Sneaking as silently as any Ninja to the back of a friend’s car in the summertime and his glasses are rolled-down, then pour a sickening-mixture of sulphur, ruined buttermilk and other ingredients into the backseat—even if he and his girl are in the back-seat going heavy . . . and this is as far as I need to go.

  4. Shooting bottle-rockets at someone’s car parked in front of the big screen.

  5. Letting the air out of the tires on the back of a buddy’s nice-looking muscle car.

  6. Buying a gross of smoke bombs and everyone in our car, sometimes five guys, light two bombs at a time and thrown them all around our car making it appear as the car is burning.

  7. Raiding a guy who is taking a girl out for the first time. This is the safest of our pranks. Two or three of us would sneak up behind his car and without warning, jump into his back seat.

  8. If we knew the person in the next car, we would take turns tossing French fries through his open windows.

  9. If Mr. Bedford remembered to turn out the parking-lot lights, we had it made. We would tie tin cans to the back bumpers of as many cars as we could. When the movie was over, we sat still and laughed until we cried.

If someone was brave enough, he would stick a Western Auto battery-powered bull-horn out of this window and call someone we knew was at the drive-in to Mr. Bedford’s office. (Mr. Bedford was hard of hearing).

(And this one is to offer my salute to Buddy Sullins, Jerry Colburn and Tommy Roby. These guys in early 1969, sneaked into the Ford Drive-In at dusky dark one night and “borrowed” a speaker from one of the outside poles. Then attached electric wire to the speaker wire and sat in the woods adjacent to the drive-in and not only watched a free movie, but heard the dialogue as well).

Next at bat . . . I have decided to just let you wonder.

NOTE: None of the photos used in this story are of Ford Drive-in, Hamilton, AL., but if you like, inbox me and I will give you the number of our city hall and you can call the employees who work there to verify that there really was a Ford Drive-in.

FACT: Roger Bedford, our Alabama State Senator, Dist. 17, was Mr. White Bedford's (who I mentioned in this piece) grandson and we used to see Roger in his short pants hanging-out with his granddad and having the time of his life with free popcorn and sodas.


I loved this time in America

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Comments 17 comments

word55 profile image

word55 2 years ago from Chicago

Thanks Ken for those good ole days' and memories man. More, more, more! Oh, wut fun we had. Only you could add a blast to such adventures.


Nyamache profile image

Nyamache 2 years ago from Kenya

These lines made my day “We thought we had really uncovered the meaning of life. Yeah, man. We were men. The hair on our chest proved it.” Good writing. Voted this hub up!


Ericdierker profile image

Ericdierker 2 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

Hiding four people in the trunk was always fun. Great memories. Thanks


sheilamyers 2 years ago

I remember going to the drive-in as a kid, but sadly, they were all gone by the time I was old enough to be driving to the movies without the parents along. I have to admit, I would've been one of those people pulling the pranks on the people actually watching the movie. There were pranks we could pull at the inside movies; however, they couldn't be as crazy because of 1) being inside and 2) there was always an usher or something keeping an eye out for trouble.


Sparklea profile image

Sparklea 2 years ago from Upstate New York

Voted up, useful, funny and interesting! WOW what a great hub, and I LOVE the pictures and the video. Very well written, laughed out loud at the pranks. I wish drive ins would return...I think there are a few scattered across the US, I would have to google that.

What a life you have lived! What memories you share. Great job as always, you are the entertaining hubster of all time. Blessings, Sparklea :)


kenneth avery profile image

kenneth avery 2 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama Author

Word55,

God bless you and thank you for the nice comment. I was cheered-up with your thoughts.

I miss these days so much. I was truthful in that when we were IN this drive-in, it was like the outside world didn't exist.

Hey, would that make a great sci-fi screenplay? Kids going to a local drive-in are mysteriously transported back to a time in their lives.

Hey, Stephen King! You a member of HubPages?


kenneth avery profile image

kenneth avery 2 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama Author

Eric,

Oh, how I wish I had thought of YOUR item: Sneaking four in the trunk into the drive-in, we never got that bold, but I DID sneak my girlfriend in one time. I said she was our babysitter and the ticket guy was a buddy. He put up a good argument, but I held firm.

Later on, we broke up. Me and the babysitter.

Thanks for such a memorable comment.


kenneth avery profile image

kenneth avery 2 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama Author

Nyamache,

Thank you from the heart for your sweet compliment. We actually felt this way that life started and stopped inside a drive-in.

How I wish I could relive JUST that period of time from 1971 through 1972 . . .these were the years when most of the decisions I made either worked or didn't.

Please come back soon and visit me.


kenneth avery profile image

kenneth avery 2 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama Author

sheilamyers,

Thank you, dear friend, for chiming in with the others who remember the drive-in.

I forgot to tell another reason why we converged on this place: you could take five bucks, buy your ticket and a great supper of the finest food ever cooked at the concession stand and get change left.

Do you see why I miss our drive-in.

And Yes, I too despise the walk-in's for you cannot do the pranks as well as the drive-in theaters--except flicking the spitball or unpopped popcorn kernels.

Come back and talk to me again.


kenneth avery profile image

kenneth avery 2 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama Author

Dear Sparklea,

As usual, I am humbled by your comments. I mean it. You always know how to touch my heart with your warm phrases.

Thanks too, for your votes and saying what a life I lived. Dear friend, if you only knew. Some of my memories are some I want to forget and the irony is, those would probably make Hub of The Day.

Come back again, Sparklea. God bless you.


kenneth avery profile image

kenneth avery 2 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama Author

@ sheilamyers or Sparklea,

Someone opened a forum about HubPages merging with Squidoo.

Please tell me what Squidoo is and what that means to us?


vkwok profile image

vkwok 2 years ago from Hawaii

Thanks for sharing this wonderful story, Kenneth!


sheilamyers 2 years ago

Kenneth: I have no idea what Squidoo is. So far, I think the only thing it means to us is there will be more members of HP. I'm sure that will mean more interesting writers and, hopefully, making more great friends.


kenneth avery profile image

kenneth avery 2 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama Author

Hi, vkwok,

You, my good friend, are welcome. I enjoyed doing this for it reminds me of a simple time when simple people (like me) and our simple friends had such a ball with living life.

I appreciate you very much.


kenneth avery profile image

kenneth avery 2 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama Author

Hi, sheilamyers,

You present some good points.

I too, am confused about Squidoo. And I hope you are right. I just hope that you, the better writer of the two of us, is not overlooked by the new HP members from Squidoo.

But since knowing you, I have no worries that you can handle yourself wth smart alecs.

Take care and visit me often.


aviannovice profile image

aviannovice 2 years ago from Stillwater, OK

I only got to go to a drive in once, and what I remember is that the speakers were bad, but we had lots of interruptions and more of the entertainment was in what was going on around you. I just ran up drive-ins, and apparently, there are still a number of them still around. There's a lot in AL, so perhaps you can relive the old times.


kenneth avery profile image

kenneth avery 2 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama Author

Dear aviannovice,

Once? That is sad. I am very sorry. Yep, bad speakers were all part of the rustic genre. We loved it. One of my friends ripped one off from this very drive-in. You are right. Most of the entertainment was inside other cars as my hub states but fact is, we didn't care if we watched the film or not. We were all close friends and making memories. The sad part of this saga which I neglected to write was when we all grew up, married and rode by this same drive-in for the few years it stayed around, and saw a few cars in line--kinda like the drive-in was taking its last gasp of life. Hey, you always make me interested in another topic. I appreciate YOU very much.

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