Monday, October 09, 2006

The last picture show

Last week marked the final day for the Memphis Triple Drive-In, which featured countless B-list blood baths and teen flesh fests on its giant screens for more than a half century. It was the last drive-in theatre in Cuyahoga County.

The audience members added any number of delicacies to the movie madness: shrimp rolls, greasy fries, and a cold twelve of Strohs smuggled in next to the hidden passenger in the trunk. Then there was the more serious business: strawberry frost lipgloss leading to sticky fingers after a run around the bases in the back of a conversion van.

On the weekends, the local landmark transformed into that self-contained American spectacle, the flea market. Memphis Triple had it all: boxes of socks that fell from the truck, second-hand dungarees for a dollar, and "collectibles" ranging from old Iron City Beer cans to thick-as-you-please center-stapled Playboys.

All of that is history. The landmark has been sold to an undisclosed buyer, whose plans for the 20 acres of uneven and pot-holed gravel have yet to be announced.

The weather was crisp and clear for the last flea-market hoorah. The crowd was imbued with a surprisingly festive mood. After all, Baby Magic samples were 30 for a dollar. There were no takers for a wedding cake serving set marked "Miranda and Christopher June 21, 2003. One can only hope the happy couple fared better than the beleaguered utensils, but for $2, who minds a little tarnish?

A woman in pink fuzzy slippers shuffled by one with bright purple eyelashes as she haggled over a bottle of Nina Ricci body lotion, marked $15. "That's highway robbery," she said.

"No money, no honey," said the man next to her.

Bicycle seats and Beanie Babies, Lawnboys and Elvis. Frampton Comes Alive!

"Call me sometime and I'll let you know where I'll be," said one vendor to a winking blonde as he handed her a slip of paper before she moved on to a table loaded with Dove and Caress.

"That's off a Navy ship," swore another as he pointed to a bench vice. For $25, who would argue?

"Ten for a dollar on the VCR movies," hawked yet another.

Then a gentlemen of a certain age displayed what it means to not go gently. He stood before his flock, his tables brimming with rusted wrenches and screwdrivers, bins of bolts and wire. He opened his arms and bellowed, "I love all you people."

* * *


Denny Shane said...

I just came back to oogle your hiney again. ;)

Dean said...

Oddly enough, some whackball just opened a drive-in less than a mile (that's 1.7 km to you Young Canadians who don't remember miles) from here.

I remember going to the drive-in when I was a little kid. My parents had a station wagon and they put a matress in the back. We all slept while they watched the movie. Then, I think, they drove home with us sleeping in the back. Those were the days. The only cars that had seat belts were racing cars.

The golden age of American car culture: drive-in movies and burger joints, and no seatbelts.

PDD said...

I am such a rat.

Toby said...

Sad. I think we have one drive in left somewhere in Milwaukee, but all the others have closed. The preference here was to build condos on the sites. As for flea markets, we have the almighty 7 Mile Fair.

~d said...

DUDE! the Drive-In! OMIWORD!


Anonymous said...

Madame O'Brien remains my muse and love-kitten...

Satan said...

there is nothing like the end of something

there is nothing like the end of something

there is nothing like the end of something

to remind me of why i do what i do

josh williams said...

The Last Picture Show I picked up at half price books a couple of years ago. I read the book , good read, then went about my business. About a month later I turned on the tube after an encounter with the local pubs and what was playing? The Last Picture Show, great book and and movie...Its all about me isnt it? I will try to stay on subject next comment. My Best JW

Erin O'Brien said...

Denny: The beauty of the online world is that you can come here anytime and I will be here, in my white cotton undies.

Dean: I am glad there are whackballs doing things like opening drive-ins. I am a whackball. And I remember my parent's Vista Cruiser. When will we see the resurgence of the station wagon?

PDD: You are not a rat. You are PDD and we love you.

Toby: Everything is changing all the time. I dunno ...

~d: I don't know about you, but I surely don't want to elaborate on my drive-in experience in a public forum. ugh.

Winters: Want to go to a drive-in with me?

Satan: Would you take a powder already?

JW: No need to stay on subject here, baby. We enjoy watching you balance a teacup on your head while doing the Macarena to The Partridge Family.

jamwall said...

i wanna get one of those drive-in speakers put a empty car shell in my livingroom and plant it in front of the tv.