Revisiting a moment in time at Michigan's drive-in theaters

Aug 14, 2014

The Capri Drive-In in Coldwater, Michigan is still operating in 2014.
The Capri Drive-In in Coldwater, Michigan is still operating in 2014.
Credit User: All Things Michigan / Flickr

Whether you were a little kid jumping into your pajamas before Mom and Dad loaded up the station wagon, or a teenager looking for a little "privacy" on a date, the drive-in theater could be a pretty magical place.

The very first drive-in opened in New Jersey in 1933. But it sure didn't take long for Michiganders to catch on to drive-ins. They opened up in virtually every corner of the state.

Harry Skrdla channeled his happy boyhood memories of going to the drive-in to come up with a book for the Images of America series. It's called Michigan's Drive-in Theaters.

Skrdla says Richard Hollingshead, an entrepreneur in New Jersey, opened the first drive-in theater during America's Depression.

“He was thinking about what would be a Depression-proof business, and he decided the last things people would give up would be their cars and going to the movies,” says Skrdla.

Skrdla added when drive-in theaters were at their peak, there were about 160 in Michigan. Today, we have eight.

*Listen to our conversation with Harry Skrdla above.